About a week ago, I published a guest column by Joe, an avid baseball card collector who really wanted to like football cards…and just couldn’t. As an avid football card collector, I wondered if I could ever get back into collecting baseball cards, something I haven’t had any interest in since I was about seven (even though my grandma kept buying them for me because to her, all cards were baseball cards, even though I bluntly stated several times that I liked football and basketball cards).
As I am working through a complete over-haul of my card collection, or more accurately, actually organizing all of them for the first time since I now have too many to remember exactly where everything is, I have been avoiding my baseball cards. They are mostly contained in two 5,000 count cardboard boxes and consist almost entirely of mid-to-late 80s and early 90s crap. There, I said it. They’re crap. Maybe that’s being a bit harsh because if I took the time to look through them, I’m sure there are many cards that would instantly remind me of my childhood. Like the card of some Angels player who posed in front of a sign with a Tiger on it. Or all the 1989 cards that I used to organize by font color because I was too young to read the team names. Or even the Lenny Dystrka and Darren Daulton cards I was once so proud of. But today they aren’t worth anything to me and they aren’t worth anything to anyone else, either (I can’t pass along those few memories and due to overproduction, no one is desperately seeking a 1991 Donruss Diamond Kings Matt Williams (which I always thought looked like my cousin’s cousin Marky). So what I am going to do with all of these cards?
Jump to a completely different thought (they’ll tie together, trust me). For a while now, my wife has been trying to get me to read more. Her argument is that not only will it make me smarter and increase my vocabularly (which I admit is fairly desolate — and yes, I typed that word and then looked it up on dictionary.com to make sure I had the right one), but it will also get me into a good habit that I can pass along to our future children. She claims that if she has to eat her vegetables because it will set a good example, then I have to read more to set another good example. Fine. Whatever. When’s dinner going to be ready?
So to be a good husband, and hopefully a good father someday, I decided I would try to read more. Not having any clue where I stored the 83 bookmarks I had as a kid, and not wanting to dog-ear page corners, I needed something to mark my place as I progressed through big, thick adult chapter books (which is harder than remembering which page of Calvin and Hobbes you last read). So I did what any self respecting man would do and grabbed the item nearest at hand at the moment. I was sitting in the living room, so I grabbed a Penn State coaster and shoved it in the book. I continued using Penn State coasters for a few months until my wife complained that they were too thick and always fell out when she wanted to move my books. She asked, “Why don’t you just use one of your dumb cards for something useful?”
[lightbulb being lit]
Alright, I will use one of my old worthless baseball cards. Honey, go into the man cave, open up one of the long cardboard boxes that looks like a baseball dugout, and pull some random card for me to use instead of this Penn State coaster. She came back with this bit of priceless goodness:
So thank you, Mr. 1986 Topps Tim Lollar. I may not remember ever watching you play, but because of you, I will never again lose my place in the Chronicles of Narnia or Silence of the Lambs. In the future, I can even see you helping me to stay focused through more great Sherlock Holmes mysteries and Chuck Palahniuk novels. And my wife thanks you as well, simply for not falling out when she picks up whatever book you happen to be in at the moment. She also thanks you because to her, you have become a token of my efforts to be more mature.
Now, what am I going to do with the other 8,438 baseball cards of my youth…..?