It was a rainy day sometime in the spring of 2001.
I had a tee ball game behind the local high school before it was cut short due to a swift, strong downpour of rain.
We were almost home before my dad realized he had left his mitt, a thoroughly broken-in, tan Rawlings with a fake George Brett autograph on the palm, at the field.
We turned his 1988 red Jeep Grand Cherokee around, he grabbed it off the top of a pole where he left it, and ran back to the car.
When we got back into the friendly streets of my neighborhood, we stopped at the pharmacy down the street from my house and my parents bought me a couple packs of 2001 Topps.
Even to this day when I see the design, I get a warm, fuzzy feeling.
Back then, baseball cards were my obsession. Being only six-years-old, I didn’t know much about the hobby, or a lot of the players on the card in front of me, but I couldn’t get enough of it nonetheless.
My grandma even brings up to this day how I could tell you the stats of a player on the back of the card without even looking at it — and get it correctly!
That rainy day, I remember pulling a Randy Johnson card and my parents telling me how good he was. So I got home, put it in my card binder, and cherished it.
A couple weeks later, my grandpa took me to the park and tossed me some baseballs, then took me to get a slice of pizza. When we sat down, he pulled out a pack of cards from his pocket and slid it across the table from me.
I didn’t realize it then, but this was an important baseball milestone for me. Not only would I pull a card of someone who wound up being my favorite player of all-time, but it would solidify my love for the game in general in one fell swoop.
The pack was 2000 Fleer Focus (one of my favorite card designs to this day), and the second or third card in was of Mike Piazza.
I stood up and screamed, “I got a Piazza! I got a Piazza!” which elicited some strange looks from the pizza consumers around me.
Over the next seven or eight years, I collected baseball cards and bought them every chance I got. From then-current day to ’80s junk wax, I just loved looking at the pictures and building my hobby. It was a keepsake that told a little story.
Sometime in high school, I just sort of stopped. I became enthralled with the theater and student government and music that I drifted away from my childhood pastime.
And then came this summer. I’d be lying if I said it was an easy one.
We had to put my childhood pet of 15 years down after he got sick quickly. I graduated from college. Had a Lyme’s Disease scare. A close family friend died. It was a lot to take in.
A lot of days, it was hard to be passionate about anything. I was just going through the motions and didn’t really know what to do with myself.
I don’t know why, but baseball cards entered my mind. I went to YouTube and just typed in something simple like, “opening baseball card packs.” And I was surprised to see that it’s actually a pretty happening hobby still (maybe even more so than when I collected 10 years ago).
I became so invested in these videos, and would watch them whenever I got a chance. It was a little escape.
I slowly learned what the hot products on the market this year were and which ones were coming out. I learned about short print variations, the hot rookies, highly sought after cards. Everything.
It was awesome. When I was a kid, I collected more haphazardly. There was no method to my madness, I just collected anything and everything. But being older, learning about the ins and outs of the hobby, made me a more wise collector.
And collecting again is what I began doing.
If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll notice that I usually share the cards that I pull from packs or purchase on eBay. I usually collect the Mets, but I’m also a sucker for other young studs like Harrison Bader, Juan Soto, and Francisco Mejia.
2011 Topps Freddie Freeman rookie card
2014 Bowman Sterling Noah Syndergaard auto
2009 Bowman Chrome first auto Zack Wheeler xfractor
2018 Topps Gypsy Queen Harrison Bader auto
2018 Topps Tier One Jacob deGrom bronze auto /25
2018 Topps Chrome Tomas Nido auto pic.twitter.com/9tk6ghTmXB
— Rob P (@rtpiers) October 6, 2018
I even started a YouTube channel where you can watch me crack open packs.
I look back on this summer and am glad it’s over. I’m in a better place now, and the future looks optimistic. But in a way, a good thing from this summer was getting back into the hobby and which in some sense, helped me get on my feet again.
Cards are such a cool thing to keep you connected to the game. It kind of makes me laugh though. Something that was a hobby of mine when I was a six-year-old is something I love again now that I’m 23. But it’s so, so different now than it was then. Not in a bad way, I just appreciate it differently.
Ever wanna talk cards, shoot me a Tweet! I’ll be waiting. 🙂