Thursday, April 22, 2010

Memorabilia You Swear Once Existed... But Can't Prove

This post is dedicated to that memorabilia from the past that is too rare to surface in this modern age, yet too bizarre to be a mere figment of the imagination. Here's mine.

I can't pinpoint the exact year, so let's call it the early 1990s. Packs of cards had just recently passed the one-dollar watershed, Score was producing some of the best-looking cards on the market, and Chris Sabo was a perennial All-Star. At some point in the first third of the decade, I wandered into a dollar store clutching bills that smelled like freshly mown lawns. With no use for scented candles, substandard candy, or off-market cheese-flavored crunchy snacks, I naturally gravitated towards the toy aisle. I probably found no baseball cards, but something even better took its place.

Racks upon racks of cassette tapes with recordings of Major League Baseball stars wishing you a happy birthday.

Let me repeat that.


Only by the grace of God would such a thing exist. The way my memory recorded this event, there were hundreds of these tapes, packaged with a blister pack on a cardboard backing much like an action figure. What could I have possibly done in my life that just might allow me to be wished a happy birthday by Paul Molitor, or, should that option fail to present itself, B.J. Surhoff? I must have been a good little boy, indeed.

The hands began to flail in a whirling dervish of activity, seeking out the one player who might usher me through pre-teen-dom each October. I looked at the first rack: Lenny Dykstra. Pushing that aside, the search was still on. Lenny Dykstra. Behind that one, ten more cassettes. All Lenny Dykstra.

The process repeated itself over and over. After probably a quarter hour of searching, the hard truth fully sunk in. Each and every cassette promising a recording of a Major League Baseball star wishing me a happy birthday was in reality a cassette with a recording of Lenny Dykstra wishing me a happy birthday.


These things happen at closeout stores. I can't remember purchasing this item, but I do recall the tape being in my house. Maybe the store started giving them away and my mom grabbed a few. In any case, I mostly remember the unopened package sitting in my basement, mocking me with its ubiquity and spitting on my right of free choice. I must have eventually torn the thing open, since I vaguely remember Lenny Dykstra half-heartedly delivering a birthday message. He almost certainly didn't sing to me on this tape, but I don't remember if there even was a "Happy Birthday" sung by someone else. I can say with certainty that the tape doesn't live today, either at my house or at my parents'. Perhaps I even put the monstrosity out of its misery, sparing future generations from its wrath.

Did anyone else ever own one of these? (Preferably not the Lenny Dykstra version.) Might you still even have one? It's an item that fits in the category of being so strange that, even in the absence of evidence, it had to have existed because even I'm not creative enough to have made it up. Help me verify that this existed.


William said...

You're not crazy:

Note the pic. You could've had Julio Franco!

William said...

Apparently you could also get Mark Grace and John Smoltz

William said...

"Birthday Boys",1794291

Apparently they had Gwynn, Nolan, and Ruben Sierra (spanish) and the players told stories.

Mark said...

William is right--I'm a big fan of Mark Grace and was lucky enough to be about 10 when these came out, so getting one ensured I had the best birthday's ever!

SuedeKnight said...

A teacher of mine in college actually played the Lenny Dykstra one in class one day for a student whose b-day was coming up. We all found it hysterical, but then, we weren't little kids pinning our dreams on this thing. I've been looking for them ever since...our teacher did mention he got a couple at a dollar store, but I can imagine these things going for far more.

Anonymous said...

Late to the party, but we had John Smoltz and John Franco. I bought them at the dollar store. I wish I could remember what happened to them. Smoltz was particularly comical. He told a story about going to Tiger Stadium with his grandfather.