Tuesday, December 18, 2012

This card has a special place in my heart.  Back in the late 80s I learned that I was to be a Philadelphia Phillies fan from my Grandma.  She told me about Richie Ashburn, Michael Jack and Johnny Podres.  My Grandma and my Dad were the 'phanatics' and it was decreed that I too was to become one.  Then in the Fall of 1987, we took a ride down old PA-95 to Veteran Stadium to see Michael Jack Schmidt and the Phils take on the arch rival, hated nemesis New York Metropolitans.  Ok we never called them the 'metropolitans' for christ's sake.  It was 1987, not 1887.  Anyway that was my first MLB game, sitting in the upper deck in the freezing cold.  It had to be Fall, late in the season and I'm sure the Phillies were in last place.  The experience was terrible cuz I was 6 years old and the players looked like the little plastic cowboys and indians I played with at my Grandma's house.

Though my first baseball experience was traumatic, somehow my infatuation with the game developed and progressed into a love of cards and memorabilia.  Mike Schmidt was the best player on the Phillies so therefore he was my favorite player.  My Dad told me all about the 1980 World Series and how Mike was the star of that team.  I learned from some Steelton-Highspire elementary school libary books that Michael Jack was a Gold Glove Winner and a member of the 500 Home Run Club.

Front Street in Steelton, or Route 441 for you map readers and truckers, was the site of my favorite Card Shop.  Spank's was the name of the shop where young boys like myself would run after school with their lunch money to buy a few packs of Topps, Donruss and Fleer cards.  I especially liked looking at all the old cards Mr. Spank had in his glass case collection.  I remember looking in awe at his 1968 Nolan Ryan Rookie card and a Pro Set Raghib Ismail card where the 'Rocket' was running down the field for the Fighting Irish to score a touchdown.  And of course the creme dela creme, 1973 Topps Ron Cey, John Hilton and Mike Schmidt Rookie Card was the one I marveled at most.  "That one's a little out of your price range sonny," he told me.  Mr. Spank had that Schmidt on sale for $500 so I could only dream about owning that prize of a possession.

So here she is in all her glory.  Any prized collectible or gun or fine automobile is always referred to in the female gender.  And though this isn't the one from Mr. Spank's shop, it might as well be because it's not just a Mike Schmidt Rookie Card.  And it's not just a pretty piece of cardboard with pictures on it.  It's every thought and every word and every memory I hold dear about my childhood.  In that regard, I think I speak for every collector and I know all of you out there have a special 1 in your collection just like this.  Someday my son or daughter will feel the same way about it.

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