Sunday, March 2, 2008

A Britt Burns Card Adventure

In 1985, I had my first unobtainable card experience. No matter how many packs of 1985 Topps I bought, I could not get Britt Burns. I was all for completing sets back then, but I wanted my White Sox cards completed first. I could get my hands on everything else later. The White Sox came first.

It must have been my luck of the draw. I never got certain cards. Most of them were White Sox players. I never got the Harold Baines draft pick card. I never got many of the Father & Son cards. Although, I had four Mark McGwire's. The luck was there, just not the luck I wanted.

I had absolutely no clue as to what book value was in those days. I'd never even heard of it. I just knew what I had to budget from my allowance each week to get what I wanted. This allowed for some candy, some comic books and some packs of cards.

I had two friends that I would trade with at that time. Keith and Mark. Keith had a lot of older Fleer and Mark had a lot of newer Topps. By older, I mean 1981 and 1982. Every couple of weeks, I would rubber band my cards together and stick them in my bag and make the rounds.

I would trade Fleer cards with Keith. He was a Cubs fan, so I pawned off all my Cubs and he gave me all his White Sox in return. Then we would get to trading other cards. He was more of a National League guy and I was more of an American League guy. Although, we still liked all the teams.

I remember trading an Ozzie Smith to Keith for some American League shortstop. More than likely, it was a veteran who had a long career. I loved looking at the stats and seeing teams that no longer existed and dates that seemed like a million years ago.

Keith and I would spend all afternoon watching a Cubs game on WGN and trading cards. We had to keep the door open, but also keep his little brother out of the room. It was some weird rule his parents had. The door had to be open so they could hear what was going on, but his brother couldn't associate with his friends. But like little brothers will do, he always tried to find an excuse to come in the room.

The tougher trade was Mark. He could not be tempted with any trade unless he was looking to get rid of the card. It had to be a double and it had to be a card he didn't want a double of. We ended up making very few trades. I did fool him once though. I signed my 1985 Fleer Eric Davis and told Mark that it was Eric's autograph. He bought it hook, line and sinker. I finally got a common White Sox card for that. I know it was wrong, but I was a kid. Cut me some slack.

Mostly, Mark and I would look at each other's collections. That was a fine time for me. I got to see cards that I wasn't able to get in the packs I was getting and I'm sure he got some enjoyment out of it. He did keep inviting me back.

One day I saw the 1985 Topps card of Britt Burns in his collection. Mark was actually in a rare trading mood that day. I thought I would strike while the iron was hot. I tried my best to get Mark to trade that card, but it was no use. I offered Cal Ripken Jr. No deal. I offered Kirby Puckett. Not a chance. I pulled out my ace. Nolan Ryan. Not on your life. As a joke, I offered Don Aase. He just rolled his eyes at me. He just wasn't biting on any of the 1985 Topps I was offering.

I went home empty handed that day. I decided that I didn't want to trade if I couldn't get that double of Britt Burns that he had. That was the last time I ever attempted to trade with Mark. Trading with Keith trailed off shortly after that too. In fact, I wasn't collecting at all a few years later. There was no one to trade with and I had other interests I wanted to pursue.

I finally did get that 1985 Topps Britt Burns card. 23 years later. I didn't get it from a trade. I had pretty much forgotten about that card after that amount of time had passed. I got it from a contest. It was actually a bonus throw in. No one knew of the history of that card except for me. I finally got the card in the most unlikely of ways. It's almost comical.

1 comment:

capewood said...

Good story. Back in those days I mostly bought cards in wax packs or rack packs. And I mainly bought Topps. I had the money to spend (good paying job and all that) so I bought a lot of cards trying to complete sets. I remember noticing that some cards just didn't seem to exist. I'd get doubles, triples, quadruples of some cards and others I never saw. I never did figure that out. Maybe Topps had some sort of regional distribution thing going on.

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