Monday, March 26, 2012

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s a UFO

The year was 1958.  Local theatres were showing The Blob, I Married a Monster from Outer Space, and It! The Terror from Beyond Space.   There were over 100 recorded UFO sightings that year.  The first widely recognized alien abduction (Antonio Villas Boas) had occurred just the year before.  The Hill abduction was just a few years away.  It was the 10th anniversary of Roswell. 

Why are these ballplayers scouring the heavens?  Was there something up there?  What are they looking at?  Why do they look so concerned?  What is it the Topps company is trying to tell us here?

Of course, my other theory is that Topps simply hired an artsy-fartsy photographer that year and these poor guys had to follow his directions.  You see a couple of these each year, it seems, but never was there such a plethora (nice word, “plethora”) like that particular year at the end of the decade.


“Unh, lookie over there …”

See here for more on Dixie.  By th way, Dixie’s real name was Millard.


“Would you look at that thing move!”

Norm Zauchin was up for six years, with the Red Sox and Senators.  He had one great year, ’57, where he hit 27 homers and came in third for the Rookie of the Year Award.  Norm once had 10 RBIs in a game.


“Gosh …”

As a rookie for the Cleveland Indians in 1956, Aguirre struck out Boston Red Sox legend Ted Williams the first time he faced him. After the game, Hank asked Williams to autograph the ball. Reluctantly, Williams complied. A couple of weeks later Aguirre faced Williams again. This time the "Splendid Splinter" smashed Hank’s first offering for a home run. While circling the bases, Williams yelled to Aguirre, "Get that ball, and I'll sign it, too.”

Check out a much older Hank right here.


“I can barely see it any more.”

Sam Esposito played 10 years with the White Sox and coached baseball at NC State for 20 more.  With the Pack, he captured three consecutive ACC titles, finished third in the ‘68 College World Series, and never had a losing season.

“Here comes another one.”

Hey, they even got future Hall of Famers to look dorky. (More dorky Koufax right here.)


“Holy shit!”

By the way, those groovy sideburns – at least 12 years before these became fashionable – are really just an optical illusion.  Willard was cool, but not that cool.


“Gee …”

Not to be confused with the English educator and cricketer.  Thanks for clearing that up, Wikipedia.  I always get those two confused.

“Duh, wud is dat thing?”

Everyone’s heard of Moose Skowron.  What’s interesting about him, though, is how he got his nickname.  Turns out he was actually nicknamed after Mussolini.  Some weird story about a haircut that I couldn’t make much sense of. 

That does remind me of Benny Distefano, though, a Pirate from the ‘80s and ’90s.  His real name was Benito, and he actually was named after Mussolini.

* - author has this card

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