Friday, February 12, 2016

Take that, Lucy!

It's almost Valentine's Day, and here I am ready to write about Christmas.

When I was growing up, we had lots of family traditions around Christmas (and still do), but most of the annually aired 1960s TV specials were something I missed out on. Frosty the Snowman (narrated by Jimmy Durante) was the primary exception, along with a few 1930s-era Disney cartoons.

The stop-motion Rudolph special I only saw once or twice, and I was in my early teens. I hadn't even seen Elf until a couple months ago. Same goes for the Grinch animated film (though the Jim Carrey remake was pretty amusing), plus perhaps the most classic of all, A Charlie Brown Christmas.

It's true, I had never seen that Peanuts classic until maybe six weeks ago. And it's probably one of those things you have to do by a certain age to fully appreciate, sort of like reading The Catcher in the Rye. Thirty-one is a bit late.

Still, at least now I know what it's all about. But there was one scene that really stuck out during my first-ever viewing.

It's the scene where Schroeder is playing Beethoven's Fur Elise with Lucy sitting nearby. Lucy gripes that "Beethoven wasn't so great." Schroeder fires back with "Whaddya mean Beethoven wasn't so great?!" Lucy ponders that one for a moment, eventually responding with "Have you ever seen his picture on a bubble gum card? How can you say someone is great who's never had his picture on bubble gum cards?"


Well that got the gears spinning.

Surely with all the multi-sport retro sets like Upper Deck's A Piece of History or Allen & Ginter, that statement is no longer true. A little digging led me to add a card to the Eight Men Out list, which my girlfriend recently filled for an early Valentine's Day present.

So which card was it that set the record straight?

2009 Topps Allen and Ginter #83 Ludwig van Beethoven
2009 A&G took care of that, finally allowing a baseball card blogger to refute a claim made in an American Christmas classic almost fifty years prior.

Card or no, Beethoven was a musical genius, especially in light of the hearing loss that struck him in his late twenties. He was so influential that the 74-minute length of a Compact Disc was allegedly designed to fit his 9th Symphony. And like several legendary composers, his 9th Symphony was his last. It's a bit of a superstition in classical music, sort of a 19th-century predecessor to the Madden Curse.

Like many of his contemporaries, he set up shop in Vienna, and on our trip last summer, we got to dine at a winery in the Heiligenstadt district of Vienna, a spot that Ludwig himself lived in the early 19th century. Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms, Strauss, and others are immortalized with statues all over Vienna.

And, as of 2009, he's also on a baseball card.

We can't know whether Topps created this card early in the existence of Allen & Ginter specifically to address Lucy's concern, but after almost 50 years, Topps made Beethoven great again.


  1. If you haven't seen it yet, I would recommend the Garfield Christmas special ('87) as well. It used to be on television every year, but they stopped airing it in the late 90's for some reason. And even though is a little more obscure, you might try and watch Will Vinton's Claymation Christmas. By the way, I really enjoyed this post. It's nice to see someone else still thinking of Christmas in February.

  2. Lucy was such a fussbudget! Beethoven is my wife's favorite composer. We have a lot and the only time I've ever been to "The Symphony", we heard Beethoven's Seventh (the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall.)I came to Elf late myself but now it's one of my favorites. What about "It's a Wonderful Life"?

    1. "It's a Wonderful Life" is definitely a favorite, along with a 1938 version of "A Christmas Carol".

  3. Schroeder and Beethoven rule!