Saturday, February 26, 2011


So yeah, I don't usually post at 6:50 on a Saturday morning.

But it seems appropriate, since that is the time and place where I first met these cards.

The back of a box of Frosted Flakes was pretty much my bible when I was a kid. I'd prop an elbow on the breakfast table, dig a fist into my cheek, and read from top to bottom, doing my level best to divine secret meanings between sugar rushes.

Usually the text would be a description of the giveaway in the box. Wind this up, dip that in water, wear this around your neck, slip that onto your finger...

In the summer of 1970, the box made a wondrous claim: Free inside! Autographed “3-D” baseball cards.

There was probably fine print somewhere that explained that these were facsimile autographs, but the quotes around “3-D” seem gratuitous. The illusion of depth created by the blurred backgrounds and plastic overlays was really quite impressive.

The cards were produced by Xograph, the same company that had printed the wildly elusive 1968 Topps 3D test set, and they sat in the bottom of the box in an opaque paper wrapper.

The intent of the packaging was probably for kids to pour out the card with the last bowl of cereal in the box. But of course we pushed up our pajama sleeves and thrust our skinny arms into full boxes, scraping blindly along the bottom until we had our prize.

Kellogg's released a new “3-D” set each year through to the mid '80s (except for 1973, when they distributed a more traditional “flat” set), and some of those designs were quite strong. But I think the 1970 set might be my favorite.

Because you never really forget your first...

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Pitchers and catchers reported this week, and it's time to give some love to the catchers.

“Pitchers and catchers” is an evocative phrase. It has rhythm and meter. It's contrapuntal.

But without the catchers, it's just a word: pitchers.

And where's the poetry in that?

Plus, if the pitchers reported without the catchers, they'd be nowhere. A bunch of prima donnas throwing the ball back and forth, getting all petulant.

“Squat, dammit!”

“No, you squat!”

So I say: All hail the catcher.

Wait, better yet: All hail the backup catcher.

We loved Duffy Dyer when we were kids for that alliterative name, its syllables thumping along like a cartoon rabbit.

We loved him because, yes, we would call him Duffy Diarrhea and then convulse in laughter.

Sure, Duffy was a light hitter, but he was secure in his role backing up Jerry Grote. And like Grote, he was a fine defensive catcher with a strong and accurate arm.

All hail Duffy Dyer!

(Fun fact: In the spring of 1980, the Expos traded Duffy to the Tigers for... Jerry Manuel.)

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Break out your stereopticons, boys and girls. It’s 3D time!

In order to get the full effect here, you need to follow these easy steps:

(1) Enlarge the picture at the top of this post.
(2) Press your nose gently against your monitor screen or mobile device.
(3) Stare at the center of the image for 7 seconds.
(4) Draw your face away from the screen slowly, until you’ve reached a distance of exactly 7”.
(5) Unfocus your eyes by staring through the picture.
(6) Chant “Loopenark” 7 times in slow succession.
(7) Steady Eddie should now jump off the screen in full, rapturous 3D!

If you can’t get this to work, there’s a good chance that you have a rare visual disorder known as an “astigmetism”…

Thursday, February 3, 2011


I own this card, but I'm still not convinced it exists.

I was quite fond of the 1966 set as a young collector, and a fair number of these high-number cards passed through my hands. I would have sworn that I knew my Choo Choo from my Chi Chi.

But then it happened one night several years back that I was trolling eBay for vintage Mets, and this popped up. It was the first one I'd ever seen, so I blinked a couple of times, and then examined the card closely.

I was struck immediately by the quality of the photo, and the layout of the card. Lou stoops into the frame from the border and gives us a nice view of the logo on his shoulder and the emblem on his hat.

Additional patches of radiant blue (his left sleeve, a snippet of uniform number on his back, and the rectangular Spalding emblem on his glove) pop against a flat background setting of brown dirt and browning grass.

The yellow and purple “METS” banner in the upper corner balances out Lou's pose, and the condensed font on his nameplate in the same color combination pulls the whole thing together.

How could I have never seen this card before? Maybe it was an elaborate hoax, a deft parody of a 1966 Topps high number.

I mean, even the name reads like a put-on: Lou Klimchock.

It's an anti-euphonious name. A Don Martin sound effect of a name.

But real or not, I'm keeping my copy just the same...