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Firsts


Some faithful readers of this blog probably won't be surprised by this statement but others may be:

The majority of my youtube time isn't spent on baseball card pack openings or box breaks. Much of it isn't even spent on watching old baseball games, although that percentage has certainly gone up in the last couple of weeks.

No, by far, the most enjoyment I get out of youtube is watching music channels. Whether that's old music countdown shows or concerts or album reviews or whatever, I am so there for it. I subscribe to several channels that are run simply by music fans and I am always appreciative of new music knowledge as well as unearthing song gems long forgotten or brand new to my ears.

One of those music channels is the now very popular youtube channel by music producer Rick Beato. Perhaps you've heard of him. I got started watching his videos two years ago, when his following was quite small. Beato is from upstate New York, like me, and he's only about four years older than me. His music tastes are rock and jazz from all over the map but his roots are the same as mine, pop and album-oriented radio from the '60s and '70s.

Beato is a former music professor and his knowledge of music is way past mine. Half of what he talks about loses me, but I remain entranced. The other day he was talking about "the song that changed his life."

It was the first song he ever learned to play on the guitar. It was a track from the first album by '70s soft-rock legends, America.

I enjoyed the video quite a bit but also was heartened to know -- there! SEE? Somebody else who remembers his childhood firsts!

I write about my baseball firsts a lot on this blog. A lot of the time I receive comments that go something like: "I wish I had a memory like yours."

I don't think it's anything special. Maybe people don't know how to hold on to their childhood. They're too busy trying to grow up. But even though there was plenty I didn't like about my childhood, I have always known it was special. These were the days when you stumbled across something new almost every day. Why wouldn't you want to hold on to those memories and keep them alive? They are special.

As I get older I find myself getting more forgetful. It just comes with the territory when you hit your 50s. And I become concerned that I won't remember some of those "firsts" that I've treasured for many, many years. So, I thought, why not record that stuff here, where I can turn if I can't suddenly can't remember something?

So here we go:


First baseball card I ever saw

I've written about this one so much, some people probably know more about the first card I ever saw than the first card they ever saw. This Tommy John was on the front of the cello pack that my mom bought from the grocery store and handed to me in my bedroom in 1974. It hooked me on baseball cards and the Dodgers for life.



First card I ever pulled out of a pack that I bought

This is significant because this signaled my start as a collector. I knew it was a big deal even at the time because I have hung on to the actual Darold Knowles card that I pulled for 45 years.



First baseball card I ever saw on the ground

A 1971 Topps Manny Mota, ripped into pieces, sat in a roadside gutter as I walked home from school when I was in fourth or fifth grade. I stepped carefully off the sidewalk and onto the grass and reached down and gathered up the pieces and brought them home. I later taped them together and there was a hole in the middle where the missing piece was. Still, I kept that card for several years.



First baseball card set I saw in its entirety

It was the 1978 Topps set, purchased through the mail by my brother. It arrived in a long box and it was the most fascinating thing that I witnessed that entire year.



First card set I ever completed

I completed the 1975 Topps set in 2004. Yup, it took me almost 30 years to complete my first set.

That's because completing sets isn't easy. It wasn't even easy back when I first started collecting and that was long before parallels and SPs and nonsense. It simply took a lot of money to buy cards and completing them pack by pack was the only way it could be done (well, you could buy the whole set even back then, but that's not really completing it, is it?)



First World Series I ever saw

I was a late-bloomer. Nothing wrong with that. I didn't get into baseball until I was 9, 10 years old. And the TV was for kids shows. The first World Series I remember seeing is highlights from the 1975 Series, mostly the Fisk home run, the Reds' Game 7 clincher and Luis Tiant.



First World Series I remember watching

That would be the following year, the Reds' sweep over the Yankees in 1976. I didn't watch every game, no attention span and I still couldn't stay up late enough. But I do remember Johnny Bench hitting EVERYTHING.

The next year I would watch as much of the Series as I could. Unfortunately.



First Sports Illustrated issue that came to my house

It was from May 3, 1976. The Phillies beat the Cubs in an epic game that year. This was three years before the well-known 23-22 Phillies win over the Cubs in Wrigley Field. In 1976, the Phillies beat the Cubs, 18-16, in Wrigley, coming back from 11 runs down to win on Mike Schmidt's fourth home run of the game in the 10th inning. I read about that in the first issue of Sports Illustrated that came to our house. It was a subscription gift from my folks.

I took to this magazine right away and learned so much. But the second issue to come to the house showed jockey Steve Cauthen on the cover and I was like "what the hell is this???"

Which is why the following was so important:


First Baseball Digest I ever saw

I don't remember the where or why of this issue but a subscription started coming to our house soon afterward. This magazine was all about BASEBALL and nothing else. No horse racing. No yachting. No swimsuit models (they just didn't matter to an 11-year-old). BASEBALL.



First Baseball Digest that ever came to our house

It was two months later. Baseball Digest became ritual at our house for the next two or three years. There was a certain rhythm to BD (World Series issue in October, Top rookies issue in November, Player of the Year issue in December, past World Series review in January, etc.) and I knew it well. I devoured the articles but also I devoured the ads.


The baseball magnet standings board sat in our bedroom for like two years.

The best thing about the ads is they were all about baseball (or sports) in almost all cases. There was so much baseball you could buy! Baseball cards, for sure, but also baseball helmets and hats, baseball posters and magnets, baseball albums and pages, baseball lamps and banks, baseball T-shirts and buttons, baseball pennants and cassette tapes, baseball books and wallets and mugs and record albums!

This was a big part of my world from around 1977-80. (As you have probably been seeing, Baseball Digest recently made its archives available for free, head on over there and sign up for a free account).



First baseball book I ever read

This was part of a series of baseball biography paperbacks put out for young sports fans. This is where I first read about the friction between Thurman Munson and Carlton Fisk, how Steve Garvey was the Dodgers' bat boy when he was a kid and his dad was a Greyhound bus driver who often transported baseball teams to and from the park.

It's stuff like this that make you look at your professional career and wonder whether it groomed you for the career you would have or whether you took to stuff like this because it was naturally in you.



First sports article I read in the newspaper

I just wrote about this. It's possible I viewed some other newspaper story first, something on the comics page probably. But the trade of Dusty Baker to the Dodgers (and Jimmy Wynn to the Braves) is what sticks in my head. Considering I was 10 at the time, it's a good chance I wasn't reading anything else.

The Traded card of Dusty Baker in the 1976 Topps set was our first look at Baker as a "Dodger" and that's all we had.


It wouldn't be until 1977, nearly a year-and-a-half after the trade (longer if you didn't pull the Baker card until the summer)! There was no Update set. No Topps Now. You waited. Yes, it was excruciating sometimes. But does it make me hate my childhood?

Nope. I'm still holding on to those memories.

There's plenty more firsts I could write about. Perhaps I will add more to this (or probably not -- I won't REMEMBER!)

At any rate, I hear all that stuff about the pitfalls of living in the past (and living for the future), how you're supposed to live in the now, etc. I agree with all of that. But there's nothing that says you can't carry some of the fun parts of your past around with you in the now.

As I've said many times before: it's why I'm collecting.

-----------------------------------------------------

RIP, Al Kaline


Yes, this is another first. This the first Highlight/Record Breaker card I ever saw.

Comments

I do not remember really any of my firsts. I'm thoroughly impressed that you remember so many. Bravo.
Great post, NO. Lately I've also been watching and listening to a lot of ballgames from the past, and I'm amazed by the memories they trigger.

You might have written about this at some point, but I'm curious -- do you remember the first professional baseball game you attended, either majors or minors?
Jamie Meyers said…
I haven't thought about those magnetic standings boards in decades. I had one of those when I was a kid and loved it.

Bummer about Al Kaline. He made an appearance at a minor league park here in CT awhile back when his grandson was playing for the team and I met him. Nice enough man. He signed card #4 from the 1975 set, also his 1971 card.
Elliptical Man said…
Yeah. I agree with Peter. I don't remember any of this stuff.

Well, I vaguely remember the first World Series I saw because my favorite team won it. 1980 - Phillies.

I can say the first set I tried to build was 1987 Topps. All I did was buy packs and was left about 12 shy of completion.

First S.I. swimsuit model I noticed was Paulina Porizkova.
Old Cards said…
After all that rambling on about music, you got down to what we came for - "baseball stuff". I had the same experience with Sports Illustrated that you did. Took the very small amount of money I had as a kid and subscribed to SI only to be disappointed that every issue was not about baseball. I wrote a letter to their office begging them to cancel my subscription. To my surprise, they canceled it and refunded my money. My "first" experience with someone actually paying attention to me as a kid. It was a defining moment.Sorry to hear about Al Kaline. Grew up watching him in the 60's. Remember watching a game on TV in 1962 when he broke his collarbone making a diving catch. Great player with a great attitude.
night owl said…
@Old Cards ~

"We"? You're speaking for every reader now?
Old Cards said…
Okay! What "I" came for!
Jay said…
I think that’s my favorite post I’ve read on a cards blog yet. Thank you. You and I are also about the same age, I wrote up this thing about my own sports-obsessed 1970s here: https://wordgoesflesh.com/2019/04/10/sports-obsessed-in-the-1970s/
I vividly remember watching mt 1st World Series (1967) and also the 1968 series.

I vaguely remember watching at least parts if the 69, 70, and 75 series.

I probably watched most or all of them from '67 to '80 (and some beyond that), but you never forget your first (two).
I think much of this depends on how one experiences things to begin with. Me being the oblivious youngest of three, much of what you discussed was all around me, it's just a matter of when it entered my awareness. No epiphanies, no life-changing moment, just a realization somewhere along the lines of "Hey, I like this".

On the other hand, I do remember watching Monty Python's Flying Circus for the first time. That was my "Beatles on Ed Sullivan" moment. :-D
NPB Card Guy said…
I'm around the same age as you and I have similar firsts - the 1975 World Series was the first one I saw and the 1975 Topps set was the first one I ever bought packs for. I don't remember the first card I pulled from a pack but I can tell you that the Cardinals (my favorite team then) in it were Lynn McGlothen and Elias Sosa.

Always wanted one of those magnetic standings boards.
Brett Alan said…
I come here for the baseball AND the music!

I have no recollection at all of my first baseball cards, but I was 4 or 5 at the time (I first collected in 1971, and I turned 5 during that summer), so I'm giving myself a pass on that.
GCA said…
That '74 Tommy John was the first card I had that had an autograph on it, I think. It was subtle, so it took a bit to notice it. I bought it out of bulk stock from some dealer who hadn't noticed either.

My first cards were also '74s. I had Yaz and two Brewer guys among others.

I watch a lot of music "reaction" videos. Series of either vocal coaches (usually attractive women) or fans of other genres (usually hip-hop or R&B) listening to my favorite metal tracks. They are generally really impressed. Would love to hang out with them an play them other cool tunes and hear their favorites too. Music unites.
Real cool post. I know my first card was a 1983 Fleer Jim Smith, but I don't think I could remember a lot of the other firsts that you had on here. Well done.
Fuji said…
I'm definitely one of those who leave "I wish I had a memory like yours" comments, but it's not because I was too busy trying to grow up. It's literally because my memory sucks. I love reminiscing about my childhood... which is why I started my blog in the first place. So just like this post... I want to preserve my memories for the day when I no longer have them. Lol. And I'm not even 50 years old.

By the way... awesome post. I'm very jealous. I tried to think of all of my firsts as I came across them in this post and came up blank on most of them. But I might follow in your footsteps and write a post to document some of my firsts. Well... the ones I sort of remember.
Chris said…
I always enjoy reading posts like this, and yes you do have a great memory. But I do remember some of my 'firsts':

First sports card I ever saw: 1985 Topps Bob Baumhower
First baseball cards I ever saw: 1986 Fleer packs at WaWa
First World Series I watched: 1988 Dodgers-Athletics. (i have faint memories of the '86 Series being on TV but I wasn't watching. Didn't get immersed in baseball until '88)
First vintage card I ever owned: 1968 Topps Willie Mays
First pro athlete I ever met: Jose Canseco at a card show
First Sports Illustrated issue delivered to my house: 1992 MLB Preview, with Kirby Puckett holding a bat that was bigger than him. (Before then I had a subscription to SI For Kids)
First Sports Card Blog I followed: Bob Walk The Plank

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