Saturday, February 4, 2012
Just one wish
In terms of my baseball cards, I've been extremely lucky.
I've got a great collection and a family that encourages and supports it. I really couldn't ask for much more.
But if I could wish for one more thing, it would be a friend whom I could share my collection with. Right now, it's pretty much just me and my mom and dad. Not a lot of people know about my collection outside of my family.
No one's asked.
It wasn't always that way, though. Around my 4th and 5th grade years, me and a bunch of my friends at the daycare I went to started bringing our cards every day to trade and play around with.
It was great, especially considering we were there every afternoon during the summer weeks. Each day at daycare, we'd go to the local park district and go swimming. But we always had a lot of time to kill before that.
It gave us plenty of time to do some trading. And I know it sounds corny, but our cards also helped build friendships. There were some kids there that I probably would've never talked to had we not shared an affinity for baseball cards.
I remember one of my friends came into daycare one day with the Mark Prior card you see at the top of the post. By the end of the day, the card was mine as a result of a trade. It was one of the first big "scores" of my collection. (How long has it been since someone used the word "score" in the same sentence as Mark Prior?)
I don't collect Mark Prior, but this card will never leave my hands. It's hard to let go of any card with that kind of story attached to it.
I'll probably talk more in-depth about MLB Showdown at other points on this blog because it was a major part of my preteen and adolescent years. (I still play it fairly frequently.) But it deserves a small mention here.
A little while after we started bringing our baseball cards into daycare, I figured I'd try to get my friends into the MLB Showdown card game. My dad and I played it almost every day. So I brought my MLB Showdown cards instead of my regular cards one summer day.
For some reason, I vividly remember that first day I brought my MLB Showdown cards in. I was showing one of my friends how to play it, and a crowd slowly began to gather around the table we were at. By the time my friend and I had finished our first "test" game, there must've been fifteen kids huddled around that table.
MLB Showdown cards began to replace our actual baseball cards at daycare. A bunch of my friends got hooked on it and went out and bought packs to build their own MLB Showdown teams. Instead of trading, we'd just play MLB Showdown all day.
I miss those summer days.
Our daycare only went up to fifth grade, so I was pretty much on my own with my collection and my MLB Showdown cards after that.
I got one of my friends into baseball cards in seventh grade. I had just started collecting baseball cards again after a year-long plunge into hockey cards. It was funny because he was never really into baseball before he started collecting. But I convinced him to buy a couple discounted packs at Target once and he got hooked.
Some of my favorite pre-high school memories are just going to Target with my friend and buying some packs after school, then going back to my house and ripping them open.
Isn't it funny how simple it was to have fun before adolescence and girls started to really come into the picture?
My friend came over to my house one day and showed me some of his new acquisitions, one of which was the Jamey Carroll card you see above. I couldn't believe it. I had always liked Carroll but hadn't been able to get one of his cards yet.
After a little convincing, I got my friend to trade me the Carroll for a creased Michael Young jersey card I had. (Keep in mind that this was way before I knew about online trading.)
Sometimes I find myself regretting that trade. But then I just look at the Carroll card and remember how neat it was to have a friend that actually collected baseball cards.
I feel better after that.
As high school began, my friend began to lose interest in collecting and I pretty much lost touch with him altogether until senior year.
I met a lot of great friends in high school, but I never met another person who collected baseball cards like I did. It was hard enough meeting anyone who liked baseball in the first place.
Everyone in my class knew that I loved baseball and knew a lot about it (thanks to a rainy-day Trivial Pursuit game where I got all the baseball questions right). I was Nick, "The Baseball Guy". A few of my friends knew I collected cards, mainly the people that came over to my house at one point or another and saw the baseball shrine in my room.
But I usually got a reaction similar to this when I told anyone else that I collected baseball cards.
That's not to say that I'm ashamed to collect baseball cards. I treat it as something great that sets me apart from most people my age, not some dark secret. Most of my friends are nice enough to feign interest if I happen to bring the topic of baseball cards up, much like I feign interest when they talk about video games.
The picture that you see at the top of this section is me sporting the finished product of my all-time favorite school project (with my awesome Johnny Ramone t-shirt). They are some of my favorite "baseball cards", even though they're not really cards at all.
Senior year, our teacher asked us to do a project in psychology. We had to create baseball cards of a few famous psychologists, complete with a design, photo, and "stats" on the back.
Here's a closer look at the "cards".
I tried to make them look like '73 Topps cards, but with my artistic "abilities", they didn't come out that way. (I'm not sure why I added the colorful borders.)
The day they were due, we had to "trade" the cards with other classmates and try and get some our favorite psychologists. I traded Pavlov for Jung.
I got an A on the project.
A few of the kids in my class were enthusiastic about the project like I was. It was a great day to collect cards.
My teacher that year loved baseball (he even took Opening Day weekend off because he was going to Washington to see the Nationals' opening game), and we'd often talk about the goings-on in the baseball world. He was a big fan of Sigmund Freud, and I brought in the 2009 A&G Freud card to show him. He loved it.
That's all I ever asked for, to be able to talk about baseball cards with someone else at school. Even if it was just a Sigmund Freud baseball card.
Except for those couple blessed days in my psychology class, I rarely talked about baseball outside of my own home.
This past summer, one of my friends and I (a different friend from the one I mentioned before) drove up to a Dick's Sporting Goods to look for something he wanted. There's a little card shop next to it, so I asked if he wouldn't mind if we stopped in. He said no problem.
I bought a few 2001 and 2002 Topps Archives cards, including the Maris you see above. My friend is really into hockey and baseball, but never really delved into cards. The shop had some cheap overproduction era packs priced at fifty cents a piece, and my friend decided to buy a couple of the hockey and baseball ones. It was awesome seeing him rip open those packs with so much enthusiasm on the way home.
I offered to give my friend my Blackhawks cards from when I collected hockey. He really enjoyed them.
Maybe there's hope.
Don't get me wrong, I love hanging out with my friends, even though most of them don't really care about baseball, much less cards. (I actually just got back from playing basketball with them.)
But I just wish I had that one friend who I could share my collection with.
That's all I really want.