Saturday, August 20, 2011

10 hours behind the wheel of a 17' u-haul , can we keep the hobby going?

Confused? Here's the rest of the story.

Hopefully the title got someone's attention! The u-haul was loaded with my son's, and new daughter-in-law's, worldly possession's and heading to Illinois where they now reside. My wife and other son, Josh, were following in a mini van (also fully loaded). Oh, they also had Liz's sheltie, Colors. This explains my absence of posts lately. We had been working on this move for about a month.

And this has what to do with the hobby? Well, part of the load on the the truck was much of Andy's sports card collection. Many, many boxes full. Liz couldn't believe it when she saw how many there were. These cards represent a lot of memories over the last twenty years. As do Josh's cards and my collection. The three of us have had a lot of fun together searching card shows and flea markets for that elusive insert or cards to finish a set.

A while back, I had made a random comment, on one of the blogs, about our years of collecting together and AJ Mazza over at The Lost Collector saw it. Later on this year he will become a first time Dad and wondered how we got into collecting and if I had any advice for him. Well, giving advice is a little out of the realm of my PMOS (from my Army days - Primary Military Occupational Specialty). But here is our story !

It was a warm spring afternoon. The birds were chirping and tree branches rustled in the cool breeze. In 1960, a nine year old boy had baseball on his mind. That's what most young boys thought about back then. Baseball season coming up means the corner store should have new baseball cards soon. But at a nickel a pack I could only afford so many. Oh, I wanted that Mickey Mantle card so bad ! I also wanted cards of my favorite team, the Cleveland Indians. If I'm lucky, they might even be on Wide World of Sports this week. If only they would show every game on on tv. Like that will ever happen. My cards are all kept in an old shoe box, sorted by team and held together by rubber bands. Sometimes I sort them by number or player position. I also have All-Star games by laying out the cards by position in a playing field and compare batter and pitcher stats to determine the play of the game. Or I get out my phonograph and put on my Mel Allen's Baseball Game record, and he calls the plays for me !

That is a true story and was probably pretty much a common scenario for the late '50's and early '60's when I grew up. But 1960 was also a year that redirected my future. We went to Florida that summer to visit my aunt and uncle. They had a son the same age as me and lived in Holly Hill, a suburb of Daytona Beach. You could hear the race cars from their house. We even went and actually stood on the track ! That memory got me hooked on cars later on in my teens. My bicycle was the closest thing to a car at that age and who needed baseball cards anyway ! I found out I could make the bike sound like a motorcycle. Another typical story of the time. I still loved baseball, but as I approached 14-15 and the Beach Boys and Jan and Dean came out with the hot rod songs I was eating, sleeping and loving cars and speed more than ever. Then came girls.

We all know what that leads to ! Love, marriage and little collectors. I never tried to push our sons toward or away from anything in particular. We just let them discover things and take interest in what they wanted. To a point. I mean, we tried to teach them right from wrong, to stay away from smoking and drugs and things of that nature. I've worked on cars all my life but didn't try to get them interested. If they showed interest and wanted to learn auto mechanics I would have helped.

My interest in baseball and the Indians was always there, but I never picked up on card collecting again. As near as we all can remember, it happened something like this :

When they were old enough, we did start the boys on t-ball. Josh,being three years older started first. One day in second grade Josh saw some baseball cards for sale during the annual book fair.He wasn't sure if we would let him him get them or not, although I don't know why. It was a book fair, I guess he thought we would want him to buy a book! Needless to say, he got the cards. Shortly after that we were visiting my aunt and uncle in Tennessee. My wife and I had to go to the store to pick up a couple things and left the boys with them since we were staying at their house anyway. We wanted to take something back to them and debated on hot wheels or some baseball cards we saw. Since Andy didn't have any baseball cards yet, we opted for them. Today, my wife says " If I had only known, I would have gotten the hot wheels !".

A few cards leads to a few more and then we discovered that Rachel's (my wife) best friend's husband collected baseball cards. He subscribed to Beckett and gave the boys his old ones. Discovering the multitude of cards that were available just added fuel to the fire and the three of us were hooked for good. Of course, when they looked through the Beckett, they realized that some cards could be worth a lot of money, but we always tried to teach them that it was a hobby meant for fun and money was not the most important aspect. Then came card shows, yard sales and flea markets. We never tried to sell at a real card show but we did set up at flea markets and yard sales at our house.

One of the high points of our collecting careers was meeting Jim Thome. I was working for a Chrysler dealer in Shelby, Oh. The owner was from the Cleveland area and and had some contacts there. Apparently Mr. Thome was looking for a Jeep. The last I knew of, he was an outdoors man and enjoyed hunting and fishing. The Jeep would be great for him. Long story short, Jim ended up coming to our dealership to purchase a new Jeep Cherokee. This was around 1993. The boys would have been about 5 and 8 years old. When Jim came to pick up his Jeep, he signed baseball cards for us.

Andy was always a little more aggressive (in a good way) than Josh and I when it came to selling. He joined several online trading sites and did very well. Then he started a blog. I read his work and some of the others blogs and decided it sounded like fun.

So twenty years later here we are ! Andy has slowed down a little on collecting due to college and his resulting job as sports editor/writer/photographer for the Leader -Union in Vandalia, Ill. Plus he has a new home and a beautiful wife to think about. He's at that stage of life that most of us went through and may come back to full time collecting later in life. Who knows !

Josh has acquired other interests as well but still maintains a current collection. He and I are planning a yard sale here in a couple weeks to sell cards and other items. We also frequent the surrounding card shows together and make a few trips to Progressive Field to watch the Tribe play.

Over the years we have had a lot of fun collecting cards together. I always tried to surprise them at Christmas. I would buy cards all year long and save them until the holidays. One year I had about fifty packs of all different kinds of baseball cards for each them. I placed them end to end and taped them together in one very long strip. After wrapping the strip with Christmas paper, it would bend slightly between the packs, so I placed them around the tree like garland. At first the boys didn't realize that it was part of their presents until they found very few card under the tree ! That was fun.

So I guess, if I have any advice for anyone concerning collecting cards and their children, I would say present it to them, but don't force it. If our boys hadn't shown interest in continuing to collect cards I definitely would not have pushed them. I wouldn't be writing this now and our house would have a lot more space ! But the times we spent together were well worth it to me and hopefully to them as well.


  1. Great post! I enjoyed the old stories :)!

  2. Jack, thanks for your advice! It's helpful and I certainly envy your experiences collecting with your sons. I hope I'm equally as fortunate.