Wednesday, March 16, 2016

UMP DAY: The Journey from Shoebox to Binders



Mama was a saver. Growing up during the depression era she saved everything from aluminum foil to last year’s Christmas paper. She kept my sister’s dolls for me to play with and my brother’s Lionel train set. She kept comic books and story books, greeting cards and baseball cards. Nothing that could be repurposed was ever tossed because we might need it someday.  She even saved cereal box tops to use for redemption of those cool prizes on the back of the box!

In the spring of 1969, she took me up to the corner drug store and we bought my first pack of cards.  I somehow suspect the purchase was prompted by carry-over guilt from not having met Mickey Lolich.  Neither one of us knew a thing about collecting cards because it wasn’t something my brother had ever pursued. In fact, in hindsight, none of the men in my life collected cards. It was just her and I, one pack at a time.
 
 
At a quarter a pack, it was a reasonable thing to get a kid who wanted everything she saw in the store. If I behaved while she shopped, I got a pack of cards. It was a simple proposition and one that worked quite well in her favor and mine; she got a well behaved child, I got cards. Lots and lots of cards.  As my shoebox collection grew, I grew older and discovered Teen Beat magazine. At that junction, the cards were neatly tucked away in the root cellar of our basement.
 
There they sat until she passed away some 15 yrs. later, at which time the shoebox moved to the basement of my apartment building. There the box remained until we bought a house in the country, complete with a somewhat dilapidated shed, where those cards sat for several more years. Let me tell you, that shed leaked!  For some reason only half the roof had been shingled and it was NOT the half where the forgotten box of cards sat.

 
At some point, now living alone, I decided to tear down the shed and put a new one up to keep things like a four wheeler, riding mower, and that everlasting, long forgotten box of 1969 Topps. Rediscovering that old box, while sorting out what to keep in transitioning from one shed to the other, brought a smile to my face; like finding an old friend after “all these years”. However, discovering that they were still in good shape - not smelling of mildew from the manner in which they were stored and not chewed by the ever present “country mouse” - was a joy in and of itself.


These days those old cards are stored properly in binders; and in the case of the Tigers, with some reverence. Having reintroduced myself to the collecting of cardboard, I now pass along the doubles I pull from current packs to my grandson. Although he lives in a house with a basement, his cards - most of which are commons - are already in binders and will never see the inside of a shoebox. On the rare occasion when he’s given one in a top loader, he knows those cards are “extra special”.  One day when I’m long gone, that young man will have himself a nice collection of ’69 Topps cards too. But don’t worry, they’ll already be in binders.    

~ Cheryl
   Guest Blogger

24 comments:

  1. What a wonderful story! More please.

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    1. Thanks, Jon! With all the kind encouragement, I'm sure there'll be more from "The Ump"! (and congrats on that 6 month blogiversary!) Cheryl

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    1. Thank you...always nice to know someone enjoyed all those rambling thoughts! Cheryl

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    1. You are most welcome, Mr. Play at the Plate! I'm thankful that ACB has shared this blog space with me!

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    1. Thank you! It's nice to be old enough to have a few great stories in me...and still young enough that I remember them! Cheryl

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  5. Great post, Cheryl! I think '69 Topps was one of the first sets I ever saw as a young collector in the '90s when I was first getting into vintage, so I'll always have a special attachment to it for that reason.

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    1. Thank you, Nick! I think that '69 Topps will always hold a special place in my heart because of the connection to my mom. I'm going to be looking forward to Heritage in a few years if they keep up the pattern of release! Cheryl

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  6. This quite a touching story. I've often thought about and look forward to hopefully being able to pass my collection on to the next generation.

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    1. Thank, Tony! My daughter has sent pictures of the little guy falling asleep in bed with his binder open...I'm glad he's learning to love them so that passing them on to him someday will be appreciated! Cheryl

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  7. Why, oh why, do we let our cards sit alone, by themselves, in boxes unattended for so many years? Why do we do this???? Thank goodness we come to our senses.

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    1. Thankfully, the loneliness for those cards is over now! I'm even more thankful those pesky mice didn't keep them company while they waited for me to come back. ;) Cheryl

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed reading it, Mark! Thanks for the support in this new venture! Cheryl

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  9. Very cool! Glad you are helping cultivate a new card collector.

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    1. It helps that he likes commons just as well as the "fancy" stuff (and hasn't discovered the shiny cards yet) Matt! When he does, it may start costing me more! Cheryl

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  10. Great story, Cheryl. It reminds me a lot of my situation growing up, except that it was my grandma who turned 20 in 1929 and raised her family beginning in the Depression. My mom was born after WWII, but both of them were always (and my mom still is) a big time "save it in case I need it some day." It's why I still have all the cards I got as a kid and a few my mom had from the 1950s too.

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    1. Our stories do seem to run a parallel, Tony! As a kid, I never liked having to play with my siblings games/toys etc, and always wished that I had more of my own. Now, some of those same toys are in my home and bring back the fondest memories. Goes to show you never can tell... Cheryl

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  11. Time travel exists in dilapidated sheds , root cellars in basements, and various dank forgotten spaces in places near and far. That shoebox encapsulated more than righteous rectangular cardboard iconography, it capturesand expresses the essence of an era gone by and an innocence that has long been squashed from this particular hobby. Your post brings hope to future generations of baseball card collectors.

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    1. It certainly was a more innocent time, Xavier...and collecting was much simpler in those days, too. It could be why I have a particular bent towards plain, ol' Topps base cards from the 60's...they're simple. Cheryl

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    2. I've see these cards. Absolutely amazing condition, esp on the black-bordered 71s. Cheryl, I hope you share these with us at a later date.

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