Carbonic Spray: The Sad Case of Ken Holtzman

CHI-N - Ken Holtzman poseFor pitcher Ken Holtzman, it’s a moment from his past he’s not likely to forget: standing in the Cubs’ bullpen between innings, staring up at the scoreboard looming high over the center field seats, and suddenly feeling a misty coolness settle softly on his face, neck, and arms. Above him, leaning over a railing surrounding the bleacher section, was a fan holding a large cup of soda, its bubbly carbonation splattering down onto Holtzman like a drizzly, sticky rain. And before he could do anything about it—before he knew it was even happening, actually—Holtzman had become permanently marked, like a man whose adult case of chicken pox had left his body riddled with scars.

sp78-carbonic-drink-80And so it was with my pristine Statis Pro player card of Holtzman, who during an SP78 match-up that was played sometime in the early-1990s, had been situated a little too close to the rocks glass of cola I’d been drinking during the game, and whose white cardstock had thus become stained with dozens upon dozens of tiny caramel-colored pinprick dots. And like so many other player cards damaged during my season—from creases to rubber band marks to potato chip stains—his was now stricken with this unique blemish for the remainder of his career, a constant and ugly reminder that taking part in a baseball board game is not always as safe as it looks.

Since that fateful day, whenever I’d play a game and would have a glass of Pepsi or Coke Classic with me at the desk or table, I would always make sure to place it at a reasonably safe distance from the board and cards. Thankfully, after 2008, when I stopped drinking soda altogether, the game and its players were never again in danger of accidental carbonation damage. Of course, that’s of little consolation to our tainted friend Mr. Holtzman:



8 responses to “Carbonic Spray: The Sad Case of Ken Holtzman

  1. Never forget.
    Ken Holtzman

    • “The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.” —Douglas MacArthur

  2. What about your top base stealers, do you throw some dirt on them for all of the sliding into second? Also have you considered latex gloves to preserve the guys from your hand sweat? Or is it too late?

    • Oh, it is WAY too late for latex gloves! And base stealers have enough trouble dealing with saliva, grease, condensation, table residue, and the threat of bird poop (at the game played outdoors at Memorial Stadium) without having to worry about me wiping lawn dirt on them!

  3. Perhaps if Holtzman were more concerned with his goose egg in the “W” column than keeping his uniform spotless, his Cubs could have made a run at the mighty Phils. It’s baseball; strange substances are going to rain down on you once in a while!

    • I seem to remember a couple of guys at Anaheim Stadium getting ‘rained on’ while watching an Angels game back in the 1990s; thank heavens that stain wasn’t permanent. And you’ll be happy to hear that Holtzman dropped the goose egg in July and won his first game, going 1/3 of an inning and allowing no runs in a 3-1 Cubs victory over the Giants at Candlestick Park. Of course, he finished the month with a 1-1 record, no saves, and an ERA of 16.27, but that’s neither here nor there.

  4. I’m surprised you didn’t jump on the whole “rubber gloves” idea lol!! So sad… poor Ken! Thanks for a fun one! Late to the dance again I see.

    • I’m guessing the rubber gloves would’ve opened up a whole new can of problems for the cards…but what those problems might’ve been, I have no idea. Latex powder decomposition, maybe?

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