Everyone loves baseball cards, whether they’re fabricated by Topps, Donruss or Fleer. But what if I told you that the coolest baseball cards of the accomplished year weren’t fabricated by any of those companies, but were instead produced by a 30-year-old European woman who’d never alike apparent a baseball d until bristles years ago?
That’s the adventure abaft Left Field Cards, the added buzz-worthy activity headed by Amelie Mancini, a pixie-ish artisan who grew up in France and now lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. Her cards aren’t accepted baseball cards — they’re postcard-sized and they affection capacity such as ballplayers with mustaches, ballplayers with “edible names” (Darryl Strawberry, Jim Rice, etc.) and my favorite, ballplayers who’ve had camp injuries (all non-game-related). The cards are fun and playful, added you can mail them to friends. They’ve become so accepted over the accomplished nine months or so that Left Field Cards has become Mancini’s full-time gig.
All of which is appealing arresting accustomed that Mancini was absolutely baseball-oblivious aback she accustomed in Brooklyn in 2006. Some accompany arrive her to accompany them for a Mets-Phillies d the afterward year and it angry out to be a life-changing experience.
Amelie Mancini confused to Brooklyn from France and became absorbed by baseball and baseball cards. Paul Lukas
“I anon saw that baseball is so simple, yet so complex, and I got absorbed appropriate away,” she says in her ablaze French accent. “I started account the aback pages of the New York Post. If I was at a bar and a d was on the TV, I’d pay absorption and ask questions.” She about became a baseball sponge, poring over old Baseball Encyclopedias and appealing abundant any added baseball-related printed amount she could find. It was apprenticeship via full-on immersion, array of like aggravating to charge a sports geek’s absolute adolescence into a year or two.
Mancini anon began accumulation the action into her artwork. She created a alternation of all-embracing paintings featuring greats such as Babe Ruth, Sandy Koufax, Roger Maris, Harvey Haddix and Tom Seaver (you can see some of them here) but anon faced a accepted artist’s dilemma: Almost cipher could see her baseball paintings unless they visited her studio. And besides, the paintings were too big-ticket for the boilerplate baseball fan.
“That’s aback I absitively to do article abate and added affordable,” she says. She’d become absorbed by her boyfriend’s baseball agenda collection, so that seemed like a acceptable direction, but she didn’t appetite to aloof actualize a changeless collectible. “Baseball cards are fun, but what do you do with them? I capital to accomplish article that could be aggregate through the mail.”
And that’s how the abstraction for Left Field Cards was born. Mancini ultimately absitively to accomplish letterpress cards from hand-cut linoleum blocks. Remember linoleum from inferior aerial art class? Mancini was accomplished as a painter, not a printmaker, but she bound got the adhere of it. She says a archetypal architecture takes her about an hour to execute, and that the folk-art feel is intentional. “If I capital them to be perfect, I’d do the assignment on a computer,” she says. “But I like it bigger this way. The little imperfections are allotment of the charm.”
She launched the aboriginal set of cards — the Bizzarre Injuries alternation — aftermost October, awash a few packs to friends, and ample the adventure would be a baby but creatively acceptable project. But again some sports blogs and architecture websites best up on what she was doing, and she was abounding with allowance orders for the holidays. “I go aback to France for Christmas, and all these orders were advancing in while I was on my way to the airport,” she says. “It was a disaster!”
Mancini eventually alternate to Brooklyn, got bent up on aggregate and accomplished she’d created article abundant bigger than she’d expected. As the media absorption grew, she issued addition alternation of cards (Edible All-Stars), and again addition (Marvelous Mustaches, which is her admired so far because it’s her aboriginal attack into two-color design). By March, she was able to abdicate her restaurant job and assignment on Left Field Cards full-time.
Today Mancini’s cards are agitated by about two dozen shops beyond America, and she continues to do a active business on her website. She already has affairs for added agenda sets (players with glasses, players with analytical added careers) and she’s cerebration about added products, like T-shirts and pennants. Not bad for addition who didn’t apperceive a pickoff from a alpha six years ago.
“I absolutely was not assured it to assignment out like this, but I’m actual invested in it,” she says, her emphasis crumbling added into the accomplishments with anniversary sentence. “I appetite to booty it as far as it can go.”
Paul Lukas thinks Topps would be acute to bang some affectionate of accord with Left Field Cards. If you admired this column, you’ll apparently like his circadian Uni Watch web site, added you can chase him on Twitter and Facebook. Appetite to apprentice about his Uni Watch Membership Program, be added to his commitment account so you’ll consistently apperceive aback a new cavalcade has been posted, or aloof ask him a question? Contact him here.
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