Carleton: Playing in the sandbox of baseball research

From Russell Carleton at Baseball Prospectus on June 28, 2016:

Somewhere at my parents’ house, there’s a Starting Lineup figurine of Jose Canseco, depicting him during his Bash Brothers days with the Oakland A’s. I got it for Christmas one year back in the days when Jose Canseco was my favorite player. I would have been nine or ten at the time and he was … let’s just say the words “Jose Canseco” evoked a different image back in the late 80s/early 90s than they do now. Canseco had won the 1986 Rookie of the Year award at 21 and the 1988 MVP at 23, hitting 40 home runs and stealing 40 bases in the same year. At the time, Canseco seemed like the guy we would all look back on some day and tell our kids that we saw him play.

I have yet to mention Jose Canseco to my daughters.

For those who don’t remember Starting Lineup figurines (they haven’t been produced since 2001), they were small action figure-like toys that were in the form of pro athletes. They didn’t really do much other than stand there and look like Jose Canseco or Kevin Mitchell or Pat Tabler–if Canseco and Mitchell and Tabler were plastic men who stood about four inches tall. I had a few of them, but Canseco was the pride of the collection, because he was the best player in baseball and he was hard to get. The figurines were mostly sold regionally and I lived in Cleveland, so at the local toy stores, there were plenty of Tablers, but no one who played in another market. Fortunately, my father happened to “know a guy.”

I wish I still had that Canseco figurine. And the Tabler one too. Not because they’d make me rich, but because I think they might actually help me to be a better researcher.

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Originally published: June 28, 2016. Last Updated: June 28, 2016.