the “bogalusa bomber”

by

When I recently informed you trusty readers that I had embarked on a late winter’s mission of contacting retired players by mail, you probably had your fingers crossed that the Aardvark Attic of Appreciation would not snub Leslie Charles Spikes. The truth of the matter is that Charlie Spikes was one of the first players I pulled cards for. If pressed to name what I consider the top ten specimens from the 1975 Topps baseball set, this card (no 135) would be a no brainer.

charlie_spikes_1975_topps_135

I will take the liberty of assuming that since the envelope that “Charlie” returned my cards in was postmarked on January 24th, that he probably autographed them using a brand new Sharpie that he received as a gift for his 58th birthday the day before.

charlie_spikes_1974_topps_58

It is unfortunate that Topps failed miserably in the quality control of their cards during the mid 70s. Had I been in charge, I would have hired Charlie’s barber to oversee the slicing up of the card sheets given his obvious steady hands and attention to detail. As horribly-“aligned” as this 1974 card (no. 58) is, I am pleased that since I have it autographed, I have no need of searching for a better one.

Charlie appeared in some 670 games during the 9 seasons he spent in the major leagues playing for New York (AL), Cleveland, Detroit and Atlanta. Although Spikes led the Tribe with 23 homeruns in 1973, 1974 proved to be the Year of the Spike, as Charlie hit .271 over 568 at bats and drove in 80 runs. More that a quarter of those RBIs were the direct result of Spikes sending fans sitting in outfield seats home with smiles on their faces and the souvenir of a lifetime held proudly in their fists.

The Bogalusa Bomber’s numbers began declining immediately under the watchful eye of Frank Robinson at the onset of the 1975 season, and he really never regained his form. After playing time was reduced to almost nothing, Charlie retired from the game upon the conclusion of the 1980 season.

Life after baseball for Spikes included working in a textile factory until a back injury forced him onto the disabled list for good. Charlie still calls his birthplace- Bogalusa, Louisiana, “home.” Bogalusa is also the birthplace of legendary Big Easy pianist Professor Longhair.

– Kris

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One Response to “the “bogalusa bomber””

  1. oljoe73 Says:

    I did not know Bogalusa produced anything but a God awful stench from the paper mill and Professor Longhair.
    Charlie has a hotel bar now. I used to hit that place before getting hammered with the rest of the local college crowd on Wed. nights. Nice guy and loves to talk baseball.
    And if you were wondering – Boge Uh Loose Uh

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