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Seven years ago today, Night Owl Cards began. Inspired by The Baseball Card Blog and a few others, I tossed out my first effort in the middle of the night on Sept. 13, 2008.

It's a little known fact that the seven-year mark in card blogs is termed the "Mantle-versary," after the jersey number worn by the obsession of the Topps trading card company, Mickey Mantle.

I've known about Mickey Mantle from the time I first started buying cards as a 9-year-old. He showed up in the very first packs I ever bought, way back in 1975.

This ...

And this were two of the first cards I ever pulled out of packs that I purchased.

And the cartoon on the back of Gorman Thomas' 1975 Topps card clued me in to Mantle's uniform number.

Even though Mantle retired four years after I was born and played for a team I learned to dislike at an early age, I was forced to know the history of Mantle. As a card collector it was a requirement, and soon I knew other things about Mantle and cards.

Like how this is the most expensive/important/hobby-shaking card ever to exist ... well, not this card exactly. This is one of the hundred different reprints of the 1952 Topps Mantle that have been issued by Topps since the '52 Mantle first came out.

During my absence from the hobby in the mid-1990s, Mantle passed away at an early age. And Topps decided to pay him homage by strangely removing card No. 7 from the set. By golly, collectors were going to know, No. 7 was a big freaking deal and No. 7 was Mantle's number.

When I did return to modern card collecting in 2006, Topps was doing other weird things with Mantle, such as issuing cards of Mantle on modern card designs.

And everywhere I turned there was a Mantle home run card.

I mean they were everywhere.

And even I got a little out of hand with them.

But after awhile it became tiring. The cards lost meaning. There were Mantles in every set.

There were insert Mantles and gimmick Mantles and cards your mom threw out Mantles. And Mantle monstrosities like this:

In the early months of this blog, I wrote about how sick I was of Mantle cards. I've never once tried to collect a Mantle card (with the exception of the 2006 HR Mantles -- because I had a sickness), but they kept falling into my collection.

Year after year, you could be guaranteed of new Mantle cards, like it or not.

Today, mercifully, there doesn't seem to be as many Mantle cards as there were seven years ago. Topps doesn't have a contract with the Mantle family anymore, but it's still holding that No. 7 in the set hostage. Series sets are now numbered to 331 or 351 because we don't dare put another player at No. 7 in the flagship set.

It's pretty silly, and it's also pretty silly that I own around 140 different Mickey Mantle cards and only one was issued when he was still active.

But this is what happened when I signed up for card collecting. My father's generation started this hobby as we know it and some of them were Yankees fans and Mantle was their guy. And apparently they still haven't gotten over Mantle's passing because we've got to do weird things with the No. 7.

But at least I got another blog topic out of it, which is very important as I enter year 8.

This blog will continue on as it has the previous seven years. I don't have the time I once did, and I admit the ideas don't come as easily, but I can't imagine not doing it, so that's an indication that I'm still not sick of it, or that I'm addicted to blogging.

As you know, this blog isn't about Mickey Mantle. It's not about the Yankees or even about baseball. Actually, it's not about the hobby or about baseball cards.

It's about me.

And that's me.

Now pick up the shattered remains of your image of who you thought was writing this thing and let's get moving. We're entering year eight here.

Thanks for reading.


  1. (Cues up a recording of that episode of The Flintstones where Fred bought a stolen Piano as an anniversary gift):
    Happy An-ni-ver-sar-ree!
    Happy An-ni-ver-sar-ree!
    Happy An-ni-ver-sar-ree!

    In these parts, 7 years is a "Kranepool-versary", but "Yeager-versary" is permissible. We don't use the M-word in this household.

    Congratulations on 7 years!

  2. Congratulations and thank you for the cards, the laughs, the flashbacks...... and most importantly sharing the last 7 years of yourself!

  3. Congrats on the anniversary! Here's to seven more years!

    On a sidenote, the mental image I had in my head of who you looked like was (for the longest time) was Ron Cey. Probably because that '75 is the first card to enter my sights everytime I visit this blog.

  4. Is your real name M. Night Shyamalan? Because that was one hell of a twist!

    Congrats on 7 years! Or as I like to say, Happy Mike James-versary!

  5. Congratulations on reaching the 7 year mark. I know many have or will say it, but your blog did indeed lead me to think I should write a blog as well.

    I'm just glad you didn't take a photo of yourself outside in sunlight.

  6. Congratulations on the anniversary! It's always a pleasure reading your blog, and it's been great corresponding and trading with you over the years. Here's to many more years of both/all

  7. There were 7 comments when I left mine. COINCIDENCE!??!?!?!

    I thought the 7th anniversary is when you get a visit from Marilyn Monroe? And since she's no longer here, I nominate Kate Upton to take her place.

  8. So YOU are the Night Owl. Congratulations on the start if year number 8. While I've not read your blog for the past 7 years I've enjoyed reading it everyday. Yes, even those about the Dodgers.

    I look forward to future of the Night Owl.

  9. Congratulations on your Mantle-versary!

  10. Congratulations on 7 years. You were definitely one of the first blogs I discovered in 2009 when I was looking for collector based content to read. Now hopefully we can get a Dodgers World Series title this year because that will definitely help you with future blog posts.

  11. Congrats on seven years! Sometimes, I feel like I've been blogging forever, but then I realize I've been around less than half the time you've been here.

  12. Congratulations. 7 years is a long time to do anything that isn't your job (frankly, its a long time for a job, too, but that's a different discussion).

    Topps believes they owe much of their success to Mantle. So, much as a baseball team would, they retired his number. I think its kind of cute. Granted, it takes me a while to remove #7 from my want list every year. Maybe they can pull a Jackie and have every card be #7 for one year.

    Growing up, I loved bubblegum pop music and the Mets. Hated Sinatra (among others) and the Yankees. In 1966, I had a stack of Mantles that I lost flipping. That was kind of the plan. Went flipping, took all of the Yankees because they were expendable.

    And, yet, I grew older. Never lost my love for the Mets or bubblegum music (I love all that Disney Radio stuff). But I did gain an appreciation for the other things. I now think Sinatra was one of the greatest vocalists in the history of recorded music (that's probably not as flattering coming from someone who thinks highly of the 1910 Fruitgum Company) and I appreciate the Yankees legacy for what it is. That includes Mickey. Once a kid who flipped away his Mantles on purpose, I find pulling a Mantle from a modern pack--modern card designs or whatever--does give me a bit of a thrill.

    Congratulations, again. Best blog on the Internet. Any subject.

  13. Nice tie-in on the glut of Topps Mantle cards produced and your blog's 7th year anniversary.

  14. Happy Anniversary! I hope I can make it as long as you have. Always an enjoyable read to come here...I've been reading about a year and a half now.

  15. Congrats on the 7th anniversary. Appreciate all the time you put in talking about our little hobby.

  16. I guess I'll be working on my Ruth-iversary in a couple of months. Nice work.

  17. It's you! I, too, rock the black polo on the regular.

    Congrats on the blogiversary, big guy. Go Dodgers.

  18. Damn. Always figured you were some short, chunky, Japanese guy who collected cards. My mind is blown. Congratulations Blog-father!

  19. I've enjoyed your first seven years of the blog, here's to the next seven!

  20. Congrats! Great post.

    I agree the Mantles got waaay out of hand. I need to count how many I have at some point, mostly all through card packages.

  21. Thought that last photo was a Mantle til I read the text :-)

  22. Congratulations! I know your blogs have done a tremendous service to the great Hobby that is card collecting. You have created a very powerful brand in NOC. Thanks for being a touchstone for me as I've rediscovered my childhood passion.


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