Jeff Pearlman

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The greatest website ever

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So I’ve become pretty friendly with Ellis Valentine, who many know best from his time as an All-Star outfielder with the Montreal Expose.

Ellis is a great guy, and I’ve been meaning to buy my son one of his signed bobblehead dolls. However, when I visited Ellis’ old website it was gone. I DMed him, and he directed me here.

Now, alas, I can’t leave.

Yes, I have work to do. Places to go. Things to see. But … hoooollllllllly shit. I feel as if I just took a headfirst dive into my boyhood. The randomness. The quirkiness. The … strangeness. Or, put this way: For a mere $8, Benny Ayala will sign whatever you send him.

Pause.

Pause.

Pause.

Benny Ayala! Benny Ayala! C’mon, you remember! The 10-year Major League backup whose lifetime .251 average and 38 career home runs scream … well, I don’t know what the numbers scream. But would I happily rock a Benny Ayala-autographed T-shirt with this image …

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… on the front?

Hells, yes.

The names are just dazzling. Phil Bradley! Mike Norris! Rafael Landestoy! Marvin Freeman! I can smell the baseball card with each utterance. A couple of my favorites …

• 1. Randy Johnson

Why: Because it’s Randy Johnson! Only, eh, not that Randy Johnson.

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• 2. Terry Bross

Why: Because I grew up a die-hard, die-hard Mets fan, and I’ve only heard of Terry Bross because, well, I grew up a die-hard, die-hard Mets fan. His career numbers: 10 games, 0-0 record.

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• 3. Junior Ortiz

Why: Because there are many sentences I never thought I’d read in my life. And one of them is, “Junio is available for autograph sessions.” But—Junior is available for autograph sessions! And here’s the thing: Were I at a Junior Ortiz autograph session, I’d be psyched. To 12-year-old Jeffie, Junior Ortiz personified cool.

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• 4. Al Oliver

Why: This is where shit gets personal. Back in 1985 or 86 a bunch of us took a walk to the antique store in downtown Mahopac. The shop had a big crate of old baseball cards, each one $1. I found Al Oliver’s 1969 rookie card—the one that featured Big Al pictured alongside Richie Hebner. That night I looked inside a price guide and saw the card listed at, like, $80.

“Eighty bucks!” I said. “I’m gonna be rich!”

Alas …

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Showtime Book
Love Me, Hate Me Barry Bonds Book
Sweetness Walter Peyton Book
The Bad Guys Won Book
The Rocket that Fell to Earth Book
Boys Will Be Boys Book

Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life