There's been a lot of talk about age in the sports world lately. With the deaths of Bob Welch, Tony Gwynn and Chuck Noll, you've heard the following in casual conversations:
"He was too young." "He lived a long and good life." "I'm not that much younger than he was."
We are obsessed with age, which really means we are obsessed with death.
And death is why we are very obsessed with youth. And by "we" I mean the whole damn nation, maybe the whole damn world.
In case you haven't noticed, this is a youth-driven culture. Nobody reads anything, looks at anything, mentions anything unless it involves someone young:
News break: 55-year-old woman robs bank with husband.
News break: 14-year-old girl robs bank while carrying 3-year-old she was babysitting.
Everyone: Was she hot?
This is the world in which we live. It is particularly apparent online. Check out virtually any news site that is not connected to a "reputable newspaper" (and even a number of them have come over to the dark side).
"Kanye West says famed photographer Annie Leibovitz practically ruined his honeymoon with Kim Kardashian."
"Miss USA doesn't know the capital of Nevada."
"Children as young as nine determined to get tans to imitate bronzed celebrities."
OK, maybe we're just obsessed with celebrities, people we can make fun of, and sex. But you have to admit, there's a lot of young folks mentioned in the above three links (and no, they're not really links, go find that crap yourself. It won't be difficult). And that's not even including all the various click-bait stories that pop up on the leading websites.
Youth, now more than ever, controls the world. It sells everything. And as an ever-aging parent who has a child of a certain persuasion that requires me to be around teenagers quite a bit, I am fully aware of how noticed they are and how ignored I am.
This is why I like baseball cards (yay! I finally got around to them again).
Sure, the new, "young" baseball cards get all the news. Topps Series 2, blah, blah, blah. That's just the way of our culture, again. And there are a number of collectors who collect only the latest and greatest. I would imagine the corporations like those collectors best. Youth and those who like "new" are the only demographic.
But baseball card collecting does not recognize demographics.
Some of the most expensive, most valued and most desired cards are as ancient as great grandmother's rocker. Probably even older.
In fact, one of the greatest compliments you can give a card or a collector is to look at that card and exclaim "That is so OLD!" Yep, the putdown of teenagers through the ages, dismissively deriding something because of its advanced age, is a point of pride in this hobby.
That probably won't shut up the "hobby is dying" Chicken Littles but, for me, I think it's pretty cool. Old age is valued. Staying power is valued. History and community and tradition is valued.
Just another reason to like baseball cards.
And with that, I now present the latest and greatest ... oldest card in my collection
I did a through-the-years rundown of the oldest card in my collection in a post a little while ago. Since that time, I have received a couple of cards that equaled the oldest card in my collection, but nothing that surpassed it in sheer ancientness.
These three cards are all equal in ancientness:
That's two 1933 Goudeys and one 1933 World Wide Gum.
Then Zippy Zappy entered the picture and dropped this card on me:
That is a 1909 T206 card of Brooklyn Superbas' pitcher Kaiser Wilhelm. That's right, the same set that brought you the Honus Wagner card that people won't stop talking about (you would think Wagner was a 14-year-old girl who robbed a bank).
Isn't that fantastic?
Even more fantastic is Wilhelm was a pitcher and he's got a bat on his shoulder because THAT'S WHAT PITCHERS DID IN 1909!
As for the condition, I don't mind it at all. In fact I am intrigued by the two punch holes at the top. Did people wear baseball cards around their neck like a locket in 1909?
I admit that I suffer a bit from the youth syndrome that I mentioned above. I've never paid much attention to the T206 set or any tobacco-era sets. For most of my collecting life, the 1950s was as far into the past as I would go, because while I have always appreciated vintage, those tobacco cards were always ... so OLD.
I've come around on that, although getting more T206's isn't No. 1 on my card priority list. I think with advancing age and a growing dislike for how the media and the general public underlines and emphasizes anything just because it involves youth, I'm gravitating more and more to items that can last. Items with a lot more staying power than a super short print from 2012 Topps.
That probably means I'm SO OLD.
And to that, I say, "thank you."
Lasting longer than the latest Lindsay Lohan story is a true accomplishment these days.