Want to recall special sports memories? Itís all in the cards

I made a surprising discovery recently, quite by accident. With my son – who lives out of state – turning 40 next year, I wanted to do something special to celebrate the big 4-0, and I also wanted it to be a gift he might want to hold onto and (hopefully) treasure for many years to come. 

Jason became a father recently, but it wasn’t without some scary moments. I will spare the details of my grandson’s birth out of deference to his family’s privacy and the space limitations for this column. The important thing is that my grandson is now 5 months old and getting stronger every day – the little dude is a fighter – and appears to have left the worst behind him. 

After trying to recall things my son and I did together when he was a boy, it dawned on me that there was one thing he really enjoyed as a kid: collecting baseball cards. I’m pretty sure he also dabbled some in the other major sports too, but baseball cards were the runaway first choice. We spent a lot of time going to baseball card shows, card shops, and the like in our never-ending pursuit of whatever the “hot” card at the time was. We had a blast chasing those mutual goals together, which I will always treasure. 

Make no mistake, I was an eager participant in this card collecting “frenzy” since it transported me back to pleasant memories from my own childhood, and the memories of collecting baseball cards along with my brother. Had I held onto them, I probably would have had a pretty nice collection, but as I remember, in my teens I sold the cards to my brother while in the midst of a financial crisis. (I needed beer money, which at the time definitely qualified as a crisis.) Obviously, my vision at the time was a bit short-sighted. But hey, no sense crying over spilt Stroh’s, right?   

Anyway, I decided my birthday gift to my son would be comprised of a set of baseball cards from his birth year (1978) and in 10-year increments after that. He will get Topps baseball card sets from ’78, ’88, ’98, ’08, and ’18 on his birthday next year, each set stored in its own binder. The 1978 set is the only one that will require some cash to assemble (a nice set is more than $200), and I am going to try and put this together by hand. I probably have one-third of the set already (thank you, eBay). 

There was a glut of baseball card companies beginning in the early 1980s, which resulted in massive over-production and saturation of baseball cards in the country. The result is that cards for the ’88 and ’98 years will be almost free (less than $15 and $40, respectively). By 2008, many card companies had either gone out of business or had seriously cut back on production, which returned some value to the hobby once again. The ’08 cards will run about $60 for a set and the ’18 cards will be slightly more. But oh, the memories each decade is sure to evoke! I hope to find some photos from each decade of his life which I can strategically place with the cards. Nice touch, eh? 

Anyone care to hazard a guess as to what my grandson is going to get on his first birthday this August?

Jeff Bing

Lifelong Westlake resident who dabbles in writing whenever the real world permits. My forte is humor and horror...What a combo!

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Volume 9, Issue 3, Posted 9:56 AM, 02.07.2017