Monday, August 10, 2015

Lost opportunity

It's finally time to officially name the best Topps Lou Brock card of the '70s. I've left the results over on the sidebar for awhile, but since most of you probably look at this thing with your phone I don't know if you've even seen them.

After 57 votes, the top three are as follows:

No. 3 - 1970 Lou Brock, 9 votes

No. 2 - 1977 Lou Brock, 12 votes

No. 1 - 1976 Lou Brock, 26 votes

Congratulations to 1976 Topps Lou Brock, that is if I'm able to wish an inanimate object congratulations! It easily won selection as the best Brock Topps card of the '70s and will be added to the Best of the '70s tab when I get a free moment. I wholeheartedly agree with this choice, and it doesn't matter to me if this is an old photo, it's just too classic of a '70s card.

Here is the full voting rundown:

1976 Brock - 26
1977 Brock - 12
1970 Brock - 9
1979 Brock - 3
1971 Brock - 2
1974 Brock - 2
1975 Brock - 2
1973 Brock - 1
1972 Brock - 0
1978 Brock - 0

Thanks as always for voting, and before I put away my Brock cards, I want to pull out one to talk about a little.

How many of you have someone in your everyday life who is able to converse with you about cards? How many have a person with the knowledge and interest and desire that you see from bloggers on a daily basis?

I'm willing to guess that not many do. That's why you're online communicating with collectors from across the country and across the sea. But I had someone like that in my everyday life once, and I'm not talking about my schoolyard friends when I was a kid.

His name is Carl. I mentioned him once a long time ago on this blog. He worked at the newspaper part-time on the weekends about 10 years ago. His job was to take calls from the public on Saturdays and Sundays. There wasn't a lot of excitement in his job -- he sat in a spare room with a desk and a phone -- and there wasn't a lot of excitement to Carl. He had a quiet demeanor and a rather dour view of everything in his life. But I got him to snap out of his perpetual indifference by talking about baseball cards.

Carl, I discovered, had a collection. He didn't really collect modern cards and was as puzzled by modern cards as I was when I first returned to them. I hadn't been back in modern collecting long at that point, but I already felt like an expert talking to Carl. Still, both of our interests were cards from the '60s and '70s, so that's where our conversations settled.

Every weekend, on my way to dinner or back from dinner, I'd stop at Carl's desk and we'd yammer about baseball cards. It was interesting: two guys who really had nothing to say the majority of time, and we couldn't stop talking because the subject was cards. Carl knew all of the details that I knew -- the Bump Wills Blue Jays card, the letter variations on 1968 Topps, and Fleer's crazy errors. We'd talk and talk and I had to tear myself away because I had to get back to work.

Not too long after we discovered we both collected cards, we traded a few times. And one of the cards I got from him was the 1975 Topps Lou Brock. It's just a beautiful card and was in tremendous shape. Carl took good care of his cards (although he didn't have much use for top loaders and screwdowns). It is one of my favorite cards from a set with many favorites.

I'm not sure how long those stops at Carl's spare office lasted. Maybe a year or a little more. Carl wasn't very happy in his job and I think he quit a couple of times. Finally, he quit for good and a week or two later took another job.

He left his number for me, so I could call. But an odd thing happened around that time: I discovered card blogs. This left me with the excuse not to call his number.

I'm not very good at maintaining relationships when one person leaves -- I suppose that's pretty normal. Work is perpetually busy and there was that number, sitting on my work desk that I never had time to call. I have no idea where that piece of paper went.

As the months went on, my need to discuss baseball cards migrated to the internet. I started a blog and I found hundreds of Carls. I admit the thought of calling Carl and telling him about this blogging world crossed my mind. But I remembered Carl had little use for computers (I recall telling him the deals you could find on cards online and he couldn't be bothered). Still, maybe he'd be interested in thi -- oh, crap, there's work demanding my attention again.

The years passed and I never saw Carl. The first year or two after he left, one of the building's maintenance men, and mutual friend of ours, kept me updated on Carl, and I would say the same thing, "I've got to call him." Then the maintenance man left the job and Carl was forgotten.

A month or so, a co-worker of mine suddenly asked if I remembered Carl. I said I did. She said he was a Facebook friend of hers, but, she said, he almost never posted and noted that he had recently vanished off her list of friends.

I admit I feel a little guilty about not keeping that connection. The internet basically bumped him from my life. And although I've never been one who needs a lot of relationships, it would be nice to discuss cards in person and trade in person once in awhile.

My desk is a disaster at work. One day I'm going to clean it, and I'll find that number. And I'll call him and ask him if he's still interested in cards. And then I'll say, "hey, I hear you got a computer now, let me tell you about card blogs."

But there's no way I'm going to mention Twitter to him.


  1. This is the point in the story when we, as card bloggers, each stand up ala Kirk Douglas ( and state emphatically:

    "I'M CARL!"

    Who's going first?

  2. You might be able to get his contact information from your HR department. I did that after hearing one of my ex-coworkers was in the hospital. I was always talkative with him but never learned his last name. If its for a good cause, HR usually helps out.

  3. That's an interesting way to say it - that you bet most card bloggers don't have someone they can talk to cards about. It makes me kind of sad to think about it that way, but I've got to think you're right.

    We just moved to a new house and I have a larger office area. The closet in the office has been designated as the baseball card closet. We had a housewarming party and a number of my friends from college came. I wasn't too keen about them seeing the card closet. I guess I'm a little embarrassed - though not enough to spend hours moving everything to the basement :)

    A few guys did see it and mentioned it. I told them I was collecting every Topps card since 1980, and they actually thought that was kind of cool. Then we went back to watching our 3 year olds and drinking beer. I didn't offer up that I have a blog with 1300+ posts, though :)

  4. I've had several acquaintances at work over the years in which they left and I never spoke to again. Work always gives you that common bond, but once that is out I think your personalities have to match up to keep the bond alive.

  5. That's one of the values of having an LCS. And why its so sad to see them vanishing as the Internet has become an easier and cheaper way for them to conduct business. Always talk cards and sports at the LCS. Never once thought about talking cards with an Internet dealer.

  6. Unrelated, but I am expecting a '75 Lou Brock in the mail from a Listia auction soon.

  7. Great post. Maybe one of these days you'll be at a card show digging through some dime boxes and you'll suddenly bump elbows with your long lost buddy.

  8. Such is the loneliness of middle-aged men trying desperately to hang on to their boyhood.

    Great post. It reminds us of the human connection we all need. I hope you can reconnect with Carl, but not just for your sake; for his.