baseball card - willie and ron.JPGThey came from companies like Topps. Fleer. Donruss. Even Post Cereal boxes. Bowman, too.

We bought them at Woolworth’s. The Newsette was good, and my great aunt Margaret ran the Maco News, so I had a good inside line there. (In fact, she gave me a bunch of cards from the store when I broke my arm. I remember it as fifty 1964 TOPPs cards – what a great gift for an 11-year-old with a broken arm.) Any extra coinage went to baseball cards no questions asked.

Topps was the only brand available when we were kids. Every year found a new style. The waxy paper wrappers were different colors – bright yellows, reds or greens. The cards themselves were made of card stock, color pictures of every player in the major leagues, and then other cards like league leaders in different categories, team cards, and checklists.

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My friends and I kept them in cardboard boxes or grocery bags. We’d put them in our bike spokes for cool noises. We traded them or used them to play our own home-made baseball games, especially on rainy days. Ah, these games, all of them made up from our own inventive minds.

There were those who were just baseball card guys. Like me, they didn’t have a good number of cards, but they loved them all the same. Then there were those who had a Fort Knox worth of cards, mostly because an older brother had started a collection and handed it down to the younger brother, creating a dynasty of a card collection. These were the guys who really knew how to trade and how to amass everything out there.

Even as an adult, I love to buy a pack every year just to see what they look like. In the 1980s, the baseball card collectible world exploded, so I got into buying cards again, and of course, that market collapsed so I now have a closet shelf full of boxes that are full of card stock that is worth virtually nothing any more. I have a few 3 ring binders full of special cards – the entire 1978 Topps set, my favorite cards that I have, and a few other complete sets. I also have a set of old timers (the Babe Ruths of the day) put out by Conlan as a memorial set in honor of my dad. They are the players of HIS day.

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So even though the economic value has been killed, I still have a good many cards that I enjoy. I don’t know what will happen to them in the future, but for now, they are mine.

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