Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Two Favorites: One Lost, One Found

I will showcase two different cards on this post. One was the pride of the collection of my youth, which is now lost, hopefully still somewhere in the house. The other is currently the oldest card in my collection.

Let’s focus our attention on the card of yesterday. My missing card. My holy grail, if you will. If I ever find the card in question (not just one similar), it will be a strong connection to my childhood. A part of my beginnings as a card collector.

The card in question is a 1983 Topps card of Alfredo Griffin. It is just a common card. There are thousands upon thousands just like it in the world. Two things make this card unique to me. They are principles that have guided me through not only my collecting, but through life itself.

The first unique aspect has many different facets. This card came from the first pack I had ever opened. It could have been any pack from 1983, but it was this pack. The Topps pack also was a gift from my dad.

He had gone to the local drug store to pick up a gallon of milk and a carton of Chesterfield Kings unfiltered. There were probably one or two more items, but those were the two main items that he picked up from that store. Somewhere along the way, he picked up that first pack for me.

Until then, I had no idea that baseball cards even existed. The pack was average. I had heard of some players. Others I hadn’t. About two thirds into the pack, something made my eyes light up instantly! It was the Alfredo Griffin card! There was something about that photo that made me want to keep buying packs.

I knew that the Alfredo Griffin card was the one that started it all. I had priced each card on the back with black crayon. Alfredo’s card ranked the highest, with $1.00. I also had the habit of going to White Sox games in the eighties and nineties just to see Alfredo Griffin play on the opposite team. Yet, I have no interest in collecting Griffin, except for that 1983 card.

This was the second aspect of that card. It was the card that started a rabid love of all things cardboard and baseball related. It didn’t matter what it was. If it incorporated baseball and cardboard, I had to have it!

That kind of devotion to everything can lead to burnout. That is one thing that kept happening to me. Like a bad habit that you can’t kick, I kept coming back. I would stop and start. I thought I had it finally licked, until I picked up a pack in 2007. I couldn’t stop. I wanted to see everything that I had missed.

It was a successful disaster waiting to happen. After a few hobby boxes, I had to slow down and take a good, hard look at what I was doing. What was I collecting? I didn’t want five copies of a Manny Acta 2007 Topps card. What was I doing? This is not what I wanted to collect.

Then it struck me. I should focus on what I actually like. What will I look at years from now. It won’t be the Manny Acta card. It would be cards of my favorite team and a few of my favorite players. So, that’s what I ultimately decided to do.

Once those parameters were in place, my collecting has been laser focused, as one blogger put it. Since streamlining my collecting habits, I have been able to acquire cards that I never thought were possible.

There are many highlights, but one card that I am proudest of would be a 1933 World Wide Gum card of Ralph Kress. The card is in great condition. I found it on eBay for around $10. I’m not sure if it was slightly under or slightly over, so we’ll just leave it at around $10.

I was surprised to purchase a card older than my parents for around $10. Especially one of my favorite team, in that type of condition.

I like to show off that card when people are interested in looking at my collection. It is a design that most people are familiar with, thanks to the Babe Ruth card. The fact that it comes from the Canadian version of Goudey makes it special, in my book.

I think of all the history and all the places that card traveled through to get to me, in the United States. I’ll never know any of it. I can dream though. That’s what collecting should be all about. Opening your imagination to see all possibilities. Well that and pictures of ballplayers on cardboard.


Andy said...

I got the cards last week. Thank you very much.

night owl said...

I never tire of your Alfredo Griffin story. It's a great one. The Ralph Kress card is great, too.

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