I do not know how or when it got there but it’s still there
So uh… Ron Kittle was the Designated Hitter for the Chicago White Sox in 1990. Despite ostensibly being the offensive power presence expected out of the average Designated Hitter, he looks like a bit of a dork with those huge glasses. I find it very interesting that it was, at one point, normal for a professional athlete in the greatest baseball league in the world to wear huge glasses like that. I could not imagine a modern Major Leaguer wearing something like that. But that was just baseball in the pre-strike, pre-steroids era, I guess. Baseball guys didn’t have to look cool, they just looked whatever way they did and people went ahead and watched baseball.
Anyway Ron’s card has been sitting on my TV stand for some time, and I don’t remember how it got there. But it still, indeed, sits there. Ron Kittle, with his huge glasses, confused grimace, and hat with a letter that must be a C but I could believe is at least four other letters, sits on my TV stand.
Donruss was a baseball card company, notable for being the shitty baseball card company, back during the time when the baseball card economy was so powerful that there could be a shitty baseball card company that kept its head above water. I’ve recently done a quick Google search and apparently there’s only one company (Topps) still licensed to produce Major League Baseball cards.
Baseball cards seem like such an arcane concept to my Zillenial eyes. A thin little piece of cardboard with an image of an athlete on them I have to imagine is hardly attractive to a young fan in the age where Major League Baseball can post highlights on Twitter before a game ends. The Ron Kittles of the modern era are much more available through the online media. Back in 1990, you needed to buy a pack of Donruss cards just to find out what Ron Kittle’s batting average in the 1988 season was. Anything I want to learn about the White Sox’s (Sox’s? Sox’? Who knows) Designated Hitter I can take from a Wikipedia and Pro Baseball Reference search and deliver to you in the paragraph right after the jpeg which follows the end of this sentence.
The starting Designated Hitter for the White Sox in their most recent loss to the Minnesota Twins on Friday, July 26th, is a former catcher from the Dominican Republic named Welington Castillo. Wikipedia tells me that he has the nickname “Beef”, after “Beef Wellington”, the gross British meal. Wikipedia also tells me that he was suspended for eighty games last season after testing positive for the performance-enhancing drug Erythropoietin.
And just like that, we know a significant amount about Welington Castillo. We, honestly, know more about Welington Castillo than we do about Ronald (Ron) Dale Kittle despite having a physical object with his name, likeness, and history depicted.
But perhaps that’s the beauty of an old baseball card. All that this 1990 Donruss Ron Kittle card depicts is the man Ron Kittle was in 1990, and only a small sample of it at that. It doesn’t describe what, for example, Ron Kittle’s very detailed website does. Ron Kittle’s website kicks ass, and describes in detail how he went from working with iron to playing his rookie season in Major League Baseball as a 25-year-old, to holding down a decade-long career as a professional, to settling down and living what seems like a good, fulfilling life after retirement. You can buy handmade baseball bats at his store.
So, I suppose the Ron Kittle card still being on my TV stand can provide a lesson to all of us. Each of us will have our 1990, where we’re kind of squinting at our own sun wearing our own version of huge glasses, playing for our own version of the White Sox. But remember – that’s only one card in a long career. Perhaps the version of you on your current card is in an awkward stage, maybe batting a little bit worse than the year before, and maybe the Donruss photographer took a particularly unflattering photo of you. Or perhaps you’re like me, unbelievably attractive, well-desired by all parties, with no debilitating mental illness, and certainly a marketable set of skills. All of our cards are different.
But, regardless, thirty years are going to pass by from this day, and you have the power to let that 1990 Donruss sitting on some dipshit’s TV stand be just a single snapshot of a life well-lived. Perhaps in thirty years, you’ll be selling $7,500 baseball bats of your own from a website with a Harriet Tubman quote and a picture of you at Stonehenge on the homepage.
Perhaps you’ll still be serving a suspension after your urine tests positive for Erythropoietin. Nobody knows, and nobody has the power to decide that except for you, reader.
Personally I believe that my baseball card at the moment is one of those special ones with a sample of my Old Navy khaki shorts on it. You can read more of whatever I do at Twitter, Facebook, and you can give some little financial support at Ko-Fi