On the way home she asked me if I knew any players. In that moment, I couldn't think of any. There were several that I had met before(some more than once) but did I consider myself friends or even acquaintances with any? I told her I'd have to think about it. By the time we got home, I had come up with a few. As we looked through our haul from the show, I told her stories about three players. When she was done listening, she asked if they made cards for them and did I own any? We searched for whatever cardboard existed for those players and found out that I didn't own any. Tracking down cards for each of them has been fun and I've really enjoyed sharing my progress on this new aspect of my PC with her. She gets almost as excited as I do when a new addition arrives! That's the (not so)brief backstory of this new, series of posts.
I have 2 older brothers. They're 9 and 10 years older than me. We grew up in a small town with an everyone knows everyone kinda vibe. I vaguely recall watching them play a few high school baseball games and to this day, I have random memories of a few people from their circle of friends. Most of those memories are negative because not many of them wanted to be nice to their friends' annoying, little brother. There was one of their teammates that was always nice to me though. Brian would always ask me how I was doing and give me a high five. He was in the group of friends that my brothers hung out with for a few years and then he graduated a year or two before my oldest brother. As far as I knew, he fell off the face of the planet. Fast forward about four years. The year was 1988 and I was enjoying what might as well have been 'only child status' which was slightly dampened by the fact that my mom had taken an office position in the middle school I was entering in the fall. Throughout my fourth-grade year, my after-school routine would have me walk 2 blocks and cross one street to meet my mom at her office. There I would do my homework and find something to keep myself occupied for an hour or so, until the end of her workday. The school guidance counselors worked in the same office as her so they got to know who I was pretty fast. If they were in the office and not terribly busy when I would walk in, they would often chat with me about whatever was new and exciting. One of them in particular, Mr. Golden, knew I loved baseball(and baseball cards) and would tell me stories about his son playing in college. One day shortly after the start of my fifth-grade year, I walked into the office and my mom told me that Mr. Golden wanted to chat with me in his office. His door was open, but I remember knocking sheepishly without peeking my head into the open doorway. He told me to come on in and have a seat. Once I sat down, he said he had some exciting news to share. His son had been drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals. I'm pretty sure my brain turned off at that point. For what felt like forever, I don't think I heard a word he said. I was so excited that someone I felt like I knew had been drafted by an MLB team! I fought back my excitement and tried to re-focus on his story. It was about this time that he took a framed picture from a book shelf behind his desk and showed me a picture of his son. As it turns out, my brothers' friend Brian was Mr. Golden's son. I remember telling him how happy I was to hear and that I looked forward to hearing more stories about Brian playing for the Cardinals(I didn't really understand the minor league system at the time). For the rest of the year, I took every opportunity to ask how things were going. He was always happy to give whatever update he could. Then, sometime after the calendar flipped to 1989, I walked into the office and was met with an incredible surprise. I was in the middle of telling my mom about the day and Mr. Golden called to me from his office. As soon as he could see me in doorway, he told me to close my eyes and count to 5. I tried not to rush and when I got to 5, I opened my eyes. It was just in time for him to pull a baseball card out of his desk drawer. He told me Brian had given him a handful of his first baseball cards and he wanted to give me a copy.
I was excited to have this card. I didn't pay attention to the details at the time, but this is a 1989 Star Hamilton Redbirds minor league team card. It immediately took up residence in the shoebox that held all of my favorite cards. Several times over the next year or so, I remember seeing Brian pop into the office to see his dad. Things were the same as before. If he saw me, he would ask how things were going and give me a high five. I know I thanked him at least once for the card and told him how cool it was. A few years passed and my interests moved on to other players. Somehow over time, this card went missing from my collection. I don't know when, where, or how, but it was gone. When my daughter asked me whether there were any cards that fit into this new corner of my PC, I knew this one existed. I also knew I no longer had one. We searched all of the boxes that made the move with me from NY to NC anyway. That search confirmed this was lost to time. So began our search to replace it. I didn't have high hopes since Brian never made it to St. Louis and this was an obscure, low level minor league set that was 30 years old. Neither eBay nor COMC had a copy available. I searched for the single and for the complete team set...nothing. My luck turned when I created an account on Trading Card Database(TCDB). As I dabbled around with the site, adding cards to my collection within the account, I figured out how to add wants as well. After I added this card to my wantlist, I stumbled upon a useful feature. TCDB shows you how many times a card is mentioned in a collection. This can mean someone has it in their collection, on their wantlist, or available for sale/trade. When I looked at the mentions for this, I was shocked to see that one member had it listed in their 'for sale/for trade' list. I spent some time looking through their wantlist, pulling cards. I made a trade offer and was thrilled when it was accepted. I can't even begin to express the happiness that I felt when it arrived and I was again holding this card in my hand. That joy/satisfaction was made even more special when I showed my daughter and got to see her reaction!
For the record, Brian graced one other piece of cardboard during his career. It hails from the 1990 Star Erie Sailors team set. For the past several months, I have had an eBay saved search for the single and complete set and I regularly check COMC for it. I haven't found a single listing anywhere yet. Sadly, no one on TCDB has a copy available either. I'll remain patient because part of the fun comes from the hunt, especially when you've got a personal stake in that hunt! I'd love to hear from anybody that has a similar story. Drop it in the comments or toss it out there in the Twitter-sphere. To anyone that made it all the way through, thanks for reading.