House of Cards

I knew I was in for a doozy of a nostalgia trip when I opened the first box.
I picked the worst time in recorded history to do two things. One was start investing in the stock market around the tech bubble and again in the past three years. The other was “investing” in baseball cards in the early 90s.

It was the worst of times, and the best of times if you were a little OCD. The baseball card industry started to blow up right around the time when I started to pay attention. In the 80s, you had Fleer, Donruss, and Topps. That was it. When the late 80s hit, a new kid came on the block called Upper Deck and all bets were off. By 1993 every card company started producing multiple sets of cards and the 50-cent pack was a thing of the past.

I started collecting around the time that the White Sox were good for the first time since 1983. Bobby Thigpen, Robin Ventura, Jack McDowell, and of course, Frank Thomas, came up during this time. Thigpen was my first favorite player but he was quickly replaced by the young slugger. Until the mid 90s, I tried to collect one of each Frank Thomas card that hit the market. I bought his 1990 Leaf rookie at its peak value of $60. Now it might fetch $10. For years I tried to collect one of each of his cards, and last night’s digging proved it.

I explicitly told my parents that if they couldn’t find someone to take the cards off my hands that they could toss everything. My parents listen as well as I do and the result was my dad unloading about 100 pounds of cards on me this weekend.
I assumed that I would look upon a pile of crap and immediately push it all to the curb for the trash man to dispose of. It’s never that easy. The first box I opened had some baseballs. I found two autographed baseballs, one of Nolan Ryan and the other of Michael Jordan. I found a certificate of authenticity for the Ryan one. The Jordan one is a less pretty autograph but certainly more rare. It’s probably going to find a home in my Man Cave.

My favorite box contained my best Frank Thomases (the big black guy who played for the White Sox, As and Blue Jays in the 90s/00s, not the white guy who played for the Pirates in the 60s). Proof that I indeed collected all of his cards was here. I had an MTV Rock and Jock softball game card, a couple of Jimmy Deans, a Donruss McDonalds MVP, and couple from gas station giveaways. When he came up, Thomas was the happiest guy in the world who also was a power hitter who took walks. He got surlier as his career continued, injuries mounted, and the White Sox let him go after winning a World Series without him.

This is not reflected in my collection. I do not have a card past the year 1995. At that point in his career he had two MVP awards and you could count on him hitting .300, walking 100 times, hitting 30 home runs and knocking in 100 runs. Anything was possible, except for any of these cards being worth a dime over what I paid for them.

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