Collecting baseball cards has been one the best pastimes for young and old. Do you remember saving money so you could go to the store and get your hands on a new pack of cards? The smell of the cards, the texture of the wrapping and of course there was the bubble gum. I remember I used to get at least 2 or 3 of them every week. I was working in a store and had to save money for them. My father really didn’t believe baseball cards would be a massive thing. He bought me the occasional pack, but it was pretty much up to me to get them.
The best part was trading. There would always be at least a couple of cards that would be almost impossible to get. You would go through your friends’ packs to try to get them. Sometimes you would end up trading 2 of your cards for 1 card from the other boy’s stash. But hey, that was the price for completing your set. Some of these cards would sell for crazy prices back then. I mean, crazy prices for me. While the pack would cost a quarter, there would be single cards that would sell for that price or more.
Of course, when you are working at the local grocery, you’re not making that much money. I was surprised when cards started going up in price. One of the most coveted ones was the Babe Ruth. It was like having the holy grail of cards. Many years later, you would see those cards going for thousands of dollars. They had to be in mint condition, but it was a card anyway.
The most valuable cards were the ones with a golden or silver backing. When you saw those colors, your eyes instantly filled with dollar signs. It may sound dumb but back in the day, trading cards was one of the few things you could do as a child and get money for. Oh… that and working at the grocery store. That was pretty much it.
Steve Winfree of Knoxville, Tennessee is one of those old-school card collectors. Getting those packs from his wife really bring him comfort as he sits in the hospital bed waiting on dialysis. Steve was diagnosed with kidney disease 14 years ago. He has gout and Type 1 Diabetes. Recently, his kidney function got so bad that he became a perfect candidate for a transplant, but getting the actual transplant is another. The waiting periods are so long, some people pass away while still on the list.
One day, he gets a visit from his wife. She brought him another pack of cards. One by one Steve starts going over them. He reads them aloud… a couple of valuable players. Then a platinum edition card. After a couple more, he runs across a new card. It’s a card with his picture. And it’s an official Tops baseball card. His wife asks him to read the back part. When he does, it brings tears to his eyes.