I recently completed a move to a new apartment in town, and even though it was a remarkably insignificant distance - less than a Twilight League fly ball from my old place - the process was a challenging undertaking.
The good news is that I had several patient and able helpers and everything made it over safely. Now I just have to figure out where I want to put it.
The bad news: I have accumulated a lot of stuff, even at age 27. This column is about some of the most precious cargo to be relocated in that move.
I started collecting baseball cards at age four or five, I figure, back when Topps still put bubble gum in the packs (Mom never let me eat it, which is probably a good thing). Because I already had fallen in love with the game, pack after pack piled up in the house, and we started putting them into binders and putting the doubles into a shoebox. I was not allowed to trade anything that wasn't in the doubles box (also probably a wise strategy).
The cards got glossier, the photography better and the packs more expensive throughout the early 1990s and I tried to keep up. It was around this time that baseball cards started having 'investment value' and Dad and I talked, only half-joking, that my developing habit was going to put me through college.
There was a little card shop next to the post office in downtown Gwinn back then, and we invested regularly. But the mother-lode didn't come from the card shop or any particular pack.
I had a relative that was, at the time, a landlord in the Marquette area. One day, he told us that a tenant had moved out and left a big cardboard box of baseball cards behind. Did I want them?
As soon as he could bring them over.
It was a remarkable pile of cards, in no way organized, but generally from the mid-to-early 80s. Because this was also when I was born, very few of the players were still MLB regulars, which made the scrub cards of the likes of Porfirio Altamiriano or Bill Naharodny almost as exciting as George Brett and Jack Morris.
So, Dad and I spent months of father-son time buying binders and plastic pages and doing our best to alphabetize each card. I dare say it was the most tedious bonding moment in the history of parenting but it was meaningful and we still talk about it to this day.
Like many kids my age, the habit died off by the middle of the 90s, in my case done in by a combination of skyrocketing costs, the 1994 strike and having way more cards than I knew what to do with.
I still buy a pack now and then, and their contents are scattered throughout several boxes I toted over. They never made it into those binders, though. Every so often when I get bored, I get the urge to count all of them, file the new ones in there and maybe go back and get the collection going again. At this point, I figure I will bring about world peace before I get to the F binder.
But I can't get rid of them, not yet. They didn't go into the college fund, and I kept them out of my mother's clutches (a common pitfall for many card collectors my age).
I keep trying to think of something interesting to do with the common cards - some sort of decor for the apartment, maybe? Even that idea tends to fall victim to lack of time.
When time came to pack everything up, I made sure the cards were safe and sound and made sure they were in the first couple batches that went over.
It's like a time machine to my childhood, made in strips of cardboard. Because of that, I doubt this is the last move they'll be making with me.
Brandon?Veale can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.