Baseball cards as conversation pieces…

When visitors find out I collect baseball cards, it usually starts a conversation.  About 99% of the time, the person knows nothing at all about collecting baseball cards, except maybe that somebody paid millions for a Wagner card, and there were some great cards found in somebody’s attic a few years ago.  These kind of visitors are easily impressed. From a small drawer, I pull out a stack of 8 cards in plastic toploaders. I pass the first one, Ty Cobb.

Image3Image4“Ty batted .420 that season” I remark, ” I don’t have Honus Wagner, but I have Ty Cobb.”

(a discussion of Cobb’s famous temper ensues…)

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Then I pass them the next card:

Image5Image6“Dallas drafted three players in 1964 who are all in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame.  This is the only card that has all three of them.”

(a discussion about some of the great NFL drafts ensues…)

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Then I pass them the next card:

Image7Image8“This is the lady pitcher, who struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.  She learned to pitch from Hall Of Famer Dazzy Vance, who was her neighbor.  She was signed by the Chattanooga Lookouts, but Baseball Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis ruled her ineligible because she was a woman.  The ad on back is for the first Krystal hamburger stand in downtown Chattanooga.”

(a discussion of hamburger joints, White Castle, etc. ensues…)

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Then I pass over the next card:

Image9Image10“This is Willie Mayonnaise when he was playing in the minor leagues, his first year.  He had to sneak into the ball park and had death threats just because he was black. He still batted .350 and was playing in New York soon thereafter.”

(a discussion about how far we’ve come with racial issues ensues…)

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Then I pass the next card:

Image11Image12“Here’s Pete Rose and Mel Queen as rookies in 1963.  Mel Queen got a $100,000 bonus and a new corvette to sign up with the Reds.  That’s what they were paying Mickey Mantle back then, without the Corvette.  Pete Rose got a plate of spaghetti as a signing bonus!”

( a conversation ensues about spaghetti…)

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Then I pass the next card:

Image13Image14“This is Ty Cobb and Shoeless Joe Jackson, the year after the Black Sox threw the world series, but before they kicked Joe out of baseball.”

(a conversation about Joe and Pete Rose and baseball “outlaws” ensues…)

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Then I pass the next card:

Image17Image18“This is one of the strippers at Jack Ruby’s nightclub, the Carousel, advertising their New Years Eve party the year before President Kennedy was killed.”

(a conversation ensues about the whole JFK thing….)

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As you can see, my collection is a great conversation – starter.

The funny thing is, from now on, anytime a conversation comes up about baseball cards, that person is going to say that I have the best selection of cards he’s ever seen. Ty Cobb, Willie Mays, Shoeless Joe, Staubach, Pete Rose, etc.

They have no idea that my total cost for these cards was less than $40

So now, I pass them the final card, which cost more than all of the previous cards combined, one of my favorite players of all time:

berra1berra2“Here’s Yogi Berra back in 1959….”

And the conversation just sort of fizzles….  Damned novices…

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