Originally Posted by RedlegJake
I'm an old timer in my attitude toward ballcards. Seriously I still hark back to the days when Topps was the only major company (there have always been small sets and local issues by small companies and premiums producers) and they didn't even produce complete sets for sale. You had to buy pack after pack to build a set - and even then the packs were released in series, so you could only get certain players in the spring, then more in mid summer and finally the balance at the end of the year (and why larger numbers are often the rarest cards in early sets).
They smelled like gum and though it tasted like crap I loved that cardboardish sugary flavor. I loved the Reds so much I'd trade a Willie Mays for a Gerry Arrigo. No thought whatever of monetary value - it was completely driven by team loyalty and player popularity. None of us had sleeves or vinyl sheets or hardcases, either. If the hip pocket of my jeans didn't protect them, oh well. I had a shoe box at first, slid under the bed and stacked full of cards, then two shoeboxes, and as I got a bit older I made team seperators of cardboard and taped team logos to the top that I cut from cards I had doubles of.
Ragged edge Kahn's wiener cards and cards torn from Post cereal boxes (who in heaven would ever have thought of keeping the whole dang box?) were mixed in with cards that ranged from the 50s to the 60s. The old cliche about "Mom threw away enough cards to fund a college education" is true for so many of us old timers. As I got into my teen age years I did realize the value of Mantles and Mays and Musial cards - not monetary, though, but driven by the greatness of the player. At some point in there, all big leaguers ceased to be equal in my eyes and the old counting stats on card backs began to seperate the wheat and chaff in my mind. Some guys were golden grain, some were just dust. There weren't even any whispers yet about "Rookie cards" or inserts or autographed cards inside packs. Autographed cards then were treasures earned by leaning over rails and begging players to sign or waiting outside the players entrance hoping to get an auto before security ran you off.
Then I got older and peer pressure made me slide the boxed trove deeper under the bed, out of sight. Cards were for kids, my friends would sniff. They were so - Cub scoutish. Vietnam Protests and Civil rights riots, Woodstock and Hippies, the first raucous notes of hard rock - the music that dropped the "and roll" from the end: the world became a huge place suddenly - teens then emerged from familial cocoons into the wide world almost overnight. You see there were very, very few outside influences as yet that could intrude into a family's home and reach children with sexual overtures, drug references, scenes of realistic violence. Everything on TV was still sanitized and parents had little trouble sheltering kids. The underbelly of the grown up world exploded into our lives suddenly and ball cards just seemed juvenile to us.
Then came the Marine Corps and my ball cards were tucked up on a closet shelf. What year the spring cleaning jag occurred when Mom tossed them as unneeded vestiges of my childhood, I don't know but probably just after the Watergate scandal exploded. Watergate has dimmed in my memory, and I dismiss it with a shrug as just another politician getting caught but the loss of those cards? That, my friends, is still a huge scandal. I loved my mother dearly, with all my heart, but that's the one resentment that may yet still linger. Why Mom? You kept the old grade cards, the photos of me with wet pants clutching a teddy bear and of me nekkid in the tub, how much more space could those shoeboxes have taken up?
Alas, no mas, Art Shamsky and his glorious '67 card!
I've bought a few cards since, mostly '67 Topps. For some reason the smell of those rectangles of gum stained cardboard release the floodgates of memory for me. So, my friends, if you're ever at a card show and you see a tall, lean gentleman with rather a pot belly and balding head, leaning over the cases and sniffing at a dealer's '67 cards, walk up and introduce yourself as a member of the 'Zone. That'd be me.