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From Nickel Packs and Corner Stores to Penny Rookies and Card Stores: Your Collecting Memories

Last year, we used our Facebook page to ask for some of your memories of collecting as a kid.  Where you bought your first pack, your best trade and just general memories of summers and baseball.   The response, needless to say, was overwhelming.  Hundreds of you were so glad to have a place to share those times with others cardspokesthat we decided to do it again…and once again, the page overflowed with funny stories, poignant memories, tales of cards tossed away by mom and others that have been treasured for years.

Whether you grew up in the 1950’s or the 1990’s doesn’t matter.  No one has an exclusive on nostalgia and no generation’s recollections are less important than the one that came before.

It’s pretty clear that cards helped a lot of people through rough times (and still do).  They provide a connection with sports, friends and families that’s hard to top.

Below are some of your responses and we’ll have more again tomorrow.  If you’re on Facebook and want to chime in or just read more of what others say, click here to go to the SC Daily Facebook page.

John Malusis Sr.: My favorite memory – sitting in front of the local candy store back sometime in the ’50s, opening Topps packs – I remember penny packs, and nickel packs with 6 cards (I think). We’d crumple the wrappers and throw them at each other – the checklists went in the trash can!! OUCH!!!

Bobby Hines: 5 cent packs of 1968 topps baseball cards. My first year collecting. Nolan Ryan rookie cards seem to be in every other packs.

David Wertz: I think trading them with friends was what I enjoyed most. Trying to get all my favorite players from my favorite teams. Back in the day if your friends didn’t have the cards you wanted. You found more friends to trade with.

sports card packsDrew Pelto: The first pack of cards I ever opened. It was April 1991 and I was about to turn seven. Seven months earlier I had seen Dave Stieb pitch his no-hitter at the old Cleveland Stadium. Right in the middle of my 1991 Donruss rack pack was Dave Stieb. Right next to it was my favorite player, Cory Snyder. Needless to say I was hooked. 23 years later, I now work for Donruss’ parent company, Panini.

Joe Mazzaro:  My dad was a sanitation man and he would always find cards and bring them home for me. I remember one day when he brought home several shoeboxes full of 1972 Topps cards in near mint condition.

1975 Topps caseMike Sakal:  Loved going into Stop-n-Go in the morning before school to buy the clear cellophane packs of 1975 Topps for 25 cents in West Milton, Ohio. Sometimes a Pete Rose or Reds team photo would be on top. Dad would be waiting in the car and would ask, “who’d you get?” Great to get an extra Rose or Johnny Bench and go into my second grade class and have heavy trading leverage!

Jay Dumire:  Buying untold amounts of boxes of 1987 Topps baseball and putting together sets with my dad. They aren’t worth the cardboard they are printed on now but I will always cherish the chase of trying to complete the set but more importantly, spending quality time with my dad. That’s what the hobby is all about for me.

Luke Griese:  I became a carder in 1987. I’m a huge Cubs fan. When the ’88 cards came out I was soooo pumped to get my first Mark Grace RC. I ran home and wrote a letter to him along with my card sent it to him via mail. Two-three weeks later my mom screaming ‘mail came for you!!’  I opened it and Mark had written to me, one paragraph, seemed like a book. Inside also received 4 Donruss rated rookies of him with signatures. I have them and wouldn’t sell them to anyone ever, it changed my life.  Thank you for letting me tell the story to someone else who cares besides my 3 boys!!

Pack of 1970 Topps baseballCraig Dowden:  My greatest collecting memories come from the short walk I would take with my family after church each Sunday. As I had saved all my money during the week, my pockets would jingle as we walked from church to Leubbers Pharmacy to purchase our Sunday Chicago Tribune. When we entered Leubbers, I made my way straight to the counter and emptied my pockets onto the glass counter where the coins clanked and could be heard all over the store. Mr. Leubbers would walk over to the check out and say, “What do we have here?” I answered, “Mr. Leubbers, how many packs of baseball cards can I buy this week?” He would count my change and tell me how many I could afford. I would carefully pick the exact right packs out of the box, anticipate their contents on the drive home, and rip into them when I got back to my bedroom. It wasn’t until many years later that my dad told me Mr. Leubbers always let me have one or two more packs than I could afford each week. Such great memories!

Michael Weil:  Saving up allowance money (around ten cents a week), and going to the local “5 &10″/Variety store  and getting a pack or two. They were as little as 5 cents per pack then. This was circa 1964-65. If I had a whole quarter, I’d get those larger packs, where you could see the front of the first card and the back of the last one! I’d always look for ones from my favorite baseball team; I once got one of the team photos (N.Y.Mets) from the Topps 1965 set. My week was made!

Daniel Conroy:  When my mother decided to write my name on all me and my brothers baseball cards because she said we fought to much about who’s was who’s . one of the most effed up things ever to happen at that age. I had Ken Griffey Jr. rookie cards and Frank Thomas and Barry Larkin rookies all ruined. and about another 3000 cards at least.

1962 Topps Baseball BoxRodger Beard:  Christmas 1962…a box of Topps cards…all mine to open…..one Mantle…one Mantle All Star…Yep, they went on the bike. Oh, if I could have saved just one pack!

Adam Hurley: My best friend and I used to take the 93-94 Upper Deck NBA complete set and lay about a bunch of the best players out and take turns drafting players to create a starting five with a 6th man to total about 3 to 5 teams each. We were bored. Or maybe aspiring GMs. My first pick overall was always Penny Hardaway.

Rico Carty 1964 ToppsBob Sullivan:  When I was 10 years old, I found a man’s wallet full of money. I told my dad he called the guy who lost it. The man gave me a quarter for a reward. I was so happy, I ran to the Rexall Drug Store and bought 5 packs of baseball cards. In one of them was a Rico Carty rookie card, my favorite Braves player at the time. I was one happy kid. I still have that card.

Brandon Soale:  As a kid there was a small card shop in town and each year for my birthday my Dad would order a factory set of Topps baseball for me. My birthday is in July and being off from school and getting to walk down to the shop to pick up my set when it came in is still one of my favorite summer memories. Sometimes the day I would get it would be the day of the All Star Game so those days were extra special.

John Holomany: 1978 Football – my hero was Bert Jones and he had just won the MVP in 76 and was the first million dollar a year 1978 Topps Football packsplayer. I was (and am) a bit obsessive and would always start the season by buying a box(the little store ordered an extra one for me always, otherwise I cleaned out their shelves, and would call me on delivery day) I opened my first box and no Bert Jones card (or Colts checklist)! So I got another box and another, finally when I hit the colts checklist I saw no Bert Jones!!! He was a MVP and on the cover of every yearly magazine back then, but he had no card???? I guess he didn’t sign the contract with Topps but that has to be one of the biggest omissions of a major star (I did end up with 3 or 4 sets due to looking for one card!) I’ve ever known.

Shane Kay:  Took a two-week camping trip in 1985 around Michigan and my dad bought me my first box of cards (1985 Topps) before the trip. I brought them with me and loved reading the backs as we drove through the state. Little did he know that it would lead to 175k+ cards in 1933 Goudey Babe Ruthmy collection now.

Michael Nieslawski:  While I was in grade school, I one day traded a ‘69 Ernie Banks for a Real ‘33 Goudey Ruth.

Keith Patterson:  Hoping that after our Little League baseball game was over we’d run over to the concession stand to get packs of 1970-71 Topps cards and go into the stands and trade. I still have my 1970 Hank Aaron.

Randy Fast: I was twelve years old, and I only needed a few more baseball cards to complete my ’74 Topps set…one afternoon, I found 1974 Toppsmyself in the candy aisle at the local Woolworth store, and as I approached the baseball card wax boxes, plum full of unopened packs, low and behold, I discovered that some mischievous previous “shopper”, had decided to open a few packs and leave the unwanted remnants behind. Already feeling guilty and very self-conscious for a “crime” I didn’t commit (and making sure that no one was looking), I quickly snuck a peak at the pristine cards that were begging to be perused. Suddenly, there was one of the ’73 World Series cards along with the Minnesota Twins team checklist card I hadn’t yet acquired, quickly followed by a Carlton Fisk card that my collecting buddy wouldn’t relinquish in trade.

How on earth could I just leave those gorgeous pieces of cardboard for the next “shopper” to acquire when I was the one they were meant to be with?! After some quick elementary math – fifteen cards divided by fifteen cents (if my memory is correct), I pulled a nickel out of my pants pocket and gently placed it on the candy counter while making sure the man running the register was helping another customer. There, I thought to myself, I’m not really stealing…Woolworth’s getting their money (and then some), and I’m getting my much-needed cards! And I’m proud to say, that I’m still a free man, and I still have those three gorgeous pieces of cardboard as well as the entire 1974 set, forty years later!

 

About Rich Mueller

Rich is the editor and founder of Sports Collectors Daily. A broadcaster and writer for more than 30 years and a collector for even longer than that, he's usually typing something somewhere. Type him back at [email protected].

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