Friday, August 31, 2012

Favorite Cards: California Angels

1985 Topps #61 - Curt Kaufman

Sometimes a card sticks in your mind, years after you've last laid eyes upon it, but you have no earthly idea why. This is one of those cards.

When I close my eyes and remember the cards I ravenously liberated from wax packs in my youth, for whatever reason, this card is one that I always picture. Curt was never even close to a star. In two short seasons with the New York Yankees and one full season with the California Angels, Kaufman never once faced my beloved White Sox. I have virtually no frame of reference for this player, except for this one card that I found in a pack of 1985 Topps, when I was eight or nine.

The first thing that strikes me about this card is the look on Kaufman's face. It's one of concentration and bemusement. Curt would be either twenty-six or twenty-seven when this photograph was taken, yet he looks like the fifth year senior selling cigarettes in the high school bathroom for a quarter each.

Maybe the position of the head, in it's odd way floating ever so slightly to the right of the body. I know this wasn't tampered with, but something is off about the definition of the head in relation to the body that makes me openly question what I am seeing. The blurred trees in the background and the gradient blue sky remind me of the movie E.T. In a strange way, the subtle disembodiment of Kaufman's head and the sleek, thin neck reminds me of Zreck (E.T.'s actual name according to the sequel script), especially the way it seems to be gravitating away from the shoulder area where my eye interprets it should be. The fact that I can see "Angels" spelled out three distinct times just adds to the bizarre juxtaposition.

All these things have definitely contributed to remembering this card after twenty-seven years. Mostly because of these mind games, it continues to be one of my favorite cards.

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