Author of “The Wax Pack, on the Road in Search of Baseball’s Afterlife” discusses book
Brad Balukjian talks about his book with Chief Meteorologist and baseball lover Rob Kupec
Fargo: Have you ever wondered where some of the athletes you loved as a kid are now?
Brad Balukjian from California was inspired by a pack of baseball cards to track some former major leaguers down.
Chief meteorologist and baseball fan Rob Kupec talked with him recently.
(Note to see the entire interview go to our Entertainment page)
Rob Kupec: Brad do you want to give us a brief summary of what the idea behind the book is?
Brad Balukjian: thanks rob, you know of all the media i have done, being on TV in Fargo is my favorite, because I love the city of Fargo, i went on a road trip there many years ago, I was going to spend one night and spent 3 so thank you for having me.
So the idea of the wax pack is based on, if you remember these packs of baseball cards from back in the day, I collected thousands of them as a kid, and I thought what if I got one and opened it like I’m about to do right now and not chew the gum that is ancient and tracked down whatever random players are in the pack now and tell the story of what happens to baseball players after they are done playing.
Rob Kupec: as a baseball card collector myself; it was a pretty good pack of cards too.
Brad Balukjian:: So I was excited that in any given pack most of the guys are going to be more not the star players. But as you said, i actually had a good mix in the pack that ranged from the really obscure like Jaime Coconower to hall of famer Carlton Fisk and a lot of other big names, Dwight Gooden, Rick Sutcliffe, Gary Templeton, and others from that error of the 70’s and 80’s. You know I expected there to be a range of experiences but one of the things I was thinking about going in, and actually the trip confirmed this, the guys that were the least successful or accomplished in baseball tended to be the most adjusted in life after baseball.
Rob Kupec: I will say too when you read the book, most of these guys were really quite generous with their time with you, did that surprise you at all?
Brad Balukjian:: Yeah going in, I mean I’m a biology professor, and I write as a freelancer but it’s usually about science, so I didn’t have any sports writing pedigree to kind of back me up. So the fact as you said that so many of these guys were so willing to meet with me and then once we met, so generous in their time, I did a lot of things with these guys. Like one of them, Rance Mulliniks gave me a hitting lesson. I went to the zoo with one guy. I played Cards Against Humanity on the 4th of July with one guy. So not only that, what makes the book special and I think compelling is that, how much these guys opened up and were willing to be vulnerable.
Rob Kupec: For me, it was a great summer read, it really filled the need in my life for some baseball, so if you’re looking for a book and maybe a good book to buy for your dad, I would highly recommend The Wax Pack and Brad when there is not a pandemic, we’re going to have to get you back here to Fargo because it’s changed a lot since 2006.
Brad Balukjian:: I need to get back to North Dakota. I grew up in Rhode Island, my favorite state as a little kid was North Dakota.
Rob Kupec: Well that just shows you, you do route for the underdog then.