New Books Network

Brad Balukjian

The Wax Pack

On the Open Road in Search of Baseball’s Afterlife

University of Nebraska 2020

New Books in American StudiesNew Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in LiteratureNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in SportsNew Books Network February 6, 2020 Bob D’Angelo

Today we are joined by Brad Balukjian, author of the book The Wax Pack: On the Open Road in Search of Baseball’s Afterlife (University...

Today we are joined by Brad Balukjian, author of the book The Wax Pack: On the Open Road in Search of Baseball’s Afterlife (University of Nebraska, 2020). A combination of Charles Kuralt and Lawrence Ritter, Balukjian’s work examines 14 baseball players pulled from a pack of 1986 Topps baseball cards. Balukjian takes the reader on a cross-country tour to meet these now-retired players, who have dealt with being out of the spotlight in different ways. Some stories have a melancholy tone, while others demonstrate that life does not end when a player hangs up his uniform for the last time. Balukjian is a savvy observer of people, and his interactions with the former players are sprinkled with personal observations and the author’s own personal issues. There is a chapter devoted to each player, plus a narrative of Balukjian’s visit with former employees at the Topps factory in Duryea, Pennsylvania. Balukjian owns a Ph.D. in entomology from the University of California at Berkeley, and he spent a year in Tahiti working on his doctorate. He currently is director of the Natural History and Sustainability Program and teaches biology at Merritt College in Oakland, California. Regardless of his academic standing, Balukjian remains a baseball fan at heart and still remembers the excitement of opening cards during the wax pack era. Not only did Balukjian thumb through a pack of cards; he met most of the men pictured on them and shared their compelling stories.


Bob D’Angelo earned his master’s degree in history from Southern New Hampshire University in May 2018. He earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Florida and spent more than three decades as a sportswriter and sports copy editor, including 28 years on the sports copy desk at The Tampa (Fla.) Tribune. He is currently a digital news producer for Cox Media Group. Bob can be reached at bdangelo57@gmail.com. For more information, visit Bob D’Angelo’s Books and Blogs.