Traveling up to Pittsburgh last week to watch the Pirates and Brewers play brought me back to the days in the mid-seventies when I was a frequent visitor to watch Stargell and company. I have been a baseball fan ever since I was a youngster living in Cleveland. I grew up rooting for the Indians but later in my mid 20’s the pirates became my team.
It was especially exciting when the Reds would come to town for one of those doubleheaders or a weekend series. Watching Pete Rose, Johnny Bench go at it against those great pirate teams never got old. I got hooked on collecting the best baseball cards I could get a hold of. Sometimes I would find a deal at a flea market or yard sale, but most of the time I spent more than I could afford at the stadium of card shop.
My favorite card of all time was a extra large Topps Cleveland Indians Rocky Colavito from 1958. As time went on I started to indulge a little in basketball, football, wrestling and boxing cards. On occasion, I would find a coach or college card but my favorite remained Topps baseball.
Over the years my cards started to increase in value. I had several thousand of the best, most were kept in card holders with the very best in hard plastic. Many of my cards for purchased by the box full and never researched or removed from the box.
Finding a safe place for them became a chore. I bought totes, lock boxes and safes to keep them in and still ran out of room. I never was one to sell or trade cards. A few years ago my brother, who was a collector of comic books, wanted to go to a show in Canton, Ohio. We loaded up the back seat and trunk with comic books and cards with the thought in mind of selling everything we had.
What we found out was, no one wants to pay what you want. What you think are the good ones mean nothing to someone else. So we came back with our stuff plus some more we bought at the show.
My favorite basketball card was a Wilt “the stilt” Chamberlain. My most expensive card by far was a Harmon Killebrew Topps. My rookie Sandy Koufax was the one of the most sought after. I had a Sonny Liston World Champion Heavyweight Boxing card that everyone wanted.
This week I finally let them go. After some hard bargaining, I decided it was time to accept the offer of a collector from Virginia. In all he walked away with over 17,000 cards and magazines. I walked away with a sad feeling, but a huge smile.
Included in the deal were the following small list of my favorites. Most were in fair to new condition. These were the ones I had listed by number and condition. The others were in boxes and never wrote down.
Roberto Clemente, Tony Oliva, Dean Chance, Oscar Robertson, Sonny Liston, Wilt Chamberlain, Muhammad Ali, Cassius Clay, Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, Harman Killebrew, Walt Hazzard, John Wooden, Howard “Butch” Komines, Johnny Unitas, Jack Ham, Terry Bradshaw, Jack Lambert, Pete Rozelle, Don Shula, Jim Brown, Joe Namath, Gale Sayers, Dick Butkus, Maury Wills, Jim MaLoney, Satchel Page (at age 59), Bill Russell, Willis Reed, Bill Bradley, Lance Alworth, Mike Garrett, Frank Robinson, Ted Williams, Casey Stengel, Cassie Russell, Rick Barry, Jack Nicklaus, Billy Casper, Arnold Palmer, Steve Carlton, Bob Moose, Earl Weaver, Rod Carew, Stan Musial, Roy Campanella, Rocky Colavito, Lew Alcinder, Pete Maravich, Rick Mount, Joe Frazier, Jimmy Ellis, Joe Paterno, Pete Rozelle, O.J. Simpson, Hank Aaron, Pete Rose, Nolan Ryan, Carlton Fisk, Carl Yastremski, Frank Robinson, Al Kaline, Rollie Fingers, Gene Tenace, Vida Blue, Sparky Robinson, Johnny Bench, Billy Williams, Jerry Lucas, Gaylord Perry, Willie Mays, Willie Stargell, Bowie Kuhn, Tom Seaver, Reggie Jackson, Jim Palmer, Bill Walton, John Havlicek, Nate Archibald, Julius “Dr. J” Irving, George Foreman, Tom Weiskopf, Moses Malone, Jerry West, David Thompson, Franco Harris, Paul Warfield, Larry Csonka, Aechie Griffin, Anthony Davis, Mike Tyson, Bo Jackson, George Brett, Robin Yount, Dwight “Doc” Gooden, Darryl Dawkins, John Tate, Mike Weaver, Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard, George Rogers, Steve Yeager, Fernando Valenzuela, Mike Schmidt, Dave Righetti, Thomas Hearns, Larry Holmes, Marcus Allen, Isiah Thomas, Dominique Wilkins. Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Len Bias, Marvin Hagler, Don King, Tim Witherspoon, Jim McMahon, John Elway, Rod Woodson, Brian Bosworth, Christian Laettner, Shaquille O’Neal, Evander Holleyfield, Barry Sanders, Rickey Henderson, Lou Brock, Michael Jordan, Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, Jose Canseco, Ken Griffey, Sr, Ken Griffey, Jr., Norm Charlton, Vinnie Johnson, Hakeem Olajuwon, Karl Malone, James “Buster” Douglas, Dave Winfield, Coach “K” Mike Krzyzewski, Riddick Bowe, Bernie Kosar, Randell Cunningham, Steve Young, Joe Green, Joe Carter, John Kruk, Charles Barkley, Chris Webber, Bobby Hurley, Lennox Lewis, Dave Justice, Frank Bruno, Eddie George, Mark Mcguire, George Foster, Ozzie Smith, Kirby Puckett, Earl Weaver, Marcus Camby, Tim Duncan, Ray Allen, John Stockton, Brett Favre, Phil Niekro, Joe Niekro, Tommy Lasorda, Dennis Rodman, Larry Bird, Erving “Magic” Johnson, Pat Riley, Phil Jackson, Peyton Manning, Archie Manning, Rocky Marciano, Floyd Patterson, Dusty Rhodes, The Undertaker, Andre the Giant, Ted Kluszewski, Otto Graham, Lou Groza, Tom Landry, Rod “Hot Rod” Hundley, Sugar Ray Robinson, Joe Dimaggio, Babe Ruth, Bob Feller, Warren Spahn, Ted Williams, Yogi Berra.
I don’t know if I got all my money back or not, I am however satisfied that I no longer have to worry about losing them. I used to spend hours arranging, checking prices and admiring my cards. Collecting can be a great pastime, it’s a fun hobby but like everything else it can become your God. There are certainly some great athletes in this world, some great teams, great people, and there is nothing wrong with going to ball games and enjoying the excitement. I am a huge sports fan. Just be careful to always put God first in your life. Nothing else really matters.
Oh yea, I forgot to mention, never show your best hand. After two hours of bargaining and sealing the deal, I still have about 100 of the best.