Posts Tagged ‘movies’

flat screenings: diminished capacity (2008)

February 1, 2011

Can you think of a better way to celebrate Ernie Banks’ 80th birthday than to watch a quirky indie film that features him playing himself signing autographs at a baseball card show in the Windy City? Well sure, probably… but that’s what I did Monday night, so I’m going to blog about it.

Clearly Mr. Cub’s highest profile role since he played a judge in the 2003 film “Malibooty,” Diminished Capacity also stars Alan Alda as the colorful owner of a baseball card that MAY prove more meaningful to him than the cold hard cash it could be exchanged for. Matthew Broderick plays Alda’s nephew with fewer tricks up his sleeve than Inspector Gadget. – ROAD TRIP!!!!



Diminished Capacity was a book
some 10+ years before it became a movie, so you may have read it. I haven’t. Instead, I will wait for the graphic novel to be released.

Overall, I found the movie entertaining, and not just because of all the baseball card angles. Chances are, if you are reading this blog, you will catch yourself laughing during this film. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil the movie for you. (That’s what trailers are for.)

– Kris

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the bandit

December 6, 2010

You may be wondering why I selected a 1975 Citroën for the background of my image of Ken Berry’s autographed 1975 Topps baseball card. Then again, you may not. Regardless of whichever it may be, the car’s antennae reminded me more or less of how Berry held his bat in this photo. Actually, the logo of his brainchild, the Ken Berry League Southwest Youth Athletic Association, Inc. is also quite similar.

Ken Berry – 1975 Topps no. 432

Allen Kent Berry, no relation to Franken Berry, was kind enough to autograph his card for my collection honoring my thru the mail request. I am a huge fan of baseball cards that feature players in front of empty sections of ballparks. I’d like to imagine that someone asked the photographer if they should move the bat on the ground out of view, and he (or she) replied, “Nah… someone at Topps will simply airbrush it out later.”

Working as a technical advisor on the film “Eight Men Out,” Berry got into the movie near the end playing the fan that heckles Shoeless Joe Jackson during a minor league game. There’s your fun fact for the day.

– Kris

you know… “cherry flavored PEZ”

December 1, 2008

Contrary to popular belief, not every blog that feeds my RSS reader is dedicated to baseball card collecting. A few discuss the actual sport of baseball, several explore the Zen of fantasy baseball and some are related to the art of baseball photography. If you must know, I also follow a handful of non-baseball blogs including those related to the Albuquerque music scene (so I’ll be sure to not miss Lou Reed’s next visit), select historical and archaeological blogs, and one maintained by a friend who runs long distances without being chased by anything.

Additionally, I subscribe to blogs I encounter while cyber surfing that I believe are well written and entertaining- regardless of the subject matter. One such blog, “WWdN: In Exile,” belongs to an author named Wil Wheaton. You may have heard of him. I’m a little slow on the uptake, so I can’t tell you how long I had been reading Wil’s writings before this post on Thanksgiving Eve made me realize he was the kid from the Star Trek: The Next Generation television series. That’s kind of neat.

When I told my wife about this revelation the following day, it took her approximately one nanosecond to “remind” me that Wil Wheaton was the kid who played Gordie in the 1986 Rob Reiner film Stand By Me. Now THAT’S kool!

stand-by-me_01-wheaton-pez

Everyone’s seen the movie, right? I mean, I don’t need to go into detail and describe that the story revolves around a gang of four twelve-year-old boys that sets out in search of the body of recently killed kid from a nearby town that they didn’t know. As often is the case with awesome road films such as Stand By Me, Easy Rider and National Lampoon’s Vacation, it isn’t really about the destination, but rather the journey. (It should be noted that neither the author of this post nor the partners of Aardvark Trading Company endorse the playing of “mailbox baseball” as depicted by the more “mature” gang in the film.)

If you haven’t watched this movie in a while, you should make an effort to do so. If nothing else, you will see some groovy baseball cards tacked to the wall of Gordie’s deceased older bother Denny’s (John Cusack) bedroom that has been left untouched by his family since his accidental death in April of 1959. These cards generated a considerable amount of controversy amongst the baseball card collecting community in the mid- to late-eighties after many began declaring “foul” for the use of the 1960 Topps Yogi Berra card (no. 480) in a movie supposedly set during the summer of 1959.

stand-by-me_02-mantle-berra-pez

Although the 1958 Topps Sport Magazine Mickey Mantle card (no. 487) fits nicely into the supposed movie timeline, I’m intrigued by the artistic concept that would portray any kid as choosing to display two of the same card in different parts of his room. There are more baseball card goodies to pick apart as you can see in this second image, but I’ll leave those for you to discover at your leisure.

stand-by-me_03-cusack-pez

While the use of these cards was certainly a mistake, at least the set designer didn’t use 1985 Topps cards. I also assume that Topps had nothing to do with this, so it falls outside the realm of their normal gimmickry. The bottom line is that this error in no way detracts from the overall appeal of this wonderful film. I wonder what ever became of those particular movie props…

I find it interesting that similar to Gordie Lachance, Wil Wheaton grew up to be an author not unlike the contemplative adult character played by Richard Dreyfuss. I particularly enjoy Wheaton’s thoughts on video games past and present, and the random silliness he shares with his readers. Wil doesn’t write about baseball often, but when he does, he provides an interesting fan’s perspective. The dude’s been blogging regularly since 2001, so I suspect that I’ve missed more than one of his baseball postings in the WIL WHEATON dot NET: 1.5 archives.

I never collected Star Trek trading cards, so I don’t have any to send to Wil in an effort to obtain his autograph through the mail. If you have any duplicate Wesley Crusher – Star Trek: The Next Generation cards you are willing to trade, you know where to find me. I’m thinking I should have one on hand in case I bump into Wil at a book signing, or in the off chance that Wil drops into Isotopes Park to check out a few Los Angeles Dodgers prospects in action next summer.

I realize that Wheaton has been involved in a ton of projects beyond Stand By Me and Star Trek (now that I’ve checked out his IMDB bio). However, Star Trek is probably the only project that resulted in the creation of his own action figure. I can tell you that Wil was not included in the PEZ Star Trek Collector’s Series gift set that consists only of characters from the original series.

– Kris

whatever happened to baby doll jacobson

June 9, 2008

I was searching through the names of baseball players past looking for someone I could tie loosely to the movie “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane,” to use as an introduction to my subject of the use of baseball cards in movies. (I’ll get to that in a bit.) That movie has nothing to do with baseball or baseball cards- I just thought it would make for a fun title.

At any rate, I ran across the name Baby Doll Jacobson, and decided that it sounded interesting enough to me to justify further research. Probably by now you are beginning to figure out why I tend to have difficulties finding time to blog frequently. As it turns out, William Chester Jacobson was born in 1890 in the tiny town of Cable, Illinois, located less than 50 miles from where I spent the vast majority of my first 20 years. Jacobson spent 11 years (1915-1927) in professional baseball, playing outfield and first base for the Tigers, Browns, Red Sox, Indians, and Athletics. Baby Doll recorded 3,933 putouts in 4,073 chances, which translates to a lifetime fielding percentage of .973. Jacobson also maintained a career batting average of .311 with 787 runs scored and 819 driven in over 5,507 at bats. Baby Doll hit 83 homeruns during his professional baseball career, and in 1922, recorded his only grand slam. Jacobson passed away during the early winter of 1977, and was laid to rest in Colona, Illinois, again only about 50 miles from where I grew up. It is a shame that I didn’t know about this person before today.

Baby Doll was only a teammate of Ty Cobb for 37 games before he was traded to St. Louis (where he spent the majority of his career) for pitcher Bill James. Interestingly, two days after Jacobson’s first game with the Tigers, they signed a pitcher named Razor Ledbetter. I’ve decided to mention Razor here as well since he probably doesn’t get much attention, given his career stats of ONE inning pitched in relief in which he gave up a single hit- no walks- no runs (earned or otherwise)- no hit batters. Razor also failed to record any strikeouts, which suggests that he wasn’t fooling anyone. Perhaps that is why he decided to hang up the cleats after that one appearance.

What got me started on this particular blog entry was the beginning of the film “Big,” where best pals Josh and Billy were opening packs of baseball cards after school. The cards appeared to be packs of 1987 Topps, which makes sense given that the movie was released during the summer of 1988. I would imagine that those particular cards were tossed, or could not be located today. And probably few would care if they could.

However, there is another movie that contained a baseball card (of the cigarette variety) that possibly could be located today either in some movie memorabilia collection, or less likely- in a vault at MGM. There are a couple of scenes in the Frank Sinatra-Gene Kelly musical Take Me Out to the Ballgame (1949) in which cigarette cards of Wolves shortstop Eddie O’Brien (Gene Kelly) are used as props- including one scene where O’Brien gives the cards to several young boys who are waiting to meet the players. I snapped a photo of a close-up of the card as it demonstrates that someone in the MGM art department was on the ball. I wonder how many of these things were made, and where it/they ended up.

Strangely, there was a non-fictional Eddie O’Brien who broke into the major leagues four years after the film was released as a shortstop with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He would have been only 18 when the movie was made, so I presume the use of his name was coincidence. This particular O’Brien made baseball history when he and his brother Johnny became the first twins to play for the same team in a major league baseball game. The twins were also on the same Seattle University Chieftains basketball team that stunned the sporting world in 1952 by upsetting the Harlem Globetrotters by a score of 84-81.

Finally, in an effort to bring this full circle and leave your brain spinning like a dog chasing his own tail, it is reported that since Gene Kelly disliked a swimming number that he performed with Esther Williams for “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” they came up with an alternate number called “The Baby Doll.” Weird, huh? Apparently, it didn’t make the final director’s cut, which leaves me wondering…. What ever happened to Baby Doll (Jacobson)?

By the Beckett, Jacobson appears on 22 baseball cards printed between 1917-1927, in 1987, 1988 and 1993.

What other movies feature baseball cards?