Last week or so, one of those crowd-sourcing social media questions made the rounds of Twitter. I didn't answer it, but I did think about it because I had never thought about it before:
"What was the first thing you bought after getting your first job?"
I don't know if the question-poser was referring to a first full-time job or just a first job, so I went with my first paying job. Outside of getting money for doing chores around the house, my first paying job was as a newspaper carrier.
I started that job in January of 1981 and I know the first thing I bought, once that week's earnings were dropped off for me in an envelope on the front porch, were the following 45s:
Yes, I still have them. I have just about all of the 45s that I bought back then and it's a lot -- stuff from the '60s, '70s and '80s. Hundreds. Given the way everything related to entertainment has skyrocketed in price, I should really check out what 45s are bringing in.
I think I did pretty good with my choices. Outside of one of the most monotonous songs ever made (yeah, you, Eddie Rabbitt), all of the above are songs I still like from artists I still admire. My only regret is that I no longer have the sleeves that came with the Blondie and Bruce Springsteen 45s.
These aren't the first 45s I ever bought, but they were probably among the first 10 or 12. It seems ancient now to listen to singles in this format, but that's what we did and all the way up until I graduated from high school actually. Then it was cassette singles. CDs kind of erased the urge to buy singles (until itunes came along), but I still like pulling out those old 45s, and all of them still play.
The first 45 I ever bought was "Cool Change" by the Little River Band. (There's a related Match the Song title if you didn't see it the first time). And this is a good transition into another one of my "firsts" posts, in which I try to record for posterity several of the firsts in my collecting life.
You can see the first two there and there. And, again, this is more of a personal exercise for when night owl's memory is shot to hell, but feel free to enjoy.
First set to benefit from my first job
Staying in 1981 with this one. I've mentioned many times before that it was a strain on a young lad's allowance to suddenly be faced with three sets to buy in 1981 with the arrival of Donruss and Fleer. But I don't focus enough on the good fortune of happening to land some regular cash (as much as a paper boy salary pays anyway) just in time for the arrival of two extra sets.
The set to benefit the most was obviously Donruss. Topps was a given. I was going to buy those cards no matter what. And Fleer looked respectable enough to my eyes.
Donruss, I didn't know what to make of it. It was flimsy. The photos were boring and dark. And that white card stock, man, that didn't seem like a real card to me. The card backs got dirty just looking at them.
So, yes, if I didn't have a job, I'm sure I would not have bothered with Donruss after the first pack sampling. But since I did, sure let's try to collecting them all!
Let's stay with Donruss.
Donruss didn't have Diamond Kings in its debut set, they didn't show up until the following year in 1982. When I pulled that first Dave Winfield in '82, I looked at it as dismissively as I did Donruss' first set the year before. I wasn't in the hobby to collect paintings. I wanted real photos!
Looking back now, '82 Diamond Kings are about the peak of the Diamond King era, they progressively grew worse over the years. The '82 DKs are displayed large, taking up the entire area of the card. DKs with borders really bother me for some reason.
One thing I've noticed with the '82 DKs, or maybe it's just Donruss card stock at the time, but they sure do get dirty. The Winfield needs a washing and so do the other DKs I pulled that year.
First rookie cup card I ever pulled
Does anyone know why Topps did not use the rookie cup logo in its 1974 set? It is so weird that it would debut a new way to display the All-Rookie Team with the 1973 set, switching from the trophy to the cup, and then dismiss it the next year, only for it to return in 1975!
Whatever, I'm just fortunate that I started collecting in '75.
Most of the rookie cups from that year eluded me. I never saw the Tanana, Hargrove, Greg Gross. I wanted the Barry Foote card very badly, but the first one I pulled was the Bake McBride card in July of that year on a family vacation. It became one of my favorite cards that year.
First girl I knew who collected cards
Like many of these "firsts," I've mentioned this before in earlier posts, and on multiple blogs.
In 1975, I was friends with a couple of sisters and I remember being in their house, playing with their toys in their toy chest and coming across '75 Topps cards of Eric Soderholm and Dock Ellis.
Yup, thanks to Jennifer, I discovered who Dock Ellis was.
About five years or so, I reconnected with her and we caught each other up on our families and exchanged pictures and the like. Unfortunately, we didn't talk about baseball cards or Dock Ellis.
First cards I received in rack pack format
Rack packs have been around for a long time and have been a common way to sell cards since the '70s (possibly earlier, I don't know, I was barely around in the '60s). When I came back to the hobby in 2006, the vast majority of my card purchasing were rack packs, because I wanted the three "vintage" cards that Topps was packaging inside rack packs.
But in the spring of 1977, sitting in the passenger seat of my parent's car, parked outside of a hospital for a reason I don't remember, I was looking at my very first rack pack with Ellie Rodriguez the first Dodger I would pull that year from that rack pack.
It looked strange -- all I knew about packaging baseball cards up until that time were wax packs and cello packs -- but I liked it. It looked like you were getting a whole lot of cards at once. And best of all, you could see a bunch of the cards you were getting!
First cards I bought from a big-box store
Those rack packs that I was buying in 2006 all came from Walmart, but two years earlier, it was the strangest sight in the world to see cards sold in a major chain discount department store.
I don't know when cards began to appear in places like Walmart, Kmart and Target but before I took a break from the hobby, almost all of my cards showed up in corner stores, drug stores, mini markets, grocery stores and the like. I lived near a Kmart during the late '70s/early '80s and never did they have packs of cards (just those ubiquitous '82 boxes)
Then, in 2004, I was with my wife in Buffalo visiting relatives and we were shopping at a nearby Kmart. For whatever reason, I was in the toy section (my daughter was 5 at the time, so that was probably the reason), and I stumbled across some cards called "All-Time Fan Favorites."
Something about them appealed to me -- whether it was the old designs or the old players. But it was enough to get me hooked on cards again. I bought a bunch more that year. They were the first cards I bought more than a pack of since 2000 and the first cards I actually collected since 1994.
First autographed card I ever pulled
Folks who collected around the turn of the century could tell you exactly what set featured the first autographed cards.
I wasn't around for any of that. My first autographed card was pulled in 2006, from an above-mentioned rack pack, from an above-mentioned big-box store, Target, in the above-mentioned city, Buffalo.
Again, we were visiting relatives. I was collecting cards again and I did know about autographed cards by this time but I had never seen one live. I still remember where the card display was in that Target, right next the entrances and exits -- that would never happen today.
It was extremely good fortune that the first autograph I ever pulled was a legendary player from my favorite team. I've pulled enough autographs since then of teams and players I don't care about in the least. I should've quit when I was ahead.
First favorite football team
Before I was a Buffalo Bills fan, I was a Houston Oilers fan. I became a fan in the late 1970s, right around the peak of Oilers greatness.
I can't claim I would still be an Oilers fan if they still existed. I gradually grew into being a Bills fan during the late 1980s and the Oilers were still around then. The Bills met the Oilers in a few notable playoff games and that was enough for me to turn against the Oilers. By the 1990s, Houston also seemed to attract wayward players (kind of like today), so they lost all the appeal of the Luv Ya Blue era.
I still think those uniform colors were some of the greatest for any team in any sport ever.
First favorite hockey and basketball teams
Quickly now on these two as I mentioned both of these about a year ago on the blog.
Unlike the Oilers, my hockey favorite -- the Islanders -- and my basketball favorite -- the Bullets -- were related to cards I pulled. Unlike football or baseball, I did not watch hockey or basketball on TV (much as it is difficult for younger people to grasp, neither sport was readily available on TV on a regular basis during the '70s).
The Islanders didn't last as a hockey favorite. I became a Sabres fans around the same time I became a Bills fan. As for basketball, the Bullets became the Wizards and I have no favorite in the NBA. It's one of those sports where I have no rooting interest. They all might as well be the same team to me.
OK, so that's it for this segment.
As I've said on the earlier "firsts" posts, I enjoy pulling out these memories a lot. I'm sure I have a couple more in me. But, now, it's time to deal in the present and see what kind of "firsts" await me today.