From 1980 to 1985 I lived and breathed baseball cards. I would spend my allowance on these “cardboard treasures”, when the allowance was gone then came the spare change pursuit. No sofa cushion would go unturned to find a nickel, dime or an instant pack, a quarter. Every chance I had to go to a drug store or gas station with my parents fueled my passion. I was a card junkie and I needed my fix. This addiction spilled over to football and hockey cards as well, but never to the level of baseball cards I had amassed.
I not only collected cards, I studied them. I read every cartoon on the back and every highlight. I would sort them by team, then alphabetically. During “Monday Night Baseball” or any other broadcast, the rubber bands came off the two teams playing on TV. They not only went head to head on TV, they went head to head on my living room floor. Later in the season came set-building time. And eventually enduring the winter until the next year of cards would come out.
I spent many a dollar and many an hour with my cards, and I think they helped me learn a few things along the way. For one, I think they taught me organizational skills. By sorting and resorting my cards, I always kept them in neat piles or in team sets. I could find my 1982 Chet Lemon faster than Lucy could pull the football away from Charlie Brown. To this day I feel I am a highly organized person.
Any set collector knows his best friend is his want list. A want list is a list of cards needed to complete your set. It is very fulfilling to cross those off, especially the last few, to complete your set and move on to the next set. I am a list maker and it stems from my youth. Almost daily I make a list, cross things off and get things done.
If you ever opened fresh packs with your pals, you know what “got’em, got’em , need’em, got’em” means. After scanning your new inventory you were ready to make a trade and, in some cases, get into some heavy negotiating that would make Mr. Trump tremble at the mere thought of going toe to toe with you. I, like my pals, were trying to build sets, so deep down you wanted to help each other out in their quest. These early high-stake sessions helped instill a desire to try to do all my dealings with a “win-win” situation attitude.
I have been pretty much out of the hobby for 27 years now, but these simple routines, that most every young collector did, have transferred into some pretty cool life skills, if I do say so myself.