Michael Chabon is probably my favorite living writer. I first began reading his work while I was in college. Chabon’s writing felt far more interesting and especially relevant to me at that age than, say, the stuffy and esoteric literary criticism of Samuel Johnson or Alexander Pope, which was what I should have been reading for a tedious course so imaginatively titled as 18th Century British Literature. In fact, Chabon’s unique style, his “flare” (for lack of a better term), proved all too infectious for me; in that department, he was in my mind second to none except maybe F. Scott Fitzgerald, and for better or worse I have yet to fully shake off the rather ornate shackles of such florid influences in my own writing. . . .
Then well over a decade after first encountering Chabon’s early fiction, I started to read his nonfiction with every bit as much enthusiasm. And that’s when I came across a piece called “A Gift” in a collection of essays, Manhood for Amateurs (2010). In “A Gift,” the narrator reflects on some of the intersections of boyhood and fatherhood—one such common thread being the gift of baseball cards, which his father sends him for a birthday present one year. And the cards? A handful of those painterly 1952 Bowmans.
So after about twenty years and not so much as a glance at a baseball card—as well as little interest in spectatorship when whispers of the steroid scandal began following 1998’s epic and, now it turns out, fictitious home run race—Chabon’s story at once rekindled a passion in me for both baseball and baseball cards. I couldn’t be more thankful.
Under an earlier, different title (“Baseball cards: communication between father, son”), Chabon’s story follows here.