All week, we’ve been sharing the card collecting memories you submitted in conjunction with the 2013 Topps Heritage Baseball giveaway. Here’s the fifth segment. The plan was to wrap this up today but so many great stories were submitted, there’s one more in the pipeline. Enjoy!
It was in 1983. I was a young adult working my first sales job. I sold roofing for a contractor. Went to an older ladies house and had to go into her attic to inspect the roof for leaks, etc. She told me to go up alone as she couldn’t make it up the stairs too well. While I was up there I noticed an open cardboard box with lots of old baseball cards. After doing my inspection we wrote the contract up and after that I asked her about that box of cards. She said they belonged to her son. She said they have been sitting there since the day he left them there when he left for Viet Nam.
He never came home.
She asked me why I had asked about them and told her I collected cards. She told me that she would love for someone to have them that would appreciate them. She offered them to me.
Not knowing the value but touched by the offer and story, I rewrote her contract and discounted it the amount of my commission. After I got home and started looking through it I discovered nearly 500 cards, all from the early 1950’s including 1952 Mantle and Mays cards and several Hank Aaron rookie cards among many others. The best find I have ever personally had.
I was just 8 years old and my grandfather pulled an old wooden cigar box off the top shelf in his work shop. He told me he was saving them until I was old enough to appreciate them. Inside were 35 different tobacco cards from when he was a kid…mostly tattered and worn….although I would lose them in a house fire just before my 10th birthday…the memory never fades…I am 43 now and still collect cards with my son…a memory I hope he cherishes as much as I cherish the memory of my Grandfather!
Growing up in the 1960’s on the northside of Chicago meant you were a Cub’s fan. I was no different.
Reading the daily box scores and the statistics on the back of cards somehow led me to become the numerical genius in my neighborhood..and school..
On the playground, I was always “Ron Santo”, my favorite player. Every kid pretended he was someone on the team.
I came home exclaiming how I was now a White Sox fan. My dad told me that I was NOT a White Sox fan. I insisted that I was. He told me “you made your bed, now you lay in it”.
Huh? He never took me to another Cubs game.
I became the black sheep, the outcast. Everyone in the family was and is a Cubs fan. In 1984 as the Cubs made the playoffs, my dad reminded me of my youthful choice. I sighed…and kinda rejoiced when they lost.
My father passed in 1992, never getting to see his beloved team win the series. My mother is now 85. She still watches every game. Bless her heart. I actually married a Cubs fan. My two sons are Cubs fans. I am still a Sox fan…alone in my own home.
Years later I had the chance to meet Mr.Santo and carried with me that Topps card that changed the family tree. I told him my story briefly and asked him to sign it. He refused. Stating that he was a Cub for life and would like to forget his time on the south side. Ouch. He did sign a baseball for me.
I still have that Topps traded card that changed my life. I wouldn’t be the person I am if I hadn’t collected cards as a kid.
One of my greatest memories of collecting baseball cards occurs when I was around 8-9 years old (1986-1987). My mother invited her friend’s son over to our house (he was a few years younger than me) for a play date. When he arrived- he made it known he had brought his entire baseball card collection and he wanted me to bring my collection out so we could make some possible trades.
After he had settled in, I brought my collection down from my bedroom and neatly laid out my organized album, some sets, and other singles loaded into toploaders on my kitchen table. Since he was younger than me, and he had a ton of cards that I didn’t already have, I figured we would be able to make some deals that hopefully would work out better for me…basically I was hoping to come out ahead when it was all said and done.
After making some minor deals for players like Bo Jackson, Wally Joyner, Mike Schmidt, and etc, I decided I wanted to make some major deals for a Daryl Strawberry Donruss RC he had as well as a Canseco Donruss RC. Long story short, the negotiations fell apart, he became agitated, and said he was hungry and asked that I go into the kitchen to get us something to eat and drink.
After finding us some food, I reentered the dining area to find him completely gone. In a matter of minutes, he was able to gather up his entire collection and sneak out the door without me hearing him go. I frantically looked at the table to make sure my collection was still there fully intact and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Cards were missing from my album, my 1986 Topps Traded set was gone (the entire box), and some of the cards that I had that were in mint condition were now looking poor.
I tried to quickly find my mom and explain to her what happened. She at first thought I was crazy and that I was just overlooking things. It felt like it took me hours to get her to realize what had just happened in our own house. Before my new ex-friend made it back to his house (he was riding his bike), my mom called his mom and told her to question him when he arrived home. Luckily, I was able to pretty much identify card for card what he stole.
Within a minute of him arriving at home, his mom was back on the phone with my mom apologizing profusely. She had him also get on the line and apologize to me. She then loaded him up in the car and drove him back to my house with everything he took. On top of that, she also stopped at the store and bought me several packs of cards in good faith.
He admitted to me he thought my collection was nicer and he didn’t think I would notice if “some” cards were missing. He also said some of my cards were sharper than his so he flat out swapped them out hoping I wouldn’t notice the condition change.
In the end, I ended up getting all of my cards back, made some decent trades, and even scored some unopened packs. My parents remained friends with his parents, and all was written off to “kids just being kids”. Today, those cards are all probably worthless, but we all learned a lesson. It makes for a great story, and it is one I will never forget.
One of my first and best childhood memories involving baseball cards was from 1976: my best and most favorite Christmas ever. One of my favorite gifts was my first baseball glove. It was a Glen Beckert model. I had never heard of him, but that was OK with me. I had my first glove.
A nice rival to that glove was a stack of unopened packs of 1976 baseball cards. It was probably 5 or 6 packs. I don’t remember who was in the first pack, but I sure remember who was in the last pack…and in his last year in cards. Hank Aaron, the all- time Home Run King! I had to see how many HR he had. 745, way past Babe Ruth! Wow, he kind of looks old now compared to the pictures in the Scholastic books in my elementary school library, but now I had Hank. Brewers? I had no idea that he was no longer a Brave
Those same memories came back to me five or six years later as a teenager when I was finishing building the sets from my earlier years and I sorted my small stack of 76’s. Now that I was complete with 77-81, I had to go back and finish the ‘76 even though I only had about 100. Card shops were now around now although only a few. Some of my friends collected cards, but not many…and they did not have any this old, mostly ‘78 and ‘79 cards.
My parents were big fans of the flea markets, so I of course would look for cards there and found a dealer that set up almost every week, and I was able buy many of the commons for 10 cents each. The last card I needed for the set was Robin Yount. He was pretty expensive since it was his second year card. It was hard paying 20 bucks for him but I saved up and finished the set off.