Does This Catcher’s Mask Make Me Look Fat?

yall lookin mighty pretty

I don’t know much about the inhabitants of Clearwater circa 1895.  However, I presume they were all continually stricken with typhoid fever and smallpox, old-timey diseases unknown to the modern ballplayer thanks to the healing powers of a Phiten necklace.  It’s got titanium, OK?  That’s science. Bespectacled men with Erlenmeyer flasks and sexy lady-scientists with rebellious hemlines have proven that titanium, when formed into a multicolored braided necklace, frightens away the demonic spirits and ill humors that cause disease.

cover Returning to the topic at hand, the image above, staring creepily at you from within this webpage, was taken from A.M. de Quesada’s Baseball in Tampa Bay, an exploration of baseball in and around Tampa, largely via historical photographs.  It is available for purchase here.  Quesada informs us, “Members of a Clearwater baseball team enjoy a day of ball games while wearing women’s clothing to amuse the crowd of spectators, c. 1895.  This was not an unusual practice by local teams, as other teams would perform similar stunts to attract crowds to the games.  (Courtesy of Pinellas County Historical Museum.)”

Although I have scarcely read but a single chapter of this otherwise delightful Nook book, I can tell you this particular picture is a hell of a thing, certainly fit for framing and hanging directly above your youngest child’s bassinette, so as to instill in him a love of the game and an absolute terror of the men who played it.  Look at that ghostly-eyed killer, second from the right in the back row; the ray of Florida sunshine second from the left in the back row; and of course, the pièce de résistance, the bloodcurdling catcher’s-mask-and-prairie-dress ensemble.  Yeesh!



Hello, reader.  How are you?  Traipsing through the internet again?  Have you wandered here during another pre-study procrastination ritual ultimately leading to various what-if GPA calculations?  Don’t bother, because although the formulas may equal the number 2 followed by a decimal followed by another smallish number, exactly none of them equals a parent’s pride.

Or are your college days behind you?  Are you sitting at a cubicle, hunched over a homemade ham sandwich; siphoning off a few moments of free time from ACME Inc.’s network bandwidth?  Look at that sandwich.  Feel the weight of its soggy shame in your hands.  It has that soda can indentation again from being carried together in the paper sack, doesn’t it?  Of course it does, you pathetic bastard.

Although the unrelenting series of heartbeats and respirations you call a life may not have exceeded your expectations thus far, you may seek some solace in its small pleasures.  For the next 131 seconds you may live vicariously through the base runner’s experience, fraught with tense moments of public hesitation, uncertainty, and fear of letting others down.  Much like your wretched existence, probably.  So watch the video and then decide at each pivotal, paused moment whether the pitcher will pitch to home or attempt to pick you off, resulting in urgent howls of “BAAACK!” from your dugout.  Then, when your wistful daydream reaches its sad conclusion, sigh quietly to yourself, close your internetting browser, and produce another widget for The Man.