Lance McAlister

Lance McAlister

Lance McAlister covers everything in Cincinnati sports! Host of sports talk on Cincinnati News Radio 700WLW and ESPN 1530!Full Bio


OTBP: Stuff we collected

OTBP: Stuff we collected

When I was a kid my grandma bought me a box of Topps baseball cards every Easter. 

Man, did I love opening those 25 packs in the box one by one. I'd sort through my cards and declare "got him, got him, need him." 

Over the years I've re-created that tradition with Casey. I buy a pack for each of us and we open them at the same time.

I feel 10 years old when this time of year rolls around. I still get excited opening a pack.

We shout out names of players as we thumb through our packs: Scherzer! Votto! Judge! Arrenado! Kershaw!

The cards have changed so much over the years. Today's cards are slick, shiny and sharp looking. They now list WAR and OPS on the back of hitter's cards and WHIP on the back of pitcher's cards. The cards even list the Twitter handle for players. I'll admit it, I miss the baseball cards I grew up with in the 1970's and 80's. Those cards were plain and simple cardboard. I loved the cartoons on the back, with something like "Richie Hebner loves to restore old cars in the offseason," with a picture of him and a car.

I had several baseball card guidelines growing up: I never believed in buying a set of cards. I thought that was cheating. I bought pack after pack after pack, trying to complete the set on my own. I sorted the cards by teams, put rubber bands around them and put them in a shoe box. I never, ever put cards in my bike spokes and rode around the neighborhood. 

I would sit on the front porch with my friends and make trades. I spent my summer of 1975, as a nine-year old, searching for the elusive Topps Johnny Bench, card. It was card number 260. I reached a point that summer where I had 659 of the 660 cards, with Bench being the only card I needed. I wound up trading my entire box of "doubles" to a friend for his Bench card.

Doubles were the cards you had duplicates of. I never thought about the value of having multiple Pete Rose or Hank Aaron cards. I never owned a Beckett's price guide, because I never worried about the dollar value of my cards. I didn't collect the cards to sell them, I collected them because I loved baseball. Heck, I'd take a pen and put a check next to the player's name on the team checklist card when I got that card.

I ruined a complete set of Topps 1976 cards when I was 10-years old. An adult neighbor told me I should preserve my cards in a photo album. So, one by one, I put all the cards in an album. A few months later I pulled the clear sheet back and tried to life the card off the page. The front of the card pulled off, the back of the card remained, stuck to the adhesive on the album. Stupid. Stupid. Me. That was a heck of a set in 1976.

I do remember when the innocence of my card collecting was lost. I bought multiple Jose Canseco Donruss rookie cards in 1986, in hopes I could later sell them for big money. Well, that never happened.

I also sold a Mike Schmidt rookie card and used the money for a spring break trip to Panama City when I was in college.

I think my favorite card is the 1989 Ken Griffey Jr. Fleer rookie card.

I still have many of my boxes of cards in the basement. Others have been lost in moves over the years. Most of the cards are now in albums, protected by insert sheets. Sometimes I sit and flip through those cards. They take me back to my childhood and certain moments in my life. I can still remember exactly where I was when I got some of those cards.

I remember when Topps started making the triple pack of cards that would hang on the rack. We'd sit at the Convenient off Denallen Drive in Anderson and pick through those cards before we bought them. You could see the three cards you were getting on the front and the three cards on the back. We thought that was cool.

Man, I miss those days.

Did you collect baseball cards? Did you/do you collect any other 'stuff'

This is our annual Off The Beaten Path topic tonight at 8pm.

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