Have you ever bought a pack of cards? Have you ever bought a box of cards? 24, 36, 48, maybe even a 72-pack box that gave you five hours of pain-stakingly, careful unwrapping joy. Hell yeah! We've all done it before. Remember when they sold em in gas stations? I guess they still do in some 7-11's and Exxon's. Used to be I couldn't go into a convenience store without buying a pack or two. It's that thrill of searching for a gem. I always imagined as a kid what it must have been like for someone back in 1952 to open up a pack of Topps to find the Mickey Mantle card. Of course at the time they would've had no idea exactly what they were holding. My uncle's favorite player was 'the Mick,' and when he and his friends bought cards they went right into the spokes of their bicycles. My uncle can only look down and sigh when he tells that story. We're all hoping and searching for that gem. It's out there hidden in a pile of packs like a golden ticket in a Wonka bar. A foolish pursuit to be sure, but fun nonetheless.
But this post is in no way dedicated to Rookie Cards or Rare Inserts. I'm not talking about pulling hundred-dollar cards from packs. I'm talking about the exact opposite. The post is titled, "This One's for you Spike." Only my best friend knows what I'm talking about here so let me let you in on it. Spike Owen is the guy I'm referring to and his cards to be specific, were the ones we dreaded getting the most. It's not that we had anything against Spike personally. Well actually yeah it was personal. The idea behind pack searching is to find cards that are valuable. Spike Owen's are what Beckett Price Guides refer to as "Commons," or common players whose cards aren't worth shit. The big, thick Beckett books from the early 90s always listed Common cards as being worth 3 cents. Now there's something for your Bike spokes. We knew, even back then, when you buy packs of cards you're going to get a bunch of them that are worthless. Spike Owen just so happened to be the card we got the most of. It seemed like every time we opened a pack, inevitably we were going to get a Spike Owen. It became a joke. We used to set fires, like most happy, out-going kids of our day, and we took pleasure in using stacks of Spike Owen cards for kindling. We were pissed off when
an action shot of Spike peeled off the deck we were flipping through from the pack we just spent money on. But like I said, it became an on-going joke for us when it got to the point when finding a Spike Owen meant laughing our ass' off. We knew it would be put to good use for the fun later that day.
I can't believe I took the time to find and photograph these Spike Owen cards from my collection. While digging through the boxes, I couldn't help but laugh at the irony. "Now I'm actually searching for this guy's card and hoping to find em." The Pathetic Irony was palpable. But it also serves to provide a little perspective, which I really appreciate as a writer. It takes time to find what you're looking for. It takes work to accomplish a pursuit. Money is well spent when it goes toward a pleasurable experience. These are the simplest of addages, but appreciating the simple things is very important in life. Making someone laugh or smile is no small thing. Giving someone a gift can be life affirming. Collecting sports cards is worth while if you enjoy it.
I no longer hate Spike Owen and his cards. I love Spike Owen's now. Sentimental value is what they have. I plan on giving a few to that best friend of mine this Christmas. I'll wrap his gift and place a few Spike's inside the packaging. You know Spike Owen made over 11 million dollars as a player and has been a long time coach in the Minor Leagues even to this day? That's no Common thing. The Major Leagues are the best of the best and having your picture printed on thousands of cards is an accomplishment worth being proud of. So my hat is off to you Spike Owen. I display your Cards with the Pride and Symbolism of enjoying the Card Collecting Hobby and never taking for granted the small things. The Search goes on so Happy Hunting.