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The Faces in My Basement
Steve Rushin
December 15, 2006
THE BEST portrait ever to appear on a baseball card is of Oscar Gamble, the twin mushroom clouds of his Afro billowing from either side of his Indians cap, so that the outfielder—seen in silhouette—might have been mistaken for Mickey Mouse. To connoisseurs, that 1975 Topps card is iconic, the face that launched a thousand quips, but there are so many other baseball-card faces stored on the permanent hard drive of my brainpan, and backed up in my basement in dozens of old Velveeta boxes. Which is an appropriate receptacle, given the amount of cheese on display in those cardboard galleries, so much of it from the mid-'70s, when every face was framed by the hirsute parentheses of muttonchops.
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December 15, 2006

The Faces In My Basement

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In 1973 Reds pitcher Gary Nolan posed while wearing uniform pants hiked so high that he'd have to unzip his fly to blow his nose.

At the moment I cannot look away from the '72 Topps card of Walter Alston. On it, the Dodgers' manager—wearing an expression of pained impatience—is gazing heavenward and holding up his right index finger, as if God is his waiter and Walter would like Him to bring the check.

God did just that, in a manner of speaking, in 1984, when Alston passed away at age 72. But the truth is, the skipper will never really die. He's still very much alive in my basement, forever enshrined in a Velveeta Valhalla.

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