Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Baseball Digest: Chicken Soup For The Soul

Oh, how I miss The Baseball Digest.

They still publish it, I know. I could probably drive over to Barnes and Noble right now and lift one off the rack -- provided I can find it among the myriad of magazines that get churned out every month. I'm not sure why I don't. Maybe I want to keep the memories of my childhood relationship with The Digest pristine. Maybe I'm afraid the current version will disappoint me, somehow (it probably would).

TBD -- and in this case that doesn't stand for "To Be Determined" -- was also how I made my one and only pen pal in my life. But more on that later.

If you haven't seen it, TBD was a Reader's Digest-sized publication that came out monthly -- although maybe not as frequently during the off-season; I can't recall. Anyhow, stuffed inside its relatively small package were tons of stories, interviews, features, and regular departments. And at the back were statistics -- either from the current season (of course, outdated as soon as you bought it) or from history. And, rosters of all the teams (again, likely outdated). Plus ads, of course -- but the understated, black-and-white ads, like the ones you'd see in comic books.

I could have picked any number of images, but this comes from the era of which I speak (no, that's not my address label torn off, but it might as well be)

They'd run something called "The Game I'll Never Forget", in which a current star would recall a certain game in detail, always with the subtitle, "As told to ...." They had letters to the editor in the front. Quizzes about rules. Trivia. And a crossword puzzle, which was always fun. It was cover-to-cover reading, and as a subscriber, there wasn't anything better as a 13-year-old to see than the new issue arrive in the mailbox every month.

The same folks who put out TBD also published digests for football, basketball, and hockey. And those had similar departments and features, like "The Game I'll Never Forget."

But the baseball version was the only one I subscribed to, though I'd have my mom pick up one of the other sports' versions if she happened to see them at the Little Professor book store near our house in Livonia.

Now, about that pen pal.

Somehow, through TBD, I got hooked up with this kid from New York, a Yankees fan named Michael Maurer (still remember his name clearly). He was about my age, and we began exchanging letters -- remember those? We wrote back and forth maybe a half-dozen times each, him talking about the Yankees and placating me by telling me that my Tigers (this is circa 1977) were up-and-coming (the Yanks were of championship caliber, as usual). He was a nice kid, I recall. But we lost touch, and that was pretty much that. I think the digest was encouraging kids to get pen pals; I think that's how we met. We might even have been matched up by the magazine.

Maybe I'll do it, after all. Maybe I'll grab a copy of TBD, and at least thumb through it. Not that I'm too cheap to buy it, but I'm eager to see the flavor and "feel" of the current product.

I'll let you know.


Post a Comment

<< Home