Sunday, May 21, 2017

Reminiscing: Take Me Out to the Ballgame

I did something Saturday that I haven't done in probably at least thirty years. I bought a pack of baseball cards. When I was a kid, I used to save money in order to get a pack of baseball, football, or hockey cards. I have a whole box of them in the attic. I haven't looked at them in years.

Is collecting baseball cards like it used to be in the 1980s? I know that it became a huge deal in the 90s, and I kind of drifted away at that point. I missed the boom of every middle aged sports fan who thought they were going to win the proverbial lottery with the next Honus Wagner. The bottom has likely dropped out of that market. Considering there are no longer card shops on every corner, it seems pretty safe to say that market has come and gone.

Before you ask what cards I have, let me tell assure you that I honestly have no idea. I collected cards and read stats. For me it was less about the big names and more about the guys in the trenches who busted their rumps to make it to the Show. I really liked the checklist cards so I could see what I needed to complete the collection. I guess that would be the OCD part of my personality.

Recently, I heard a story from a guy whose younger brother used older brother’s Yankees cards in the spokes of his bicycle. Younger brother was a Mets fan (apparently there are some out there. Who knew?) who hated the Bronx Bombers. So what better card to use than of the Evil Empire to get that awesome clicking sound on your bike?

Interestingly, the Topps cards that I got last night didn’t have that awful stick of pink gum. Maybe they finally realized that no one actually chewed it. I used to buy cards by the box and had piles of that gum. It never went bad because it was never good in the first place. I swear, I could have buried some of that gum in the backyard and if dug it up three decades later, it would still be exactly the same. Are there still cards sold with the gum? I’ll have to check.

I’m not sure what it is about baseball cards that brings up memories of childhood so clearly. I’ve alway preferred hockey cards, but they’re not as widespread as baseball cards. Besides, collecting baseball cards has been ingrained as a piece of Americana that every teen and pre-teen boy has to go through.

When I was collecting the cards, I would keep the duplicates and not try to trade them. I would keep my main set in numerical order as shown on the back of the card. With the extras, I separated them into teams. At one point, I had them in albums, but that didn’t last long. Every time I got new cards, I had to move them around. That beat up the cards a little. So, I kept them in a box. Like I mentioned earlier, I haven’t looked in that box since I moved out of my parents’ house in 1997. Who knows what treasures are lurking there?

How many of you collected sports cards? Did you keep them, or have you lost track of them? Who were your favorite players? I was a huge Don Mattingly fan. I had fun looking through the new cards. Does that mean I’m going to start collecting? No, but I may pick up a pack here and there just for the nostalgia. Now I just have to figure out if this Aaron Judge card will be worth anything.

Craig Bacon is going to the attic to find that box. I’ll be back in a bit. In the meantime, you keep reading.