By Richard Perkins aka papaperk

My son was four years old, my daughter was 6, when we attended our first baseball game as a dad out with his kids. Team USA was playing Canada in Louisville KY. We had a blast. Team USA won and I would like to think it was all because of our chants of “We want a pitcher, not a belly itcher”, “Hey batter, batter, batter, sswwiinngg!” and “Hey Ump, clean your glasses”!

After the game fans swarmed the wall looking for a chance to get an autograph from the next big phenom. My kids and I went down by the third base line near the backstop and we watched arm after arm, loaded with cards, balls, and sharpies begging for someone to sign something, anything! We didn’t have any item for the players to sign so we just watched the ball players making their way past the out stretched hands. I will never forget what happened next.

Charles Johnson, the catcher, came over to us and said to my son: “What’s up little dude?” He didn’t know what to say except “We won and I saw fireworks!” Charles smiled and asked if we had anything we would like for him to sign. All we had were the ticket stubs and no, we didn’t have a pen. Without batting an eye he reached over next to us and grabbed a pen from some anonymous hand and signed my son’s ticket stub and then my daughter’s. Then he handed the pen over to Craig Wilson so he could sign them also. Wilson said some kind words about how cute the kids were and he hoped we had a good time. We sure did!

The next day, I went to a local card shop and bought cards with both players in their Team USA uniforms and placed the stubs and cards in protective plastic holders. That started my collecting adventures with my son.

I had collected baseball cards in the late 60s and early 70s when I was a kid but at that time, I was really only interested in the gum and how many cards I could clothes pin to my bike frame so that the cards would make a cool noise as I rode around the neighborhood. Yes, players like Joe Morgan and Tom Seaver had a short life expectancy when it was time to ride like the wind.

Collecting with my son was different. I knew that one day any cards we collected would be his along with the memories that came with them. His first big “special” card was a Michael Jordan insert from ’91 Upper Deck baseball (still have the complete set and card). It was nice to spend time with him busting packs, arranging sets and just getting excited about getting any cool rookie card. Plus as a father I learned that it helped him learn his numbers. Doesn’t hurt to have a hobby that can be, if only a little, educational.

Years would pass and our collection grew, stashed away in his closet, on the floor, in the bathroom, under his dresser. We had fun. After he discovered girls our collecting slowed but we still managed to find some time for it. A pack here and there. Still getting excited at pulling that special rookie we needed or common card to finish off a set.

This past Christmas I gave away almost every sports card, autographed baseball, Pokemon card, except for a few, to great nephews and kids of friends and co-workers. Still have the ticket stub autos, Michael Jordan insert, and a couple of sets we put together. Wanted to give the rest a new purpose and a new home.

My son’s obituary hangs just above the computer so that every time I turn it on and log in it helps me to keep my perspective. He was killed by a drunk driver on the night of his 17th birthday. I quit collecting because it just wasn’t important to me and I didn’t have my “collecting buddy” to enjoy it with. Hopefully his cards will bring a smile to someone who would look at them, read them, trade them, have fun with them.

“Perspective” was a word I saw in one of the first posts I read after joining SCF. Hit me like a ton of bricks. Changed my perspective. Got bitten by the collecting bug again a couple of months back but decided to just do it for fun.

Maybe one day my daughter will bless us with a grandchild and I can give them the new cards I have. Until then I am going to continue to give cards to kids, be it for good grades or just a smile. Perspective! I still get excited about pulling a simple old fashioned rookie card. Not every pack is going to have a gold dusted, diamond filled autograph numbered 1 of 1 and it won’t be delivered on a satin pillow resting on the butt of a unicorn. We are going to get a lot of “useless” cards but, give a kid a useless card and that card finds a new purpose.

My sons death taught me to enjoy the simple things in life. I miss the day when we would sit in the family room, cards all over the floor, furniture, the dog. But if I can still get a little rush out of finding a good card then it takes me back and makes me remember my son, Aaron, our first baseball game, our first special card, his excitement and laugh. That’s why I collect now. To remember and to keep my perspective.

Thank you for allowing me to write about my hobby, and most importantly my son. I think he’s proud of his old man and the cards “we” now have. I’ve had interactions with some very nice people here on the forum. Each trade and post lets me have him back if only for a while and for that I thank you!

The last words I said to my son were “Never get too big to hug your old man. I love you”. I encourage all of you to hug those important to you, tell them you love them, and keep perspective in mind. One day our collections might be gone but the memories we make with others are much more valuable….priceless.

Chajones (SCF member) thank you for putting the word “perspective” in your sig. Charles Johnson and Craig Wilson thank you for being so nice to my kids and giving me a memory I will take to my grave.

And to Aaron, “Miss you big guy! I love you!”

Just doing this for fun! Perspective!

In memory of my son (my collecting buddy), Aaron

4/8/88-4/8/05