is the memoir of Josh Wilker, a brilliant writer who has marked the stages of
his life through the baseball cards he collected as a child. It also captures
the experience of growing up obsessed with baseball cards and explores what it
means to be a fan of the game. Along the way, as we get to know Josh, his
family, and his friends, we also get Josh’s classic observations about the
central artifacts from his life—the baseball cards themselves.
Josh writes about an imagined correspondence with his
favorite player, Carl Yastrzemski; he uses the magical bubble-blowing powers of
journeyman Kurt Bevacqua to shed light on the weakening of the powerful
childhood bond with his older brother; he considers the doomed utopian
back-to-the-land dreams of his hippie parents against the backdrop of
inimitable 1970s baseball figures such as pinch runner Herb Washington and Mark
“The Bird” Fidrych. Cardboard Gods is
more than just the story of a man who can’t let go of his past, it’s proof
that—to paraphrase Jim Bouton—as children we grow up holding baseball cards,
but that in the end, we realize it’s really the other way around.
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