Not an Easter Sunday goes by when I don’t think back to 1972.
Like every little kid, I always looked forward to finding a basket of goodies. I was the youngest (and only boy) in our family so there wasn’t much competition or excitement beyond my own.
My love for sports cards was no secret. Whenever I could scrape together a dime or a good-hearted relative would toss a little spare change my way, that’s usually what I bought, although model airplanes gave the cards a run for their money.
Building a complete set was a task that was beyond my limited means and my parents weren’t swimming in money. That really wasn’t the ultimate goal anyway. I wanted St. Louis Cardinals. I wanted Hank Aaron. And I really wanted Lou Brock. I usually wound up with about 150-200 cards each year—buying pack by pack. Two was great. Three was a luxury. Any more than that and I felt like rationing them so as not to feel like such a glutton.
On a sunny spring Sunday in 1972, I awoke to find my Easter basket on top of our console TV (color!) in the living room. My Mom wasn’t into crazy hiding places, although she did make an effort sometimes. And there they were. Perched vertically on each side of the square basket sat four beautiful, colorful, unopened 1972 Topps packs. I don’t have the memory genes that enable me to recall exactly who was inside. Certainly, they were first series. But I do remember them sitting there, 37 Easters later. Four packs. Forty cents worth. Four pieces of fresh, chewy, bubble gum dust-covered gum.
I don’t know exactly why I can still remember that day so clearly when I can’t remember anything at all about last Easter. Or the one before that. Zip.
Collecting was a lot simpler then. The cards weren’t fancy and if we didn’t like them there wasn’t an alternative. We didn’t think a thing of it. I don’t know what I would have thought if my packs had contained autographs or a jersey swatch. If a kid opens four packs on Easter Sunday now is he disappointed if there isn’t an insert or redemption card?
I just hope kids still find it cooler to see baseball card packs in their baskets than chocolate eggs.