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Teach
07-01-2017, 09:15 AM
Good morning from humid and sultry MetroWest Boston. As my brother says down in Houston: "On days like this, even the trees are beggin' the dogs!"

Well, "The Crimson Hose" continue to roll as they come from behind to beat The Jays. Yes, the Yankees snapped out of their funk to beat Houston. Day game this afternoon. One eye on my ADW, the other on the baseball game.

Speaking of baseball, a story from the past.


Baseball Cards: The Fabric Of Our Youth

"I'll give you two Three Musketeer bars for your Mickey Mantle card," my friend said. "Sure," I replied, as I handed my Mantle card to my buddy for his two candy bars.

Yes, in inner-city Boston during the early-1950s baseball cards were a way of life. They were even more than that. They were a large part of our youth culture.

As young boys growing up in Dorchester-Mattapan section, my friends and I collected hundreds and hundreds of baseball cards. We also collected football cards, hockey cards, movie-star cards, even Hopalong Cassidy cards. We did just about everything with those cards. We talked about them. We -- as chronicled above -- used them as a medium of exchange.

Further, when we rode our bikes, we put duplicate and triplicate cards on the spokes to make the bike sound like a motorcycle, or was it a helicopter. We even invented baseball-card dice games whereby certain dice outcomes indicated a base hit or an out (a seven – cinco dos and adios – was an out; yet an eleven was a triple). We selected teams (sounds like “Rotisserie” Baseball). We proceeded to develop starting lineups and even kept records of hits, homers and RBIs. We went so far as bringing in relief pitchers. Any unsuspecting person who came to one of our houses (we often had two or three games going on at the same time) might well have thought that they had walked in on a floating craps game.

One of things we did most with our cards was to shoot them against the wall or stoop. My friends and I usually had one special card that we taped over with cellophane tape called “The Shooter”. This is the card we'd use to shoot against the wall. I remember that my "shooter" card, for the longest time, was a utility infielder with the Boston Braves named Sibby Sisti (maybe I just liked the euphonic sound of his name). The "Shooter" was never surrendered when you lost. It was sort of the "Queen Bee" in the baseball card hive; the "sine qua non." When we lost at shootings cards, we'd often give up a card we had triples or "quads" (quadruplets) of. I recall winning one shoot in which I ended up with eight Turk Lown and seven Irv Noren cards.

The game itself involved shooting baseball cards like you'd pitch pennies. The object of the game was to get your card (the "shooter") as close to the wall as possible. Many a dispute erupted over which card was closest. Some kids used their fingers to try to measure the difference to the wall between the two cards. Others went so far as to go into their nearby house and get a ruler. Sometimes it came down to millimeters.

Yet, when all was said and done, there was one card position that topped even those cards that were touching or nearly touching the wall; it was called "a leaner" It was a baseball card that actually leaned against the wall forming a right triangle (the card was the hypotenuse). That was the best possible outcome you could have. No one could top "a leaner" unless they themselves could also toss a leaner. In those situations, we had to determine which card stood taller on the wall (how I started learning about geometry in elementary school).

There was one way (besides throwing one yourself) that you could deal with "a leaner". It was an act of self-sacrifice. An act of courage. You know: the idea of giving up your individual chances for the benefit of the group. You could try to take out the leaner. You could attempt to hit the leaner with your shooter thus knocking it down from the wall. There were, of course, consequences for such a brave act. Not only would you likely take yourself out of the competition, but you could, in the process, damage your "shooter," as well. It took great personal baseball-card valor to put the group's needs ahead of your own.

Yet, as cited, not only were we learning geometry by shooting cards, we were also learning physics. There was an aerodynamic aspect to shooting cards in order to get the optimal lift, the optimal glide. There was also the carom factor (doesn't the angle of incidence equal the angle of reflection). Shooting cards was not unlike imparting topspin to golf ball with your driver. It's like an airplane taking off (talk about high pressure and low pressure). In any event, some kids took this shooting cards so seriously they'd actually practice for hours. Over and over, they'd twist their wrists and shoot their cards. Just like surfers who are looking for the perfect wave, the baseball card shooter was looking for that perfect release. That exact delivery that would take their card to the edge of the wall.

Yes, as I look back well over 60 years, it was a wonderful time. Those were my "Boston" days. And yes, those baseball cards: Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Jackie Robinson, Stan Musial and a host of others, were part and parcel of that youthful experience. What wonderful memories!

Now, if I could only find that boyhood friend of mine and see if he'd swap me back my 1953 Mickey Mantle card for those Three Musketeer bars.

Back later with my picks.

Whosonfirst
07-01-2017, 09:40 AM
Great stories Teach, that took me back to my past as well. Only difference was I'd never trade any of my Mickey Mantle cards for candy bars. Maybe an extra Moose Skowron card would be on the market.

I was just telling my granddaughter about the cards in the spokes trick a few weeks ago. We also used to play "baseball" with a half-open Barlow knife. We'd flip it on someone's front porch. If it stuck and the bottom rested on the porch, it was a single; a double was the blade stuck and bottom was in the air below parallel. Triple was like a double with handle above parallel. A home run was resting on the back of handle with blade straight up.

You have a gift with your story telling. You should get some of them published, if you haven't already.

Teach
07-01-2017, 10:34 AM
With apologies and accreditation to Frank Loesser:

Fugue For Teach

(Nicely) “I got the horse right here the name is Long Night and here’s a guy that says if the weather’s right. Can do. Can do. This guy says the horse can do. If the guy says the horse can do. Can do. Can do.

(Bennie) “I’m pickin’ Love and Care cause on this here sheet it says this bay gelding won’t get beat. Has chance. Has chance. This guy says the horse has chance.

(Rusty Charlie) “But look at Enasoit…he’s another Waquoit, and touted by our very-own Nathan Detroit. Big threat. Big threat. Big Threat. And just a minute boys, now before you jest, his grandpa was none other than Gone West.

(ALL) "Enasoit. Love and Care. Long Night. I got the horse right here!”

I'll be back later with the full card selections.

Teach
07-01-2017, 11:41 AM
Race One:

:8: - :1: - :5: - :3:

Race Two:

:3: - :2: - :1: - :4:

Race Three:

:6: - :5: - :7: - :1:

Race Four:

:3: - :7: - :1: - :2:

Race Five:

:10: - :1: - :7: - :3:

Race Six:

:5: - :10: - :9: - :2:

Race Seven:

:9: - :8: - :7: - :2:

Race Eight:

:7: - :8: - :3: - :1:

Race Nine:

:6: - :2: - :7: - :4:

Race Ten:

:3: - :6: - :7: - :8:

Teach
07-01-2017, 01:59 PM
I still like the :3:. Yet :2: -- as Maggie cited -- looked so good coming onto the track. I still believe the place to be will be "the inside". Good Luck!