I’m in the midst of a stretch where both the Pirates and Indians are away for awhile, so I won’t be attending any more games any time soon. (Possibly one this weekend, but its a small chance). Since there is this lull, I’ve decided to blog a bit about baseball cards.
My obsession with baseball cards began in the spring of 1989. I had started to get into baseball in 1988, but baseball cards hadn’t taken ahold of me yet, until that fateful day at K-Mart. I was with a childhood friend, Nick Yakabishin. He was already a seasoned collector of cards. I remember Nick and I both getting a jumbo pack of 1989 Topps Cards.
Nick said that the goal was to find Pittsburgh Pirates cards, but that if I got an Andy Van Slyke, he “would die.” Andy Van Slyke was the most popular Pirate in the late 1980’s, and his cards were like gold to children. I watched Nick tear into his pack. He got a couple crappy Pirates like Dave LaPoint and Mike Dunne, but no Andy Van Slyke.
I then opened mine. I remember sniffing the gum and then chewing on it while I shuffled through the deck. Somewhere mid way through, there he was. A fresh, crisp 1989 Topps Andy Van Slyke card.
I started going crazy. My friend was happy for me, but jealous. He was shocked that I had found a Van Slyke card. I was hooked.
My obsession grew. I was most active in collecting cards up until about 1995. I continued to collect until college in 1999, when my interest waned.
Any time my parents would take my brother and I anywhere, picking up a pack of cards was a necessity. My brother was also obsessed with cards. We used to look forward to our trips to see our grandma in Connecticut because of a card shop that we considered the Mecca of all sporting good stores, Rock’s Sports Cards. I’m not sure if its still around anymore, but the place was great. My dad used to get annoyed because my brother and I would spend upwards of an hour there browsing and looking through all of the bargain bins.
At Christmas time, half of our gifts involved baseball or baseball cards. The first complete set I received was the 1989 Score set, during the Christmas of ’89. I would go on to put my first set together from cards pulled from packs in 1993 (Topps).
In late 1992 or thereabouts, the unthinkable happened. A man by the name of Dick Brown had purchased an old candy store and turned it into a Sports Cards store. He named it Discount Sports Cards. It became a daily destination for my brother, Joe, and I. We were his best customers and fondly called the store “Discount” amongst ourselves. The shop was located roughly about a mile away, and we would ride there on our bikes, buy grab bags (which he would put a few good singles and the rest filler cards), and look through the latest singles.
We would hold “card shows” in the back yard or in the living room, where we would all set up our cards to display for everyone to see. Usually, we ended up just buying each other cards, so it was basically trading.
I used to spend almost all of my disposable money on baseball cards. As a child, I never had much money, but when I could scrape together a buck or two, I was buying cards. How many cards do I have? I would estimate about 80,000. There’s boxes everywhere.
My most valuable card? I don’t have any super valuable ones. Possibly a 1962 Topps Stan Musial. It might be worth $100, maybe. I have a 1972 Hank Aaron. A 1992 Mariano Rivera Bowman Rookie Card. I don’t think any of them could sell much these days. The value of baseball cards plummeted.
My entire collection? Its probably not even worth that much. My cards mostly range from 1987-1995.
I remember being a Beckett Baseball Monthly subscriber and looking up my top cards each month to see if they’d “gone up” or “gone down.” The magazines are probably worth more than most of the cards now.
I remember my dad bought a 1990 Donruss set in 1990. Its still sealed and in the cellophane. “One day, this will be worth a lot of money,” he told us and my brother. Unfortunately, the baseball card bubble burst, and its worth less now than what he paid.
I remember my mom telling me about how she used to buy packs of cards in the late 50’s, early 60’s, just for the gum. I recall listening in horror as she described how one day my grandma threw all of her cards in the trash.
Baseball cards dominated my life in the late 1980’s, early 1990’s, as did my interest in baseball. I’m still interested in baseball, but no longer cards. Most companies have folded, like Fleer, Donruss, and Score. I believe only Topps and Upper Deck are still around.
My wife thinks I’m a weirdo because every time we go to Wal Mart, I have to walk past the Baseball card aisle to stop and stare. Some habits never die.
Did you collect cards? How many did you have? What got you hooked? What’s your best card?