I suspect this was yet another poor Mickey Mantle card defaced by some sinister younger sibling. Then whilst bleary-eyed and weeping over the wreckage, the elder and unlucky baseball enthusiast apparently attempted to haphazardly repair the damage with a damn eraser tip.* The result seems to have left Mickey with something resembling a five o’ clock shadow, along with some scaly scar tissue. Personally, though, I think the restoration novice should have kept the remainder of the card untouched. I always felt Mickey looked rather dashing in glasses–a flare of bespectacled geek-chic.
*Experts now work absolute miracles on damaged cards! (I love the story about the almost literal “pirates chest” of old Ty Cobb tobacco cards glued to its lid. You also gotta dig the dude’s business name: Gone with the Stain.)
OK, I know you’re going to think I’m crazy, but I can explain—really, I can. You see, when this card first came into my possession it already looked like this. . . .
So it was not exactly in pristine condition in the first place. And although even my wife advised against it, I just couldn’t help myself. Perhaps it had something to do with a few too many glasses of scotch whiskey that I found myself with a cheap, blue ballpoint Paper Mate pen gravitating in hand towards the card’s surface already besieged as well by fate’s hand with so many creases & folds like topographic ranges and rifts.
Honestly, however, it was the ghost of some poor child’s only half-finished doodle that compelled me to this act of insanity. For I can almost see the scene playing from out of the past: the oft-neglected, attention-starved younger sibling of a baseball enthusiast creeping into his brother’s ill-lit, forbidden bedroom, opening the closest door, and reaching for the first card on top of the floor stack. And I even envision the boy menace taking pause to gleefully admire his nearly finished masterwork of Willie’s goatee and Mickey’s newly grown beard. Of course, all of this comes before a deafening scream rings in his ears and he finds himself being yanked by the collar of his little Lacoste polo shirt and flung in the air.
So now you see. I really had no choice but to honor whoever the unfortunate, anonymous brat and this perhaps now long-forgotten act of cardboard defacement—though, come to think of it, none of it may be forgotten in the least. For all I know, the parties involved may still harbor some deep-buried, dark sentiments to this day.