The Beginning.

4 Nov


My parents came home from a trip to our local flea market. It was a Wednesday morning ritual in those days. Get up early, treck to the neighboring town, walk around the hundreds of tables, filled with useless crap, and hope to score something good. For nothing.

Usually, it didn’t work like that.

There were moments that you struck gold. This particular Wednesday was one of those mornings. It was a vending box of 1985 Topps. My brother and I were ordered to split the cards up as evenly as possible.

Being the youngest, I decided this wasn’t fair, and in my immaturity, I grabbed a slice about 30 cards thick, right from the middle. This obviously tilted the balance in my favor.

After the ensuing argument calmed down, settled by me keeping the handful of cards and my brother being rewarded with a few extra for his troubles, we started to look through the cards.

Almost instantly, I found it. It was a Team U.S.A. card. Those distinctive red white and blue colors of the uniform with borders to match made for an eye popper in the relative boredom of the rest of the design of the set. I distinctly remember seeing the card for the first time. It was a boyish smiling face staring back at me, a bat casually slung over one shoulder, with a blue sky background and seats from a stadium. But the graphics and artwork aren’t the reason I remembered the card so vividly. It was the name…Mark McGwire.

Now, in 1985, Mark McGwire wasn’t a household name, and the only reason my young brain gave a shit about him was because his name was like mine — very Irish. A Mick. Like me. And he played for Team U.S.A. My brother and I sifted through more of the cards, hoping to score another. We did, in fact, I believe my brother scored big that day with 3 or 4 Olympic cards, while I only ended up with two – Cory Snider and McGwire.

I must have been on the cusp of my 7th birthday. It’s a magical time in youth, far from being a toddler, just wise enough to start seeing the world around you, but not hormonal enough to understand why you want to chase girls. Instead, a young boy can focus on silly things like “how does baseball work?” and “where do I get more of these joyous pieces of cardboard?”

Soon, I discovered the grocery store, where my mom worked was loaded with these cards, and I poured every penny I had into purchasing them.

It was 35 cents back then for a pack of cards. A little slice of heaven, paired with a slab of pure, cruddy, crusty, dusty, bubble gum hell. The package said bubble gum, but the flavor said “shit”. It didn’t matter, by that time, I was hooked.

Now it is time to start again.

One Response to “The Beginning.”

  1. Nicholas Andersen November 6, 2010 at 2:06 am #

    Let me guess, the Pine City flea market. I did a lot of card trading there. I am sure those old men ripped me off quite a bit. Great blog. I miss baseball.

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