yaz

On the eve of the 2011 baseball season, it is a great privilege to have as a guest on the Cover the Bases podcast Josh Wilker, the author of Cardboard Gods; An All American Tale Told Through Baseball Cards.  Josh is of similar “baseball age” and is also a Red Sox fan, so his coming of age memoir about life rooted in the mid-1970’s is one that triggered many emotional responses.

Cardboard Gods | Josh Wilker | Cover the Bases PodcastThe book was released by Seven Footer Press in 2010 and is now available in paperback.

We start out by talking about his favorite player Carl Yastrzemski, YAZ! While my brother and I fancied ourselves as Fred Lynn, throwing tennis balls against the side of the house and making great diving catches, Yaz had already achieved immortal status around New England as the central figure of the team during the 60’s, including the Impossible Dream season of 1967.

I recount that the first person ever mentioned on Baseballisms was my college roommate Jim McNulty, who was also a Yaz fan, and speculate that it was his older siblings and his mother who influenced his rooting interest.

Josh makes the great point that the creaky old veteran instilled something in him that called to mind the great lineage of baseball past, and is of course a direct line connection back to Ted Williams.

The book is set up in chapters that are prefaced by a particular baseball card from his collection.  The story of the card is intertwined with Josh’s own personal story, somehow relating back to the details found in that card. Setting the stage that this was not a typical baseball, apple pie and Chevrolet story was when we are introduced to Tom in the Mike Kekich chapter.  It was a time in the 70’s when experimentation was taking place, and Josh’s mom invited her boyfriend Tom to move into the house, along with Josh, his brother Ian and Josh’s dad.  As Josh discusses in the podcast, and you can get from the book, it was unique arrangement but done with good intentions and love.

A brief but impactful section of the book details the year after Josh is expelled from boarding school, and spends the summer with his grandfather. We love generational stories here at Baseballisms, and for Josh to have the chance to witness a magical season like the 1986 Red Sox season in the company of a caring elder, is something that I would wish for everyone to experience. [click to continue…]

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