At Christmastime of 1973, I know it because of the inscription, I received one of the best presents ever.
I know this because I still have the book.
My beautiful parents considtently hit the nail on the head when it comes to gifts. Always have, always will.
The way in which they carefully select presents for everybody is so flattering and so enduring. This book was a slam dunk for 8-year-old me because it was about everything that I loved at the time and still love today.
“The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading and Bubble Gum Book” was presented to me 43 Decembers go and it has been with me ever since.
The 152-page journey through the National Pastime via baseball cards was in my bedroom on Fourth Street in Wilmette, Ill., through Central School, Howard Junior High School and New Trier High School.
I brought it to Marquette University and it came with me as I got married, got a job and raised a family.
The well-loved book’s jacket is gone, the pages are frayed and it is coffee-stained.
When I realized that today was the 73rd anniversary of Walt Williams’ birth, I pulled “The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading and Bubble Gum Book” off my living room bookshelf.
I revisited the passage devoted to Williams, the late White Sox fan favorite, and it all came back to me as to why I love this book. I could also tell it unquestionably influenced me as a fan, collector and writer.
“Dooley Womack, Rollie Fingers, Phil Roof, Juan Pizarro, (Scipio) Spinks, Duke Sims, Ron (Swoboda), Randy Hundley, Freddie Patek, Coco Laboy, Manny Mota, Zoilo Versailles.
“Don McMahon is fifty-four years old.
“Rick Reichardt has only one kidney.
“Hoyt Wilhelm had his head screwed on sideways.
“Denny McLain really did all those things.
“And yes, Virginia, ‘Walt Williams’ had no neck.
“And his legs weren’t particularly long either.”
Christmas shopping is more than a shopping assignment for a gift grab. Get someone you love something you know they will love and will keep.