Greetings from the coldest place in the United States. It seems that the weather is making some kind of comment by plunging the temperature to 37 below on Valentine's Day here in my little town. But I'm not offended. I'm a warm-blooded creature with a warm heart, especially when it comes to baseball cards.
Baseball cards are worth loving. I've known this since I was a little boy. And the best way for a little boy to show his love for baseball cards is to play with them, handle them, generally abuse them, in the most loving way that he knows.
That's why we call obviously mangled baseball cards "well-loved."
A card like this was not "neglected." Quite the opposite. It's been loved. Those creases you see there are hugs and squeezes.
So I thought I'd show some of the most-loved cards in my collection, the majority of which received a great amount of affection from me.
From the very first cards that I ever bought, I knew that cards were something you kept close to your heart. But I didn't really have pockets on my shirts, so I kept them in my pants pockets.
When I wasn't moving around at 190 miles an hour, the cards were close by, in my bedroom, on a nightstand or a book shelf. And in quieter moments, I'd stack the cards up, knock the stack down, organize them by team or color or batting average, shifting each card on the bare floor until it reached its appointed spot. And, of course, sometimes I'd throw the cards across the room -- in the most loving manner possible.
Here is a card that I vividly remember placing in my pocket. The creases tell the love story. Also the pencil mark. You can see most of these well-loved cards on my loving tribute to the first cards I bought in my first year of collecting.
But those aren't the only cards I molested and groped (I guess those aren't really loving terms).
Of course, there were minis to love.
And the following year, my love grew stronger in the form of paper loss.
I had it bad for the Orioles. Real bad.
And the Mets and the White Sox, too.
There are cards in the 1976 Topps set -- just like the '75 set -- that hold so much childhood meaning that I can't bear to part with them, even after upgrading. This Tom Underwood card is such an example. Is that love or what?
Yes, this is my Valentine to baseball cards. And cards and love manifest itself in many ways.
Some collectors show their love by folding the card a few times, sticking it in one of those old-fashioned, four-corners paper scrapbooks and then pinning it on a wall.
Some show their enthusiasm with a love bite.
Some just don't know how to express their love, so they draw little rectangles all over the card and then sign their name.
You may ask, "Is writing on a card 'love'?" Of course! Look at the careful penmanship on this checklist. Compiled by someone head-over-heels for set-collecting. I do hope they found that 1954 MVPs card. We don't need any broken collecting hearts.
"Love can make you happy," as the old song goes, "if you find someone who cares to give a lifetime to you."
A card like this will always have sharp corners. It could sit out in the open for decades and still have sharp corners. It will always be well-centered, slick and glossy. But it will never be on display, never be played with, never be considered except for this one post. You know that saying, "the opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference."
I am indifferent to this card. That's why it may never be touched again.
But this ...
This is true love.