Sunday, December 7, 2008

A quarter of a century ago

One of the "perks" of getting older is the constant reminder of how quickly the days pass the more you age. This was something my older relatives would talk about all the time when I was younger, and I would kind of dismiss it. But, they were oh, so correct. There isn't a week that goes by where I don't think about how easily time slips away.

Take the 1983 Topps set, for example, which I'm trying to complete. It stuns me that this set is 25 years old. It stuns me that there are grown adults, holding down jobs, getting married, blogging, who were not alive when this set was first issued. I find that staggering. This set is a symbol of my progression from adolescence to adulthood, a set that came out the year I graduated from high school. It doesn't seem that long ago at all. Meanwhile, younger collectors consider it "vintage." That blows my mind.

I received a few more "vintage" 1983s from Joe of MLB Collector last week. He sent me eight cards that I needed, and every little bit helps. Here is a gander at some of what I received:

First, we have Rags. Since I grew up in New York State, I regularly listened to former Yankee great Phil Rizzuto broadcast Yankee games. Rizzuto wasn't the best broadcaster, but he was a riot to listen to on the radio.

Rizzuto loved players with Italian names, like Righetti. I remember when Mike Pagliarulo came up from the minors. Ruzzuto thought he was the next Mike Schmidt. Or at least he acted like it during broadcasts. Between his open homerism and his constant absent-mindedness, he was alternately frustrating and entertaining.

A book was published about 15 years ago called "O Holy Cow! The Selected Verse of Phil Rizzuto." The editors, Tom Peyer and Hart Seely, used Rizzuto's broadcasted words, and arranged them in verse form, as in a poem. It's an entertaining book for anyone who remembers listening to Rizzuto.

Here is an except:

"What kind is it?
Holy cow!
What happened?
Base hit!
A little disconcerting.
Smelling that pizza,
And trying
To do a ballgame."

Here's another about my favorite player, Ron Cey:

"O that's gone!
Holy cow!
Watch the --
Look at the Penguin!
It's not gone.
I was watching him run.
Wait a minute.
When he hit it
That was the funniest run I've ever seen.
Watch this."

Good stuff.

Here's Ken Griffey. Or Ken Griffey Jr.'s dad to those of you who consider 1983 "vintage."

Here's Tug McGraw. Or Tim McGraw's dad for those of you ... well, you get the drill.

Joe also sent me Scott McGregor, Julio Valdez, and a few others that I've already tucked in my '83 binder. That brings me 58 cards short of completing the set. It's been 25 years, and I'm still working on it (although I did kind of take a 15-year break in the middle there).

Joe also sent me some cards from another set I'm trying to complete:

A dozen or so 2008 Topps Heritage. This a set that I quite possibly could be collecting 25 years into the future. Young collectors in 2033 will look at these cards and consider them "vintage." And I'll explain, "No, sonny, they're not 'vintage,' they were just made to look 'vintage.'" And they'll look at me all confused, until I pull out a 1983 Topps card and say, "Now, this, this is 'vintage.'"

Who am I kidding? There won't be any card collectors in 2033!

Anyway, thanks for the cards, Joe!


  1. And don't under any circumstances check on current rosters what year the players were born, or the 1983 cards will seem vintage already.

  2. I started collecting cards in 1985/1986, and my collection basically started by "inheriting" the cards of my older brothers, from 1974-1980.

    For a while, the 1981-1984 period was a black hole in my collection, but I always loved the inset headshots from the 1983 set, moreso as I added more of those cards to my collection.

    I like that Griffey card too. I've been toying with the idea of making a mini-collection of Topps Ken Griffey cards, because of this quirk:

    I believe 2009 will mark the 36th consecutive year that Topps will have at least one regular issue "Ken Griffey" card. I just think it will be cool to have all of them in a row, as a nice way to show the progression of the Topps brand over the years.

  3. I have all of your 83's that you still need set aside, just shoot me your mailing address to