Thursday evening, I came home weary from an extra-long commute in miserable, rainy weather and found a self-addressed envelope waiting for me. The return address had a familiar name: Mike Boddicker. The card above was included in the envelope; it was my first foray into the world of TTM (Through the Mail) autographs. It had been about four weeks since I'd sent a brief letter, the card, and the SASE to Mike, not a bad turnaround. I'm thrilled to have an autograph of the last 20-game winner for the O's, a man who was instrumental in the World Series win twenty-five years ago.
I have a pretty good assortment of Mike Boddicker cards now, but I chose this one for a specific reason. It was the first card of his that I ever owned, a childhood relic that stood out even before I knew the first thing about baseball. You get used to seeing the same kinds of faces on baseball cards: awkward action shots with the faces contorted with exertion, blank confused stares, or pleasant bland smiles. But there was something mischievous playing across Mike's face in this shot. He was in mid-windup, but he knew something that the imaginary batter didn't. He was on top of his game, toying with the opposition. I'd like to think that Boddicker had to chuckle a bit when he opened his mail and saw the young, playful righthander smirking back at him.
No matter what he thought of it, the fact that he took the time to sign it and slip it back in the mail made my day.