I just began reading a fascinating hobby-related book. What do baseball cards mean to you? Could they help get you through a difficult childhood?
Those are the questions at the forefront of Josh Wilker’s memoir, Cardboard Gods: An All-American Tale Told Through Baseball Cards
This isn’t the typical “aw, shucks” happy recollection of youth. Wilker writes with painful honesty and insightful humor of his parents and other challenges. He reminded me of the card shop owner I met years ago in Washington state.
“My cards helped me growing up,” he said, telling about coping with two constantly-ill parents. “I’d stare at the pictures until they started moving. Then I could sleep.”
JoshTheAuthor has been a noted blogger since 2006, with a blog by the same name. His essays are funny and insightful. “Me, too!” is a common reaction you’ll have when reading.
I e-mailed Josh, wondering if autographs or correspondence ever become part of his baseball cards-as-life musings. He replied:
“I actually haven’t gotten any emails from former players. A guy who seems to have been Don Stanhouse did once comment on my site. I wrote about that connection here:
In that post, I also mention my childhood desire to connect with Yaz. A couple days ago, someone who’d read an article about my appearance with Bill Lee at Fenway (an article that mentions my yearning as a kid for a Yaz autograph) offered to send me an autograph her husband got from Yaz at a grocery store when he was shilling for kielbasa. That kind of connection is about as close as I get to the gods, which is kind of how I like it, I guess, off in the cheap seats. I mean, it was very sweet to have someone think to share that autograph with me. That’s a big part of the fun of the site, connecting with people who have stories about close but brief or distant and lasting connections with the guys on the cards.”
Read this blog. Get this book. Prepare for a movie! Thanks to Josh, we’ll all be seeing old cards with new eyes.