American beauties, eh!

by

Regardless of whether you are from before, during, or after “my” time, chances are good that you had at least one opportunity to attend a Grateful Dead concert. Hopefully you took full advantage of that opportunity. After all, the Dead aren’t just Uncle John’s Band. I was lucky enough to have attended a Grateful Dead doubleheader in Las Vegas, Nevada in 1991. Or maybe it was 1990… Well. it was definitely in Las Vegas!

Artist Tim Harris created this fantastic Grateful Dead image that features a stylized 1988 Topps baseball card. The image was used on VIP all-access laminates during the Dead’s spring tour of 1992. Although the Dead archival data sheet for this particular artifact indicates that it was in use from March 1st thru the 24th, other information appears to suggest that the spring tour actually kicked off at Oakland Coliseum on February 22nd. Well, who could blame anyone who might have been there for not remembering all of the details clearly? I could swear, although I won’t, that this image was also available as a poster. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it was silk screened onto t-shirts as well.

1992_grateful_dead_laminate_1988_topps

Are you wondering about the significance of the jersey no. 27? I’m hardly a Dead Head, but my best guess is that since the Warlocks officially became the Grateful Dead in April of 1965, they would have been celebrating their 27th anniversary sometime around the conclusion of the 1992 spring tour. Original members of the Grateful Dead included Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, Phil Lesh and Bill Kreutzmann.

The Grateful Dead performed more than 2,300 live concerts over the decades, rivaling Cal Ripken’s 2,632 consecutive games played streak. Granted, these concerts weren’t “consecutive,” but if I had nothing better to do, I’m positive that I could round up an all-star cast of burnt-out characters whom you could never convince that the whole run wasn’t a single continuous event.

Still not convinced of a Grateful Dead/baseball connection? Consider that Phil Lesh, Bob Weir and one-time Dead member Donna Godchaux performed the National Anthem before the final Giants game at Candlestick Park against the Dodgers on September 30, 1999. It was reported that they finished that rendition in less than 90 seconds. You can bet Jerry Garcia would have been part of that moment if he hadn’t passed away four years before.

At some point after the Dead, Bob Weir began working on a musical about the life and time of Satchell Paige. Although I’m still searching for a recording of a performance of the musical by his group, Ratdog, I did find the lyrics to a song from that work entitled “Shoulda Had Been Me.” Supposedly, the song relates to Satchel’s feelings about Jackie Robinson becoming the first black major league baseball player.

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Given that I have zero interest in tangling with Bob Weir’s lawyers, here is a TASTE of that song…

“Ain’t no denyin’, ’cause it’s plain to see
Shoulda had been me

Yesterday’s a stranger, strolls on by so fast
Best forget the future if you’re living in the past
Nothin’ ain’t worth nothin’, all except what’s gonna last
Rest is all just days gone by

Nightbirds calling as the shadows fade away
Guess it’s gettin late now, ain’t much left to say
No hide-and-seek twilight games left to play
I just can’t figure why”

Edit: Special thanks to Mark of Mark’s Ephemera who contacted me with this URL for an mp3 download of Shoulda Had Been Me!

One thing about the Grateful Dead that has always been impressive is the mountain of merchandise that has been made available to the public- both official and bootleg. Dead t-shirts have always been well received by the people. The Lithuanian national basketball team proved that the bronze was the medal color of choice to go with tie-dye when they wore their Grateful Dead shirts to the 1992 Olympic award ceremony in Barcelona, Spain.

There are a number of classic baseball-themed Grateful Dead t-shirts, including the ever-popular “Steal Your Face” t-shirts. Personally, I’ve seen these shirts featuring the Giants, Reds, Mets and the other unmentionable New York team, but I’m sure others are available as well. Heck, it would appear that even Topps has figured out the merchandising power of the Dead as is evidenced by this underground Stadium Club card. The obvious error with this card is that there is no way in the world this fan is a rookie.  “Steal your Face?” Heck, he looks like he’d just as quickly steal your beer!

grateful_dead_giants_t-shirt_stadium_club_2009

I recently saw a Grateful Dead “1988 Spring Training” for sale on eBay with a Buy it Now price so astronomical that I can only imagine someone under the care of Timothy Leary purchasing it. (But it IS kool!)

Unfortunately, I was not able to locate the baseball card image on any merchandise on the “official” Grateful Dead website, but I would be willing to wager that anyone patient and self-disciplined enough to surf the internet and visit a number of headshops between the San Francisco Bay and eBay would be rewarded with many Dead baseball “miracles.”

grateful_dead_baseball_bear_2009

For example, if one was inclined, they could pick up this interesting Grateful Dead bear catcher sticker at liquidblue.com. (once they get more in stock). Pssst…. You can also purchase them every now and again on eBear, I mean, eBay (but the auction is sometimes listed as “umpire” instead of “catcher”).

Speaking of catching, if you’ve never seen a Dead concert, I highly recommend catching one as they tour this coming summer.

– Kris

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