Baseball: A Game of Pixels and Picas

Spring training has begun, and I am looking forward to another baseball season. Though I had played instructional league baseball with some interest as a small child, my real baseball life began when I was nine years old. In 1986, I attended my first game at Shea Stadium (Gary Carter hit a 2-run homer in the bottom of the 8th to beat the Padres), and was thus forever blessed with a passion for the game, simultaneously forever cursed with the albatross of Mets fandom. I spent the next six years or so with baseball as my primary obsession, until the Mets’ disastrous decline (I’m looking at you, Bobby Bonilla) as well as my discovery of music (and girls) caused me to take my eye off the ball for a few years.

With the exception of the odd blog like Uni Watch, design doesn’t get much attention in the sports world (and vice versa), but when I think back to my childhood, it’s clear to me that my first recognition of the power of design is directly related to my love of baseball. A poster with the logos of every major league team hung over my bed, and I would copy them over and over onto a sketch pad, until I could reproduce them from memory. Like some sort of ancient runes, those mysterious combinations of letters, animals, and assorted baseball paraphenalia entranced me for hours at a time (this, by the way, was what I considered the best logo of all time back then. Is it letters? Is it a glove? By Rollie Fingers’ mustache, it’s both!).

Then, of course, there were the baseball cards. I’ll leave the existential metaphysics of those gum-scented rectangles to the excellent Cardboard Gods, but the aesthetics of the things were among the many reasons why I still have a trunk of the things gathering dust in my parents’ attic like the Ark of the Covenant in the Well of Souls. I remember very clearly the excitement of opening my first pack of the new season’s offerings — what would this year’s crop look like? The elegant faux-wood of 1987 Topps? The warm gradients of 1989 Donruss? The glossy slickness of 1991 Upper Deck?

So you can imagine my excitement when a goofy project I proposed at work that involved designing baseball cards got a tentative go-ahead… and my disappointment when the project ultimately got nixed. If anyone would like some custom baseball cards designed for something (family reunions? graduating classes? actual baseball teams?), you know where to find me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *