The best memories I have of Christmas past have to do with baseball cards. As a child, the only thing that would rival the excitement Topps, Fleer or Donruss under the tree would bring me was maybe Super Mario Brothers 2 for Nintendo. At $60, it was a HUGE price tag for my family, but to this day, ask me if I’d rather play something on the PS4 or Super Mario, I’ll probably go with the moustachioed plumber.
There is nothing quite like learning from Super Mario Brothers 2 that it is okay to play as the princess (when no one was around) because of her sustained jumping abilities.
Let’s be honest, though. Christmas for me (and maybe you as well) was about baseball cards. My parents would complain about my Christmas list being all about baseball cards. Here is what one such list may look like:
1986 Donruss The Rookies complete set
1987 Donruss Barry Bonds & Bobby Bonilla rookies
1987 Fleer wax packs (these suckers were expensive! $7 a pack!)
1988 Score complete set
1988 Fleer Update complete set
1989 Fleer wax box
1991 Topps wax box
1992 Donruss wax box
Notice a certain 1986 Donruss rated rookie not being on the list. Not because I already had it, because I didn’t. It was simply too expensive to even dream about.
Ahhhh, the possibilities! Imagine pulling a sweet 1987 Fleer Kevin Mitchell out of one of these. (I did pull an ’87 Fleer Kevin Mitchell out of a vending machine from a swim park – it completely made up for the fact I had almost drowned an hour earlier.)
The list above was a pie in the sky wish list. Back in 1992, you were probably looking at $200 to get all of those items. Nowadays? About $30 total, if you aren’t counting shipping.
I even asked for back issues of Beckett Monthly I did not yet have. Back then, aside from our friends (who ALL collected baseball cards) magazines like Beckett and Tuff Stuff were all we had to hold us over through the cruel off season until Spring Training. The only time my Christmas present snooping proved to be fruitful was when I found a small stack of Beckett magazines in my parent’s closet. (Note to children out there: do not rummage through your parent’s stuff – it could scar you for life!)
No, I did not keep a pile of these for the past several decades. I picked up the spread shown above several months ago for some projects I have ideas for.
Y’all – we need a time machine and ASAP. Check out what I found inside this bad boy:
Flip to the 1952 Topps page and ….
1952 Topps Mickey Mantle for $3,000 in NM condition! I figured this would be a fun way to commemorate the reason we need that time machine:
So many childhood memories of mine are attached to cards and Christmas. Like the time my family went to dinner and I found a sealed box of 1992 Donruss in the back seat of our car. Dad snapped at me for finding it – he rarely did this, so it stuck out. Regardless, that beautiful, mouth-watering 1992 Donruss wax box was in my mind for the next week until Christmas.
My brain would dance with possibilities of what could be pulled. Forget about the 5000 personally autographed verbiage on the front – it was just background noise to me as I knew darn well hitting one of those would be less likely than winning the lottery without purchasing a ticket. It is funny to think that while Donruss got a significant quality upgrade in 1992, there was still literally nothing good to be pulled for the average Joe. Those Diamond Kings though… they were definitely beautiful!
I also remember waking up early and seeing a 1987 Donruss Barry Bonds rookie card peaking out of my stocking. To my parents, it was a piece of cardboard. To me, it was a prized possession – an artifact that somehow connected me with one of baseball’s best players at the time. A status symbol.
“Tanner, do you think Bonds is good?”
“Barry Bonds?” (I say in a cool tone.)
“Yeah, I think he’s good.”
“I have his ROOKIE card.”
<Walks away like a boss>
What memories do you have of Christmas and baseball cards?