For 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.
And 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: