Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Baseball Card Bully

I grew up on Long Island in the 80's. On summer days around 9am, every kid in the neighborhood would congregate on my street, in front of my house to play baseball. We did this EVERY SINGLE DAY. It was our own version of street ball. We'd cut the top off a Wiffle ball bat, load the barrel with wet newspaper to give it weight and then tape it up, usually with some kind of colored electrical tape. We'd self-hit a tennis ball, and run the bases. Curbs were foul poles. We'd yell out "CAR" quickly followed by "Game on" ala Garth in 'Wayne's World'.  Sliding meant road rash. Game's over when the first guys mom called him for dinner. It was the most fun, innocent time of my life.

On rainy days when we couldn't play, a select few would get together to trade cards. We'd go around the room for hours looking at each others collection, putting together trade bundles and then usually having it all fall apart at the last minute. So everyone went home with the same cards they came with. We called it "Trading Table". I don't think it was for any particular reason, we just thought it sounded cool. It was during one of these Trading tables that I had a memorable trade scenario play out that's worthy of mentioning here.

This particular rainy day found us all at my house going through stacks of cardboard when a random neighborhood kid, who we were not friends with came to my door. He said he'd heard we were trading and was interested in sitting in. We didn't really know him, we just knew we didn't like him. He also had a rep of being a bit if a bully, so we let him, basically because no one would tell him no. For the sake of this story I won't tell you his name. Let's just call him Shmohn Shmandaro. After sorting through some stuff Shmohn spotted something in my pile and his eyes lit up. He said, "Dude, do you know what you have here? That's Reggie Jackson's autograph. He was referring to a card I pulled earlier in the week, it was one of those 1990 Upper Deck inserts. It was obviously one of the facsimile auto's. This one:

Well, the bully wanted it. I even told him it wasn't the real one, but he wouldn't listen and insisted we trade for it. So here's my pickle, dude offers me a semi-beat up 1980 Rickey Henderson Rookie card. This at the time was my holy grail, condition didn't matter. So I traded him for it. Pretty good right?

Wrong, The next day Shmohn and his dad come knocking at my door saying he wants his sons Rickey Rookie back since I traded him a bogus Reggie auto. I shakily told the dad that his dumb-dumb kid full on knew it was a fake and yet he still wanted it. Long story short, I gave the cry-baby and his daddy back his Rickey.

Fast forward to last week. I picked up a box of 1990 UD High #'s for $17. It was an awesome break and totally covered my need for nostalgia. I even got a Re-tweet from Upper Deck about it! The best part? I pulled 5 more of that exact Reggie:

I Really wanted to go find Shmohn Shmandaro and throw them like Chinese stars at his fat head (Which is bald by the way). But screw it, I'll just keep them. I'll put them in a display case....Right next to my 1980 Rickey Henderson PSA 9 Rookie Card.