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By Brad Balukjian
THE GREATER MEANING BEHIND OUR GREATEST GAME.

A single, unopened pack of 1986 baseball cards. A vow to track down all the players inside. What could possibly go wrong?

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By Brad Balukjian
THE GREATER MEANING BEHIND OUR GREATEST GAME.

A single, unopened pack of 1986 baseball cards. A vow to track down all the players inside. What could possibly go wrong?

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The Wax pack: oN THE OPEN ROAD IN SEARCH OF BASEBALL'S AFTERLIFE COMES OUT apRIL 1, 2020

The Wax Packers: Al Cowens, Carlton Fisk, Don Carman, Doc Gooden, Garry Templeton, Gary Pettis, Jaime Cocanower, Lee Mazzilli, Rance Mulliniks, Randy Ready, Richie Hebner, Rick Sutcliffe, Steve Yeager, Vince Coleman

The Premise

The Wax Pack: On the open road in search of baseball's afterlife is the true story of tracking down all the players in a single pack of 1986 Topps on a 11,341-mile road trip across the U.S. What started out as a fit of nostalgia became something much bigger than baseball: A meditation on the loss of innocence, what it means to grow up, and the surprising gift accessible to us all: Impermanence.


Advance Praise for The Wax Pack

George Will, THE Washington Post

"As pleasing as the pink slab of bubble gum that, long ago, came with baseball cards inside five cent packets, this slender volume gives fresh flavor to the familiar phrase 'inside baseball.'" 

Tyler Kepner, THE New York Times

"The players on your childhood baseball cards might as well be superheroes: young, handsome and strong, in colorful costumes, certain they will conquer the world. That is how we viewed them once, but in time they grow up – and so do we. What happens after the lights go out on those big stadiums? What becomes of them when they join the rest of us in the real world, and nobody puts their picture on cardboard anymore? In this poignant and powerful masterpiece, Brad Balukjian finds out. He covers more than 10,000 miles to track down the stories of 14 men from a single pack of 1986 Topps baseball cards, learning a lot about their lives – and his own. Hop in the backseat and join him for the journey."

Matt Boyd, Detroit Tigers

"Collecting baseball cards is something of a childhood rite-of-passage, and The Wax Pack is an awesome look into something many of us would have never dreamed of doing; chasing down our childhood heroes. What once seemed so distant on a small piece of cardboard, Brad chronicles his stories of chasing down these ballplayers and telling their stories unlike anyone ever has before from the unique perspective as author and fan." 

Jeff Pearlman, author of SHOWTIME

"What a weird, quirky, fun read. There have been 50,000 books written on Major League Baseball, but Brad Balukjian's "The Wax Pack" is a uniquely romantic love letter to a game, a time period and its random soldiers. Well done."

BEN LINDBERGH, AUTHOR OF THE MVP MACHINE

"The Wax Pack is the perfect synthesis of what makes baseball (and baseball cards) compelling, combining the thrill of discovery, the reassurance of shared memory, and poignant metaphors for life. Balukjian's cross-country, cardboard-based bildungsroman reminds us that baseball's best stories are sometimes told by and about players who've long since left the league."

JASON TURBOW, AUTHOR OF THEY BLED BLUE

"With The Wax Pack, Brad Balukjian takes the simplest of ideas—opening an old pack of baseball cards—and twists it into knots, wringing every ounce of goodness from a familiar activity. With clarity of purpose and depth of prose he tells an endearing tale, deftly melding fan with player to provide a joyous, entertaining look at a sport he clearly loves."


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Rob neyer, author of power ball

"Brad Balukjian's book is for all those little kids with cardboard heroes who turned into big kids and started wondering ... Hey, what if there's more to life than just the cardboard? (Turns out, there is.)"

Jeff katz, author of split season

"Every pack of baseball cards is like a birthday gift. It’s carefully wrapped, and, though what’s inside is a mystery, you know it’s going to be great. Same with Th Wax Pack. Until you open it, you have no idea how good the contents are. They’re good, very good. I’ve opened thousands and thousands of packs in my lifetime, but this is one of my favorites."

Shane rawley, former mlb pitcher

"A journey of self-discovery through a pack of 1986 baseball cards.  In Brad's emotional quest, not only does he find answers, but shares a snapshot of ballplayers, who like Brad, are trying to make it through life's many twists and turns."

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Available April 1, 2020 from the University of Nebraska Press and wherever books are sold


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