The happy, tragic tale of Charlie (Victory) Faust

FAUST final font

The popular version of the Faust story, as recounted by Fred Snodgrass in The Glory of Their Times (1966), among other similarly feel-good retellings, left me with an overall warm, nostalgic feeling. Indeed, it’s one of the many engaging oral histories about baseball offered in Lawrence S. Ritter’s magnificent compilation. Taken at face value, the Cinderella baseball yarn that Snodgrass weaves doubtlessly remains a joy to read–for it’s a universal story about long-held aspirations and briefly attained dreams. It’s about the game’s early mascots and old superstitions. But it’s mostly about the not-so-secret life of baseball’s Walter Mitty. . . .

Sadly, though, the true story of Charlie Faust does not really end as suggested by the Snodgrass interview.

*1960 Leaf fantasy baseball card created par moi.

Who was Frank Truesdale?

Truesdale final

If you don’t know about Frank Truesdale, then you’re probably not alone. You may also be scratching your head at the peculiar sight of the featured T205 card of Truesdale from 1911. Well, that’s because it’s my own little tribute (see “fantasy card”) that I made for this wholly unappreciated, unknown ballplayer.

Nevertheless, Truesdale was still a ballplayer in the majors, which in itself is an achievement that not many of us can claim. He played for some four, albeit irregular, seasons over the course of eight years from 1910 to 1918, playing with the St. Louis Browns, New York Yankees, and Boston Red Sox. He hit one home run in his career and batted well under .300, though those numbers certainly aren’t unusual or even particularly poor in the aptly named dead-ball era (don’t you just love that phrase?). However, his “on-base percentage” was an improvement at .318. He largely fielded at 2nd base, and in his last season with the Red Sox he garnered a whopping salary of $2,120. He appears to have retired from baseball altogether in 1918, and he died in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1943.

Of course, so many players of Truesdale’s lackluster “name” status exist in baseball’s history. Largely, a life such as Truesdale’s utterly unsung existence is but a mere blip, a smattering of seemingly meaningless statistics, a smudge in the baseball almanacs and reference books. Moreover, many of these early ballplayers never received even the minimal acknowledgement of having their likeness imaged on a cheaply printed tobacco card insert. For some, not one photograph remains.

Thankfully, we do have a small photographic record for Truesdale. In fact, one such artifact appears strikingly clear and preserved: archived in the digitized holdings of the Library of Congress, this glass plate photo-negative of Truesdale from his days as a Yankee.*

truesdale, lrg

The black and white photo image was combined with a scanned T205 card to create the topmost featured one–violà. The result is far from perfect, though better than I had expected. I would love to make more of these, especially for unknown players like Truesdale, but we’ll need to see if it’s–er–in the cards. Finally, if I had to give this activity a lofty, academic-inspired term, perhaps I’d call it revisionist history (via baseball cards).

 

Truesdale final cartoonized

*Indeed, the LOC contains a number of these stunning early photographic images of ballplayers and other athletes. Better yet, the LOC also houses a special collection of thousands of old baseball cards.

Card notes: My mission was to create a Truesdale tribute card with my limited photo editing skills (mostly using Pixlr).  And for fun I also made an alternative, more cartoonish card (directly above). The process can be time consuming and tedious (at least for me), but maybe there’s just a learning curve.

Sources: Player pages and other info on Truesdale may be found at the following sites: Baseball-reference.com, Wikipedia, and the Library of Congress.

“Mayhem” with Muppets! “1972 Electric Mayhem”

No matter the multiple webs on these internets, what scattered breadcrumbs tangled therein–somehow I stumbled upon these brightly colored, ping pong ball eyeball-popping, and felt-inspired creations. There wasn’t even a choice: I simply had to share. . . .

TBCB Muppets, Dr. Teeth

TBCB Muppets, Floyd Pepper

TBCB Muppets, Zoot

TBCB Muppets, Janice

And then, of course, the crowd favorite. . . .

TBCB Muppets, Animal

Fantasy Muppet cards courtesy of Travis Peterson (a.k.a. PunkRockPaint), from The Baseball Card Blog. See the original fantasy Muppet cards post here.

Pretty good. Pretty, pretty, pretty good.

My Bill Murray Fantasy Baseball Card

This story simply just warmed my heart. Like many others of my ilk (i.e. the generation who came of age in the often gaudy and cultureless culture of “the 80s”), I looked forward to few events with as much pure glee as a Bill Murray film. Yes, I am one among many in that massive, devoted audience who “grew up on” Bill Murray’s deadpan antics. In fact, I believe Murray’s performances single-handedly informed me about the very meaning of that word, deadpan. I still remember my first Bill Murray film and can even more vividly recall my response of falling from the sofa to the floor laughing at that scene in Ghostbusters when the giant library bookshelf creaks, teeters, and falls—and nearly squashes Dr. Peter Venkman in the process. And I believe Murray’s reaction to the mishap made me laugh all the more uncontrollably.

Few memories from my childhood survive with such forceful nostalgia as that for Murray’s roles and movies—except perhaps for baseball and baseball cards, which stack up very closely to this high esteem. Thus the story of author Peter Richmond’s few days of complicit misadventures with Murray in Chicago soaking up the ballpark sun, beer, and Polish sausage proved an almost Proustian read and experience. So grateful was I for this glimpse that I was compelled for some show of appreciation.

After an utterly embarrassing amount of time, thought, and effort, I finally came up with this.

Steve Zissou card

(My thanks to thingsdonetocards for partly inspiring this creation–and since I kind of borrowed part of their Fleer ’82 Tony Danza/Micelli fantasy card as a template.)