Monday, November 6, 2017

Blog bat-around: Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon

The last time I took part in a theme suggested by Collecting Cutch, I went through most of my Todd Helton cards in one late-night marathon. Collecting Cutch recently threw a Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon gauntlet out to the Cardsphere, and figured I'd whip up a quick one-card post.

If you're somehow unfamiliar, the game is to think of an actor, any actor, and try to connect him or her to Kevin Bacon in six steps or less. Tom Hanks, for example, has a "Bacon Number" of 1, as they appeared together in Apollo 13. Jeff Goldblum's Bacon Number is 2, as you have to connect them via Steve Martin. Goldblum did a voice in The Prince of Egypt, which also starred Steve Martin, who was in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (adding the Oxford comma on my own) with Kevin Bacon.

So which ballplayers can we connect to Kevin Bacon? A few have appeared in various Hollywood productions, such as Mark Grace and Don Mattingly, two early entrants in the theme. I can think of a few that are good candidates, but the one that immediately springs to mind is Bernard Gilkey.

1995 Score #485 Bernard Gilkey
Thanks to this theme, you've now seen 1995 Score and Bernard Gilkey today, probably not what neither you nor I expected when you woke up.

Yes, though he was a New York Met at the time, outfielder Bernard Gilkey appeared in 1997's summer hit Men in Black. He was the unfortunate outfielder who was mesmerized by the sight of a UFO passing over Shea Stadium, letting a fly ball smack him right on the head. I can't find a clip of the exact scene, but he's right there in the credits as "Baseball Player".

Coincidentally, Gilkey led the National League in sacrifice flies that year.

I remember him as a Cardinal, coming up in the second half of the overproduction era. He was a decent base stealer, and apparently has a Bobby Bonilla-like arrangement with the Arizona Diamondbacks. I did see him play at least once; he was the leadoff hitter for the Cards in the first game I attended at Coors Field in August 1995. His buddy Jose Oquendo took over at second base later in that game, who he's seen high-fiving here. It's one of those cameo cards where you're not quite sure whose card it is. It's flanked by 1995 Score's distinctive green dot pattern on a sort of sand background, maybe slightly inspiring what we saw in 2015 Topps.

So how does he connect to Kevin Bacon? You might be interested to know that, like movie star Jeff Goldblum, Gilkey's Bacon Number is also just two. Linda Fiorentino, the female lead in Men in Black, had a role in 1991's Queens Logic with Kevin Bacon.

Pretty much any Hollywood actor you've heard of has a Bacon Number of two or less. Perhaps unsurprisingly, mathematicians have a similar concept in their field called the Erdős Number, representing how far removed various scientists are from being published with a particular prolific mathematician. Naturally, you can combine that with the Bacon Number to get the Erdős–Bacon number, on which you can find a few genius actresses like Natalie Portman and Danica McKellar.

There's a surprising level of interconnection in social networks, and I'd wager that the average American citizen could be connected to Kevin Bacon in the requisite six steps. Perhaps not as a movie star, but at least along the paths of their acquaintances.

Me? I'm a 4. I met Niles Southern at a restaurant in Boulder some years ago, the son of Terry Southern, who co-wrote Dr. Strangelove. Southern and astronaut Jim Lovell both had cameos in a mid-'70s sci-fi flick called The Man Who Fell To Earth. Lovell, who was on the real Apollo 13, had a brief cameo in its namesake 1995 film, and we've already established that Kevin Bacon appeared in that.

So now you're all a 5.


  1. Well, I once went to Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins' apartment with a friend. Tim Robbins was in Mystic River with....Kevin Bacon.

  2. My grandfather was the handyman for Kevin Cronin and his family. Cronin's band, REO Speedwagon, had a song appear in the soundtrack for the Goonies. Goonies star, Sean Astin, also appeared in White Water Summer with Kevin Bacon.

    Grandpa > Kevin Cronin > Sean Astin > Kevin Bacon

    Apparently I'm a four. Also, I don't think I ever realized that the Mets cameo was Bernard Gilkey. In fact, I guess I always just assumed that they were an extra, not an actual ballplayer. The more you know!

  3. The Chicken Sandwich I ate for lunch yesterday had bacon on it, so there's an instant winner right there!

    Kidding aside, it is a fun concept for a blog post!

  4. 1. An old buddy of mine is friends with Linda Cardellini.
    2. Linda Cardellini was in Freaks and Geeks with James Franco.
    3. James Franco was in Kin with Zoe Kravitz.
    4. Zoe Kravitz was in X-Men: First Class with Kevin Bacon.