By Brett Fields aka brettyboy

On a chilly Christmas Eve in the mid ‘90s I was nestled in front of the Christmas tree with my family. One person in the family is always chosen to wear the Santa hat and pass out the gifts to everyone else. That year my brother was Santa. He was a small seven year old compared to others his age and the Santa hat drooped over his eyes. He had to push it up every few presents so that he could see. After what seemed like forever he grabbed a package with my name on it. “Brett!” he said as he handed the gift to me. I stood up and grabbed the gift from him hurrying back to my spot and sitting Indian style on the carpet methodically opening the wrapping paper so it would take less time. I was a very fidgety boy at age ten and I knew this was probably going to be cards because I loved collecting and my family knew me very well! It was a gift from my Aunt Vick and my Uncle Jim. I ripped that wrapping paper apart like it was a piñata full of candy. There was not one specific sport in this box. There was basketball, baseball, football, hockey, etc. I tore into the packs of cards getting super excited and yelling out names of players I collected. I then came across a card that is still in my possession today and will be with me until the day I pass on. It was an old Fleer card signed by Reds first baseman Hal Morris.

My eyes got wide and my face lit up just like any child would when receiving a card signed by a professional athlete. This was the very first autographed card I ever received. I was so excited and my Aunt and Uncle reveled in light of the enjoyment it was bringing me.

Not too many months after they had given me this card, which was from my Uncle’s personal collection, he contracted cancer and began to get very ill. He started going through chemotherapy and surgeries which led to the amputation of his arm. We thought everything was better and he was healthy for a while but the cancer came back and had spread through his lungs and up into his brain. At that point the doctors said there was nothing more they could do for him. Very shortly after my uncle sadly passed away.

At one point during my collecting years I lost interest in the hobby. I took my entire collection, which consisted of several big name athlete autos, game used, numbered and base cards and traded them away for a guitar and amplifier. This Hal Morris card was in my box full of cards I was going to trade but upon looking and seeing that card in there I promptly removed it as I vowed it would never be traded or sold. This card was the lone card in my collection until about a year ago when I decided to build my collection back up. I now have big name athletes autos, game used, numbered, rookies, and base cards but the Hal Morris autographed card is still the centerpiece of my collection. Every time I look at this card I don’t see the Hal Morris I think of the memories I have of a great man in my Uncle Jim.