SWhen I was growing up I had thousands and thousands of baseball cards. They were my main hobby and hundreds of dollars of allowance and lawn mowing money was spent on various packs and sets of Topps, Donruss, Fleer, Upper Deck, and whatever else I could find. Now I have less than a dozen cards.
Of these handful of cards I have, I keep three on display. Two of these cards are autographed by Jim Bouton and Bill "Spaceman" Lee and there is also a David Clyde rookie card. I bought all them for less than $10 combined, not including shipping.
It seems like more than any other sport baseball likes its counterculture (within reason) characters and lovable outsiders with good stories. These three players embody that as much as any player in the Macmillian baseball Encylopedia; one by personal effort (Lee), another by not knowing better (Bouton), and the other by circumstance (Clyde). The fact that all these cards are of pitchers is a coincidence - I think. I don't feel like a prefer my favorite players to be pitchers over position players but this display could make an argument that I do.
I believe that pitchers have an element to them that position players never quite will - standing on the pitcher's mound, holding the ball, with the entire game and stadium waiting for what they do next. Warren Zevon was a musical iconoclast that very much fit in the mold of Jim Bouton and Bill Lee. In fact, Zevon wrote a song about the Spaceman titled, simply enough, Bill Lee on his 1980 album Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School. After a verse about the problems a player can have when they are an outspoken, Zevon's next verse that captures that moment of the pitcher on the mound: "When I'm standing in the middle of the diamond all alone / I always play to win /When it comes to skin and bone."
I feel that it is that the dichotomy in the personalities of Bouton and Lee that still attracts the baseball fan to them. That despite their problems with teammates (and managers and teams and the league), breaking baseball's unspoken rules, and exposing the game's hidden side in humorous ways, these were competitors that would still do what they could to win. Despite everything anti establishment about the pair Bouton was still a bulldog pitcher that won two games in the 1964 World Series and Bill Lee was a fearless left hander winning 17 games for the Red Sox while pitching in Fenway Park three years in a row. (Note: In the near future I will have a more in depth article concerning Jim Bouton and his inside baseball classic Ball Four and Bill Lee and his autobiography The Wrong Stuff.