Sunday, June 10, 2012

Here, there, and everywhere

Tomorrow is a big day for me.

It's a day that's been long overdue. For the first time since I graduated two years ago, I'll be setting foot in my high school. Walking through the hallways of the old "stomping grounds".

A couple of my friends are graduating high school tomorrow evening, and they invited me and a few of my other buddies to come along.

High school was certainly an interesting time. I met a lot of great people, and yes, I did actually learn a few things. I'll never forget what the cafeteria looks like, and I'll never forget where my old locker was. (Second floor, a couple feet from the Social Studies room. And right next to a girl who always talked about hockey with me.)

But more than anything, the memories are what I've come to view as the best part of those four years.

Like that time on the first day of freshman year where I couldn't find where my first class was. Or that other time when those two kids started fighting right in the middle of lunch. Or that time Mr. Schau gave me an "A" for the basketball part of my gym class because I was the only kid to hit a half-court shot. (In front of the whole class, I might add.)

Or even that time some kids got caught on a field trip...well, let's just say they got caught using what Bill Lee sprinkled on his pancakes.

It's funny. My high school physically wasn't that big of a place. I could barely walk down a hallway with my friends without having to zig and zag to avoid hitting people.

Yet it holds so many memories. From one hallway to the next. From one room to the next.

They're everywhere.

It's the same with baseball cards.

A lot of the time, I can just look at a card and I'll instantly be taken back to when and where it first came into my possession.

Sometimes, it's not even a baseball-related memory.

For example, whenever I see this Ryan Freel rookie card, I think of Wisconsin Dells.

That's because I found it in a little card shop I stumbled upon during a family trip. I couldn't have been more than nine or ten years old at the time, yet I remember this card like it was yesterday.

Even in the "Waterpark Capital of the World", the highlight of the trip was still a simple baseball card shop.

I guess that's how I know that I'm a bit obsessed with this hobby.

It's the reason I some card shows stick out more than others.

I've looked through thousands upon thousands of dime cards over the years, yet I can still pinpoint a specific time and place to where I first bought some of them.

Vintage is the same story, perhaps even more so than dime cards.

While I love dime boxes a bit more than vintage, there have been far fewer vintage "scores" in my life. Thus, more of them stick out in my memory.

Like that time I pulled the trigger a '71 Thurman Munson from a discounted box, a card I'd wanted for years beforehand.

Even though I've only had my beat-up '65 Topps Sandy Koufax for about three months, I know it's a memory that will stick with me for a long, long time.

The shock and excitement of seeing an actual Koufax card (from my all-time favorite Topps design, no less) with a paltry three-dollar price tag on it will never leave me.

I know that for a fact.

Those aren't the only memories vintage can create.

As many of my readers already know, I'm on the younger side of the blogger fraternity. While sometimes I might wish otherwise, I wasn't around when 1975 Topps first hit the streets of every corner store around the country.

But any time I pull a '75 Topps card from my binder, it instantly takes me back to a place I never lived through. As crazy as it might sound, I feel like a kid who just pulled a Willie Stargell from a hard-earned pack of cards, glossing over the newest "find" on the curb of the nearest street.

I like to believe that one of those kids owned this card at some point.

Every time I look through my binders, I have to stop and take out any '60s or '70s cards I have. I have to stop, examine the front and back, and just look at it for a few seconds. It takes me hours to look through some of them.

I'll never get enough of that feeling, even if it's one that never actually happened.

Sadly, I never met anyone else who collected baseball cards in high school. I rarely, if ever, talked about them.

Yet those little pieces of cardboard are so similar to what I experienced in those four years, even if they seem so different.

Baseball cards really do mimic life sometimes.

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