Classic card of the week

Keith Atherton, 1989 Topps

Dearest baseball,

Where do I start? First, I love you. The way your seams feel in my hands makes me happy. I am smiling. Not on the outside, because I need to strike fear into my opponents by making them believe I will not hesitate to throw you at them. But on the inside.

You are a small little ball, but you have made my wildest dreams come true. Some people criticize your size. They say, “A baseball is too small! A ball that small will never achieve success in America! I can’t even see that ball it’s so small!” But if you were any bigger, I would not be able to throw you with such velocity and accuracy. You proved them all wrong, baseball. We proved them all wrong. I can see you just fine. With my glasses. When I am not wearing my glass, you look like a bloodstain on a blurry white rhombus.

Baseball, you have given me confidence to, among other things, grow a mustache. If it weren’t for you, I’d be working at daddy’s stupid firm. Just another Atherton son at Atherton & Sons. Daddy doesn’t allow facial hair there, because he said it’s “not professional.” Even Bill had to shave his goatee. They’re so white collar those guys—sometimes I don’t even think I’m related. But you, baseball, have afforded me the type of lunch-pail image I have always desired. You were born of fishermen and steel workers looking for additional work with limited pay. Now, I make a ridiculous amount of money throwing you around for what amounts to like, four hours a year. But sometimes I get dirty and sweaty doing so, and my mustache absorbs the sweat, and people like that. They respect that. You have made me who I am, baseball. You have made me … a man. I mean, my fingernails are really dirty right now. I don’t even care.

One day, somebody who has not mistaken me for a different player will ask me to sign you. I will refuse, so as not to diminish your worth. I wish you had hands, baseball, because I would ask you to sign me. Right on my heart, because that is where you have left an indelible mark.

I don’t know if I will ever see you again, because I don’t know if I will pitch today. I wanted to let you know how I feel, right here, right now. I hope you can hear me. If we meet again this afternoon, I want you to know this: If we face Kittle, I’m aiming for the ribs. So do your thing. Meet me on the other side.

All my love,