Monday, December 3, 2018

let's bat around with the reminiscence bump

night owl's recent post hit on a topic that i would imagine is common among adult card collectors. i know that it was a familiar topic for me.

for the record, i also enjoy the musical stylings of maria mckee and lone justice, and i saw them in concert in los angeles in 1987.  good show.

i also enjoyed the style of night owl's writing in that post. it reminded me of dr. manhattan's reminiscing in alan moore's "watchmen". i'll write this post the same way.

on to the cards.

1977: i am six years old. i am sitting in the back seat of our light blue volvo station wagon. i can tell you the license plate number if you'd like. my uncle, for reasons unknown, hands me a pack of baseball cards.  i get my first look at cards, and mike schmidt's is one of them.
that same year, my mom takes my brother and i to a barbershop for haircuts. the barber is telling me a story about a boy who squirmed and had his ear cut. i do not squirm. my mom sends my restless brother, who had his hair cut first, to the store next door. it is a comic book and baseball card store. when my mom and i walk in after my haircut, i am awestruck. it smells like old paper and there are comics and cards on display everywhere, along with still photos from movie shoots (not sure why, but our lcs had a ton of these set photos).  i look at my brother and his eyes are as big as saucers.  we see a 1971 topps brooks robinson card
in the display case, and we note that it looks like the guy is looking for droids on tatooine.

1978: i am seven years old and baseball card collecting has captured the attention of the six neighborhood boys, myself included, along with some other nearby kids.  we spend hours trading and discussing cards, and make frequent weekend runs to the 7-11 to buy packs. one day, while waiting for the oldest of the group to return from a pack run, i ask the question of one of the other kids: "what if i get a steve yeager card?!"
the answer to that question is that i would then have a steve yeager card, which is exactly what happened when i opened my packs later that day.  i have also morphed in to a set collector after initially storing my cards by team in a card locker my dad gave me.

that same summer, we are visiting family in canada and i am discovering the bright backs and variations of o-pee-chee cards.  i get home and pin ron cey's o-pee-chee card
on my wall.  it is one of the first cards that i scanned for my first blog.

1979: i am eight years old, standing on the doorstep of a man's house on the other side of my block.  one of my friends at school found out that he was a giants fan and that he had some cards. i ask his wife if he wants to trade with me, and she smiles and calls him over.  he looks at what i have, and takes my gary lavelle card and a couple of others.
one of the cards he gives to me in exchange is a 1955 bowman don hoak card.
true story.

1980: i am nine years old in the fall of 1980, and my dad has taken my brother and i to los angeles. we had a day off from school, and he has a business meeting. my brother and i sit in the lobby of an office building waiting for his meeting to end.  we note that we are not far from the westin bonaventure hotel, which my brother recognized from his buck rogers card collection (he had switched to non-sports cards when our local card store started carrying star wars cards).  during a break in the meeting, my dad walks my brother and i around a couple of blocks of downtown la. we go in to a convenience store to get something to drink, and i notice packs of cards at the register. my dad buys me a pack and i am excited to find reggie smith's card inside.
later that day, we meet up with my uncle, and the four of us go to a japanese restaurant. i order a hamburger.

1981: i am now eleven years old (just barely), and my dad has given to me for christmas the 1981 topps traded set.  i make him take my picture holding cards of fernando valenzuela, ken landreaux, and fred lynn.
this was the year that i really started to collect dodger team sets back to 1970, and began adding fleer and donruss to my set completing ways - although we bought a 1981 donruss set through the mail.

1982: the first year that we (my dad is now a co-collector) bought boxes of cards. we open packs together, and he makes me put the cards in numerical order as we go which irritates me. we are somewhat repulsed at 1982 fleer and the blurry photos, although i am excited that the dodgers are at the front of the set with dusty baker
sitting at number 1.

moving forward, we continued to buy cards and put together sets through 1987.  none of my friends kept up with collecting past 1983 or so, but i persevered. in 1988, i bought mainly packs (exclusively topps) before heading to college in the fall.  i did buy a box of topps in 1989, but again ignored other card manufacturers.  in 1990 i began buying hockey cards as well as baseball (still just topps) as it seemed like every strip mall had a card shop.

my dad had taken me to a few card shows in la and anaheim earlier in the decade (including the first national in 1980 where i sold my 1978 and 1979 dupes - including multiple eddie murray rookies - for $10), but now i was able to go on my own.  i went to a bunch of different shows during the late 80's and into the 90's, including the national in anaheim in 1991. that year, i bought some upper deck and thought that i would retire on my chipper jones cards. i was also all-in on topps that year, buying a ridiculous amount of cards.

1993: i have graduated from college and secured a real job. a liquor store near my office sells cards at the register. it is the first time i see something called "flair". i can't believe i am spending $3.99 on a pack of cards.  one of the cards i get is a jim edmonds wave of the future insert.
i would have preferred the mike piazza card.

this post is getting way too long, but there are so many memories.  i know i am falling short of the intent of the topic, having skipped a bunch of years within that 10-30 year-old period, but i'll finish up by saying that since 1977, there has never been a year when i did not buy cards, nor a year in which i did not follow the game, and i could point out specific cards that hold specific memories for me from each year.

as for my post-bump years, i started reading and commenting on jon weisman's 'dodger thoughts' site in 2005, which gave me a sense of an online baseball community.  then in 2006, i was made aware of ben henry's baseball card blog, and after that found more and more card blogs to read. with all of the excitement going on surrounding the second half of the dodgers' 2008 season, i decided to add my voice to the blogs. in my second post, i showed off this card
it takes me back to the summer of 1978, a candy store in southern saskatchewan that sold cards, a transistor radio on the table at home, and a collection just beginning.


  1. Very interesting. I hope other bloggers end up doing this. It's cool to get insight on how each collector got to this point.

  2. Excellent post. I'm planning on doing one of this style on my blog as well -- I really like the stream-of-consciousness flow to it. Also this...

    "later that day, we meet up with my uncle, and the four of us go to a japanese restaurant. i order a hamburger."

    ...definitely sounds like something I would've done (and might still do).

  3. These posts are great. I enjoyed reading about your favorite collecting memories. Mine only go back to 1986, but I am seriously considering a similar post if I can get all my thoughts together.

  4. I probably couldn't pull off this kind of post, but I sure do enjoy reading everyone else's. Two things from this post jumped out at me, 1) I had no idea that card shops (or combo shops) were already around in 1977, and 2)You got to go to the first National! It would be interesting to hear what it was like in the beginning. I guess I lied, there were two other things of note, 3) Your dad sounds like he's a really great guy, I'm envious, and 4) I'm disappointed that we didn't get to see the picture of you holding up your cards!

    1. jon there is a photo of me holding a card on my first blog somewhere - a 1973 topps cey/schmidt rookie that my dad gave me for my birthday. i'll see if i can find some 81 traded photos.

  5. Awesome stuff. Especially the Hoak for Lavelle trade. I'll have my walk down memory lane up this afternoon.