An old friend has returned.

1976 Topps

Reading is one of the few things that calms my mind for any given length of time as concentrating on any one thing for long moments poses some serious problems. Losing yourself in a book is a fantastic escape from the everyday, and I also find myself being lost in the wordplay and turn of phrase by any writer with significant skills.  I was recently going through some boxes when I found a dusty copy of Slaughterhouse Five with a baseball card tucked inside and I had to take pause.

I’ve dragged this “bookmark” around from mezcal soaked Tijuana watering holes where the prostitutes would whisper “primo” at me in an attempt to extract a few American dollars for an escort, extravagant Palm Springs hotels where I once kissed a model with a zit on her chin, and a hash-smoke laden Barcelona beach where a Muslim kid tried to steal my passport while I was sleeping. It has ceased to be a simple piece of cardboard to be merely used, thrown away or disregarded; now it is a dear friend full of memories with hilarious anecdotes to share.

I know very little about the player on the card and have certainly never seen him play. Tommy Harper was born in Oak Grove, Louisiana, was a central figure in the troubled racial history of the Red Sox, and had a long but rather unremarkable career with 8 teams. (although he did hit 31 home runs for Milwaukee in 1970, making his only All Star game.)

8 Comments

Tommy Harper was the best player in Seattle Pilots history. Led the league in steals in the only year of their existence in Seattle.

Sort of a dubious honor as that team was hot garbage but thanks for the information….I never bothered to look up their stats even after reading “Ball Four.” It seems Don Mincher had a pretty decent season as well,

The player they had who turned out to be the best- they traded during spring training- Lou Piniella.

Looking at the stats I am wrong- Don Mincher- Wayne Comer and Tommy Davis had better seasons than Harper.

I have an early ’70’s Mets Danny Frisella baseball card which I have kept in the glove box of every car I’ve owned since the late-’80’s. He is my de facto St. Christopher medal. I’ve never been in a serious card accident in all that time.

That is so cool! I read somewhere that Bob Costas keeps a Mickey Mantle in his wallet. Not sure if it brings him luck, but I thought that was quite interesting.

In so many ways this post is wonderful – the writing, the travel tales, and all of it from the perspective of a baseball card…..perhaps an idea for a longer piece? Great job Gary.

Thanks Steve. That means a lot coming from you.

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