The response to the 2013 Topps Heritage Baseball card box contest was overwhelming. Dozens of you have shared your favorite childhood card collecting memories. Snarky as we can sometimes be, some of these will put a lump in your throat.
Several dozen more were posted on Facebook just for the heck of it. All week, we're sharing some of what you sent or posted online. The random winner of the box will be chosen at random and posted on Facebook and Twitter.
Here's today's edition.
When I was younger I got into collecting because most of my friends collected and traded cards. I got into it pretty deep after I started a paper route when I was 12 and made my own money. My father used to take me to sports card auctions and shows when I saved up enough money to put a decent bid on something. I always went with a list of my dream cards but couldn't afford to get them and more times than not I was outbid.
After doing this for several years I ran across a mix and match that was labeled at the auction as ‘randoms and misc.’ I bid on the box and picked it up super cheap. I was excited to get the box because it had a ton of cards all from different eras. On the way home after getting through about half the cards I ran across one that was on my list, Walter Payton's rookie card. The card was in excellent condition and obviously wasn't supposed to be part of the box. From that day forward I was hooked. We went to several other auctions after this where I was always looking for a large assortment of cards and picked up some great cards. I don't know how it could happen but I often found cards of my list that I couldn't afford individually, most of which I still have.
I got to enjoy collecting with my father going to auctions and such and was a great bonding moment for us. I now have a 7 year old son of my own and we are starting to get into collecting just like me and my father. We often go to autograph signings and get my sons photo taken with the players which is more important to me than getting the autograph. Collecting cards has been and continues to be quality bonding time with my family.
Widow Passes Along Late Husband's Love of Baseball to Wide-Eyed Kid
When I was a 11 years old, I went to work with my mom one summer day, she was cleaning a house for an older lady that she knew. I got bored and asked my mom for some money, so she gave me a few dollars.
I walked down to a little store about two blocks away called Judy's Town News, where I purchased a few packs of Topps baseball cards, a bottle of soda and a candy bar, I spent all the money that my mom had given me. I walked back to the house my mom was cleaning, went inside and sat at the kitchen table and opened my cards, and the older lady was washing dishes and said to me "Honey, do you save those cards?' I said Yes Ma'am, I collect them, I love baseball, it's my favorite sport!!! She stopped washing dishes and told me to follow her. She took me in the basement and grabbed an old cheese box and blew the dust off of it and told me to go back to the kitchen table.
I went back to the table with her, she sat the box in front of me, told me to open it and look inside. I opened it and almost fell off my chair!!! It was full of old tobacco cards!!! I looked at every card in that box!!! I was shocked that I was even holding these cards that were 75 yrs old at the time!! She asked me what my favorite number was, and I said five, so she told me I could pick five cards to keep, and I said thank you, I was so happy!!!
As I was looking thru the cards I came across a 1912 Hassan Triple Folder with Ty Cobb. She said I could have it and I also picked a Joe Tinker, "Chief" Joe Myers and two other cards. She began to tell me a story of her husband and how he loved baseball and those cards. She told me many stories that day about her husband and old baseball games and such, I had a really good time talking to her about baseball, and I think she needed someone to talk to also, as her husband recently passed away. Maybe I reminded her of him when he was young, I don't know. But, it really made me feel good that day to see her smile as she told me many stories of him. We talked about him for probably two hours while my mom cleaned her house.
Giving the Gift of Baseball History to the Next Generation
I cherish that Ty Cobb card, for two reasons, it reminds me of that special day every time I look at it, and also that year was the year Pete Rose broke Ty Cobbs All-Time hit record. I was only 11 years old and played baseball myself and Pete Rose was my favorite player growing up, so as you can see it had very special meaning to me. I told my son the story and showed him the card several times, and will pass it on to him someday too.
My early collecting memories consisted of buying packs of mid-1980s topps cards at my little league snack bar and my local card store with my brother...nothing really special...
In 2006, I was attending my third National Sports Collectors Convention in Anaheim, CA. I had driven down from Los Angeles and met up with some of my collecting friends that belong to the longtime online trading group OBC (Old Baseball Cards). One the second day I was there I decided to try to find some hits to the T205 gold border set I was working on at the time. I was standing at a nationally recognized dealer's table thumbing through a stack of off-condition tobacco cards.
A little kid about 8 or 9 years old was standing near me and looking at what I was holding. He asked me what they were. I told them they were early baseball cards that were put in packs of cigarettes nearly a hundred years ago. He asked how much the cards were worth. Before I could answer, the kid's father said, "Probably way more than you have. Let's go."
I told them to wait, pulled out a lower grade but presentable T206 common, paid the $15, and handed it over the kid. I told him that it was my gift to a future collector and not to worry about paying for it. The look on his face and his father's face was priceless. The father noting the price tag went back and bought two more because the kid realized that it was cooler to own cards from nearly 100 years back than the shiny inserts and packs they were planning to buy.
That is one of my favorite memories. I have never seen the kid or dad again but I imagine they are still out there putting together a T206 set. I very much hope so....
Bonding with Dad
My best memory is the way I started collecting. My dad would go to the gas station down the road every Sunday morning, and get a newspaper. On that trip, he’d get me one pack of baseball cards to open. He surprised me with a pack of 1990 Topps...my first pack. The very first card I was greeted to was Nolan Ryan. I remember it distinctly: Finishing the windup, pure grit on his face. It wasn’t so much that card that drove my passion for collecting, but to share the joy of opening a pack with my Dad every Sunday. From that day forward, I proudly displayed that card on my bookshelf. And to this day, still display it proudly. Since my Dad has retired to Florida, I can look at that card, and it reminds me of those times when we’d collect cards together. Best memories by far.
Mickey Goes from Mint to Noise Maker
Growing up as I did in the 1950’s and 1960’s, a pack of baseball cards was still a nickel. By the same wonderful coincidence, soda pop came in glass bottles. Stores charged a nickel deposit for each bottle. When you returned the bottle for cleaning and re-use, you got your nickel back. I lived close to a bar and busy highway where people often tossed their empty bottles. A small party store in the neighborhood redeemed bottles. Behind the counter, below the liquor bottles, sat a box of baseball cards with pack for sale. Whenever someone gave me a nickel or I found an empty bottle, I’d get some cards.
The store owner was irritated one day when I came in with a pretty good haul of empties. “I’ll spend the money here in your store,” I pleaded. “I’ll buy your baseball cards.” He relented and my small collection began to fill a shoe box. One day I walked outside to see my sister riding her bicycle down the street. Her bicycle sounded like a motorcycle because she had clipped a baseball card to the spokes. One thought ran through my mind. “I bet she took a Mickey Mantle.” I took off running after my sister. She saw me and stopped, scared.
She hadn’t asked permission to take one of my cards. “Please don’t hit me,” she said. I calmed her down. “I’m not going to hit you. I just want to see which card you took.” Sure enough, when I unclipped the clothespin and looked it was a Mickey Mantle card. “He’s probably the most popular player to collect.” My sister said she was sorry. I accepted her apology and offered to give her another card. “Let me give you a Howie Koplitz,” I said. I inexplicably had quadruples on Koplitz. In a few years, none of this mattered. I joined the legions of boys whose mothers tossed out their cards.