I didn't even eat lunch. I rooted. I separated stacks on the kitchen table. I killed three of those weird bugs that like to crawl out of old books. I found Chipper Jones. I found David Justice, Deion Sanders, Nolan Ryan . . .
What do Randy Johnson, Bo Jackson, Curt Schilling, Sammy Sosa and Craig Biggio all have in common?
(Besides being current or future MLB Hall of Famers.)
Okay, I'll clue you in . . . their rookie baseball cards are all in my possession. And none of them are worth squat.
I'll give you a little back story. When I was a kid, I played baseball. And like so many other ballplayers, I collected cards. All sorts, meaning some football and no hockey. But I collected plenty baseball and basketball cards. Still with me?
Alright. This card collection began growing about 31 years ago. It ended abruptly about 1993, when I began high school.
But from '86-'92 I managed to fill about eight shoeboxes with cards. When I finished, I put them in the attic at my dad's house. A couple of weeks ago my stepmom informed me that a box of my things was under the carport prepped to go to the garbage. I nearly flipped.
"What are you doing," I asked. "These are my cards and comics!"
"I knew you were going to say that," she replied. "Go through it. Take what you want back home with you, and we'll throw away the rest."
I'm not kidding when I say that for the next six hours I was in boyhood heaven. I didn't even eat lunch. I rooted. I separated stacks on the kitchen table. I killed three of those weird bugs that like to crawl out of old books. I found Chipper Jones. I found David Justice, Deion Sanders, Nolan Ryan . . .
Now, writers don't make a whole lotta money. So naturally my wheels began spinning, and for a moment I thought my prayers were answered. I Google'd "Bo Jackson card 1990 Donruss." Then, my eyes grew large and focused on someone selling this card for $150! An ear-to-ear smile came upon my face. Then I scrolled down. And almost in the same breath I noticed another seller offering a "Lot of 6" of the exact same card for $10.
This can't be right I thought. Okay. Next, I found a Topps rookie of Randy Johnson, one of the wildest and best pitchers I ever watched. I Google'd "89 Topps Randy Johnson." Whoa! Over $900 bucks! Wait. No. That's the going rate for the Topps "tiffany" card of the same likeness.
I had to Google that, too. Apparently, Topps made "tiffany" versions of cards. They used white card stock instead of the grey card stock that all my Topps baseball cards appear to come from. The grey Randy Johnson rookie card I have is worth about seven bucks.
This went on into the next night. Late. And here I am two weeks later sharing my sorrows. But oh well. I decided to phone a friend. Actually he's my cousin who played college ball. I asked him if he was aware that all of our cards were worth nothing.
"I went to Frank's card shop in Metairie," he said, "a couple years back, before they closed down. I showed the dude my Derek Jeter rookie card. He was about to give me a little something for the whole collection, then at the last minute he pushed 'em back to me and said, 'Throw em in a fire.'"
Excuse me, I'm still laughing about it. The shop owner told him basically they printed too many cards for my generation, and they're still all over the place. Hit deflate button.
"But hey, you know what's worth something," my cousin asked.
"Pokemon cards," he said. "I was so mad because I remember having a card that was worth like a grand now, when I was a kid. I traded it to a card shop, probably for more baseball cards, that ain't worth a damn thing."
He was right. But I had to dig further. I eventually found a database online. It's not difficult to find. There, you could search for any card ever. It told me the value and how many were printed. So I began to search for all the greats in my collection--Tom Glavine, Kevin Mitchell, Cal Ripken Jr. I couldn't believe it. I kept coming up with an $0.18 card value. The whole thing really started to wear on me.
The next day, I asked a buddy who played some baseball at the pro level what he thought. He told me he unloaded his collection with Mickey Mantle's and Babe Ruth's a few years back for several thousand dollars. I felt depressed.
What am I going to do?
First of all, I hope you have better luck. Some 30-year-old cards (depending on make and model) are worth some money. But gee, don't get your hopes up. Just be pleasantly surprised if you come across a gem in the box in the attic. And by the way if you come across a Jason Wall card, please contact the Weekly Citizen in Gonzales. I know someone who'll take it off your hands.
Next, I guess I'm going to hold. I would like to lie, and tell everyone I'm going to pitch 'em in the trash in hopes that they all do the same. Then, my value rises. Yes. Everyone pitch them in the trash. (Cue sinister laughter.)
But in reality I don't have the heart. I can't throw away my cards. I still love baseball. There'll always be a corner in my heart for Cecil Fielder, and Howard Johnson, and George Brett, and Robin Yount, and Ozzie Smith, and Barry Larkin, and Kenny Lofton, and Wade Boggs, and Dave Stewart, and Jose Canseco, and Andre Dawson, and Tim Raines, and Rafael Palmeiro . . .
"Yo, Siri! How much for a 1987 Topps Orel Hershiser?"