A long time ago, I overheard my wife try to explain my hobby to my daughter, who was much younger at the time.
"I think it relaxes him," she said to my obviously perplexed child.
I had never thought of it in those terms prior to then, but now it's fairly obvious to me: collecting cards is a way of relaxing. I don't plop in front of the television after a night of work, I write about cards, sort cards, stare longingly at cards. And I feel the stress quietly slip away. It is a terrific stress-reducer.
Last night I endured annually one of the most stressful work nights of my job. This won't compute for anyone who hasn't experienced my job responsibilities, but the college football national championship is the one sports event that causes me the most stress.
The major cause of this is the starting time for the game. A start time of 8:15 p.m. eastern standard time is terribly inconvenient for an east coast newspaper sports section. For a sport that ends in a reasonable fashion, think just about anything else -- basketball, hockey, baseball, NFL, etc. -- an 8:15 start is not ideal but workable. But for college football?
I know that we will not make deadline. And it will be a mind-bogglingly stressful ride throughout. Each year I pray for a blowout that will end in relatively reasonable fashion by college football standards. But that hasn't happened the last couple of years and I've ended the night in a wasted heap, shuffled home and downed a few drinks.
Today, while still feeling the after-effects of the whole thing, I reopened and scanned a package from Jonathan, who had sent an earlier package last summer.
This package was full of stress-eliminating goodies and I was practically whistling a happy tune by the end of scanning it all.
I'll give you a glimpse of some of the greatest blood-pressure reducers around.
I don't need to tell you that the act of sticking stickers to anything, but especially a sticker book, will actually melt stress away.
These are my favorite stickers, 1982 Topps stickers. I'll have to see if any of them fill any sticker spots. If they don't, the dog gets it!!! (Just kidding).
How about these stress-busters?
Oddballs are also known medicinal aids. Jonathan sent a whole bunch of oddballs and they are an absolutely joy. I can't get enough of that Darren Daulton Post card. I might have to bring that one to work for particularly stressful moments.
But there is no better stress-eraser than 1970s Kellogg's 3-D cards. Jon also shipped a whole bunch of these. Many of them have seen better days, but I know happy collectors who will gladly accept them. Meanwhile the Kellogg's cards above are staying with me.
There is a glimpse at just a few of the others. Those blue borders really are a delight. Check out the Sal Bando owned by someone who despises corners.
I admit to becoming irrationally happy anytime I spot Coca-Cola cards from the late '70s/early '80s. Jon sent several 1981 Coke Phillies. These are beautiful.
There were so many great relaxers, like this 1978 Kellogg's George Foster card. Who needs a stress ball when you have this card?
Or how about a TCMA Galasso Great? I need to obtain all of these.
More Kellogg's cards? Yes! Here are five from the year Kellogg's removed the 3-D technology and everybody got sad for a little bit.
However, today, I drink in the images and float away to the 1970s. Try to hurt me with your four-hour games now, college football.
I've seen a couple of these Detroit News Tigers cards here and there lately and then magically one arrived at my home!
My newspaper should do something like this. But knowing the way things work, I'd be in charge of everything.
It wasn't all oddballs with Jonathan. He added a couple of key 1973 Topps needs from my list.
And -- ho, ho! -- how about THIS?!
Five more 1975 Topps buybacks for my project. These additions plus a few more coming soon will get me over 200 different buyback cards from the set.
I'm very happy to have the Ralph Garr buyback card.
But I don't know who in the world is stamping such a gem. Don't you worry little '75 Garr, I'll take care of you before someone throws you on the trash heap.
Jon didn't forget my Dodgers either, in fact I think most of the package was Dodgers. I'll quickly go through a few highlights.
These are team set cards from 2015 Topps, note the different images for Grandal and Kendrick. Very cool.
This is not a 1983 Topps Fernando Valenzuela but one of those cards from the 65th anniversary Walmart Archives weirdo set from last year.
See, there's the 1975 Topps-style back.
This 1997 Pinnacle Inside Stand-Ups piece allows me to do this:
There are so many Dodgers in this thing and I have no idea how you catalog these.
I have wanted this card for a long time. Such a great concept, although the forecast doesn't look that promising for the east coast.
More Konerko and an insert from a couple years ago that took too long for me to land.
This is an insert from 2017. Did you know there are two different Duke Snider "legends" cards in this insert set? I have no idea why.
I highly recommend that you get Manny Mota to sign your 1978 Topps card, and if you haven't, I believe I have an extra now and can send you one.
Speaking of sending extras, there was an abundance of Shawn Green cards in the package. I needed some of them but not all.
I have lots of extra Shawn Green cards if anyone collects them. I'll be happy to send you them.
There were many other cards that Jonathan sent, but I think my stress level is all the way to zero now so the cards have done their job.
College football is done for the season (no chance of it being done forever though, rats), and baseball is on the horizon. That also means new baseball cards and even more Stress Reducers!