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Publisher's Summary

Is there life after baseball? Starting from this simple question, The Wax Pack ends up with something much bigger and unexpected - a meditation on the loss of innocence and the gift of impermanence, for both Brad Balukjian and the former ballplayers he tracked down. 

To get a truly random sample of players, Balukjian followed this wildly absurd but fun-as-hell premise: he took a single pack of baseball cards from 1986 (the first year he collected cards), opened it, chewed the nearly 30-year-old gum inside, gagged, and then embarked on a quest to find all the players in the pack. Absurd, maybe, but true. He took this trip solo in the summer of 2015, spanning 11,341 miles through 30 states in 48 days.

Balukjian actively engaged with his subjects - taking a hitting lesson from Rance Mulliniks, watching kung fu movies with Garry Templeton, and going to the zoo with Don Carman. In the process of finding all the players but one, he discovered an astonishing range of experiences and untold stories in their post-baseball lives, and he realized that we all have more in common with ballplayers than we think. 

While crisscrossing the country, Balukjian retraced his own past, reconnecting with lost loves and coming to terms with his lifelong battle with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

©2020 Brad Balukjian (P)2020 Tantor

What listeners say about The Wax Pack

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Profile Image for Keith
  • Keith
  • 19-06-2020

Clever idea, lackluster results

This book shares too many attributes with the dreadful documentary "Jack of All Trades." Ostensibly premised on baseball cards, both are derailed by unlikeable narrators reflecting on mild personal trauma of a distinctly suburban variety. The book is a 50/50 split between discussions of the players who appeared at random in the selected pack of 1986 Topps cards and Balukjian's affinity for talking about himself. The author is convinced that he is fascinating. He is an adjunct instructor. He likes coffee. He has a beat up car. He has OCD and battled with a speech impediment as a kid. He uses Tinder when traveling. He has divorced parents. If you found these past six sentences captivating, then you'll love this book. If not, well, manage your expectations. What is most frustrating about this book is the self-absorption and entitlement of the author. One continual annoyance is that he consistently refers to himself as a "journalist" despite the fact that he is, at best, a blogger. He buries anyone who passes on interview requests and declares the players who give him time as his personal "heroes." I wanted to like this book, but it is grating. Often it induced involuntary exclamations of "come on," "seriously?," and "eww."

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  • S. O.
  • 16-05-2020

Absolutely a joy to listen to

This is an incredible book that brings back so many memories of baseball card collecting in the 1980's. The author weaves his personal stories with the life of each ballplayer he interviews. The author also does a wonderful job in reading the book. I hope every baseball fan downloads this book. A true joy of a book.

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  • David J. Ham
  • 20-05-2021

Fascinating look into former players’ lives

I was surprised by the openness and honesty of so many of the players profiled. I liked that the author narrated and told the story himself. Maybe could’ve been a little less about him though.

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  • Duane Cross
  • 12-12-2020

Road trips and ball cards

Congrats, Brad — you have woven together two threads of many childhoods into an engaging tale of quest. Everyone who reads or listens will wish they were riding shotgun; this is an every-fan’s trip.

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  • Chris Truscott
  • 11-10-2020

Memory lane

As a baseball fan who grew up in the 1980s & 90s, this book was a welcome journey down memory lane. Away from over-shift defenses & playoff bubbles to something that felt simpler (though really wasn't). Strongly recommend.

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  • Pete M
  • 14-05-2020

Enjoyable Read

This work caught my eye this week while seeking something new to pass time during NYC's stay at home era. Whether you are a baseball fan or not, this is an enjoyable read. It exposes the reader to the human element of the professionals that entertain us for years and sometimes decades. The concept was great and the author executes well. Highly recommend, especially for baseball fans.

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  • zane Butler
  • 13-08-2021

Baseball, Travel & Family

Not only is this a great book about adventure and baseball, but it is about relationships with loved ones. Brad does a fantastic job of showing the human side of the wax packers. I truly enjoyed this book. You won’t regret listening to this.

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  • BRG
  • 26-08-2020

Very entertaining, as well as educational!

The author shares his own personal story while investigating the lives of former baseball players. The audiobook reveals the various path that these athletes’ lives took before, during, and after baseball. Very well done!

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  • Larry Hoffman
  • 05-08-2020

Memories unleashed

Brings back the good old days when baseball was king. Finding out that even the best of them are real people with real world problems. Great read/listen.

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  • Briboflavin
  • 15-06-2020

Great concept, pretty good execution

As long as the book keeps focused on Balukjian’s quest to find and interview a random cast of retired baseball players, it is thoroughly entertaining. There is, however, a bit more info than I needed on Brad Balukjian himself—some of it feels relevant to understanding his motivations, but there’s a good amount that should have been excised, particularly his ruminations over—and eventual reunion with—an ex-girlfriend. Overall, though, it was an engaging and worthwhile listen, and his narration was appropriate.

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