My brother is in Toronto tonight to watch the Blue Jays take on his favorite team, the Orioles. He's brought along two of my nieces, one of whom is a rabid baseball fan.
The rabid baseball fan is 13 years old. She plays baseball -- not softball -- in a league, meaning she plays on a team full of boys. Her best positions are second base and shortstop, but she's also played catcher. You should see her out on the field. She's a skinny little thing with a long brown ponytail. She knows the game better than most of the boys and more than holds her own.
My brother lives a little ways from me, so I don't get to see them too often. I get updates, of course, and that's why I know all about the baseball-playing stuff, but there are always things that slip through the cracks when you don't see people in person.
One of the things that someone failed to bring up to me until recently is that my niece also COLLECTS BASEBALL CARDS.
Holy heck, I wanted to shake someone and say, "why wasn't informed about this a long time ago???!!!"
I knew somebody in this family had to inherit the collecting gene. My own daughter collected some stuff, mostly Club Penguin cards, when she was little but turned her nose up on baseball card collecting many years ago. (It's possible she does collect now -- virtual online mythical cutesy creatures or something I'll never comprehend). I couldn't wait to finally shower someone in the family with baseball cards.
We visited my brother this week and to prepare, I hit the local Target and grabbed five packs of 2014 Topps product -- four of them were Series 2 with Kershaw on the front because I've got to show the Orioles household what a real ace is. Two packs were for my niece. The other three were for her siblings, but if they didn't want them, she could have them all. I had no idea how actively she collected, so I figured that would do.
While I was visiting, I brought up her card collecting to her parents. They said she would appreciate the cards, but they thought she needed some new pages for her binder.
SHE HAS PAGES? SHE HAS A BINDER?????
This was what was going through my head, as I chuckled and said, "Well, I have plenty of that stuff if she ever needs it."
Later I gave the cards to her and since she was 13, all she said was "OK" and "Thanks". I told her that if she had any questions about collecting or needed any supplies, I was the man to see. Then she took off with the other kids.
It was important for me to experience this, because although I've said on this blog repeatedly that I believe kids still do collect baseball cards and that I see them at card shows, I know that this hobby isn't geared toward them anymore and hasn't been for a long time.
To see someone in my own family prove that there are kids still out there who do collect in the most basic of ways, the way that I did when I was a kid (packs from a store), warmed my collecting heart.
But the surprises weren't over.
My niece ended up giving one of the packs to my nephew, who is seven. I was informed that night that he ALSO COLLECTS BASEBALL CARDS.
About 15 minutes or so after I gave the packs to my niece, my nephew came flying up to her mother in his usual frenzied way, "Mom! Mom! You know those packs Uncle Greg gave us? Well, I got an Oriole! J.J. Hardy. I already have a J.J. Hardy so I gave that one to (my sister). And I also got a Royal and a Yankee with a cool background! I'm going to keep the Yankee because it's got a cool background."
That last sentence drew a laugh out of both me and my brother. It's good to see that the legacy of Yankee-hating has been handed down and should last at least another 80 or so years.
I was a little curious over what "cool background" meant, whether that was a parallel, and how he could have pulled two of them in one pack. But I didn't want to let on that I was THAT obsessed.
Then, my nephew walked into the living room past me, repeated what he said about "I'm going to keep the Yankee because it's got a cool background," and proceeded to stuff all of the cards in his left front pocket.
Thanks, kid. I needed that.