I play softball with a guy. He's about 10 years older than me. After a game last summer, we were enjoying a cold one, and a bit of grub at JB's Pizza. I was telling him about my baseball card collecting. Telling him about my blog. Just shooting the shit a bit. This guy tells me he has some old cards from his youth. "I have some cards from the 50's and 60's. There's some Mantles, Clementes, Kalines, guys like that." Now, usually when I hear someone bragging about their cards, I kind of think to myself, "yeah right, whatever". I gave him my pat answer, "cool, I'd like to see 'em sometime." Then he gives me some song-and-dance about the collection is stuck in the basement of a house that his ex is in, and there is no way he can get to it. "Riiight", I thought to myself. Over the next few months, I would bring it up to him. "Hey Man, you get those cards yet?" "No, I forgot." No, I was busy." It was no big deal, but I was beginning to think that it was one of those stories.
A couple of weeks ago, I send him an e-mail. "How about those cards?"
He replies, "Lets go have a brew and some chow after hoops Tuesday, and I will bring a shoebox full."
We hoop it up for an hour and a half, and during that time there is no mention of cards. No mention of brew.
As we're packing up after the game, he says, "meet me at Uccello's. I brought the cards."
"Awesome!" I thought to myself.
We settle in at a table in the sports bar. We order up a couple of beers. A bright orange Nike shoebox sits in the middle of the table. I open it up, grab a small pile of cards, and start sifting.
Mantle, Maris, Clemente, Drysdale, Williams, Kaline, Koufax, Musial, Banks, Mays, Berra, Robinson... I couldn't believe my eyes. I was looking at literary thousands of dollars worth of cards. I was holding in my hands cards that are usually reserved for the glass display case at the card shop. It was a who's who of hall-of-famers. Carew rookie, yep. 61 Maris, yep, 1954 Bowman Andy Pafko, yep, 64 Rose, mhm.
As we drank, and eventually ate, I imparted as much of my ballcard knowledge as I could. Book value, protecting cards, short prints, grading, condition, all of it. He told me all about how he and a couple of his childhood buddies used to go around to the neighbors and trade for cards. He didn't trade cards for cards, he traded anything else for cards.
We were winding down, and he says to me, "why don't you take those home, write about them, and bring them to hoops next week."
"Hell yeah!" I was hoping to find a way to get a few of those vintage beauties onto my scanner.
Here they are.
1955 Topps #50
1968 Topps #280
There were old football cards, basketball cards, oddball stuff. All kinds of cool. There were actual Fleer cards from the 50's, I think the 50's, but I'm not sure. It was so fun sifting through them.
I like a nice low serial numbered chrome refractor. Modern cards don't grab me like old cardboard does. Creased, soft cornered, mis-cut, pin holed cardboard. Cards with a story.