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08/21/2008 12:58 PM ET
Baseball card, chewing gum...record?
Nostalgia-packed EP riffs on Topps memorabilia
tickets for any Major League Baseball game
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D. Crane is not ashamed to reveal that he learned to read by memorizing the backs of baseball cards. Nor is he ashamed to reveal that these skills led him to his current position as a sixth-grade teacher.

"The teachers all sit around and talk about all the books they've read," says Crane, who moonlights as the lead singer and guitarist for the up-and-coming Seattle "sloppy pop" band known as BOAT.

"They're snobby about it. I feel kind of like a hack teacher because I would just take out my cards and my Baseball Digest magazines, read about George Brett, and now I'm able to read as well as the other sixth-grade-teacher people."

But he sings a lot better, which is evident on BOAT's new, baseball-inspired EP, Topps, named after the title track that references the legendary company that makes all those baseball cards.

Taking the concept all the way, the band had their own homemade cards made -- depicting band members Crane, Jackson Long (drums), Mark McKenzie (bass), Josh Goodman (guitar, keyboards), on-and-off band contributors and actual baseball players from Crane's childhood.

The clever, funny cards were then thrown, along with the requisite sticks of chewing gum, into the packaging for the vinyl EPs.

"The song has to do with baseball cards, so what better idea than to make it like baseball cards?" Crane says. "Who doesn't love baseball cards?"

Crane says this whole Topps thing is really catching on.

During recent gigs, audiences have been singing the chorus of "Topps" together, and Crane and the boys have been approached by fan after fan at the merchandise table to recount baseball memories brought back by the nostalgic EP package.

"Everyone's got memories and players they remember," he says. "It's been kind of amazing. They look at the cards and know someone in the set, and they relate that to someone.

"Rock people have baseball memories in general, and it's a unifying thing for kids who grew up in the late 1970s and '80s. Plus, the ladies seem to love coming to us and talking about Andre Dawson and Rick Sutcliffe."

Meanwhile, Crane prefers the New York Mets.

He grew up in New Jersey and fell in love with the late-1980s powerhouse teams at Shea Stadium.

Courtesy of Magic Marker Records

"My uncle worked for Sharp, the electronics company, and they would present big checks to the 'Sharp Shooter of the Month,'"Crane says. "It was amazing because he got to meet all the players. I remember all of them. Sid Fernandez, Mookie Wilson, Howard Johnson, Darryl Strawberry, Gary Carter. What a great team."

Crane says he's looking forward to checking out the 2008 Mets when BOAT hits New York this summer, and the band has been cutting a nice wake in the music scene in the meantime.

BOAT played the prestigious South by Southwest Festival last year and recently gigged at the Showbox, a big-time Seattle rock club, alongside the Long Winters, one of Crane's favorite groups.

And while BOAT is in their van touring around the country, Crane and drummer Long will have baseball on their minds.

"We love playing cities with historical teams, like Philadelphia and Boston and Pittsburgh," Crane says. "We're excited to be in those cities and play them for the first time, and we'll try to hit the stadiums.

They did just that on a recent excursion to Los Angeles, although the Dodgers were out of town at the time.

"It didn't matter," Crane says. "We drove by Dodger Stadium and took pictures. Then we played Wiffle Ball in a shopping center parking lot.

"We made our own little stadium."

Doug Miller is a Senior Writer for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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