Back in 1988 or somewhere near there I somehow fell into the hobby of baseball cards. This was the days of wax packs you could get by the box at Price Club. We were always at Price Club as my parents had a restaurant at the time and it was ‘The Place’ for wholesale and bulk things that you would need. We were always needing Heinz Ketchup, Mustard, and as I saw it, retail boxes of 1988 Topps baseball cards – with gum! I at one time had so many common singles of 1988 Topps I had no idea what to do with them. Later on it was 1989 Topps and then they dropped a pallet of Donruss and Score on the floor and I was in heaven. Lets not forget the smell of those cards. Cards in that era had a very distinct smell of whatever the blend of paper and ink was along with that hard nasty stick of gum. That smell lingered for days in the living-room and I can still almost re-produce it in my head just writing this.
And who can forget the Beckett Baseball Card Monthly, I remember when I found out about this magazine and it was subscription time for me. I still remember it to this day going through all these cards and putting them in numerical order and sifting through the Beckett seeing if there was a arrow pointing up or down next to the card prices denoting what the current market was doing with a particular card. That magazine was the go to guide and still is to this day for card pricing. You could still send cards to some of the players with an S.A.S.E. and they would sign them and mail them back. I had many Rickey Jordan and Mark Grace autographs as trade material. It was during these years that I decided as a young teenager that Jose Canseco was my favorite player and why not? The dude could literally smash a baseball as far as he wanted and I am still to this day surprised that the stitches on the ball held up to the monstrous force coming from his Worth bat. I still remember like it was yesterday that I just had to have a Jose Canseco Rookie Card – the 1986 Donruss #39. This card was the untouchable for a teenager at over $100 just for a piece of paper with a picture of a cuban. I never saw one or held one in my hand and if I did it was maybe at a card show here and there as it was one of the most sought after cards, they were scarce. I would crack open the Beckett every month and watch it climb and at times upwards to $125 and more! Those prices didn’t last long as new more exciting guys came and newer cards were coming out like the 1989 Upper Deck which set a whole new standard for baseball card companies.
Here comes the highlight of my card hobby days. My mom picks me up from school one day and as we are driving through our little town it was then I realized I had really good reading abilities in my peripheral vision. All I remember sticking in my head was ‘Sports Cards’ and I said “Mom, I think there is a baseball card store in town! I just saw the sign!” and now all could think about was getting there but I wasn’t going without my cards! We hit the driveway and I ran in the house and dumped all my school books on the floor and stuffed my card album into the bag and I think I may have almost ran to the new store that I swore said ‘Sports Cards’. It was a short walk from my house and it was in the old 2-story Hyder Building. I was getting closer and closer and the closer I got the more excited I got and I stopped right in front of the store and looked at the glass window “Sports Cards”. That was the day I became friends with two brothers, Jim and Bob Wyndell. They had a few glass cases and a wall of wax and foil packs just like you would expect in a sports cards store and that was enough to get me in the door every day to stare at cards in the case, look through others books, trade cards and every once in a while toss a card in the case for consignment to buy more packs. There was a lot of memories in that store and the first time I had a card stolen from me – it was a 89 Upper Deck #1 Ken Griffey Jr that was worth about $75 bucks then. I got it back as the idiot made it obvious he was stealing it.
At this time it was in the early 90’s and wax & foils were still cost-effective around $1.25 to $2.00 a pack and the inserts and specials were literally impossible to find and I know this because I spent who knows how much trying to find a 1991 Donruss Jose Canseco Elite and never even seen an Elite pulled for any player. There was only 10,000 printed and I was bound to become one of them…. and it never happened – in my childhood anyways. So some time later and many of cards traded, sold, bought and whatnot from various people in Jim’s store he decided to sell it to a woman named Cindy whose last names escapes me. She moved it down the road and around the corner and I spend just as much time in there if not more than I did when Jim owned it.
Everyone knew I was a Canseco fan. This was getting towards the end of his career and he was getting injured quite a bit with back spasms and whatnot. His Donruss rookie card was around $60 then and all I knew was I didn’t have one and have still yet to see one. What I didn’t know was that Cindy was on a hunt for one of these for my dad. I remember getting it from my dad as a gift and I can still picture that card in my head. The edges were perfect and the corners were so sharp they could probably cut glass, and the centering was absolutely perfect all the way around. If I would’ve sent it to BCG I am positive to this day it would’ve received a pristine 10 and I would bet money on that. I had it in my possession until me and my wife’s first house. I kept it right next to my gun in the closet and every once in a while I would pull it out and think of how long it took Cindy to find this perfect card considering I have never seen one, ever, especially in this condition…. she found one in pristine condition! The day came to move and when I got to the closet to pack up it was gone. We emptied that house and there was nothing but walls, ceiling, and floor and the card was literally gone. My most prized card that took me years to get, this card was literally almost worthless at the time and still is to this day at maybe $10 non-slabbed and ungraded on a good day. Nonetheless I decided after we moved I needed to pony up and get me another one and I settled for a PSA 9 (still searching for the BGS 10, though for the right price, I will settle for a 9.5 but the goal is a BGS Pristine 10 – so contact me if you have a prospect with a decent price).
I still buy Canseco cards here and there trying to rebuild my collection, which is easy, as they are literally worthless to others, but I still hold a childhood value to them. The 1991 Donruss Elite that I wanted, I found one for cheap. 1986 Fleer Update, got it. 1986 Donruss Rookies #22, got it. Hell his 1983 Fritsch Madison Muskies fell into my lap slabbed with a BGS 9. I think the guy thought I was weird giving him money for it and was probably surprised I didn’t ask him to pay me to take it. Yeah, it is that bad, but that is ok because some day I will get all the Canseco cards. Strange enough after all these years – I am still a Canseco fan and yes I have one Beckett in my house, an October 1990 issue featuring Jose Canseco on the cover.