Here it is on Wednesday, 2 minutes after midnight in Ohio, and I still haven’t contributed to the 2nd Bat A Round. I don’t now if I’ve already missed Gellman’s deadline. I’m hoping he meant midnight in California. The plan was to whip this out (‘scuse me while I whip this out) last weekend, but the Boss had other ideas. The Boss weighs 6 pounds, but damn if he isn’t convincing.
We have been charged with the simple task of displaying the centerpiece of our collection. I don’t know how easy it is for some of you. For me it turned out to be really easy. It took a while but when I realized what card it is, it was staring me in the face the whole time. A “How didn’t I think of this immediately?” type of thing.
Just to build a little suspense, I’ll go ahead and list a few of the cards that crossed my mind. Just for laughs, I dug out an old 1991 Beckett, to look up the “value” of some of these cards. As a bonus, I’ve scanned the cover of the issue.
Say what you want about Beckett, they nailed it with their cover of issue #71. One of the greatest players ever, in one of the greatest uni’s ever, displaying a swing that can make grown men weep tears of joy. Just fantastic don’t you think?
The first card I thought of was the 1984 Topps Mattingly. This card was the prize of my collection for a long time. I don’t recollect how I got it, just that I had it. I must assume that my mom tracked it down for me somehow. In 1991, the card was worth $28. I saw a lot of 2 go on ebay a few days ago for $6 plus shipping. I don’t know what the Hitman did in these past 17 years to deserve such a drastic drop in value, but he must have done something. What else could explain it?
Sorry, got off topic a little bit there.
1975 George Brett Rookie. This is still probably my favorite card because, like a lot of people, 1975 Topps is one of my favorite sets of all time. According to Beckett, my card was worth $160.
1974 Topps Willie McCovey error card. This card says Washington instead of San Diego. I didn’t realize that I had an error card until after the whole Billy Ripken furor.* I remember looking this card up in Beckett and realizing that I had the error when there were 2 different versions of it. I remember how excited I was that day.
*Funny story. In 8th grade I got a staph infection (osteomyelitis) in my right foot. No one is sure how. I damn near lost the thing (my foot). It was very painful, and as a double whammy, I was too young to make sure that I fully enjoyed the morphine I was on in the hospital. Well, when you're 14 and in the hospital, people just get you stuff. It’s like “OH, you have an infection? Here’s a Nintendo game. Feel better now?” Doesn’t make much sense but that’s what people do. Who was I to argue?**
Well, my friend, Mike Goebelbecker, got me a Cavs shirt. The first time I wore it I realized what it said. “Cleveland Cavalers” not “Cavaliers”. “Cavalers” That’s right. Some people made a shirt that got produced, distributed, and sold with the name spelled wrong. Can you believe that? I was ecstatic. As far as I was concerned, anything with an error was a goldmine. This was some limited edition, one of a kind error shirt and was probably worth a fortune. Fleer screwed a lot of kids up, man.
** I also have a friend, Doug Hart, who forgot his lunch money while I was still out of school. He decided to take up a collection. He ended up with $52. He bought his lunch but didn't know what to do with the rest. He came over to my house and just gave me this big wad of $1 bills like I was some kind of stripper of something. I guess he felt funny about keeping it. So, it was OK to misrepresent himself and take up a false colection if it's for a good cause (like lunch), but the stakes got too high and Doug felt a twinge of conscience. Isn't the morality of children wonderful?
Where was I? Oh yeah. Willie McCovey. The error was worth $25, which was $21 more than just the boring old regular card.
1986 Donruss Jose Canseco Rated Rookie. In Feb 1991, this card was worth $110. Apparently it was past it’s peak because it has that little down arrow next to it. As a kid, if you didn’t have this card…well...you were a dork. Sorry.
Since my return, I haven’t really picked up anything to get attached to. I have some cool cards, but nothing I would consider a centerpiece. Nothing that made me jump for joy when I got it. Not yet, anyway.
No, my centerpiece must come from my past collecting. Those cards I just listed are great. I’m glad I have them. They bring back great memories, but is any of them a centerpiece of a collection? So I asked myself what a centerpiece should be. I guess it came down to a card that is indispensable. A card that I wouldn’t give away or trade for anything. Are any of the cards I thought of like that? No, they aren’t. I’d trade any of them to someone who really wanted it. It probably sounds cheesy but I’d let go of any of them as long as I thought the person getting it was really going to appreciate it.
So, what do I have that I wouldn’t give away? When I figured out the right question, the answer was easy.
My 1990 Score Eric Davis. Beckett value 18 cents.
Eric Davis was awesome. He was my favorite player for a long time. People forget how good he was. Look him up on Baseball Reference (here, I did it for you). He had some monster years. But why this card? It’s because my cousin, Jim, got it for me. For Christmas. You’d have to understand how close we were. We were inseparable. We used to joke that we shared the same brain. There was no one in the world I loved more than my cousin Jim. And he’s probably the only person in the world who knew how much I loved Eric Davis, and thought of me when he saw that plaque with the 1990 Score Eric Davis card. He knew I’d love it. I knew the card itself wasn’t worth much, and I knew the plaque wasn’t worth anything either.
Thinking back on it, it’s pretty hilarious that someone, somewhere, decided to make plaques that held major leaguer’s cards and stuffed one with a 1990 Score card. But somehow, I always had the feeling that the sum was worth more than the parts. I don’t think I was wrong, either.
Tragically, Jim died this past summer in a horrible ballooning accident over the Grand Canyon. OK, that’s not true at all. But he did move to Charlotte. He’s still a cool dude. I'll see him at Christmas with his new daughter (we even had kids together). I'm going to bring a long this silly old plaque.
So there it is, the centerpiece of my collection. The one card I one that I wouldn’t trade for anything.