Skip to main content

A card collector's 40th anniversary


It occurred to me the other day that I have been accumulating baseball cards for 40 years. That's not an approximation. The first time I ever held trading cards in my hands that were my very own happened in 1974. That's exactly 40 years ago.

I don't know at what point in the year I pulled that Tommy John card out of a cello pack of '74 Topps purchased by mother. I would imagine it would have been in the spring. So this is the perfect time to celebrate my 40th anniversary of collecting cards.

With the exception of 1996 and 1999 -- the darkest years of my collecting dark period of 1995-2005 -- I have obtained cards every one of those 40 years. Collecting has been part of me since I was a little boy.

But that little boy of 9 years old would be a bit surprised with what I have become.

Back when I was a kid, the only card collecting objectives were to obtain pictures of baseball players. In the ensuing years, that expanded into football, hockey and even basketball players. And there were Star Wars and Close Encounters cards, too. But mostly it was baseball. Guys in uniforms and ball caps.

If my 9-year-old self were to reappear here in 2014 and view my collection -- and that would be very weird -- I think he might be a little disgusted with what I have now.

Sure, 95 percent of it is still pictures of baseball players. But what about this other stuff?


Cards of boring old buildings? Who would want a card of that?



More old buildings? That's a picture from a history book. Who wants to be reminded of school?



Singers? When I was a kid and the radio was on, I didn't think about who was singing the song. I just knew I liked the music that came out of it. Maybe Bob on Sesame Street played a guitar but why would I want a card of Bob?


Girls????? YUCK! Why is there a girl in her BATHING SUIT on a card????



Beauty queens? That's even worse!



Weird old men?



Weird old ladies?



In fact, my 9-year-old self wouldn't understand Allen & Ginter at all. All of these cards would either be horrifying or cootie cards you could foist upon your friends.



My 9-year-old self wouldn't understand cards of cavemen either. Dinosaur cards would be cool. But cavemen were just there to be stomped on and torn apart by those cool dinosaurs. Cavemen cards are like collecting cards of the Washington Generals. Who does that?

As a 9-year-old, I'd also question some of my current collecting habits:


For example, why in the world am I saving wrappers? Roll that stuff in a ball and whip it at your brother until he cries and mom comes in and screams at you to throw that stuff in the garbage!



This would blow my 9-year-old mind. Why weren't these cut into three cards IMMEDIATELY? Why is it still intact? Why are you just sitting there reading this? GET SOME SCISSORS!!!!!



This, too. Why aren't all of these circles scratched already?



This card would give the 9-year-old me nightmares.



Scenery? I can see the 9-year-old just staring at this card in open-mouthed bafflement.


Yup, a lot has changed since I first saw that Tommy John card 40 years ago. I can see the value in a lot of the cards above (although I still don't know why I have a few).

But one thing is the same. I have the exact same enthusiasm for collecting small pieces of cardboard that I did when I was 9.

I fully expect there to be a 50th anniversary.

Comments

Hackenbush said…
Cheers! Keep having fun.
Jeff said…
Billy Squier =/= Megametal.
Fuji said…
Congratulations on 40 years of collecting! Are you going to have a cool giveaway like Topps did back in 1991 for their 40th anniversary?
Cardboard Jones said…
Here's to 40 more- and may they be just as adventurous!
Congrats on 40 years. Your post is very similar to my experiences as a child collecting, but in addition to Star Wars and Close Encounters, I had Charlie's Angels cards...so I was already seeking out the babes.
Stealing Home said…
Forty years and that's ALL you've managed to collect?
Congrats. Anyone that does anything for 40 years should be congratulated. I can't wait to read about your 50th anniversary .
BobWalkthePlank said…
Congratulations. Hope it continues to be fun and exciting.
GCA said…
I remember my first handful of cards was also from the '74 set. It included a Yaz and a couple Brewer players. Not sure about the others. They are part of my set now. My Tommy John happened to be autographed.

I just got a second cabinet for card storage in my "card room" this past weekend. There's also a full bookcase of binders and a wire shelving unit. I expect the next phase will be a bigger room....

Hope you keep blogging for a long time too!
Unknown said…
...just a brilliant post.

Congrats on an active 40, Night Owl! Here's to at least 40 more!

Naturally, this got me to thinking about that first card I had in my hand as a youth, but I've got to wait a couple more years for a nice big ol' round number, < 40, however.

Again, congratulations, Night Owl!
Rich Gossage, 1979 Topps...and I've been hooked ever since. I guess it's my 35th Anniv Mr. Night Owl
Congrats!

9 year old me would wonder why Darrell Porter looked so sober :(

Popular posts from this blog

Stuck in traffic with Series 2

In the whirlwind that has been my life this month, I found myself going absolutely nowhere for a portion of Thursday afternoon. I was in the middle of yet another road trip, the third one this week. This one was for work, and because it was job-related, it became quickly apparent that it would be a waste of time. The only thing that could save it was a side visit to the nearby Walmart to see if I could spot some Topps Series 2. I found it right away, which was shocking as I was pretty much in the middle of the country, where SUVs share the road with tractors and buggies. Who knew that the Amish wanted Series 2, too? The problem was getting back into civilization to open the contents of the 72-card hanger box I bought. The neighboring village is undergoing a summer construction project smack in the middle of downtown. It's not much of a downtown, but the main road happens to be the main artery in the entire county. Everyone -- and by everyone I mean every tractor trailer ha

Heading upstate

  Back in 1999, Sports Illustrated published an edition at the end of the year rating the top 50 athletes of the century for every state.   As a lifelong Upstate New Yorker, I braced for a list of New York State athletes that consisted almost entirely of downstate natives, that is, folks from the greater NYC area and Long Island.   We Upstaters are used to New York City trampling all over the rest of the state. They have the most people, the loudest voices. It happens all the time. It's a phenomenon unique to this state. Heck, there are still people out there who, when you tell them you're from New York, automatically think you're from NYC. They don't think of cows and chickens when they think of New York. But trust me, there are a lot of cows and chickens in New York State. Especially cows.   So, anyway, when I counted up the baseball players that SI listed as the greatest from New York State, six of the nine were from New York City or Long Island. I was surprised all

G.O.A.T, the '80s: 30-21

  I often call this current period of the television sports calendar the black hole of sports programming. The time between the end of the Super Bowl and the beginning of televised Spring Training baseball games is an empty void when I'm looking for something to watch on traditional television. I don't watch the NBA and I find the NHL on TV holds my interest for maybe a period. College basketball I can't watch until the tournament. This didn't used to be as much of a problem back when I could turn instead to my favorite sitcoms in February. Do you remember when February was "sweeps month"? (Maybe it still is, I don't know). Networks would make sure that every top show aired original episodes that month, no reruns. So you'd always have something to view during the week even when the sports scene was boring. (I know, people have multiple streaming viewing options now. But I find myself going weeks sometimes before I see something I want to view on Netfli