Bonomo: Q&A with Brad Balukjian on 1986 Topps, one card, one city at a time

From Joe Bonomo at No Such Thing As Was on July 8, 2015, with SABR member Brad Balukjian:

Brad Balukjian‘s on the road this summer. As he’s documenting at Wax Pack, Balukjian is driving 10,000 miles over two months to track down and interview the fourteen baseball players commemorated in a random 1986 pack of Topps baseball cards.

I love this project immoderately, especially in its blend of fame and obscurity, journeyman players rubbing elbows with All-Stars all randomly gathered in a pack bought and obsessed over by a kid chewing lousy gum. When I look back and consider my nearly-complete set of 1977 baseball cards—long gone, now—I think not only of the images on the front and the stats on the back, the cardboard and the white dusty gum, but the unglimpsed lives of the men and the supreme difficulty of playing baseball at the elite professional level. Balukjian plans to develop his interviews and cross-country experience into a book that explores not only baseball and baseball cards, but the flux and surprises of life after baseball, the void faced by stars and non-stars alike.

I recently tracked down Balukjian in Naples, Florida, where he’s at the mid-point of his journey. I talked with him by phone about his project, his expectations and surprises, and the value and limitation of nostalgia.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: July 9, 2015. Last Updated: July 9, 2015.