We didn’t really know what we were doing when we were kids growing up out on Long Island..
Those people who were cleaning that attic out, in that house in South Carolina, didn’t know what they were doing either.
All we knew was that we were baseball fans. There were some games on TV back in the day, the Yankees, the Dodgers, the Giants, then the Yankees and the Mets, as I grew up on Eastern Long Island. We also had the ‘Game of the Week’ on network TV.
We read the newspaper, we read the box scores, I was given a subscription to the Sporting News, and I collected baseball cards for a group of years. I’m not sure if everyone was as fanatical a fan as I was, but having grown up in a baseball family, you know what my roots were.
Dad pitched in the Philadelphia A’s minor league system. Uncle was a beat writer covering the Dodgers for the Brooklyn Eagle. They loved the game, so it was handed off to me too.
I collected cards at a very young age, maybe 8. The Topps Company put out cards, 5-to a pack,plus a thin slab of bubblegum too. I liked the cards, the artwork, the bio info on the background, the colors, and the smell of Bazooka.gum . A nickel a pack, and I’d buy 5-packs each week, using my paper route money to fund my hobby. And being the entrepreneur in waiting, I’d sell the slabs of bubble gum to the kid next door for a nickel.
But we really didn’t know what we were doing back in the day. We’d play games in the school yard, flipping cards, if they both game up picture side up, you won the other guys card. If they didn’t he got yours. We had contests who could throw the cardboard backed cards the farthest, much like a game of frisbee, before anyone developed frisbee.
We swapped them, always playing the general manager. Would you trade me your Whitey Ford card for my Cal McLish card? How many cards do I give up for your Ted Williams card, since you have five of them? Of course there was no dollar value attached to the cards, because, we didn’t know what we were doing.
We attached the baseball cards to the spokes of our bikes, and rode around, as if it were making a motorcycle sound.
We ran afoul of the law too, not me, but others in my Catholic school elementary class. Two kids sitting in the back of the room, during Catechism, swapping cards, till Sister Jean found out. Oh the discipline was going to be harsh. No not with the paddle, not with a ruler nor a pointer.
Up to the front of the room, sit in those chairs.l Here is the waste basket. Bring those baseball cards up. Rip them up into four pieces. The horror of seeing a Brooks Robinson rookie card, or the Duke Snider card go into the waste basket. They each had 200-cards when they came to school that day. They left without them, and with a waste basket full of Mantle, Mays, Newcombe, and Norm Zauchin, Ellis Kinder and Bill Consolo too.
Like all things, as you grow up you lose interest in one thing, gain interest in some other hobby. The constant refrain I always hear, ‘Mom threw out my cards when I went away to college’. Happened to lots of my friends, not to me though. My collection of cards, maybe 2,000, is in a box, in the family closet. They range from cards I traded for in the 1940s to the early 60s.
And we now know, thanks to the memorabilia dealers, the cards of superstars have great dollar values.
And now the story out of South Carolina, a family cleaning out the attic of their late great-grandfather, found a paper bag in a dresser, that contained 8-vintage, mint-condition baseball cards. 7-Ty Cobb cards from 1909 and a 1905 Honus Wagner card. The value on them, over 1-million dollars in the collectors industry.
Where are your cards? Do you still have them, do you still wish you had them? What happened to them?.
Lucky for those kids, they didn’t get caught in class with the Cobb cards, or use the Wagner card to make a cool sound on their bikes, or lose them all, flipping them with a neighbor, or tearing them up in front of a nun.
Big memories when I think of my baseball cards. Big money possibly too, unless you have a pile of Lou Berberet, Joe Ginsberg, Valmy Thomas cards from the 50s and 60s.
Collecting baseball cards, finding stuff in the closet, the garage, the attic. Still part of the historical lure of baseball, even in a house in South Carolina, or for a kid from Long Island.