When my dad brought my old baseball card book when he came to visit a few years ago, I gave it a quick look and stuck it under the bed. When I felt the sting of cardboard lust again last fall, I pulled it out and gave it a closer look.
It is a veritable time capsule of bad wax, and some of the birth of the new, so to speak. The future stars who fizzled sprinkled with hall of famers and soon-to-be hall of famers. Like this random page I opened up to. There were seven Steve Averys on the page, mostly rookies, with a pairof Glavines in the middle. Peaking through the spot where an Avery was is a Scott Erickson, and other great hope. Avery got off to a great start back in the day, and then suffered an arm injury and was never the same. Glavine, of course is one of the greatest of all time. But back then, if I remember correctly, they were on the same footing, if Avery didn't have a little more hype.
That is a very, very yellow '91 Fleer, a pair of '89 Topps draft pick cards, a '91 Stadium Club (which once booked at $5 and was one of my best cards back then) '88 Donruss Glavine, '88 Score Glavine and what would have been 3 straight '90 Donruss if I hadn't taken one. Instead a '92 Stadium Club Erickson peaks though the hole.
Another random page, with similar results. A pair of '91 UD Rickey and Lou stolen base cards, both the original and the updated version after Rickey broke the record. A Reggie Jefferson from 1992 Donruss, and then some real gems from back in the day, a minor league Brien Taylor and a '91 Topps Brien Taylor. Taylor was a big freaking deal back in the day, and I remember being excited and sort of relieved when I pulled that Topps card. Happy because it was a good pull, relief because I had pulled it. I had what was for a little while, at least in my world, THE card of '91 Topps. Chipper was good too, as was a guy named Benji Gil, but I had the good 1991 Topps done. That is Rated Rookie Sam Militello right center.
Then a pair of cards of one of the best ever ever ever. A gold parallel leaf rookie of Pedro, with a regular old '92 UD rookie beside him. I remember pulling the Pedro leaf, and being kind of 'eh' about it. Maybe it is worthless now, but it is Pedro, and a gold leaf rookie, and that makes it awesome in my eyes. There is Brian Jordan peeking over his shoulder, too.
A page of broken dreams, dominated by Pat Listach, 1992 Rookie of the Year. I think the card says Diamond Debut or something. I remember being excited about pulling that, too, out of a box of the stuff my grandfather bought me. He used to buy me boxes at Sams Club.
That is a 1988 Edgar Martinez in the corner. You can see who got the hype. The shiny green cards are Score Select. You can see the birth of the shiny era before you eyes.
The second page of the book is a book of random "vintage" which was just old back then. That is five hall of famers and a guy who should be, El Tiante. None of them were in the hall back then. There is an Andy Van Slyke there too, one of my favorite players back then, although I have no idea why. We have an '84 Topps, an '80 Topps Carew, an '81 or '82 Donruss Ainge (my grandfather bought it for me because he played for the Celtics) a 1969 Topps, one of my oldest cards that I had completely forgotten about. An ugly old 1983 Fleer Stargell and a 1981 Topps. '80 Niekro, '81 Donruss Winfield and '82 Ozzy. A great page. There is another sort of random page like that in the middle of the book with a '76 Niekro, a really nice '83 Seaver, '84 Raines All Star, '84 Donruss Rose, '82 Topps Pat Dodson, a '76 Rick Cerone and nice '83 Jim Palmer. It is between a page of 1993 UD star rookies with the likes of Sterling Hitchcock and Dave Mlikci and Tim Costo, and some Donruss Triple Play gallery of stars, Griffey, Thomas and Ripken.
It is fun to look though the old book, which has its share of good pages, like the pages with early early Griffeys, radioactive yellow Mo Vaughns and the "future stars" of the 1990s, like Juan Gone and Joey/Albert Belle mixed with the clunker draft pick cards of guys who never made the show.
I thought about gutting the book and starting over, and even added a few cards here and there, a few more recent Ripkens and a 1985 Mattingly I pulled a few months ago. I think I stuck a Griffey in there too on one of the Griffey pages. I am starting to reconsider though. What say you, occasional reader? Gut the book, or leave it as a time capsule of my youth?