You hear a lot about "baseball lifers." Those are the guys who play the game professionally, then go into coaching or managing and spend the rest of their time on this earth doing good baseball works until they're carted out or called home.
But baseball lifers are good for yet another activity. It's one that lets me know exactly how long I've been collecting cards.
What I like to do each year is find a person in major league baseball who has a current card and then find a card of that same person from my very earliest days of collecting. It has to be a card that I pulled back then. Then I add up all the years in between and that gives me an indication of three things:
1. The player has been working in professional baseball for ages.
2. I have been collecting cards for ages.
3. Everybody is way too damn old.
Last year, two specific people pointed out how long I've been collecting cards. I pulled Topps cards of managers, Dusty Baker and Cito Gaston. Both were players during the first year that I collected cards in 1975, and I pulled cards of each person that year. Baker was a mini card and Gaston was the regular version.
So from 1975 to 2009, from Baker to Baker and Gaston to Gaston, that has been 34 years that I have been doing this. (I did take a bit of break between about 1994 and 2006, but really the only years that I did not purchase one single pack of current cards was 1996 and 1999).
This year, Topps Series 1 does not feature manager cards. Heritage does, but I have not pulled Baker or Gaston. I do have a Heritage Joe Torre card, but I never pulled the 1975 Torre card, so Torre is excluded (same goes for Lou Piniella and Jerry Manuel).
However, on Saturday, when I received the Albuquerque Isotopes team set from Kris, one card stood out for this exercise.