by Fine Diner
Hang around any flea market, antique show or
memorabilia shop, and you're bound to eventually cross
paths with someone who has made the ultimate find - a gem
that accidentally fell into his crown of collectibles and
suddenly became the centerpiece of the whole lot.
Not only does he marvel at the piece, but also at the way
he felt he got "something for nothing". We all
know about getting something for nothing - most of the
time, there is someone lurking about more than willing to
remind us of the rule that "you get what you pay
for." But every now and then, if you are lucky
enough, you get much more than what you paid for.
I've been into sports collectibles as long as I have been
into sports. As a kid, I collected baseball cards,
refusing to follow the norm and either flip them for
winnings or stick them in my bike spokes. Straight into
the shoeboxes they went, although they came out regularly
so I could amass my dream team or memorize statistics.
They were prized possessions all, except maybe the 12
Roger Repozes I amassed in my search for one Carl
Yastrzemski. Equally prized were the autographs - Jim
Lonborg, Harmon Killebrew, etc.
As I got older, I stopped collecting regularly. I was
pretty regular for about six or eight years, but college
came and I was off to the big city. After getting into
journalism, I started getting cards just to analyze their
content, design, and photographs. I compared them from
year to year, grading them, deciding how I would make
In 1979, after years of baseball and basketball cards
(with a sprinkling of specialty cards like Dr. Who) I
decided on a whim to buy five packs of hockey cards. A
first for me, I could not resist checking them out. I
liked the design, especially the stats overlaid in a
shadowed area the shape of a skate.
I looked them over, and tossed them in a box. And, as it
turned out, totally forgot about them. About 15 years
later, after picking up a Beckett's collecting magazine
in a store, I noticed that my three Rickey Henderson
Rookie Cards were priced over $100, apiece and my most
prized card - the 1968 Nolan Ryan Rookie he shared with
Jerry Koosman, was climbing toward $1,000. "I've got
a gold mine!" I thought.
Just for the fun of it, I started digging through old
cards, most of which I paid a couple of pennies for. A
rookie Robin Yount, a rookie Cal Ripken
leaped as I flipped the pages. My retirement fund!
Eventually, I found the hockey cards
most of the
guys had come and gone, but there was a Mike Bossy.
Suddenly, I was staring at a mint condition Wayne Gretzky
rookie. Most everything else I had I realized I had, but
did not realize at the time that this rookie card in 1979
would belong to one of the three greatest players of all
time. Now the card, worth $600 last I saw, takes up space
in the safe deposit box with old friends Nolan, Rickey,
Cal, Robin and Mickey. Ironically, it was the only year I
ever bought any hockey cards.
HOT OFF THE PRESS
congratulates the winner of our April drawing:
She has won a "Greatest Sports Fan" Beer Mug
and 3 packs of UpperDeck MVP Basketball cards for