Guest Presentation

One of the real joys of creating and marketing effects to the magic fraternity is the mail that I receive. Most are very complimentary. Practically all refer to how many Larry Becker products the writer has collected. But, once in awhile, I receive a letter that describes a different presentational slant to one of my commercial offerings. The following letter is a prime example. It was received from Roger L. Omanson of the Louisville, KY Magic Club.

Dear Mr. Becker:

I am a member of the Louisville Magic Club, as well as a member of both the IBM and SAM. A couple of years ago, Earl Bullard, a member of our club, did your mental effect, All-Star Miracle. I liked the trick and bought it for my own use. Since then I have altered the presentation to suit my style of performing. When I had lunch with Earl this week and showed him how I modified the effect, he suggested that I write to you and let you know what I've done with it.

Your use of baseball cards stimulated me to develop a whole routine of close-up magic with baseball cards and baseball related magic. Anyhow, here's my version of the All-Star Miracle:

I went to a baseball card shop and selected twenty-two cards of famous players (such as Jose Canseco, Ryne Sandberg, Darryl Strawberry, Wade Boggs, etc.). Since there are at least four companies that make baseball cards (Fleer, Donruss, Score and Topps), it is easy to get new cards for just a few cents each. Then I picked out eight different cards of the same player. This is easy to do since four companies make the cards. It is also easy to find cards of the same player from different years. (Author's note: It was this discovery that originally led me to develop the All-Star Miracle).

Here's my patter: When I was a kid, I used to call the corner grocery store and ask if they had Prince Albert in a can? If they said, "yes," I'd say, "Then you'd better let him out before he suffocates!" Well, I don't have an old Prince Albert tobacco tin, but I do have Tom Prince. And I don't have Sir Walter Raleigh, but I do have Rollie Fingers. And I also have some others who can really smoke it: Nolan Ryan and Dwight Gooden. Here's George Brett, Wade Boggs, Hank Aaron, the all-time home run champion, Willie Mays, Billy Williams, Bo Jackson, Johnny Bench, Roberto Clemente, Bud Black (I cut out my face from a photo of me and pasted it over Bud Black's. I had to look through a number of personal photos to find one with my head facing in the same direction and the same size as Bud Black's head in the photo on the baseball card. Naturally, my cards are all kept in protective plastic sleeves similar to the way you provided them and as a result, at first glance, the photo looks as genuine as the original).

I carry these cards in a metal Velvet brand tobacco can (similar in size to the old Prince Albert tobacco tins). The cards in the tobacco can are as follows, in the order listed:

Tom Prince Rollie Fingers Nolan Ryan Dwight Gooden George Brett Wade Boggs Hank Aaron Willie Mays Billie Williams Bo Jackson Johnny Bench Roberto Clemente Bud Black (*) (see notes) Dave Justice Ernie Banks

Batman (Yes, Batman) Dave Parker (Oakland) Stan Musial Dave Parker (Pirates) Cecil Fielder D. Parker (Cincinnati) Mike Schmidt D. Parker (Milwaukee) Roy Campanella D. Parker (Oakland) Willie McGee D. Parker (Pirates) Bob Welch

D. Parker (Cincinnati) Willie Stargell D. Parker (Milwaukee)

Now, covering my pasted in head with my thumb, I continue pattering. "Bud's my cousin. A lot of people think we look like twins." (I move my thumb to show the face). "What do you think?" (This gets a laugh, and people have to look closely to realize that I have pasted my picture over Bud's face). "Bud's the black sheep in the family. Here! This Bud's for you. (I start to hand the card to the spectator, but don't actually hand it to him).

(At this point, both hands are holding cards since I have been passing them from hand to hand. I lay down the cards in my left hand which have already been seen (I'm left handed), a natural move to allow my left hand to receive more baseball cards).

"Here's Ernie Banks, my hero when I was a kid. You know, a player who is only good with the bat won't win the MVP award or be elected to the Hall of Fame; he has to be good with the glove too. That's why this next player will never make it to the Hall of Fame. (Show Batman card. You can buy these in packets just like baseball cards). He's just a Batman. Do you know what he was when he was a kid? A batboy!

(Now quickly skip through the remaining cards. I don't mention Dave Parker's name, but I stop to mention a couple of players such as Stan Musial, Cecil Fielder, who hit 51 home runs last year, Roy Campanella, one of the first great black players, and Bob Welch, who was the Cy Young winner in the American League last year. If the spectators are baseball fans I spend time saying something about a few of the players, but I don't drag it out.

If the spectators know nothing about baseball, I just show the cards without comment. I don't have to show every card in the pile beginning with Ernie Banks. They have seen every card in the first fourteen cards, so what reason do they have to suspect anything unusual with the remaining cards? "Don't run if nobody's chasing you"—right?)

(I place the pile of cards with Ernie Banks on top beside the first pile.) When they vote to elect someone to the Hall of Fame or MVP, they don't look at batting averages, number of home runs, and other statistics. They use baseball cards. The put the cards in two piles— like this (point to the two piles.)

"Please pick up one of the piles (this is the magician's choice force. I either use the pile or eliminate the pile depending on which they pick up.) I'm going to keep cutting the cards until you say 'stop.' O.K., how many cards are here?"

(Of course I know how many cards there are, but this comment gives the impression that when I put down the first pile of cards, I wasn't intentionally dividing the cards into two predetermined piles. I count all sixteen - the Batman card was laid aside after having been shown - letting the faces be seen. (Since Dave Parker played for same many different teams, he's wearing different colored uniforms and styles of hats in the eight different cards of him. He doesn't even look like the same person in several of the cards.)

"Give me a number from 1 through 16. (I count down to the number called, for example, 11.) O.K., the eleventh card brings us to Dave Parker. If you had said 10, that would have given us Stan Musial (or whomever, depending upon the cutting of the cards) and if you had selected 12, that would have given us Cecil Fielder. Remember, you chose this pile, you told me when to stop cutting the cards and you chose the number 11. There was no way I could have known all that in advance. Will you please look at the written prediction which I placed on the table when we began. It says, "Dave Parker."

How in the world could I have predicted the one freely selected cared out of 30 choices seems impossible. It is magic! Sports fans seem to enjoy seeing the cards. Adults enjoy the mix of old timers and younger people recognize the stars of today. Each year I update the players to to include the most recent MVP's and Cy Young winners. If I'm doing this for someone who doesn't know that much about baseball, I don't say much about the players. The Batman and Bud Black cards adds a light touch. I also have eight card sets of Ryne Sandburg and Andre Dawson to enable me to do repeat performances.

Anyhow, that's how I modified the trick. It's a great trick as you sell it. Rather than claim that I improved it, I would rather say that I have simply personalized it through my own interest in baseball and added a few touches of humor to it. I thought you'd be interested to see what someone has done with one of your truly excellent tricks.

Sincerely,

Roger L. Omanson Louisville, KY Magic Club

Baseball For Boys

Baseball For Boys

Since World War II, there has been a tremendous change in the makeup and direction of kid baseball, as it is called. Adults, showing an unprecedented interest in the activity, have initiated and developed programs in thousands of towns across the United States programs that providebr wholesome recreation for millions of youngsters and are often a source of pride and joy to the community in which they exist.

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