Posted on 09 January 2010 by Wanna Be Sports Guy
Any individual, man or woman, who collected sports cards at one point or another in their life knows about this card. It’s the one we all stared at, time after time on the top of Beckett’s “Hot List” throughout the 1990’s.
1989 Upper Deck. Ken Griffey, Jr. Rookie.
For kids like me, for whom a $100 box of that legendary set was as far off as the moon, it’s the Holy Grail, the one card that we knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, belonged in our collection. It was a pipe dream, that card you spent endless hours digging through old boxes at garage sales and swap meets for, desperately searching for one, just one, that had slipped through the cracks and into the hands of someone ignorant enough to sell it to us for a $10 bill.
But for most of us, such a dream never came to fruition. The hobby’s candle flared and burned low in me for several years, until a recent windfall gave me an opportunity I’d never had…
I logged on to Amazon.com, and purchased an unopened box of ‘89 Upper Deck Low Numbers. $120.
What was I thinking? I couldn’t tell you. I was lost in a fit of nostalgia, free-falling back into the old pattern, the old anticipation of sealed packs filled with potential.
I waited for that package like I’ve never waited for anything else. Not even the joy of purchasing my first car (ironically, for only $80 more than the box of Upper Deck) could compare with the nervous elation that washed over me when the postman placed that box in my hands.
I couldn’t restrain myself. I’d wanted to wait until I was in the company of friends, those life-long companions with whom I once shared the hobby. But I couldn’t do it. I sat on the floor in the living room, dressed in my shirt and tie, and began cracking the packs.
The Griffey isn’t the only great card in the hallowed set. There’s the Randy Johnson, the Gary Sheffield, and several other valuable finds. But as I neared the halfway point of the box, I had yet to find Jr.’s smiling face. I did my best to keep my palms from sweating, tried not to let the fear take hold of my collector’s heart.
It was an epic journey. I pulled three Randy Johnson’s, one Sheffield, two Omar Vizquel’s, and a myriad of other Hall of Famers immortalized on the slick stock of what is arguably the hobby’s premier set. But I didn’t pull one Griffey.
In the end, I pulled two. Twice the joy, twice the sheer exhilaration. Without a doubt, the best box I ever bought.
- Taylor Maxwell
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