6.15.2011

Nostalgic Wax: Why I Returned To Card Collecting After A 27-Year Break

Several years ago I discovered my old late '70s/early '80s sports card collection in my mom's basement. I packed them up and gave them a brand new home. My basement. And there they rested for a few more years.

Many, oh-so-many, years ago I had given up baseball cards. I think I was 14. I'm not sure why I packed away what had meant so much to me - probably the start of high school and new interests. Well, one new interest.

Girls came into focus right about then. Yeah, I'm going to go ahead and blame girls.

I had discovered baseball cards at age 9; football cards roughly a year later. The Hostess cards found on the bottom of packages of Twinkies and King Dons provided my gateway to the hobby.

With the cards in my own house, and because I'm a fairly orderly person, the long-neglected collection in the basement nagged at me. I needed a sense of order. I finally felt compelled to sort through them - and sort and sort and sort.

I loved doing it. Memories came flooding back. I remembered being 10 again. And, I learned a few things.

First, I apparently had snagged a few packs in 1989, 1990 and 1994 but I have no recollection of doing this. It was clear that the love I had for the hobby frittered at some point in 1983.

Second, I realized that after more than a quarter century of living, I liked reconnecting with the person I was all those years ago. It's probably impossible to understand if you're not a collector but something about those old cards that had passed my fingers countless times as a kid made me feel great. Not necessarily young again but, yeah, a little younger. It brought me a little comfort and a lot of peace to look through those cards - particularly the '78s that I first collected.

But another set kept calling for my attention.


At some point in the late '70s, maybe 1980, Gramps bought me a sack full of 1976 Topps at a garage sale likely not far from my grandparents Ohio home. The cards, if memory serves, had been stripped of Cincinnati Reds, my team, but there were probably close to 300 in the sack. It included randomness such as seven Bill Buckners and six Jim Wynns.

I hope I showed my appreciation to Gramps but the sad truth is I didn't understand these cards at the time. Maybe I couldn't figure out the obvious question of why there were no Reds. Plus, I had a deep connection to the cards I ripped from wax, the '78s and '79s. These '76ers were interlopers. Who were these players? They were sooooo old.


Older and, arguably, wiser now, I've fallen in a big way for 1976 Topps.

Which brings me to my third revelation that occurred upon uncovering my collection; a strong desire to finish what my grandpa started for me so many years ago.

I must build the complete 1976 set.

In the past few months, I've had great fun picking up cards from this set at area card shows. I've even added several of the missing Reds.


Once settled next week after an out-of-state move, I'll post my favorite cards from this set with the caveat that they'll be chosen from the cards I now own. There are plenty I still need - and plenty to trade to others chasing this set.
I grew close to my grandparents in my 20s. I had moved from Texas to within 30 minutes of their home in the last four years of his life. I know Gramps would have liked not only that I'm getting reacquainted with the cards in that old sack but that I'm finally chasing down the rest of the set.

7 comments:

  1. I love the 76 set... I'm close to finishing myself. When you have a want list, let me know, I'll see if I can help. Maybe we can help each other finish it.

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  2. Great story! Good luck with the set.

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  3. The 1976 set is a biggie for me as well because that is my birth year set. I am working on the set, but in two different ways. I will post about it eventually, once I have a little bit of time available.

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  4. I completed the '76 set last August and did a tribute post. Those sets from childhood are just so much better than the rest.

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  5. Great post. I have fond memories of collecting as a kid too, which also sparked my re-interest in collecting over a year ago, with that one pack of 2010 Topps series 1 started it all over again. I like seeing how we on blog street got our start (or re-start) on collecting. It's interesting to see all the various stories and perspectives that we all have. I have a bunch of 1976 Topps, so when you get up a wantlist, I'll see what I have to help.

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  6. It is safe to blame anything you can think of on girls when you are in your teens. Once you get married everything becomes your fault.

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  7. Captain: Thanks. Would love to help you if I can. My 76 trade/want list is posted under Trading Post on the left hand side, upper.

    AJ Lost: Thanks.

    Johnny Rox (sorry, it just seemed to make sense): I'll be interested in reading your eventual post. '68 is my birth year. Yeah, I'll probably skip on collecting that one. ('65, one day, however!)

    Night Owl: I'll search for your post soon. I'd like to read it. I have to agree about the childhood sets. While I must confess to getting hooked in to some of the new stuff, I find myself looking at my 1983 and earlier cards. They make me happier.

    Ted: Thanks! Take a look at my Trading Post when you can and be sure to let me know how I can help you too. (I'll check out your lists again soon.)

    Adam: Ha! Clearly you're a married man!

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