We’ve been at this blog for a month now, so I think it’s about time we start from the beginning.
I wanted to talk about what got me into card collecting as a kid and tell some of the stories and just relive the magic and wonder of collecting. From my first pack, to the switch over to basketball, to leaving the hobby for a decade or so and what brought me back into the fold, there are plenty of stories to be shared.
Before my first pack was opened, I didn’t really know much about sports. I didn’t even know what the games were. Sure my brother and I had toy sports equipment to play with as kids, but heck if I knew what they were really used for. It was 1985, I was most likely four years old. I could care less about teams and rules of the game. I just wanted to play outside, because Nintendo hadn’t hit our neighborhood yet.
I remember one summer day my cousin was visiting from out of state. He, my brother and I were all throwing the ball around in the front yard having a good time. We would talk about random stuff that little kids talk about, I’m sure. Then the topic inevitably switched to sports seeing as how we were playing catch. “My favorite team is the Cubs.” “My favorite team is the Cubs, too.” “What’s your favorite team, Jon?”
Uh oh. I probably had a vague concept of what baseball was, but I didn’t know any team names.
Now, any other kid would probably have just said “The Cubs” because they did, but I’m not like other kids. You see, my brother is 4 years older and my cousin is 3 years older. You can understand that I would really look up to them and want them to think I’m cool. If I just repeated their answer, they could easily call me out on my BS, and who needs that aggravation? Besides, I’ve always been the type to try to be a little different. I also always tried to be funny. So, I make up my own damn teams.
“Is there a team called the gorgonals?” (Pretty sure these aren’t the fake names I guessed at the time).
“Is there a team called the flippindingles?”
“Is there a team called the mets?”
I believe you all know the answer to that question. I thought I was making it up in way. I was trying to use the word as in “I met her at the store.” Making that past-tense verb plural. Completely ridiculous, right? No such word exists. Crazy wordplay from the 4-year old.
<Shocked and amazed> “…Oh. Well, that’s my favorite team.”
And so it was. The timing worked out pretty well, because the Mets won the World Series the next year and Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry were both stars. You couldn’t accidentally pick a better team back then. I would root for the Mets for years, amassing all kinds of collectibles and cards (focusing on Doc and the Straw – sounds like a cop show, doesn’t it?). That 1993 Stadium Club box we busted would have been a 5-11 year-old me’s dream. A Doc Master Photo and a Straw 1st Day Issue? In the same box?
Then as my focus switched to basketball, that phase just kind of ended. When I got back into baseball, I switched alliance to the home team Cubs (I would root for the Cubs when we went to Wrigley growing up, as long as they weren’t playing my Mets) and have stayed with them since.
I honestly think that the reason I didn’t go back to the Mets was less to do with Sammy Sosa and the ’03 Cubs and more my disappointment in the directions Doc and Straw took. The drug addictions and all of the other off the field stuff really soured me on the Mets because I associate those two players with the franchise so deeply.
Anyway. That’s starting to become a sad ending to a happy beginning. I don’t have the majority of my Good ‘n’ Berry collections here, but next time I’m able to go home, I’ll bring them back to show you the depths I was able to reach as a young child. But at this point in my life, I hadn’t opened a single pack yet. That comes a bit later…and in another post.