This is a respost from my sports blog “My Sports Obsession”. Not long after I posted this over there, is when I realized that I enjoy writing this stuff out and started to use this blog more. Granted, it is about sports cards, but it’s also about my father and now that this blog is up and running, it seems like a good fit here as well.
I have a post that I need to get out about the Boy Scout trip yesterday so who knows, maybe you’ll get 2 posts today.
This was originally published on Feb. 1, 2012
I just finished reading a post by AJ over at "the Lost Collector" about a kid excited about the 2012 release of Topps and his father taking him to the store to get them. Click here for the story. And it got me wondering if my dad would have collected with me. Before I continue with this post, I'm going to give you just a quick summary. My father was diagnosed with cancer around 1979 or so and passed away in the summer of 1981. I was 8 years old then. From what I've heard and remember is he was a huge baseball fan and was a diehard Cubs fan. My mom tells a story about when I got home from the hospital after being born, how he gave me a pencil and started throwing paper wads at me hoping I could hit. He was big into the strat-o-matic games back then as well. I don't remember cards ever being around back then so I don't think he collected. I'm guessing the neighborhood kids got me into it.
My first thought after reading AJ's post was that was awesome that somebody young was into cards that much. I've said before on this blog that I think when our generation dies off, so will the baseball card collectors. My second thought was, I wonder if my dad would have taken me to get cards. Then it slammed into me. 1981. The year my father died. The 1st year I started collecting. Now I can't tell you if it was just coincidence or if they are related. But now I wonder if I didn't go into card collecting full steam after my dad had passed to subconsciously keep him around. I know growing up, that I invented a dice baseball game just to create stats. The number rolled corresponded with what happened at that at bat. And I would keep an actual book and keep all the stats for each player on my team. Even pitching stats. My mom used to tell me that I was so my fathers son, because he was that way. I don't really remember a whole lot about him so I don't know if any of this is true or not. I might have to investigate.
But what I really started to wonder was, would we had made a father/son duo in the collecting world? Would he have taken me to all the local card shows and shops? Would we have gone to games together? Would we open packs and get excited at what each other's pulled? I would like to think so, but we'll never know for sure.
What I do know is, those questions I asked above, my mom did those. She used to take me to the Pierre Moran mall so I could spend my allowance at the coin & card shop. She'd listen to me ramble on and on about my cards all the while pretending to be interested (like my wife does now). My grandparents lived in Glen Ellyn (suburb of Chicago) and we used to make family trips to Wrigley. But as awesome that my mom was with that stuff, I can't help but wonder what could have been.
One of my last memories of my father was a birthday party for him at the Glen Ellyn house. I remember the cake and even what he was wearing that day. But I also associate that day as being a month before he died.
I know we still made trips to Glen Ellyn after he had passed. My grandfather was a pastor there and lived next door to the church. Now that I'm older I realize it was probably the parsonage. But I remember a younger guy, a youth pastor or assistant pastor or something to that effect, lived in the lower level. And I remember how much I loved to go through his filing cabinets. Because they were full of cards. The only thing I remember as to what cards were there are he had them in order of teams rubber banded together. And on the top of each stack, was the 1981 Topps team card. So sometime between my father dying, and meeting this guy was when I started collecting.
One thing is for certain. 1981 was a significant year for me. In my personal life and my card collecting life. Here is something else to throw at you, my dad died at the age of 30. Now here I am, exactly 30 years later, trying to collect the first set I collected. 1981. The year my life changed forever.
UPDATE: I've texted my mom and she doesn't remember my dad collecting. He did as a kid but his mother threw those out later. I also texted my grandfather, (yes, my 80+ year old grandparents text) and they lived in Glen Ellyn between 1981-1982 so my memory serves me correct on that point.