A family friend came to one of my games when I was younger, maybe eleven, twelve, thirteen, and after the game when I thanked him for coming he said he’d rather watch one of my games than the pros. And at the time that made absolutely no sense to me. At all. The pros were the best. They played how we aspired to play. We were hard to watch even as part of the team, I can’t imagine how painful it was to watch us from the outside. As an example, we once lost a playoff game when a groundball came to me at third and I threw the ball across to the diamond where the first basemen… just missed it. Flat out missed it. (That’s a story all on its own with a postscript ten years after the fact).
Now that I’m a little older, I’d still rather watch Major League Baseball over terrible middle school ball, but I think I understand a bit better. It’s probably something similar to how I feel about reading the trio of books by Cody Lakin. I probably would not read any of his three books if he weren’t the younger brother of one of my coworkers. (And I probably wouldn’t read his books if I didn’t like this particular coworker). But reading his three books, I get to watch a young writer evolve. Even within this third book I could feel him getting better as the story progressed, and the final thirty to forty pages were nonstop intensity. I hear his unpublished fourth book is his best yet.
Charlie Knox returns in The Girl With A Fairy’s Heart, and I think that’s such a great name for a villain (although he is much less villainous in this book than in Fairlane Road). So I looked up Knox on Baseball Reference and discovered there have been three players with the last name Knox. Andy Knox was a first basemen for the Philadelphia Athletics for just one season in 1890. Cliff Knox caught six games for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1924. And John Knox was a career .274 hitter for the Detroit Tigers who, luckily for me, was included in the 1975 Topps set.
John Knox, who played at Bowling Green State, was coming off his best season for the Tigers when the 1975 Topps card came out. In 1974, he hit .307 and had a .351 OBP. He returned to the Tigers in 1975, then was sold to the Reds during the 1976 season. Unfortunately for Knox, the Reds were pretty set at his two positions, with future HOFer Joe Morgan at second and Hit King Pete Rose at third. The Reds never called Knox up to the big leagues, and he was out of baseball following the ’76 season.
The 1975 Topps card lists John Knox as a “3B-SS.” He never played a single game at short-stop in his major league career.