Sunday, February 15, 2009

Future Star

If there had been a “Slimbo – Future Star” card, it would have been circa 1994. Like Sandy Alomar, I too was embarking on a career replicating my father’s. Right out of school, I’d been drafted into the big show – for me it was the now defunct former great, Arthur Andersen – the New York Yankees of Accounting firms. They gave me a starting salary which was astronomical by college graduate standards.

So there I was - the Slimbo rookie card had me clad in a freshly purchased Brooks Brothers suit (purchased by my father, that is). Instead of ball and glove, you’d see golf bag and briefcase. My hair was that wonderful former helmet of black curls I once held. The back of my card would list private schools, fraternity parties and golf courses as though they were minor league clubs I’d cut my teeth upon.

But the most prominent feature of the “Slimbo – Future Star” card would be the weightless smile I’d wear, much like the one seen on Sandy Jr. or Jim Thome. It’d be a smile fortified with the delusional belief that a future lay ahead rife with uncomplicated relationships and lucrative opportunities that would simply materialize into my outstretched hand like a baseball gently tossed by a teammate.

I love studying the faces on rookie cards. Do they exude the easy-going poise of Jim Thome as he watches an elder teammate knock one out during BP? Or, like John Smoltz, do the faces bear adolescent facial hair attempting to mask the insecurity, the overwhelming mortality felt by a youngster now realizing manhood’s cripplingly fine line between inertia and ecstasy.

Alas, a review of these cards must end with this brutal evaluation: was the “Star” label ever achieved or have the resulting years been rife with disappointment and anonymity?

Perhaps out there in the abyss, someone is pulling their Slimbo rookie card out of a shoebox and asking this very question…

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