Friday, June 22, 2012

When hobbies come together

As a kid, I tried my hand at a few hobbies besides sports cards.

There was a time when I collected Hot Wheels. I was the prime age for the whole Beanie Babies craze as well. When the new state quarters came out, I tried getting every single one. I even had this neat little holder for those, but I gave up about halfway through.

Through everything, only two have stood the test of time.

Baseball and music.

I have some neat music-related pieces in my non-sports collection. Last year's American Pie set represents a large chunk of those. Some first cards I featured on this blog were of some legendary musical figures from American Pie's first release a decade ago. (Tony Conigliaro and Denny McLain, along with many other former players, have recorded albums as well.)

However, as odd as it might seem, this Mark Fidrych card is easily the best piece of my "musical baseball cards" collection.

I accidentally bought a second copy of Fidrych's 1979 Hostess issue at a card show a while back. (Curiously, it features the same photo as his famous '77 Topps rookie.)

Since "The Bird" was always one of my dad's favorites, I gave it to him as a little gift.

He kept it in his wallet for a while, as you might be able to tell from the creases. (Indifference towards condition must run in the family, as my other copy of this card has a couple creases as well.)

Earlier this year, one of my favorite current bands, "The Baseball Project", played at a bar in downtown Chicago. Unfortunately, I'm not 21 yet, so I wasn't able to go, but my dad made the trip. (That'll change next year, though.)

If you're not familiar with them yet, you might want to give them a shot. All of their songs are baseball-themed, from "Panda and the Freak" to "Gratitude (For Curt Flood)".

They even have a song about Fidrych. (Probably my favorite track of theirs.)

I doubt many other twenty year-olds could truly appreciate how great that is. I've previously mentioned how tough it is to find anyone else in my age group who collects baseball cards.

Believe me, it's even more rare to find anyone my age who knows who the Velvet Underground is, much less anyone who actually listens to any music from that era. (Or anything that's not constantly on the radio these days.)

Anyways, from what he told me, my dad spotted a few members from the band hanging out around the bar before the show was scheduled to start.

I've always liked the idea of just chatting with a band member before they go on stage. It's one of the main reasons I'm drawn to bands like The Ramones and the Violent Femmes (who actually got their start playing on the streets of Milwaukee) than "arena rock" bands like Queen or pretty much any '80s hair metal band.

It's a more personal experience.

Having them autograph the Fidrych card was a tremendous idea on my dad's part. It definitely makes this one of the most unique items in my collection.

On the bottom-right, we have the autograph of drummer Linda Pitmon, who was nice enough to personalize the autograph to me. The autograph near the top is of Scott McCaughey, guitarist and singer in "The Baseball Project". My dad said that McCaughey, an avid baseball fan, remembered the Hostess card when it was handed to him.

The most obscured signature is probably my favorite. In the bottom-left, you can see a semblance of an autograph by Mike Mills, bassist and singer of R.E.M., one of my favorite bands ever. (He was filling in for regular bassist and also former R.E.M. member Peter Buck, who just might be my all-time favorite musician. I'd love to track down his autograph one of these days.)

The only autograph missing is of guitarist Steve Wynn. How great would it be to get the entire "Baseball Project" lineup on a Mark Fidrych Hostess card?

I'm crossing my fingers.

There's few certainties in life, especially at twenty years of age. But I know I'll never stop loving baseball, and I'll never stop loving music.

When those two hobbies come together, it's something else.


Dhoff said...

Very cool story. I look forward to checking this group out more.

gcrl said...

I am a big REM fan - the first band I ever saw live (1986) but I more recently saw Steve wynn and linda pitmon playing in the twin cities. It was Probably 6 years ago at a benefit for soul asylums bassist. Good times and a great show.

nightmare said...

Is there another 'baseball project'? The one I'm familiar with also has Craig Finn of The Hold Steady

Mike said...

I see this post is almost a year old...but just in case yer still looking...It's the same band,Craig Finn does guest vocals on one song on their 2nd album...of course,its about the Twins! (Dont Call Them Twinkies)