Don Hoak Becomes The Bogeyman
Don Hoak was a professional baseball player for 11 seasons. From 1954-1964 Hoak played for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates and the Philadelphia Phillies. By all accounts he was a nice man and a decent player who had a career .265 batting average.
In real life Don Hoak probably never intentionally scared a child. Little did he know one day this baseball card would affect one superstitious, naive, ignorant kid.
One day when I was about 7-years-old I acquired some old baseball cards from the 1960s from my grandfather. I showed them to an older boy and when he came to Don Hoak he said, “you know, he’s dead,” as he handed the card back to me.
Well I stared at the card and I got the willies. An actual shudder ran down my spine.
“Dead? What do you mean, dead?” I said.
My simpleton mind knew what dead meant, but I did not have much real life experience with death.
All I knew was that I was holding a dead man in my hand. How could he be dead? This card is only a few years old and he couldn’t have been an old man?
“How’d he die?” I needed to know.
“I don’t know but he died a few years ago (1969)” my companion said. Then he added, “He may have been murdered.”
Wellllll now I was transfixed for about a full minute. This simple 1964 Topps baseball card of a smiling ballplayer took on new meaning. Continue reading