I can trace back a lot of who I am to one person. My love of science comes from monthly science experiment kits that would arrive at my house; before that, Highlights Magazine, ZooBooks, and other educational magazines spurred my interest in the world and in learning. Frequent visits to bookstores and the library fostered my love of reading and writing. Trips to the theater to see ballet, concerts, and musicals has led to my interest in the entertainment arts. Lego blocks, Micro Machines, and Hot Wheels? I love city design, architecture, and road trips. All that says nothing about the life lessons I learned during our time together.
As a budding card collector living in the San Francisco Bay Area during the late 1980s to early 1990s, I was an Oakland A's fan. And in 1989, Jose Canseco was the next Hank Aaron, coming just off his 40-40 season.
That summer, using the phone book, we visited card shops around San Francisco and even went out to Berkeley. I remember a couple shops in SF became my favorites along with the local card shop in Santa Clara.
By the way, does anybody know Stevens Creek Sports Cards? That was my haunt as a kid around 1989-1991, before I moved to Georgia. The store still exists, and the owner is the same guy that was there when I visited when I was young. Another store I remember was called King's, in Berkeley, though I don't recall liking it much. Later (2010-2011), another shop in/near Berkeley would become a favorite for having realistic prices and fun in-shop auctions, though they have closed down.
And on that same note, does anyone remember a pretty big card shop in/near Detroit? They had tons of boxes - some cheap stuff too - and fantastic showcases. When I returned to Detroit after getting back into cards, the shop was either gone, moved, or unlocatable. Whatever happened to it? I'd probably remember the name if someone told me.
And if you lived in Atlanta in the 1990s, do you remember a shop called Who's On First? John Metasavage was the owner, and it was maybe two miles from my house. I miss that shop a lot, and I'm wondering how he's doing.
On one of my first visits to a card shop in San Francisco, on 17th or 19th Avenue around Judah/Irving, I saw the card above in a showcase. At $50, it wasn't cheap. At all. These days, I can hop on COMC and get a PSA 9 version for less than that... before inflation. It is an iconic card to this day, though, and at about $5 at the cheapest still remains one of the pricier base cards from the junk wax eras. But the card ended up in my collection, and I still have it today. In fact, I have two copies - the scan you see above is a card I grabbed from a bargain bin at a price too good to ignore.
The original card remains put away in a safe place, not for monetary value, but sentimental value. It was the first key card I had in my collection. And I still remember that day in my mind, visiting the shop, seeing the card, and having it as my own. And this was just the beginning; eventually, when I moved to Georgia, my collecting habits would be encouraged by card shipments from California of new boxes.
Collecting cards, seemingly just a way to waste money, has benefited me a lot. It is a lifelong hobby which has certainly helped me enjoy my life in Japan even more. Cards have brought me joy I've needed when I've been depressed. This blog has brought me lots of new friends and helped me even accept myself more as a person. I've learned about history through baseball and non-sport issues. I've become a very logically-oriented, organized thinker.
For all this I have my grandmother to thank. While there was a lot she did for me my whole life, her support of my hobby really helped me develop into the person I am today. Just a few of my memories of her are of us collecting cards, along with thousands of other memories of my experiences with her, but those are some of my favorites.