Thursday, March 9, 2017

Fate, customs, and Disco Demolition Night

So here's something fun that happened at work the other day.

As a bookstore clerk, I get a rush whenever someone asks me for a book recommendation. It breaks the monotony of ringing items up and saying Have a nice day hundreds of times per shift. Last weekend, I was presented with perhaps the greatest question of them all from what seemed like an ordinary customer: Got any books about baseball?

Since we were out of Cardboard Gods (one of my staff picks), my mind instantly jumped to a local-press book my store carries: Disco Demolition: The Night Disco Died. It's basically an oral history of the infamous Disco Demolition Night fiasco. I haven't read the whole thing, but I've flipped through a good portion of it during downtimes at work.

So, anyways, I recommended it to this customer, and he looked back at me and said, without missing a beat: I wrote that book. Turns out the customer in question was Dave Hoekstra, who co-wrote the book with Steve Dahl -- the Chicago deejay behind Disco Demolition Night (along with Sox owner Bill Veeck).

Mr. Hoekstra was at Comiskey that fateful night -- July 12, 1979 -- and we chatted for a bit about the event. He was one of the real fans at the ballpark that evening. One of the first things he told me was how upset he was that the second game of the scheduled doubleheader was cancelled and forfeited to the visiting Tigers. In the end, he signed the copy of his book we had in stock, took a picture of me with it (for promotional/social media purposes), and went on his merry way.

The whole rest of the day, I kept thinking to myself: What were the odds that I'd recommend a book to the very author who wrote it?

It must have been fate for more reasons than one: the very next cards in my trade folder were a batch of terrific self-made customs sent to me from Jeremy of the "Topps Cards That Never Were" blog.

Among the customs Jeremy so generously printed out for me was, you guessed it, one documenting none other than Disco Demolition Night. Not surprisingly, no actual card has ever been made of the event. It's not exactly a shining moment in the annals of baseball, music, or American society as a whole.

Even so, I've always had a fascination with anything and everything regarding Disco Demolition Night, so I'm glad Jeremy added this custom to my collection.

Here's more awesome customs from Jeremy, including Eddie Gaedel, another one of Bill Veeck's promotional brainchilds (brainchildren?).

Also present were Jose Canseco's ill-fated inning on the mound and a couple Sunset Cards That Never Were with Teke and Jim Abbott, both of which depict the unfamiliar stints that ended their careers.

Jeremy went heavy with the custom-sunsets, adding another bunch of unfamiliar finales featuring Murph as a Rockie, John Olerud as a Red Sock, and Vlad as an Oriole.

I own several Griffey Sr./Griffey Jr. combo cards, but Jeremy's is the first one I've seen that actually documents their historic night of back-to-back homers.

Rounding out the customs was yet another Sunset Card That Never Was with this 1991 Topps-themed Billy Buckner.

It mostly gets lost to history these days, but Buckner actually returned to Boston for his final season in 1990, which is shocking when you consider the fact that it'd only been four years since his infamous World Series blunder.

Aside from a scarce, impossible-to-find oddball, I'm fairly positive that no cards exist of Buckner's second term with the Red Sox, which means that adding this one to the binders closed a gaping hole in my sunset collection. Plus, in another twist of fate, Jeremy just posted this very card on his blog last night. Again: what are the odds?

Whether at work, with trade packages, or in life, I'm starting to believe fate is a very real thing.


Mike said...

Those are so great..and I remember Disco Demolition Night very of my friend's brothers got his head cracked open after he rushed the field!

Metallattorney said...

I have the Buckner oddballl, but it would have been nice to see him get a card in the 1991 Topps set.

Hackenbush said...

Way to make an author's day! He probably went home and said the same thing you did. What are the odds I'd ask for a baseball book and the clerk recommended mine? Aside from that one have you come across any good new ones?

John Miller said...

Amazing! That's a story you can tell for the rest of your life.

Kin said...

Of all the odds!!

Fuji said...

One of the best parts of being a blogger is the ability to share great stories from our lives with our readers. Thank you for sharing this one with us. Great stuff.

defgav said...

Neat story with the author, and great bunch of customs!

Julie Owens said...

A moment you'll not forget! Improbable odds Nick! The disco night custom is a must have and would look great in my 70s binder!

Matthew Scott said...

Great story!

P-town Tom said...

Man, what an awesome stroke of luck and coincidence. Thanks for sharing your story!

Bob Gibson Fan said...

Sorry for the cynicism, but what if he asks the same question at every bookstore he goes to, hoping for that response?

Daniel Wilson said...

That's an awesome story! Great looking cards as well!