View Full Version : Contest Entry - From my humble beginnings through the years

09-18-2010, 01:31 PM
It was fall of 1975 and my dad woke me up from my sleep one morning. I just turned 9 years old and I didn’t know why he woke me. He asked me to come down the stairs into the kitchen. When I arrived, there’s where I saw it – It was a pack of two of 1975 Topps cards spread out on the table and they were all mine! The first card I saw was 1975 Topps Mark Nordquist #337, a lineman for the Chicago Bears. I honestly don’t remember any of the other cards, but I surely remember that one.

The years prior to 1975, I was interested in cards, but my older brother got all the ones out of Kelloggs as he instructed me that they were his. So, my interest never really came until my dad presented me with this wonderful gift and I was hooked.

I quickly found friends who were collectors and we spent recesses, overnight stays flipping and trading cards. Back then, it was pretty simple. You had a need, you got my dupes. If I had a need, I got what extras you had. It wasn’t about dollar values, game used, autos, or anything like it is today. For all we knew, we may have traded one for one, what is now a $50 card for one worth 50 cents. We didn’t care. All we cared about was completing the set.

Packs were about 15 cents per pack. We took our allowances or other money saved and made our way to the Shop and Go. My two biggest scores were the following:
1.) When I saved enough to buy my own box - I don’t recall the exact price, but it was in the neighborhood of $15-18.
2.) Getting the 1976 Topps Cincinnati Reds Checklist to complete the set (however, I missed the 4th of July parade for that pull, thinking I had enough time to get to Shop and Go and get back before it started). It was still worth it!

I recall over the next few years spending the night at my buddy’s house, taking my cards in my OJ Simpson Juicemobile shoebox with a rubberband around the cards (hey, we all did it). We’d eventually graduate to the ordering the Topps carrying case. That this was awesome!

As I look back over the years, I speak to one of my old buddy. He’s the guy who flipped his early 70’s football for my 80’s baseball. He says that I “took” him on that deal, but I don’t remember it that way. I was just a better flipper.

Like kids who get into high school and/or college, the collection of sports cards went away. When I went to Colorado State University, I saw a card shop near the campus and I ended up trading most of my good cards away, not realizing that they were worth so much (can you imagine an 18 year old kid realizing he had a Bryan Trottier rookie and not knowing what to do with it when he’s in college and needs the money?). With a little cash in my pocket, I felt like I was the man (and I do mean a “little cash”)!

College ended for me in 1989 and I ended up getting a job. Again, with a little cash in my pocket, I found the sports card craze again and began my collection all over again. This time, I wasn’t into building sets, as there were too many on the market (the 3 card companies of Topps, Donruss, and Fleer was just too overwhelming). So in 1990, I decided to focus my collection on my favorite players (Emmitt Smith, Juan Gonzalez, and Dominique Wilkins). Another buddy of mine ended up working for one of the local card dealers who put on local card shows, so it was easy to get my hands on my favorite players for a very little price.

After a few years and the number of card companies increased, I began to learn more about my own history. My great uncle played in the Negro Leagues (not really a known player), but my grandmother had his picture in his uniform. I really wanted to do something different with my collecting, so this began my quest to begin collecting for Negro Leaguer’s cards (past and present). The focus of my collection started out as Hank Aaron and Willie Mays (I also collect Roberto Clemente just because I thought he was interesting), but after joining an online trading group, I started collecting other players who also played in the Negro Leagues. I have joined several trading groups who have helped me with my collection.

With one of the trading groups, I found that the traders were very giving. It was like the old days, where the traders weren’t so into the dollar value and that it was more about helping others fill their needs. I once joked in a thank you email that I still was looking for an Aaron RC or a Mays RC, if anyone happened to want one. Within 2 weeks, one of the members sent me one (the Aaron had a hole punch in it, but I really didn’t care). I was able to send him a few smaller cards in return, but I still owe him for that. But can you imagine????

I still collect Dominique and Emmitt, but the main part of my collection remains former Negro Leaguers. For me, it’s not about the dollar value, but the history (and making new friends to share the experience)! The trades will always happen, but with one of the trading groups, we’ve shared more than time swapping cards. We’ve shared stories, friendships, and learned about one another. For that, you just can’t put a price on it.

Happy collecting everyone!

09-19-2010, 08:36 PM