About a year ago, my mom gave me a nice, scented candle inside of a glass jar, and it seemed a shame to waste the excess wax after the wick burned out the first time. As a result, every month or two, I buy a cheap candle at the dollar store and put it inside the jar. Then, I melt down the leftover wax from before on my stove and pour it inside the jar to seal in the new candle. Yeah, I know, I’m probably the only sportswriter who recycles wax from scented candles.
Anyhow, with some time to kill today, I made a trip over to the dollar store that’s walking distance from my apartment. Initially, I just planned to buy the candle, but when I was at the checkout stand, I saw amidst the display of sports trading cards, a brand that read “Historic Vintage Collection” with the subhead, “40 Years of Baseball Trading Cards.” The front of each pack had a star, with text over it that read, “Historic Star Card in Every Pack.” This caught my interest.
As a child, I used to collect baseball cards voraciously, and I started collecting older ones after my aunt bought me cards for Bob Gibson and Tony Oliva when I was about eight. In time, I had cards as far back as the 1940s and even had a dog-eared Willie Mays from 1969 that I got for $10. I also had cards for Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks and Juan Marichal, among others. At one point, I had as many as 5,000 sports cards. Most have long since been gotten rid of, though I still have the old cards, in a binder at my parent’s house in Sacramento.
For whatever reason, I’ve always had a passion for history and love any type of primary source material. I also used to collect old Sports Illustrated issues as a kid. In more recent years, I’ve branched into finding old books. I have a decent library for both baseball and sports writing, and a lot of the stuff I like is no longer in print. Thus, I find cool books every now and again, like a 1944 sports writing collection I located in a used bookstore in Sacramento a few years ago. My copy includes a handwritten note, dated December 10, 1944:
The Page 55 Contributor would have you (and all others who might glance here) that without your aid, early and late, I would never have come this far– might even have been left at the post, or have been thrown out at first.
Anyhow, you’re one brother in a whole country.
I checked after reading this and determined the message was written by Warren Brown, a longtime Chicago sportswriter whose contribution in the book is a story about boxer Jack Dempsey from 1923.
Anyhow, while at the dollar store today, I wondered if the packs of old cards just contained reprints, which is lame, but for a dollar, I figured it couldn’t hurt to see what was inside. I made the purchase, walked home and opened the pack. Among the 15 cards were a 1984 Willie McGee and 1994 cards of Sammy Sosa and Juan Gonzalez. They all appear to be originals, from the Eighties and Nineties. I probably had the majority of them as a kid and for all I know, may have been holding the same cards from 15 to 20 years before. Still, it was nice to get a little nostalgia.