January 4, 2015

The 'Real' Natural

The holidays are over and with any luck I'm going to make this blogging thing a much more regular thing in the new year. I haven't been writing long enough to write the standard 'State of the Blog', 'Goals for 2015', or a recap of highlights from 2014 that I've seen across the blogosphere. 

So, where do I come up with inspiration for my first post of the year? I needed to look no further than a card I picked up at the December card show in Raleigh. 

At first glance, it's no more than a common 1955 Bowman single. Who is this Waitkus guy? It's when you turn this card over that you realize what a special piece of cardboard this is.

Does the story sound vaguely familiar to anyone out there? It was the inspiration for Bernard Malamud's 1952 novel, 'The Natural' which was given the Hollywood treatment in 1984. To many, it is one of the best baseball movies ever made. I think it's pretty great, but it's not my favorite baseball movie(that's a topic for another post). However, when I learned about this card's existence a few years back, I knew that I had to add it to my collection. There are so many things to love about this card. 
  • It's vintage.
  • It happens to be the first single from the '55 Bowman set that I own.
  • The back is, quite possibly, the most entertaining card back I can think of. I mean, where else are you going to see the word 'deranged' on a baseball card?
  • Let's not forget that Mr. Waitkus is telling us the story that turned into a beloved movie while appearing on a card design that makes it look like he is on television. Did I mention the light tower behind him? That, my friends, is irony.

If you take a look at the stats on the back of this card, it becomes obvious that the real 'Natural' couldn't hit with the power of Roy Hobbs, but if Hollywood didn't use artistic license, we wouldn't have this climactic scene:

It's funny how sometimes the worst of circumstances can inspire some of the best cinema. I'm happy to finally have this story, immortalized on cardboard, as a part of my collection.


  1. I don't know how, but I do not yet have a card of Eddie Waitkus. I'll have to change that in 2015. Always been a big fan of '55 Bowman, and the Waitkus is definitely a beauty.

    1. Thanks Nick! I didn't know if you knew about this card, but I definitely thought it would fit into your collection. I'll be sure to keep my eyes open for a copy to send your way.