The Wax Pack: On the Open Road in Search of Baseball’s Afterlife

The Wax Pack: On the Open Road in Search of Baseball’s Afterlife

Is there life after baseball? Starting from this simple question, The Wax Pack ends up with something much bigger and unexpected—a meditation on the loss of innocence and the gift of impermanence, for both Brad Balukjian and the former ballplayers he tracked down. To get a truly random sample of players, Balukjian followed this wildly absurd but fun-as-hell premise: he took a single pack of baseball cards from 1986 (the first year he collected cards), opened it, chewed the nearly thirty-year-old gum inside, gagged, and then embarked on a quest to find all the players in the pack. Absurd, maybe, but true. He took this trip solo in the summer of 2015, spanning 11,341 miles through thirty states in forty-eight days.

Balukjian actively engaged with his subjects—taking a hitting lesson from Rance Mulliniks, watching kung fu movies with Garry Templeton, and going to the zoo with Don Carman. In the process of finding all the players but one, he discovered an astonishing range of experiences and untold stories in their post-baseball lives, and he realized that we all have more in common with ballplayers than we think. While crisscrossing the country, Balukjian retraced his own past, reconnecting with lost loves and coming to terms with his lifelong battle with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Alternately elegiac and uplifting, The Wax Pack is part baseball nostalgia, part road trip travelogue, and all heart, a reminder that greatness is not found in the stats on the backs of baseball cards but in the personal stories of the men on the front of them.

              
 

Title:The Wax Pack: On the Open Road in Search of Baseball’s Afterlife
ISBN:9781496218742
Format Type:

    The Wax Pack: On the Open Road in Search of Baseball’s Afterlife Reviews

  • Brina

    As a girl I loved baseball cards. Yes, I was one of a few girls I knew who collected- there were three of us that I knew of who belonged to our middle school card collecting club. Even in elementary s...

  • Lance

    The concept of this book sounds very simple, yet it is one that is unique among sports books which are available. The author, Brad Balukjian, opens a pack of 1986 Topps baseball cards nearly 30 years ...

  • Chris

    Genuinely baffled by the positive reviews of this book. Conceptually? 5 stars. But the actual execution of this book was, for the most part, unsatisfying. Balukjian repeatedly calls himself a journali...

  • Tom Stamper

    This is an interesting premise. Take a random pack of unopened baseball cards and try to meet every player in the pack. 1986 Topps. 15 cards. One Hall of Famer, Carlton Fisk. One player who had the ta...

  • Tom Gase

    A very entertaining read about a great idea. Author Brad Balukjian takes a pack of 1986 Topps baseball cards and then goes on a mission to find the players across the country. Some players are more in...

  • Kev Willoughby

    Standing Ovation!Pretty cool concept for a book: open up a pack of baseball cards from your childhood (in this case, 1986) and then drive across the country to meet with each of the players from the p...

  • Kyle Lobner

    An outstanding baseball book, but it's much more than that. Balukjian hits a narrative non-fiction home run with his exploration of the lives of baseball players long after the spotlight. Even people ...

  • Rick

    In this book whose brilliant premise is only partly achieved, Balukjian decides to buy an unopened pack of Topps baseball cards from 1986, track down the players he found in the pack, and .... well, i...

  • Allen Adams

    https://www.themaineedge.com/sports/f...When I first heard about “The Wax Pack: On the Open Road in Search of Baseball's Afterlife” by Brad Balukjian, my reaction was pure and basic: “God, that...

  • Hollis

    I’m generally a methodical reader, but this book was so engaging that I read it in one day. For those of you like me who were raised on baseball in the 1980s and had (and still have) loads of cards,...