On the page of Cardboard Gods that features Mark Fidrych’s baseball card, Josh Wilker mentions a game Fidrych pitched against the Yankees in 1976 and opines as follows: “I can’t write well enough to capture the beauty of his performance that night.”

It’s a curious admission for a writer, isn’t it?

Wilker does write well enough to make a case for the project represented by this book, which is the depiction of his own childhood and adolescence by invoking the images and stats of such fellows as Thurman Munson, Herb Washington, and Rick Miller. And Kurt Bevacqua.

Wilker grew up in circumstances that lots of people may find odd. Whereas some people reside with one parent, and some with two, for a time Wilker had three. The third (who eventually became the de facto second) was a man Wilker’s mother had met on a bus and decided to bring home. Wilker’s dad was okay with this. Then mom and the guy from the bus split for Vermont, where the idea was for the guy from the bus to make it as a blacksmith with a portable forge in his van.

So maybe describing his childhood in terms of the images and statistics of Herb Washington and Kurt Bevacqua wasn’t such a bad idea after all.