Sunday, July 20, 2008

My Original Cards - Post #1

My Original Cards!

Ever since I started buying cards last year after more than a decade away from the hobby, I've wondered about the cards I originally collected as a kid. I was absolutely obsessed with them from around age 7 until I was 13 or so. Like many kids my age, I'd spend hours just flipping through binders or thumbing through my commons boxes, reading the names, memorizing the stats, resorting and reorganizing. When I reached high school I moved on to other things. My time and energy were instead devoted to things like music, girls, crappy part-time jobs and underage drinking. My card collection was carefully packaged and banned to the basement. A couple of years later, we moved. My parents have always been pack rats, so after the move my carefully packaged card collection ended up somewhere in the basement or the garage, both of which are literally packed floor to ceiling with junk.

Yesterday I was visiting my parents and looking through the garage with my brother when something caught my eye. Buried away in a back corner and covered in junk was a green Rubbermaid box that looked all too familiar. After about 10 minutes of excavation I was finally able to free the box and confirm my suspicion, it contained some of my old sports card collection! I immediately packed it in my car exactly as it was, cards, magazines, dirt and grime included.

Finding this box was like finding a time capsule from when I was 14 years old. It gave me such a great feeling that I was actually glad I took some time away from the hobby. Now I can enjoy these cards all over again, as if I were seeing them for the first time. So far I've resisted the temptation to look through the contents, I've decided it will be more fun for me if I take it a piece at a time and show some of the goods on my blog.

It will be interesting to see how this stuff faired after more than 10 years of storage in a musty basement and then a garage that had 2 broken windows, exposing the inside to the elements. There was no lid on the box, which could also be a contributing factor to the state of the items inside. As an example of just what kind of condition this box is in, it seems that some type of insect at one point made a home in one of the handles:

For this first post, I'm going to take a look at a binder facing upright near the front of the box. I didn't have official sports card binders during my first crack at collecting, but instead had spare 3-ring binders that my dad would scavenge from his office job. I also recall using some cheap 9 pocket sheets to fill them. My dad probably figured (and I agree) that it wasn't worth spending the money on Ultra-Pro sheets to protect cards that would probably end up pretty dinged up and were undoubtedly sorted more than once by someone with Cheeto residue on their hands. I recall being frustrated on more than one occassion by the pockets peeling back as I attempted to slide cards into them.

This particular binder isn't too thick, and quite a bit of crap has settled on the exposed edges of the pages. Will it contain one of my prized Topps hockey sets, my Cal Ripken Jr. collection, or maybe some Hartford Whalers team sets? Man, this is better than Christmas! Time for the moment of truth...

Sweet Jesus, my 1992-93 Topps Stadium Club basketball set! I think I was into basketball cards for about 10 minutes growing up, and this is the only set I ever purchased. Countless hours of yard work were logged in order to come up with the funds for this one. I never really got into following basketball or collecting the cards, but if I remember correctly Shaq was just emerging on the NBA scene and his cards were the hot item at the time. Before I check out the binder I do have to say that is some impressive custom artwork on the front. Just check out the detail on that basketball! Not too shabby considering this was created before Windows '95 even existed. Let's take a look inside...

It just keeps getting better and better! Looks like I had just enough room in here to cram in my 12 card 1991 Fleer Pro-Visions insert set! I hate to admit it, but I ripped a lot of God-awful, bright yellow 1991 Fleer back in the day, and these Pro-Vision cards are from an era when pulling an insert actually meant something (or at least felt like it). I have to say, as bad as the '91 Fleer set was, these insert cards still look great to me, better than half of the insert cards you'd pull from a modern day set. Way to go Fleer.

I can't believe I would've stored these in here without some Fleer Pro-Vision artwork to go along with the basketball on the front of the binder, I guess I wasn't as anal as I thought. There are a page and a third of Pro-Vision cards, and I do mean page and a third, as I literally cut one third of a nine pocket sheet out to hold the last 3 Pro-Vision cards that wouldn't fit on the first sheet. Some things clearly had to be sacrificed in the name of organization. After that we have the entire 1992-93 Stadium Club basketball set in all its glory. If I was only going to purchase a single basketball set, I certainly picked a good one. This 400 card set has the simplistic design and wonderful full-bleed photos that Stadium club was known for, at least in its early years. Just click on the picture above for the full-size shot and check out the picture of Jordan dunking right over someone (Patrick Ewing?) on his card for proof. Also note the mysterious brown substance on the edge of the binder, ugh!

There's a great blend of cards here, from the all time greats like Michael Jordan and Larry Bird to the next generation of up and coming stars like Shaquille O'Neal and Larry "Grand-Ma-Ma" Johnson. While there is some definite wear to the binder and a few of the sheets, the cards themselves appear to be exactly as I left them so long ago. What a great start to a box full of surprises. I'll scan and post a few of my favorite cards from this binder when I get some time...

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