Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Nostalgia is a drug

You've probably heard the saying "nostalgia is a drug" before. It's often used in a negative way by forward-thinking types or people who fear that others are stuck in the past and won't progress.

Perhaps I'm one of those people who is stuck in the past -- after all I am currently playing Billboard charts from the '80s on Spotify and having a wicked good time of doing it -- but I don't necessarily consider that a bad thing. Forward-thinking is necessary if you run a business. But I can't relate to people who look forward ALL THE TIME. They're annoying. It's like they're afraid of what they've been through or what's behind them or what actually is. Yes, tomorrow is another day. But sometimes yesterday is worth talking about, too, because it actually happened.

Looking fondly at the past -- as long as you are fully functioning in the present with somewhat of an eye on the future -- is a nice little exercise. And, yeah, nostalgia is a drug, but that can be a good thing, too. When I look through my old cards and remember the time when I first pulled this Greg Luzinski card and was saddened that he was no longer a Phillie, my connection to my favorite sport and my favorite hobby is strengthened yet again.

To me that's a little more productive than drinking yourself under the bar remembering for the 900th time when Bart hit the gas instead of the brake and drove through the back garage wall. I don't wallow when I look at my cards. I remember. And sometimes learn.

For me, the drug part of nostalgia comes when I see cards from my first collecting period -- basically my childhood -- that I never saw when those cards first came out.

That is one of the peak moments of collecting for me. That is addiction for me. In some ways, it's the reason why I collect. Which is why I am somewhat concerned that I am almost finished completing the 1982 Topps set.

As I said when I first announced that I was attempting to finish the '82 set, it is the last Topps set that I need to complete from my childhood collecting period, which is from 1974 to 1983.

After that set is complete, there will be no more Topps cards that set off that "oh WOW" feeling in my brain the way that only cards from this period can.

That's cutting out a big reason why I collect. And once it happens, it may have me feeling a little lost for a period.

But before I get to that bit of misery, I have some 1982 Topps cards that I received from The Card Chop. For the price of one 2014 purple chrome refractor Heritage Braves card, I received 55 cards off my 1982 Topps want list. (Those Braves fans are so silly).

Out of those 55 cards, there are several that I saw as a kid, either in other people's collections or a card that I once owned that I dealt away sometime long ago. And there are cards that I didn't see then but I've since seen on blogs.

Cards like this:

Each time I saw one of those cards for the first time, the drug kicked in and I was instantly upset that I never pulled that card back in 1982.

But fortunately the internet left a few cards for me to experience for the first time from that stack of '82s that the Chop Keeper sent me.

Here are 10 good ones:

10. Randy Bass: I once lamented on Twitter that even though Donruss, Fleer and Topps all issued Randy Bass cards in 1982, I didn't pull a single one. That's a weird thing to lament, but nostalgia makes you do weird things. Fortunately, there is only Donruss and Fleer to go.

9. Tim Raines: Raines once was a blazing fast phenom of the early '80s, not the poster child for what's wrong with the Baseball Hall of Fame selection process (there are a lot of those poster childs out there, by the way). I prefer the first version of Raines. A lot more wonder and a lot less crabbing. See? The past can be pleasant. Don't run from it.

8. Rick Manning: I believe I've mentioned before that I once stood two people away from Rick Manning on a baseball field. Yet I never talked to him. It's memories like this that will spur me on to converse with him if I ever see him again. We're both in the same business these days, after all. Sort of.

7. Doug Bair: That's some airbrushing in action right there. Topps had the benefit of the Reds being Bair's previous team. But I can spot that hand-drawn STL.

6. Amos Otis: I feel sorry for all you '80s babies. Unless you grew up in Kansas City, you'll never know what a wizard Otis was. And how fun it was to say "Amos Otis" on a daily basis

5. Oakland A's Future Stars: 1982 me is very upset that I am just finding out NOW that there was a player named Mark Budaska. Rich Bordi and Kelvin Moore had their own subsequent cards, no matter how brief their careers. But Budaska? Where ya been these last three decades?

4. Steve Carlton, In Action: Life was pretty good in 1982 when you pulled a Steve Carlton card.

3. Chris Welsh: The obvious question: Would I have been aware in 1982 that Welsh is pitching without the benefit of a right arm? Probably not. That is why the card only came to me just now, so I could know what to do with it. Which, of course, is to broadcast the photo's inadequacies across the internet.

2. Tim Stoddard: Same thing here. Would I be curious enough to wonder who Stoddard was talking to in this photo? No. But now? WHO IS IT? A scout? A team employee? A relative? A season-ticket holder? A woman who really likes ballplayers? Who?

1. Vern Ruhle: You think the Astros uniforms were spectacular then, try seeing them on a card that you are seeing for the first time. They are glorious. And, again, in 1982 I wouldn't care who the players were behind Ruhle, but now I feel like a failure because I don't know (The guy on the right appears to be wearing No. 43, which in 1980 was Ken Forsch, but in 1981, nobody on the main player roster wore it -- I don't have time to dig any more).

With these 55 cards I am now a mere four cards away from finishing the '82 set.

The nostalgic moments will be fewer after that.

But I haven't given up yet.

There is still early '80s Donruss and Fleer as well as the super fine '70s Kelloggs sets, Hostess and 1976 SSPC.

You can bet I'll be chasing those when the time comes.

See? I can look forward, too.

It's looking forward to looking backward. But, hey, that's what that drug nostalgia will do to you.


  1. It's too bad you didn't speak to Rick Manning. He was one of the nicest guys in baseball back in the 1980s when it came to signing autographs for kids after games. Whenever I went to a Brewers game and knew we were staying after, I'd bring two or three extra of his cards -- he'd always sign, he was always pleasant, and he always seemed genuinely happy to be signing.

  2. It's funny that you wrote what you did in this post; I had considered how would offering that many cards towards a set (and bringing the needed number so low) affect a collector, and almost didn't offer what I did. Not to worry, as you said- there's always many other things to pick up. And yes, we Braves fans are very silly. But I'm thrilled with an Andrelton card and to be able to help you in your needs.

  3. Budaska has spent the last two decades as a hitting coach in Taiwan and in the minors, mostly the Red Sox chain.

  4. I'm an A's fan who watched a lot of ball in the 80's and I have to admit... I've never heard of Budaska. As for the future/past thingy... I'd say I spend 50% of the time reflecting on the past... 30% on the present... and 20% on the future. One of my favorite things to do is hang out with friends and reminisce.