Several years ago — I’m not sure exactly when, but I think 2003-ish — I had the window seat on an airplane. We were flying over a part of the Midwest that had lots of small towns packed fairly close together, like Ohio or Indiana, and we were at that altitude where you can make out certain landscape details, like farm plots or lakes or big freeway interchanges. I was sort of taking it all in without actually noticing or thinking about any of it, in that daydreamy, free-associative way that people tend to have when looking out an airplane window.
At some point I made out a baseball diamond on the ground below. And then another. And another. It suddenly struck me that there were lots of baseball diamonds down there. Their elemental simplicity and geometric perfection seemed somehow magnified by my high-altitude vantage point. Some of them had the full grass-and-dirt infield:
Others had all-dirt infields, with no grass:
Some, like the two shown above, were single fields, but there were also lots of fields that were grouped together:
Sometimes four or five fields were oriented so that they could also share a common outfield:
More often, though, the groupings were oriented with the home plates at the center, so that the outfields created a sort of four-leaf clover effect:
Sometimes there were several cloverleafs clustered together — groupings of groupings:
I decided to play a little game to see if we could go five seconds without my spotting a new ballfield. I looked out the window and silently counted: “One, two, three…” There was a new diamond. “One, two…” Another one. “One, two…” Another. “One…” Another.
Over the course of ten minutes or so, I never got to five. It struck me that this endless series of baseball diamonds formed a sort of tattoo on the landscape. And a uniquely American tattoo, at that — what would an Englishman or an Ethiopian, for example, make of this:
To many foreigners, that’s just a bare patch of land. But to an American, its true identity as a baseball diamond is unmistakable.
I remember thinking at the time, “There has to be something I can do with this” — some sort of article or art project — but I never got around to it and then I forgot all about it. I was reminded of it during that Pop-Up Magazine thing I took part in last month, because one of the other participants was an artist named Jenny Odell, who specializes in making collages from Google Earth satellite imagery. Here’s one she displayed at Pop-Up — it supposedly shows every basketball court in Manhattan. Not bad, but I think basketball courts aren’t quite as distinctive-looking as baseball diamonds.
Incidentally, I found many of the photos featured in this entry simply by searching for “baseball aerial” on Flickr — a search that yields nearly 700 results. Some of them are really interesting. One grouping of fields, for example, looks like a star, or maybe a sand dollar (that’s a tough effect to achieve, because you need to have dirt foul lines all the way through the outfields, which is a high-maintenance format); another grouping looks like a dollar sign. Ultimately, though, it’s the simpler sandlot diamonds, with their endearing no-frills-ness, that I find the most appealing.
By Brinke Guthrie
Want to own a patch just like the one the Royals and Cards were wearing last weekend? Here you go. And that’s just the start of a great Collector’s Corner haul this week:
• Here’s a patch celebrating the 1969 Mets, just for Paulie. [As any Mets fan could tell you, they misspelled Tommie Agee's first name. Common error. — PL]
• I like how this 1960 Patriots program refers to the game as a “Professional Football Exhibition.”
• I would almost commit a felony to have this “Kruk & Kuip” Giants bobblehead from 2003 or so. They were sold in a limited quantity, and they go for a ton every time. If you have one and want to give it to me, I’ll take it.
• Staying with bobbles, check this out: a three-foot-tall Cal Ripken Jr. bobble, complete with a maniacal look on his face.
*More O’s: This way for parking at Memorial Stadium.
• Remember the 1960s NFL Punt Pass Kick Library series? Man, I bet I had every title.
• Your 1977 Eagles Action Mate can “Do It Like The Pros,” according to the box.
• Here’s one from Mike Hersh: an early Expos fan’s scrapbook.
Seen something on eBay that you think would make good Collector’s Corner fodder? Send your submissions here.
Cap-ital idea: Someone over on the Chris Creamer board has been working on a graphic showing every MLB cap logo since 1950. It includes alts and BP caps but does not include one-time promotions like throwbacks, TATCs, flag-desecration, etc. He’s been revising it as other Creamer-ites have pointed out errors and omissions, and I imagine there are still a few tweaks that need to be made, but it’s a fun project. For one thing, I never would have guessed that the A’s and Orioles had the most cap styles over the years. Good stuff.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering: When referring to stuff that happens on the Creamer discussion board, the reason I never link directly to the thread is that it’s a registration-required board, so I don’t want to provide a link that, for most of you, won’t be functional. And I always refer to “someone on the Creamer board” because all the participants on that site use pseudonyms. OK? OK.
Membership update: A new batch of cards has been added to the membership design gallery (including Stephen C. Boyd’s very nice Arsenal treatment, shown at right, and several more sign-ups from Purple Amnesty Day). The printed versions of these cards should mail out later this week. I believe we’re now caught up on everyone except for Dan Patterson (just need to fix a glitch in the design — should be done later today or tomorrow) and Nick Werner (your design request is proving to be challenging, but we’ll get to it soon, promise).
As always, you can join in the festivities by signing up here.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Are you ready for URL suffixes like .coke and .nike? They could be coming. Maybe I should set up .uni. … With the Bills set to unveil their new uniform set this Friday, the team’s web site is running a series of excellent uni-related articles. Here’s one on Bills uni numbers, and this one is about the team’s biggest, smallest, dirtiest, etc. uniforms (big thanks to Tim Tryjankowski and Nick Schiavo, respectively). … Encouraging news from Joe Kuras, who writes: “Last year the Grafton Lake Sox, a summer league baseball team for 16- to 19-year-olds, experimented with two-in-one faux stirrups. The concept of wearing the pants high to show the socks was a hit with the team, and the majority of players asked to go with real stirrups this year.” Excellent to hear that the youngs are opting for proper hosiery, but they need to learn that stirrups and high-top shoes don’t mix. … With 80-year-old Jack McKeon taking over as the Marlins’ skipper, many people are pointing out that McKeon is now the second-oldest MLB manager ever, trailing only Connie Mack. But Mack, of course, wore civvies, so McKeon has now set the mark as the game’s oldest uniformed manager. When asked how the game had changed since his previous managerial stint, McKeon said, “Now they make us wear this stupid swoosh-collared undershirts. When did that shit start?” You can make all the jokes you want about the Marlins leading the league in liver spots or whatever, but I think it’s all pretty great. Can’t wait to see if McKeon can actually scamper out and get in an ump’s face after a bad call, but the bigger question now is whether Loria will hire JoePa as the next skipper after McKeon. … Speaking of baseball lifers, Matt Holliday plans to keep wearing Red Schoendienst’s pants. … And speaking of Connie Mack, here’s something you might not know (and that I had forgotten about): The 1950 Philly A’s marked Mack’s 50th anniversary as skipper by wearing gold-trimmed uniforms, along with this sleeve patch. … A very cranky Rob Ullman reports that the Richmond Flying Squirrels “undid a season and a half’s worth of good uni karma — gained from wearing striped stirrups — by sporting these monstrosities for Jimmy Buffett Night on Saturday.” … Here’s a weird one: What’s up with this white-vs.-white NBA game? Anyone know more? (Good find by Matt Beahan.) … Doug Smith notes that there was some patch trouble during the USA/Jamaica Gold Cup match. … New kit for Tottenham (with thanks to Kenny Loo). … I really like this old AFL-CIO baseball jersey, but unfortunately it’s too small for me. … And this nice Durene jersey is too big. Grrrrrr. … Tom Adjemian reports that a stationery store in Philly has a window display featuring what appears to be a paper representation of a sock monkey wearing a Phillies uni. … EyeBlack.com has inked a deal with MLB (with thanks to Matthew Robins). … Ethan Allen checked in to inform me that the Everett Aqua Sox will be wearing really cool Mariners-inspired throwbacks this Sunday. I like, I like. … Yeah, whatever. … Outmania hits New York tonight, as Josh Outman starts against the Mets. Unfortunately, I already have plans for the evening, which may be just as well, since I might end up with a serious case of divided loyalties. … Kyle Ostendorf sent along a close-up view of that Notre Dame throwback. Man today’s football jerseys just look ridiculous when they’re not stretched around shoulder pads and a torso, no?
Patience, my son: I know I promised that there would be U.S. Open coverage today, but there’s been a slight delay. Tomorrow, I promise.