Kurt Bevacqua, a utility man who spent parts of fifteen seasons with the Indians, Royals, Pirates, Brewers, Rangers and Padres franchises (some of them twice), is best-known these days as the subject of several colorful Tommy Lasorda tirades; some folks down San Diego way may also remember him fondly for hitting a game-winning homer off Dan Petry in Game 2 of the 1984 World Series, which to date remains the one and only October Classic win in Padres history.
But to me, a child of the 70s who found this wonderfully bizarre "action shot" card in his first-ever Topps wax pack, Kurt Bevacqua (whose birthday it is today) will always be the Bazooka Bubble Blowing Champion of the known universe. The competition, staged by Major League Baseball and Topps, Inc. (who also produced the mighty pink chewable rectangles known as Bazooka Bubblegum), featured players from all 24 teams; held late in the 1975 season, it was filmed to be shown during that year's World Series pre-game broadcasts, with the ubiquitous Joe Garagiola hosting. Though contestants included such stars as Johnny Bench, George Brett, Bert Blyleven, Bill Madlock and Gary Carter, it was Bevacqua who, er, blew his way to the top, besting runner-up Johnny Oates with with a prodigious bubble that was measured at 18 inches by umpire Dick Stello.
Sadly, baseball's Bazooka Bubble Blowing Championship was a one-time-only affair. As such, Bevacqua, who spent most of '76 with the Brewers' Triple-A team in Spokane, never had to defend his crown — which, perhaps, means that he really will remain champion forever. But thanks to the magic of the Internet, we can still watch his victory again and again. Parts 1 and 2 of the '75 Bubblegum Championship broadcast are embedded below; in retrospect, their goofy, color-saturated charm perfectly sums up much of what I love about 1970s baseball.Part One: Part Two: