Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Background noise

Dinged Corners recently asked a question. And thank goodness they did. I have no time for an original concept of my own today. This work week is full of transition and "big games" and scheduling/traveling nightmares. All of my brain cells are invested elsewhere.

Thanks for the nongovernment bail-out, DC. I shall spend wisely.

Dinged Corners wants to know what my favorite card photo is in which the main action isn't why I like the card.

Well, I have a lot of those cards. I'm not sure what my absolute favorite it is. One day I'll lock myself in the house for a week and figure it out. But two spring to mind for now.

The first is at the top of the post and I've already written about it before. In fact, I believe DC has this card, too. It's a Psychedelic Tombstone masterpiece. The Phillies in the background appear to be plotting to "pants" Rick Wise. He looks too nerdy not to be humiliated in some way.

But, DC, mentioned "main action." And I don't think there is any action where Wise is concerned. That's an out-and-out pose.

So, I went with this card as my "favorite":

This is a 1982 Donruss card of former Dodgers" hope for the future" Mike Marshall. Marshall tore apart the minor leagues, winning the Pacific Coast League Triple Crown in 1980 by hitting .373 with 34 homers and 137 RBIs. The back of the Donruss card is so impressed with the feat that it uses the word "awesome." That is a bit unusual for the time, given that Jeff Spicoli wouldn't even appear on a movie screen until August of '82.

I couldn't wait for Marshall to get to the major leagues. And this card was Marshall's first solo release from a major company. In the photo, Marshall is zoning in on a pitch. He's wearing a patch commemorating the 20th anniversary of Dodger Stadium.

But this is about the background:

It's obvious by the chain-link fence and the water cooler sitting out on the field, that this is a spring training game. If that doesn't tip you off, then the dudes in the floppy sun hats will. I miss the era of the floppy sun hat. I never had the privilege of owning one. I suppose it's not too late.

But my favorite part of the background is that you can see Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda giving young Marshall the eye. And then, immediately behind Lasorda is the baseball commissioner at the time, Bowie Kuhn, sitting in a rather relaxed state.

What a great background. Chain-link fence. Water cooler. Floppy hats. A guy who bleeds Dodger blue. And Charlie O. Finley's mortal enemy.

Marshall ended up a disappointment for most Dodger fans. The balls traveled far in Albuquerque and provided some unrealistic expectations for upcoming players who played there (see: Greg Brock). But I will always value Marshall's rookie card for what's going on in the background.


  1. Don't forget the floppy hat guy right next to Marshall's head staring off into space like he'd rather be somewhere else (?!?). That's a nice card.

  2. I think the Dodgers have the oldest fans in america. The Yankees have the most annoying, but the Dodgers, the oldest...

  3. Are you sure that isn't pitching coach Ron Perranoski in the background rather than Lasorda?

  4. It's possible. 1981 was Perranoski's first season as pitching coach for L.A. It's hard to tell.

  5. I like the white floppy hat to the left of Marshall's head. It looks like a Gilligan hat. I've got a tan one I wear when we vacation to the beach in South Florida. And yes, it makes me look 10 years older (not good when you're already mid-40s) and even nerdier.

    Are you sure the guy staring into space isn't really looking at a Go-Go beyond the outfield wall?