Monday, October 22, 2012

The Mysterious Mr. Kirkland

I don’t know about this guy.  I saw my first card of him and was intrigued by his pensive look.  I found a couple more cards of him, and noticed he had the same pose in all of them. 

At the same time, I also noticed that he typically had a toothpick stuck in his mouth.  The combination was actually rather jarring.  It made me start to wonder about that pensive, innocent look.  Maybe he’s just totally pissed off, looking away from the photographer in disgust.

Okay, enough jawin’.  Let me show you what I mean …

1962.  That first card I saw. 

What is he looking at?  What is he thinking?


1961.  Even more pensive.  He seems to be pondering life itself while he looks up to the heavens.

But is that a toothpick?


1964.  You can't tell from this shot, but he does indeed have a toothpick. Also, is he contemplating his place in the cosmos or is he just a little pissed off at being asked to pose?

1965.  Yup, that’s a toothpick.  Yup, he’s pissed off. 

If these cards had thought bubbles, this one would say, “Get out of my face, honky!  I’m way too cool for this shit.”

So, who was this odd fellow?  Well, he wasn’t a bad ballplayer.  He was up for nine years, with four different teams.  He was a starter for most of those years, hitting over 20 homers in four.  Overall, he got almost 3500 at bats and hit almost 150 homers.  Unfortunately, his lifetime average was only .240.

That average may have had something to do with his heading off to Japan.  Unlike most American players, though, he found the Land of the Rising Sun pretty welcoming.  He played there for six years, learned the language, and married a Japanese girl.  I don’t know, maybe she just had a thing for guys with toothpicks.

* - author has this card


  1. Did Willie only chew on the toothpick in the dugout, or did he chew on it when fielding?

  2. It's the $64,000 question, isn't it?

  3. He was the third Willie in San Francisco, with Mays and McCovey.

    I notice they didn't bother to airbrush over the Cleveland logo on his 1964 card.

  4. That is interesting. There wasn't a lot of airbrushing in those days, though there are plenty of guys sans chapeau or with the bill turned up so you can't see the logo.