Please note that the poems and essays on this site are copyright and may not be reproduced without the author's permission.


Sunday, 7 March 2010

Fame


.

File:HonusWagnerCard.jpg





A hot dog paper blows across
the infield, passing into
shadows near third base.





File:WAGNER T206 HOF.JPG





The famous Honus Wagner T206 card, 1909, sold in 2007 for $2.8 million: National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
The 1909 Honus Wagner T206 card on display at the Hall of Fame: photo by Davidm8985, 2008

12 comments:

STEPHEN RATCLIFFE said...

Tom,

Thanks for these two -- spring training has begun (somewhere -- can it be so green there?), in parallel universes an uncanny echo of "shadows near third base" in "shadowed green canyon of ridge" ---

3.7

orange of clouds on horizon above black
plane of ridge, robin calling on branch
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

“firmness of representation,”
light draws to itself

“space into which one, look
through, with the eye”

silver of sunlight reflected in channel,
shadowed green canyon of ridge above it

TC said...

Steve,

The baby birds here are piping up this morning, spring training for them. Dogged exhausting failed stalking for the would-be hunters among the cats. Just another day on the road to the animal hall of fame for every creature.


One of the many shadows over my endarkened past is cast by my baseball card collection, which, when I was out of the country for nearly five years and evidently seemed lost forever (as I suppose I was), my mother threw away -- the cardboard cargo of golden memories... I'm pretty sure there was not one of those three million dollar Honus Wagner T206s in there, though.

zevstar said...

opening day

the game always started
on the trolley
with my head leaning
against the glass thrilling
at the closeness of the trees
and building rushing by
the ground disappearing
as we whizzed over bridges
the pittsburgh gorges opening up
ground returning more slowly

half an hour later
one little paw in my dad's
the other in my mitt
forbes field smoky with the green field
opening up the day

human being said...

soon it's gone with the wind... eh?

wish i knew more about baseball... perhaps i could understand the significance of the third base...

anyways the compactness and the image you've used is strikingly effective...

Curtis Roberts said...

You've said a lot here very briefly about fame and baseball both.

leigh tuplin said...

The romance of living history maybe. Thought provoking three lines.

TC said...

"soon it's gone with the wind... eh?"

Yes, that was a large part of the point here.

Honus Wagner was indeed famous once... a hundred years ago.

The other large part of the point was the way in which fame is always used to make money for somebody.

In this case the stolid fellow on the card disapproved of the uses of the card in its "delivery system" (i.e. in cigarette packages).

His insistence that the card be removed from circulation caused it to become extremely scarce, thus, over the years, driving up its value, eventually to ridiculous levels.

This is the American Way.

I somehow suspected it would take somebody who had no experience of the cultural "set" (baseball) to see this one in fair perspective.

"wish i knew more about baseball... perhaps i could understand the significance of the third base..."

Third base is at the corner of the field, where indeed the shadows cast by the stands begin to encroach, as afternoon deepens toward evening...

(In the time of Honus Wagner, of course, the sport was played exclusively in the daytime.)

human being said...

thanks a lot Tom... for the illumination... though your work was so perfect it could deliver the message...

the American way is international these days... the way fame brings money for some people... not necessarily the famous ones themselves...


business is the master of the world... the rest are just slaves to it...
even things such as health... education... and sadly... to a great extent arts...

where are we going?

Robb said...

Oh yes ... you know how I love something so simple and elegant. And I still (begrudgingly) love baseball deep inside me. And this reached deep inside me.

TC said...

Thanks again hb. Yes, perhaps it was not necessary to underline the "message". I had thought the lower image and the attribution information would speak for themselves. And it does appear that you and Curtis and maybe everybody else could grasp that easily enough.

If so, do forgive me for being boring. (It wouldn't be the first time.)

I do appreciate zev's lovely childhood memory, and can identify with it. I grew up with baseball, in fact as a lad I worked for two years as a ballpark usher in Chicago, so those green pastures of a vanished era still bring back some relatively untarnished golden memories. The romance of the living history, as Leigh puts it so well. And I do understand Robb's comment, about how these memories have an innocence that dwells deep within the soul, and thus connects us with youth and dreams and the sadnesses and joys of another life.

But I'm afraid that at this late stage of the infinite game called life I can't help finding something salutary in human being's "outside the box" view. Like so many aspects of our culture -- movies come immediately to mind, on the night after that thin glittery travesty of Hollywood congratulating itself upon nothing -- baseball and in fact all professional sports seem to have been transformed into arenas of money and business purely, and I find this repellent in the extreme. The innocence of play seems to have gone out of everything these days, everything reduces to the transaction.

The phenomenon of the $2.8m. Wagner T206 card seems to me to perhaps bear some resemblance to the phenomenon of Damien Hirst's $50m. diamond-encrusted platinum skull. Art, like sport and movies, bows down gladly before the highest bidder. And of course that is not exclusively an American phenomenon. Much of the world appears quite happy to have turned its beauties out for sale. But do they still remain beautiful when the thing that is seen first is the bottom line?

TC said...

(For those who may have missed it, that jolly Hirst skull is the lower image here.)

human being said...

boring?
you are such a gem to share your life experiences with us... i always learn a lot... and enjoy reading your explanations... which are so poetic most of the time...


'Much of the world appears quite happy to have turned its beauties out for sale. But do they still remain beautiful when the thing that is seen first is the bottom line?'


ahhh... you make one cry...