Pack #4: One glove

One of the best things about baseball is the fact that at any time, something incredible could happen. In a sport obsessed with statistical analysis and probabilityit is the possibility that keeps me interested.

I guess that is what interested me in this blog format-- the possibility of discovery and all these interesting things I didn't know about players that I get to learn from random packs of unopened cards. Here's what awaited me in pack four:

Awesome mustaches here and I love Jeff Russel's intensity balanced with John Tudor's serenity. And doesn't Gooden's arm look like something out of a science experiment?

But there was one card here that felt a little bit heavier than the rest:

So this post is an ode to the last season Chet Lemon played Major League Baseball. This is a man who, incredibly, used a single glove his entire career. Look at the back of that card; that's a lot of action for one glove.

And the photograph couldn't be more fitting--an homage to a man at the end of his career, a card that reminds you, maybe, of the last time you don number 34, the last time you step up to the plate.

Did Chet Lemon know on October 3, 1990, that it would be the last time he would play major league baseball?

He may have a had a hunch after learning during a spring physical that he had polycythemia vera and feeling his performance during the1990 season not up to his standard. That he showed up to spring training in '91, though, and that he wasn't waived until three days before opening day makes me think he didn't.

He didn't know it in the top of the first when the Tigers hit the lineup on Steve Adkins, Lemon notching a line drive single to left field with no outs after a Gary Ward grand slam.

He didn't know it leading off the third with a fly out to deep left field.

Or in the top of the fifth, doubling to deep left field, moving Ward, who would score that inning, to third.

Or in the top of the seventh, after striking out looking, with Rich Monteleone throwing relief for Adkins.

And maybe he didn't know it in the top of the eighth, with Alan Mills in for Monteleone, that this would be his last major league at-bat.

Then he singled up the middle on a ground ball to center, finality at the plate with a shot sent right back up the middle to the spot on the field he spent most of his 15 years in the majors.
Of course, there are those who learn after the first few times. They grow out of sports. And there are others who were born with the wisdom to know that nothing lasts. These are the truly tough among us, the ones who can live without illusion, or without even the hope of illusion. I am not that grown-up or up-to-date. I am a simpler creature, tied to more primitive patterns and cycles. I need to think something lasts forever, and it might as well be that state of being that is a game; it might as well be that, in a green field, in the sun. 
-A. Bartlett Giamatti, The Green Fields of the Mind



  1. Whoa. He used one glove his entire career? That's really cool. I hope he has that on display in his trophy room.

    1. Yeah I thought it was crazy that he used the same glove since he came up to the majors in 75. I ran across an article from early in the 89 season that said his glove went missing when he was signing autographs and a PA announcement was made, the glove apparently being returned in time for the game. Pretty dang cool.