Page 22

OK, stop here; I'm gushing with nostalgia. But does it explains why I still buy them, outdated noncomputerized relics of the 20th Century? Relics like the World Series itself. The question remains, why am I nostalgic for any part of a childhood in which I was not free to be my true self? Soon after my transition from male to female, my hometown alumni association held an open house at my former grade school before the building was torn down. Standing in my first grade classroom, my first feeling was, boy, the chalk boards are a lot lower than I remember. When I looked to the coat hooks at the back of the room, it all came back, as if my jacket was hanging there. Fifty years later. The old feelings hit, of how lost, bewildered, not fitting in, tense and on guard against something, something I didn't understand. I stood in the spot where my desk would have been, called to that boy over the decades, “Don't worry, don't be so afraid. It will turn out good. We'll get there together.� Baseball. The game was my father's first love. In most of his childhood photos, he's wearing a baseball shirt or full uniform. I wanted to please him, but I couldn't. I still see myself lost in right field dropping the ball or at the plate striking out with a weak swing, suffering anxiety and depression in an age that did not recognize anxiety and depression in children. Yet those cards still bring forth a joy, a simple childlike pleasure, especially the old ones, hence I overpay for unopened Topps packs from the end of the age of the traditional baseball card, changed little from my youth, simple cardboard, picture on one side, statistics on the back, packed with a stick (two sticks back in my day) of bubblegum that gave them that distinctive sweet scent. After courts struck down their near monopoly, Topps gained competition in 1981, sets put out (without bubblegum) by Fleer and Donruss, but I mark the decline in baseball cards not myself getting older but to 1989, the introduction of the first high-priced 'premium' cards by Upper Deck, high-quality photos on both side of coated stock, selling for the outlandish price of a buck a pack, twice the price of other brands. Soon the others followed. Gone were the wax wrappers, the visceral feel of the experience. After 1991, Topps stopped packaging bubblegum with the cards (after all, who wants their valuable collectables stained by gum), gone was smell of the cards. The price of a 15-card pack of Topps rose from 59 cents in 1991 to 89 cents two years later. A glut of expensive but sterile cards followed until the baseball-card bubble, made of money not bubblegum, burst. So I open the wax to the past. Here's Billy Ripken struggling in the shadow of his brother. Dennis Eckersley, who saved his last game long ago, still looking fierce. Gary Sheffield once more carrying the tag 'Future Star.� Curt Young who will never be young again, the back of his card stained by bubblegum. So many names that reached the highest level of the game yet are now forgotten. Who is Nelson

Profile for Kerri Foley

Crack the Spine - Issue 62  

Literary Magazine

Crack the Spine - Issue 62  

Literary Magazine

Advertisement