Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Cardboard Tales of Woe: Vol. 1

Somewhere between the ages of 12 and 14 - I really don't recall - a friend of my father's showed up at the house unexpectedly to drop off a gift to me. I remember my dad looking on with a look of trepedation, the kind of look usually reserved for me when I told him I was going to ride my bike more than a mile from the house. I don't really think he cared much about the gift I was going to receive, but I think he figured I would screw it up just the same.

His friend brought me a paper bag full of 1979 Topps cards. The cards certainly weren't pack fresh, but they weren't well-handled, either. The fact that they were transported in a paper bag certainly wasn't doing them any favors, but the cards were in pretty reasonable shape overall. There were the usual gum stains, a few creases here and there and some random what-I-hoped-was-candy stains. Lots of cards had centering issues, but overall, they weren't far off from what you'd expect from a relatively untouched lot of cards from that year. Most of the stars were there, including a rookie with funky sideburns named Osborne Earl Smith.

To this day, I swear there were more than one Ozzie cards in the bag. I sorted them, organized them in binders, and went about my way with them, trying to take care of them as best as I knew how at that young age. I know I traded a lot of the stars off, but for the most part I kept at least one copy of every card. That is, of course, except for Ozzie Smith. I feel like there were some shenanigans going on as I recall trading one of the Ozzie cards, but there's no way I would trade BOTH of them, right? I didn't exactly trust everyone that I was around with my cards in our neighborhood, and I guess that's reason enough to try to put the blame elsewhere. It could have been me, though. Ozzie was my favorite player and yet the idea to collect his cards above all else had yet to solidify in my brain. I was more easily impressed with shiny and new in the budding era of the brand new shiny rookie card while these late '70s cards that I could barely relate to were kind of ugly and uninspiring. But Ozzie... man. What happened? I believe at some point I made a deal for a Ken Griffey 1989 Bowman card, valued at around $5 at the time.

It wasn't until recently that I finally owned another Ozzie rookie. It only took a year or two before the price of virtually every card in the set multiplied several times over, and Ozzie's cards skipped just out of reach of my price range. I've traded off the bulk of this lot over time, which is fine by me. I have my girlfriend Erin to thank for bringing me my first Ozzie Smith keeper rookie card. It's not a perfect card and until I removed it from the case, I actually feared that it was trimmed. I don't believe it is, however. It's just missing pretty much the entire lower border and it's also ever so slightly skewed at an angle. Still, it's the one I'll cherish the most although I will always be on the lookout for more. Something about this sad tale will make me want as many copies as I can manage, I'm sure.

Also thanks to Erin, I was able to add some more Ozzies to my collection. Here's a silver signature parallel of the 1994 Collector's Choice variety. These relatively unloved cards always seem to have great photography.

This shiny little devil is a 1980 Topps card masquerading as a 2001 Topps Archives Reserve in a chrome refractor style. Or is that vice versa? I'm not sure. I like it, though. The original version proved to be a lot more attainable to me than his rookie.

Should I get my act together and finally put my Ozzie Smith "haves" list online? It would make sense, wouldn't it?

1 comment:

night owl said...

Ah, you finally told the story!

As you know, I glued my extra Ozzie Smith rookie card to a binder and then sealed it in acetate.

I knew kids that I didn't trust around my collection, too. I always wonder what those kids grew up to become: is there a typical future job for people who behaved like that as kids?