Book Reviews

The Wax Pack: On the Open Road in Search of Baseball’s Afterlife

Book review at Knup Sports

The Wax Pack Book Review

The Wax Pack by Brad Balukjian is a 280 page book  that was published by the University of Nebraska Press as he seeks to go on the road to interview those players found in a old pack of Topps baseball cards. 

He attempted to locate each of the players in the wax pack and that list included Rance Mulliniks, Steve Yaeger, Garry Templeton,Gary Pettis, Randy Ready, Jaime Cocanower, Carlton Fisk,Don Carmen, Vince Coleman,Doc Gooden, LeeMazilli, Al Cowens and Rick Sutcliffe.

The Wax Pack- On The Road

He headed out of his location in California by car to make the  journey that will be over 11,000 miles before he gets home. Each time he talked to these former  players questions, he was probing and sometimes personal in his attempt to uncover their life after baseball and what got them to the major leagues. In doing this, the author felt the need to examine his own life and experiences along the trip.

Not only do we hear the former players talking about their early life and  family but how they are adjusting to life after baseball but hear from siblings, spouses, friends of most players and what they knew of the athlete. One theme that pops up continually is the lack of a father influence in many of them. Another thing is some players just can’t give up the game a they continue to coach and be part of the game and travel grind. They can’t shake the game out of their system. Many have failed marriages as a commonality among them,  Others had no issues and adjusted quickly to the world outside of the game.

With a chapter devoted to each player he crossed across America (3o states in all) and in the process the entire trip he used a budget of $7000, He doesn’t reveal if he stayed under budget or not.

Some players didn’t want to be found such as Carlton Fisk and Doc Gooden. Doc was a different case and according his son, he went missing quite often and was suspected to still be using drugs. Others such as Mulliniks is a realtor and his phone number was easily accessible.

The author made it to the Hall of Fame ceremony where he had a very brief encounter with Carlton Fisk and no chance to carry on a conversation with him.

On bonus to the book is his encounter with former workers from the Topps Trading Cards company. They meet with hom and explain how the cards are done and their lifetime working in the industry in which the factory closed in 1996 in Duryea which is two hours from Scranton, PA. He meets with Mary Lou, and her daughter Chris, Tom and Kim for nostalgia time.

This is a compelling book and a rare gem that all baseball fans need to have on their bookshelf. I can say out of the last 200 books I have reviewed in the previous 4 years that this book is in the Top 5 for enjoyment. It is easy to read and follow along with. If you can, take your time reading and savor each interview for factual information that is straight from the horse mouth.

The University of Nebraska Press brings out many fine sports books each and every year. Check out their website for some good deals on books.


Look for many other of my book review which can be found at KnupSports. All bundled together here.


About the author– Tom Knuppel has been writing about baseball and sports for a few decades. As an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan he began with the blog CardinalsGM. Tom is a member of the United Cardinals Bloggers and the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. He also maintains the History of Cardinals website. More recently he has been busy at KnupSolutions and the primary writer of many sports at KnupSports and adds content at Sports 2.0. Tom is a retired High School English and Speech teacher and has completed over one hundred sportsbook reviews. He also can be followed on Twitter at tknup.

Feel free to contact Tom at

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