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.
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.
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.