The Best: The First

When I was 7 my grandfather died.  He lived with us at the time, but I was not really close to him.  He was old school, not a hands on grandparent like you see today, but this was the first time anyone I knew died.  My dad is from New York, as was my grandfather.  The funeral services were going to be held there so he could be buried with my grandmother.  My family, not having a lot of money at the time, couldn’t afford for all of use to travel out for the services so my dad went alone.  He was gone for a few days, I remember, and when he returned he brought back some gifts for for me and my sister.  I don’t recall what he brough my sister, but my dad brought me back a box of 1991 Topps Baseball.  Those were the first cards I ever opened.  That month in 1991 saw me lose my first family member but also saw me gain a hobby.

At the time that I got those cards I had no interest in sports.  I had gone to some minor league baseball games but was more interested in the snacks than the game.  I had no concept of football or basketball at the time.  GI Joe, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Nintendo were the extent of my personal interests.  My family wasn’t really big sports fans either.  My grandfather, before he passed, was a Mets fan so I remember seeing Mets stuff around and believed at the time that they were my favorite team.  My dad was a Yankees fan, but was not as passionate at that time as he was as kid or as he is again (I can’t imagine anyone more nervous about the Yanks current slump than him).  Sports cards actually fostered my interests in sports.  At the time, however, I was only looking for Mets cards, specifically Darryl Strawberry because he was the only Met I knew by name.  The only other player I knew was Nolan Ryan.  From ages 7 – 9 these were my favorite players.  I’m now a Yankees fan.  As my interest in baseall grew, it became something that me and my dad bonded over, so I began to adopt his favorite team as my own, I was a full-fledged Yankees fan in time to witness the whole Derek Jeter era.  I also became a Yankees fan in time to wonder why people always get so nervous around playoff time when  their teams were in the hunt, as far as a I knew you’d win most of the time.

So I opened the box.  I methodically pored over each card.  I set aside the Mets cards and the Nolan Ryan cards.  The rest were stacked up neatly.  My dad gave me the run down about not bending them or ruining the corners before I opened the cards, so I was set from a young age on card handling skills.  I loved all the pictures and thought it was pretty cool to learn about all the players on the backs.  I didn’t have much of reference point regarding the design at the time, but looking at them now I love them.  I’m not sure if that is just because I have fond memories of my experience opening them, but I really do love the multicolor borders and the large pictures (things that I still love in card design).  The action shots from this set were really well done.  The set is expansive (792 cards) and I know I never completed it.  But I did end up with some cards that I love.   I’m featuring the Chipper Jones rookie card.  At the time I didn’t know what a “#1 Draft Pick was” nor did I know who this “Chipper” fellow was, but it stands as the best card from the set.  It is also a very cool card in hindsight: an 18 year old future hall of famer in his high school uniform.  Chipper is slated to retire this year and he has always been one of my favority non-Yankees.  He’s had the kind of solid career that any fan wishes their cornerstone player would have and he’s done it all for one team.  Chipper, Pack A Week salutes you.

.304/.401/.531 468 HR & more walks than strikeouts. Simply amazing.

Most of the cards I got from that box were recently sold with about 40000 other commons that were taking up too much space.  I did save the ones I loved like Bernie Williams, Don Mattingly, Cal Ripken Jr., Ken Griffey Jr., and Nolan Ryan.  I also saved my Darryl Strawberry card, but I gave it to my wife because the only baseball player she knew growing up was also Darryl Strawberry.

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