Friday, March 19, 2010

Rectangular Solace

My love for cards has never been limited to baseball and sports. My earliest memory involves Beatles cards, when I was, what two years old. I find that hard to believe, but it's true. Unless they were still available in packs for a couple of years after 1964. I don't know.

I bought cards, or had them bought for me would be more accurate, and they were always tossed out with my permission. It wasn't until early 1972 when I began buying older baseball cards after noticing dealer ads at the back of The Sporting News. I figured, if I was buying old cards there wasn't a lot of sense in throwing out the new ones.

In the 1970's I attended the two card shows each year in Manhattan. The dealers were into the hobby for its own sake. As a teen, it was heady scene to be surrounded by vintage memorabilia and actually purchase some. I'd save my birthday money and Hanukkah money and hit those shows with $100. I got every Koufax card, a smattering of Mays and Mantle (neither my big favorites), and some great sets - the 1959 Fleer Ted Williams, the 1969-70 Topps Basketball Rulers, and so on.

During college I put my yearly collecting on hold, a bit ashamed of the hobby, but, once I graduated I caught up on the sets I'd missed form 1981-84. And I started to go back to shows. I had a huge amount of 1967 Topps cards and vowed to finish the set. I'll never forget going with K. to a show and completing the task, save one card.

"I can't believe they didn't have that Red Sox team card," I said to K.

"No, he said he had it in another box." I hadn't heard that, she had. So we went back and got it. Save by K.

There's a lot of card related tales that mean much to me and very little to you. Sometimes my interest in the hobby wanes, sometimes it roars back. After losing the Mayoral election, I find myself passionately thumbing through the 2009 Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards, acquiring courtesy of T.W. who found cheap copies near his Clinton home.

I've been scanning Ebay for cards, a Roger Staubach autograph here, some 2000-01 short print Heritage Basketball there. It's nice to turn to an old friend, my oldest really, for a little mindless cardboard joy.

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