Monday, May 26, 2014

Making Up for Lost Time

Growing up there weren't many times when I wasn't playing with some kind of action figure.  As an only child, there was a lot of time to keep myself occupied, not that I really minded.  A good chunk of my time was tied up in one of three things: LEGO's, my WWF wrestling figures, or Starting Lineups.  

I had a pretty intricate system, at least for a 7 or8 year old.  Teams were drafted with a lineup and 1-2 pitchers, depending on how many pitching figures I had.  The fielders never changed, since it was always tough to find figures in a fielding position.  When new figures would come into the collection, they would have to wait until enough figures were accumulated to field an expansion team.

 Games would take place in our basement, usually while my dad was watching sports at night or on the weekends.  The green carpet, a hideous remnant of the early 80's that is thankfully long gone, was the perfect Astroturf playing surface.  A line of those plastic ice cream helmets lined the outfield wall, with our couch posing as an makeshift Green (or more accurately, a hideous Fuchsia) Monster in Left.

Nine inning games could go on for hours, with scores into the hundreds.  After all hitting a little wadded up paper ball with an action figure bat is considerably easier than the real game.  Starting Lineup Randy Johnson was admittedly not throwing in the 90's.  Strikeouts were rare, and batters were only retired on a hit ball if they hit it directly at a fielder.

My Starting Lineup collection reads like a who's who of 90's stars.  Bagwell, Pudge, Will Clark, Clemens, Bonds.  But all those department store trips and weekend rides with my dad because we knew what day Toys R Us got their shipments never yielded a Pirate figure.  I don't remember exact configurations, but in my SLU heyday from about 1995-1998, I think lesser players were shortpacked, while stars were produced in higher quantities.  And needless to say, the mid 90's Pirates, when they even made it into a set, were in the lesser category.
I've been working on tracking down opened an unopened copies of all the Pirate SLU figures.  And while I have a few of the different Bonds, Bonilla, and Van Slyke figures from the early 90's, the mid 90's lesser names have been tough to track down.  I was just killing some time searching on ebay when I came across this lot - 6 figures: a Clemente/Stargell 2-pack from the late 80's, John Smiley, Orlando Merced (last photo), Jeff King, and Jay Bell in one of my favorite positions turning two.  I won the lot for a whopping $10 dlvd.  Less than $2/figure?  Yes please.

Maybe it seems silly, but there's nothing like recapturing my childhood.  The figures take me back to evenings on the carpet in front of the big screen tv.  During the HR Derby, always a sight to see in the muscle-bound 90's, my all stars would be hosting their own with tapemeasure shots to match.  I was on the carpet for the '96 and '97 All-Star games, and the '97 World Series - at least until my bed time.  My dad must have had saintly patience as this small human continued to jump up and down and run around the carpet in front of the screen while chasing little paper balls.  But me?  I'm half tempted to go get my SLU's out of their big popcorn tin, set up the field, and let these Buccos finally have a chance to play.  

1 comment:

  1. I love SLU's. If they didn't take up so much space, I'd probably focus on picking up more unopened figures for my collection.