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Summers Were Made for Baseball Cards: Your Memories, Part 3

Congratulations to Sports Collectors Daily reader Larry Stauss for winning the 2013 Topps Heritage Baseball box given away in a random drawing of entries received in the “Share Your Favorite Childhood Baseball Card Memory” contest.

Some great stories were submitted and you can read some of the best every day this week.  Here is the third edition:

Cards on the Beach

My best childhood card collecting memory was when I was six years old. My parents and grandparents would get me cards all the time. It was the summer of 1977. I grew up a Red Sox fan. I’d watch them with my Dad or Papa and knew the whole team. My favorite card on the team set was the Carlton Fisk card. What a great picture! Fred Lynn was my favorite player.

I also loved great action cards. I still do. The photographers captured the feel of the game. Rod Carew, Steve Garvey, Rusty Staub, etc that year… It wasn’t just the stars but MAN there were some 1976 Topps Kurt Bevacquagreat ones! The smell of the cards, the gum… it was awesome!

Back then there were less actual card stores. There was one at the mall but we’d get them at the food store, drug store, gas station but my favorite place to get it was the beach. The ice cream man would show up. My brothers and friends would get ice cream. I’d get cards (and ice cream once in a while). LOL!! The smell of the sea, sun tan oil and opening up a pack or two made my whole day! One pack I opened I got Rick Burleson, Butch Hobson and Bill Campbell. I was in heaven!

I’d trade, flip and make pyramids and try to knock them down. My friend Richard and I had one rule. He was a Pirate fan and I had the Sox. We’d only use Yankee cards for flipping and the pyramids. Why mess up our teams. Sorry, Yankee fans. I do respect the team and players more now. I was 6.

To wrap up, my favorite card as a kid was the 1976 Kurt Bevacqua Bazooka Joe card.

-Shane Ravitz

Wherefore Art Thou, Roger?

During the early summer of 1966 (being almost eleven) as I rode my banana bike around the streets of Poughkeepsie, I was more determined than ever to find the 1966 Topps Roger Maris card.  My usual hangout for purchasing packs of baseball cards, Grey’s Meat Market, had run out of that series of baseball cards as many kids my age who shared a common interest of collecting during this time had come here too!

So I had decided to locate other corner stores on my bike in search of that elusive nickel pack of baseball cards that contained a Roger Maris.  Of cou1966 Topps Roger Marisrse I was determined and eager to clean out every corner store in Poughkeepsie for Maris (if need be).  I was not thinking about how many doubles, triples, etc. I would pull of no-name players to me, or the many nickels, dimes, and quarters I would spend in pursuit of my passion.

After getting down to my last quarter I discovered a small tiny store in the middle of the block, which was near my Dad’s ESSO station.  I had never entered this store before, as I thought this store was too small to carry baseball cards.  When I entered the store, I was so happy to spot a baseball box with baseball packs.  I quickly grabbed five packs of cards plopping my last quarter down on the front counter to the left of the cash register.  I just loved the smell of those baseball card wrappers with the pink slices of bubble gum inside.

After I pulled the highly desired 1966 Topps Roger Maris baseball card, I was filled with overflowing joy which can only come to a child with finding that baseball player that comes to life through the baseball card.  Oh how I sorely miss those good ole innocent days of baseball card collecting when the condition of a card, the sharpness of the corners, and the value of a card were the farthest thing away from my childhood mind.

-Thomas Jordan

Discovering Baseball History in the Card Shop

1970 Topps Gil HodgesMy best childhood card collecting memory would be my very first vintage baseball card.  I was about eleven years old, and until that time I had a collection of mostly mid to late 80’s and early 90’s baseball cards. I would go to my local card shop and just buy the cards in the “penny box” or the cheapest packs trying to build my collection. 

One day I was looking through my local card shop and all of a sudden I was drawn to a 1970 Gil Hodges baseball card.  When I saw the grey background with the vibrant blue Mets ball cap and his blue eyes, I knew I had to have it. From that day on my collection would never be the same.

Now when I go to a card shop, card shows, and even eBay; I have to buy vintage cards to complete my sets.  I still enjoy collecting new cards trying to find autograph and memorabilia cards, but, I prefer the vintage cards. I love collecting vintage cards. To me it’s not just a dollar figure. To me vintage cards are small pieces of artwork and history. 

-Jeff Demers

All-Star Traders

Being born in 1976 meant my childhood baseball card collecting ranged from 1987 through 1991.  This was obviously during the big boom when we all thought we were going to get rich by pulling a Bo Jackson rookie or a Mark McGwire rookie.1988 Topps Al Leiter

My favorite part about collecting as a kid though was opening packs from the grocery store and making trades with friends.  One particular trading session really stands out though.  Back in 1988 I was fortunate enough to make the Little League all-star team.  This meant double practices each day for a few weeks in the summer which is not what a typical 11-year-old wants to be doing.  One day our coach heard a few of us talking about baseball cards and he said he had some as well.  Before we knew it the coach suggested we all bring some cards to trade the next day in between practices.  So there we were, a bunch of 11 and 12 year-olds taking a break from the game we loved having a baseball card trading session in the concession stand with free soda, hot dogs and gum.

And while I can’t remember every trade I made that day I do recall being so excited about trading my 1987 Topps Dwight Gooden for the newest Yankee Topps “Future Star” card of Al Leiter, which I of course have to this day along with about 15 more of him and the aforementioned Dwight Gooden card.

And while I didn’t get rich from that trade (card is worth 50 cents), the memory it serves is better than any amount of money.

How I love the good ol’ days.

-Jason Taylor

Ozzie Smith rookie card 1979 Topps PSA 10Heady Days in St. Louis

As a kid, growing up in the early 80’s and into the late 80’s was a heyday for collecting.  It was the mid 80’s and I was about 10 and had been collecting for about five years.  The earliest cards in my collection were 1980, but the bulk started with 1981 Topps.  I remember my Dad coming home with “Mr. Howard” from a softball game and Mr. Howard asking me if I knew anything about prices of baseball cards.  Well we were in St. Louis in the Herzog era, so when he showed me an Ozzie Smith rookie I sure well knew what that was worth.  I told him how finding a centered one was rare and what it was worth (memory says $10-15.)  He looked at me and could tell I knew what I was talking about.

Fast forward a few years and Mr. Howard opens up a card shop and I am his first employee.  I work through high school and my first summers home from college there.  I spend practically all my money on cards and such.  What a way to be involved in the fun and energy of the 80’s and 90’s of card collecting.   I still have most of my collection, but the best thing is now, my 8 year old son is getting interested so back to the card shop we go!

-Chris Webb

Copping a Plea Deal with Mom Saves Cardboard Heroes

Actually my best childhood memory in regards to baseball cards was also the most horrifying. My brother always seemed to fight over the cards, and my mom had had it. She was throwing them out. OUT!

I loved baseball cards. I was addicted to them and my care for them was unusually sophisticated for a 12-year old. It didn’t matter that 1971 Topps Nolan Ryanmy brother picked fights over what were MY cards. My mom was sick of it, and she was throwing them out. In a moment straight out of King Solomon, I cried “Wait! I’ll give all my cards to Jeff – please don’t throw them away. I’ll give them all to him, so we won’t fight over them. I won’t buy any more.”

She miraculously agreed, and my cards were spared their execution. These were cards with Aarons, and Mays, Mantles, Clementes, Yastrzemskis. I suffered through the early part of that 1971 season, but I kept my word – I didn’t buy any. And when I couldn’t resist and bought a couple of packs – I gave those to my brother Jeff as well.

The punchline of the story, is that I eventually was able to gain permission to buy cards again. And then, I was able to regain the “core” of my original collection – cards that I would never trade away – and hence, cards that would never be argued about. Then, over the months and years, eventually got all of my cards back, and even bought out my brother’s cards in early adulthood. Needless to say, this 12-year old kid’s act of Solomon paid off again and again.

-Greg Frediani

Take What You Need and Sell the Rest:  Confessions of an Early Pack Sealer

In 1952 my cousin and I and a friend of ours decided to try to collect complete sets of the new 1952 Topps cards.  We had dabbled in collecting 1951 Bowman, but were really excited about the larger and more colorful 1952 Topps.

1952 Topps packOur friend’s father had a bar and, thus, had access to a wholesale card.  We borrowed that card and we able to go to a local candy wholesaler where we purchased boxes of 1952 Topps at the now unbelievable price of 80 cents a box.  We would pool our allowances and buy a box or two at a time.  We would then go to one of our houses to open packs.

We would very carefully open the packs, never touching the gum, and remove the cards we needed to fill our sets.  It made no difference to us who the players were, we just wanted to complete the series.  We would then take our extras, no matter who they were, and replace the cards we had removed.  We would then reseal the packs using an iron.  Then we would resell those packs to the other kids in our respective neighborhoods for a nickel apiece, thus, replenishing our war chest.  We did this throughout the summer of 1952 until the cards were no longer available at the wholesaler.  Unfortunately, the high series was never released in our area, so we thought the set ended with number 309.  It wasn’t until years later that I discovered there was another 100 cards in that set.

I collected avidly through 1961 then drifted away.  I found my old cards at my parent’s house in 1981 and decided to try to complete my childhood goal.  It took until the early ’90’s, but I finally completed that 1952 Topps set.

-Don Burnett

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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