Having already seen the collection's pulp magazines and the comic books, I was next brought a milk crate filled with record albums. A long-time haunter of flea markets, I'd seen a thousand setups like this one. These crates always contain countless easy listening records, a copy or two of Frampton Comes Alive and, of course, Vaughn Meader's The First Family.
But no -- there was none of that! Instead, there were a number of albums ostensibly released by the famous jazz label, Blue Note. Yet the sleeves contained no records and probably, I suspected, since there was no ring wear on any of the jackets, never had. I am almost certain that most of these men didn't have alternate careers as jazz practitioners, so then what was the provenance of these album covers? Who had made them?
I asked the docent if they were the creations of Blue Note's legendary designer, Reid Miles, but he just shrugged. Were they commissioned by the collector? By the players? Did Miles do them for fun? We might never know, but here they are ...
Young Henry; before the long balls started piling up.
What is the opposite accoutrement of shin guards, chest protector and face mask? That's right: a tuxedo.
Sonny Rollins' resemblance to the famed Dodgers' pitcher earned him the nickname "Newk", and led to an album called Newk's Time. A reciprocal title for Newcombe, therefore, might have been Rollin'.
The Ernie Banks Trio
Fittingly, the only player for whom there are two covers.
While we may never know who made these, we do know the artist seems to have had an affinity for hard throwers.
It can be fun to try to figure out what instrument someone plays just by looking at them. Drysdale suggests baritone sax.
The Vada Pinson Quartet
On this cover, Pinson looks like he knows where the gold is buried. Or maybe he just found out he's been signed to Blue Note.
Did Willie Mays need to play an instrument? No. His whole body was an instrument.
"And there was Daddy Wags blowing mad sackbut into the wee hours..."
Mudcat & McLain
Denny McLain would be on the organ, of course, but what about Mudcat Grant? Probably a hide-hitter.
The Luis Tiant Sextet
One gets the impression from this cover that Tiant has just finished his set and is sitting backstage, trying to cool off. Maybe Duke Sims is fanning him with an Indians yearbook.
Baseball Nation's Jason Brannon, who believes Hank Mobley's Soul Station remains the pinnacle of human civilization, was integral to this enterprise. Jim Baker's latest book is The Most Memorable Games in Patriots History. You can follow him on Twitter @jimbaker1066.