A Baseball Card Story


I’ve taken my eBay addiction to new heights. With baseball cards.

I heard a stand-up comedian once explain that they wish they could channel their inner child to remind themselves that they can now buy as much McDonalds breakfast as they want. No financial constraints, no begging a parent to take them on a Saturday morning to go get an order of biscuits & gravy with an Egg McMuffin and some hash browns. On any given day, this comedian, as well as any of us adults with a car can get off our fat ass and get fatter off as many McGriddles as we want.

This is what I am doing with baseball cards.

I went back home a month ago, to Illinois, and did some digging around the house. I came across a plastic case that had about 50 baseball cards in it. I have more cards than this at my parent’s house, I just didn’t think to dig for them while I was there. But this box I came across had this hard plastic case of Topps baseball cards and some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, really old ones from the ‘80s. So I took the whole box back to North Carolina with me.

The drive home was funny. Courtney, my lovely and “funny” fiancé that I often mention in my writings, played director as we binged Netflix on the entire 12-hour drive home, She propped her iPad Air in between the dash and the windshield, and we watched, in this order, Twilight, Twilight: New Moon, and Heavyweights. It was amazing … amazing that we didn’t die.

Given the length of the trek, and the nostalgia that I had just experienced by being at home, I had plenty of time to think about the baseball cards that I just found, which led to the thinking about all the baseball cards I had when I was a kid (my brother has most of them now, even though a few more must be at my parents house still¾I will look next time I am there), which led me to do a quick eBay search, just to see what I could find.

As it turns out, all of the baseball cards I grew up on, even though they aren’t worth shit, are all readily available on eBay. 1991 Donruss, still wrapped in plastic! ’89 Donruss, check! And ’86 Topps, with Bo Jackson’s rookie card and Tom Seaver’s White Sox card, since he was traded mid way through that season from the Red Sox to the White Sox, were all there. I was pumped and ready to go. Equipped with a credit card limit that was well out of my reach and a brand new PayPal account, I was ready to buy anything I wanted, anything I once had and lost years ago, by just clicking a button that said “buy now.” Dangerous, I tell you. I bought, all at once and new in box, Topps sets all wrapped in plastic and in really good shape. The years 1987-1992, all while driving down the highway one morning to work! Literally and figuratively dangerous. And I got all of them for $55 plus shipping. You know, when I was a kid, those sets where $40 a piece at Wal-Mart, and I would’ve had to mow about 28 yards to make that happen. Next, I bought the ’86 Topps new in box, still taped up, with the set of ’89 Donruss, ’91 Fleer, and ’90 Topps. So far, I have bought 13 sets of baseball cards¾and I’m about to hit that glorious “buy now” button on the ’88 Donruss set, which outside the 1986 Topps sets, is my favorite. Diamond Kings, Collectors Choice, Rated Rookies and ’87 highlights, #1 prospects and other special edition cards, they are now all at my finger tips, and now all piled up in my living room, much to the chagrin of Courtney, but she has her own spending habits, too. She loves any type of subscription service and daily planners. Just the other day, I found a Kate Spade planner from 2016, that was completely empty. I bet the thing was 50 bucks.

I’ve spent way more than 50 bucks. Creditors will be knocking my door down soon. Some baseball card bookie on Long Island named Mean Mikey who runs a pizza joint as a front but is really the owner of a clandestine baseball trading business will come and bust my legs (if my wife doesn’t first) because I put bids on items that I couldn’t afford.

“You’re running up a tab, guy. The boss wants me to bust your legs!”

Baseball cards on eBay are the best. Just to know I can order a Bill Ripken Fuck Face card whenever I want, or a Felix Jose Rated Rookie Donruss card, or that I have old Topps wax packs at the ready, (still with the gum! I chew it!) is a dream come true. Probably what it’s like to have kids, I’d imagine.

Additional remarks:

I am watching Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns. I am almost done with the first episode. About an hour into the documentary, Buck O’Neil, first baseman and manager for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League, doing both at the same time from ’48 to ’51, before going part-time at the position while continuing to coach the team ‘till 55, winning two titles and sharing a third, said a few words about the game of baseball:

“It is the American game, that’s just what it is, and actually it makes you, me, I’m 81, but I can feel like I’m 15 when I’m talking baseball, I’m watching baseball … it can do this to any man. It brings you back.”

Marty McFly in a DeLorean, baseball isn’t just a game, it’s a way to get back and go somewhere you once were, a memory that felt far off until you saw the first pitch in April. When you hear the bat crack and send the ball over the left field fence, or the snap of leather, singing its sweet hymn as it aids the first baseman in the line drive grab. The bat is the flux capacitor and the glove is the plutonium. That’s what makes baseball the greatest sport, as there isn’t another one that holds the meaning that baseball does. For me, it’s my dad teaching me how to play the game in my back yard, in Illinois, over on Aikman street, and my mom filling in when my dad was late working, doing her best to throw me something I could reach with my Easton aluminum bat, black and gold, measuring at 30” and weighing about 17 ounces, and then getting behind home plate, the one my dad built and placed the perfect distance from the pitcher’s mound he built for me. I charged the mound that day; my mom is athletic, but she can’t throw in the strike zone. She was like Rick Ankiel in the playoffs against the Atlanta Braves.

Baseball is perfect.

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