Monday, March 26, 2012
WARNING: Some of you will get a few paragraphs into this and say, "Sully, I don't give a damn about baseball cards. I like you, but..."
I understand, but this isn't really about baseball cards. Trust me.
It will hardly come as a shock to most of you if I say there are lots of nice people on the internet. Many of us have been recipients of small favors from our friends who blog (if I start mentioning the folks who sent me fruitcake, or who sent stuff to Dorothy, or from whom I've received cards, prayers, photos, encouragement, prizes... well, see, we'll be here all day. Suffice to say if you're one of them, I love you and I've kept you in my prayers.) When two folks who previously knew each other only via their writings finally have a face-to-face encounter, the postmortems usually make note of a pleasant time had by all.
(Perhaps the bad meetings aren't written about as often. I suppose if someone showed up slathered head-to-toe in possum fat, wearing nothing but a strategically-placed "Kiss Me, I'm Irish" button, and the first thing he said, upon meeting you, was, "Wow! Your rack is even bigger in person!", then you might not consider it a highlight. Lime was OK with it when we met, but we shouldn't be taken as the norm.)
Anyway, what I want to tell you about is something truly unique and wonderful done for me recently by a blogger.
The blogger's name is Jeremy Scott, and he writes at a couple of locations. His main blog - the place where he chronicles bits of his life - is called No One's Going To Read This Blog. I'm hoping you'll visit there and make that title a lie. It's worth the trip just to see his header.
(Go ahead. Click on the link. I'll wait for you to come back.)
See? Now that's funny!
A photographer by trade, most of Jeremy's writing concerns his passion for baseball cards and other such collectibles. I understand this may hold little appeal for some of you, but I find his approach interesting. While he has specific favorite players (a fondness for Oklahoma athletes is fairly apparent - and also understandable, as he is located in Norman, ...
... the home of the University of Oklahoma) - his bigger concern is the aesthetic of the cards, rather than the specific athletes pictured. He'll offer a critique of the composition, cropping, background, airbrushing, and other details that the usual fanboy collector would hardly notice. He also branches off on small digressions now and then, concerning things other than cards, and I've always been a fan of digression.
(For instance, did you know that there used to be such a thing as a blow-up bra? Here's photographic proof!
Maybe there still are such things. For all I know, there's a huge blow-up bra industry [and if there is, and there are openings for blowers, I think I'll update my resume, because Lord knows I have enough hot air], but this is the sort of thing you might come across while reading Jeremy's posts about baseball card collecting.)
His other blog is VERY baseball card specific. It is named No One's Going To Trade For This, and that's where I first encountered Jeremy.
I'm not sure how I came to be there. I like baseball cards, and I must have been searching for something about them, but I'll be damned if I can remember what. In any case, I landed on his blog and I saw that he was trying to acquire some 1973 Topps baseball cards. I recalled having a box full of them gathering dust in my basement, so I wrote to him and said I wouldn't mind sending them his way. It seemed much more sensible to have them in the hands of someone who really loves them, and who would treasure them, than to leave them sitting in my cellar entertaining no one.
We traded e-mails. I asked him to give me his address so I could ship the cards to him. He inquired about what I might like in return. I named a few athletes whose performances I've enjoyed through the years, but I basically told him that whatever he felt like sending me would be fine. I wasn't looking to acquire anything when I offered him the cards, so whatever he sent back would be gravy. I expected to receive maybe 20 or 25 cards from him, and that would have been swell.
Jeremy sent me an amazing assortment of 200 Red Sox, Celtics, Patriots, and other awesome cards. I think there's little doubt that what he sent far outweighs, in monetary value, what I sent him. His generosity was spectacular. I was enjoying going through the cards he sent, admiring the artwork and having a few random sporting memories triggered, and I intended to write him a nice little thank you note concerning his largesse, when I came upon something entirely unexpected. And it just blew me away.
What I found, in the middle of the huge stack of cards Jeremy sent, was ME.
It seems one of the things Jeremy likes to do is create one-of-a-kind hand-drawn cards. During the time we had been exchanging e-mails, he had also been reading my back catalog, and he saw my posts about having played in metal/punk/rock bands during the 70's and 80's. And he took the time to create one of his very special cards specifically for me, a person he had never met and from whom he had yet to receive anything. And then, when he boxed up the cards he was sending to me, he inserted that card in the middle of the pack, with no forewarning, so that it would be a great surprise when I found it.
Did I say "a great surprise"? It was a singularly stunning surprise, one that knocked my socks off.
To be truthful, when I first saw it, I was clueless. I never expected to see my rock 'n roll past life on a baseball card, so my initial reaction was, "Oh, cool. He's included some sort of musician cards." Then I realized it was ME from 30 years ago. I sat there, open-mouthed and slack-jawed, for about five seconds. Then I picked it up and ran into the living room where MY WIFE was watching TV.
"Look at this!," I said, and I showed her the card.
"Where did you get that? Was it in the box of cards from your friend in Oklahoma?"
"Yes! Isn't it excellent?"
"It sure is! He drew it? Wow! That took a lot of work. What a nice guy! You should frame it."
That's exactly what I'm going to do. And the next time I find myself pessimistic concerning humanity, and perhaps thinking that we're all going to hell in a handbasket, I'll look at it and remember all of the nice things I've received, from so many of you, and I'll try to keep the thought that, yes, we are not wrong to rely upon the kindness of strangers.
Soon, with more better stuff.