Calling Dr. Spengler

1990 Topps Vance Law

Who knew that Dr. Spengler, or Egon to his pals, was a bespectacled ballplayer before he was a ghostbuster? Or that he played under the pseudonym of Vance Law? Did you know he was also an All-Star and played for the Cubbies? (Usually he batted late in the order, in the 5th, 6th, or 7th slots.) Later on his fatiguing career, he even joined the same team that Tom Selleck played for in Mr. Baseball, the Chunichi Dragons. Oh, Japan—the place where American ballplayers go to learn to let go, or die. But this is a world apart from all that. Here on his Topps trading card he has thrown off the lab coat’s cold sterility. Gone is the science of paranormal rubrics and metrics. Look how he leans along the brick, elbow-high wall as the sun’s reflective glare gilds a sea of green seats in a rising hot flare. He stirs laughter yet confounds in a perfect portrait of hopeful nonchalance. He’s straight man to the funny man but funny man to most men. Try not to chortle at that chewing gum grin, the thin-rimmed frames and broad lenses like twin pools of lucid, or transparent, dreams. While not quite a star, he’s a king among “commons”—full with wool-longing, love of flannel, pinstripe aspirations. Underneath the nerd’s goofy exterior, his heart quickens to sounds of vicarious crowds. Ballpark dreams. Dreams of ghosts.

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