Now that we know the baseball card craze of the 80’s/90’s was a facade with no chance of anyone (besides the industry itself) making a profit, we can laugh at the 100’s of dollars wasted and sleepless nights to tell our stories of woe in an era that spawned the term “junk wax” and offered no common sense or integrity.
There are many people out there who still think their collections are worth something, yet these bumbling dolts don’t understand supply and demand, and no doubt don’t understand much of anything else of either. These are the same people living multi-generational in Flyover States and are embracing the cultural hegemony of Beanie Babies, watching re-runs of All In the Family, and drinking a 2-liter of Dr. Pepper daily while embracing the brain contusion as a metaphor for life.
I recently made an impromptu trip to my local card shop and bought a Mark McGwire 1987 Donruss “Rated Rookie” for 3 dollars which I thought to be insanely cheap for a guy who once held the single-season home run record and is 10th all-time. I retrieved it later from a notebook, felt no sentimentality, and with a “meh” I threw it in a box. Remember folks, this simple piece of cardboard, tossed waywardly, once had a peak value of 80 dollars over 30 years ago.
……and then the nostalgia reminiscing came out of nowhere.
I was once a 12-year-old snot-nosed punk. (still a few years away from my first “kegger,” which was with a guy named Kevin B. who wore a Metallica shirt everyday. He only broke up the monotony on occasion with an Anthrax t-shirt, who I personally thought sucked the bag.) The McGwire card was one of the hottest properties for a young boy in Northern California, and your average dipshit kid wouldn’t trade it for ANYTHING. Eventually, through hours of tedious wheeling and dealing, I had acquired a few of these by the time Jr. High came rolling around. One day in woodshop, a very large, jean jacketed, Mexican buttrocker named Billy (who turned out to be a great hitter, but I wouldn’t know that until high school freshman try-outs) offered to trade me a cassette for one single, thin cardboard McGwire. I jumped at the chance! I had a large stack of them and welcomed the opportunity to talk to someone “cool” who would take the time and effort out of their exciting heavy metal life to make a tape for a nerd like me. ( I was a freckle-faced, Opie-looking kid who wouldn’t grow into my 6’2 frame until my sophomore year in high school.) Billy brought me the tape the next day and with a nod says,
“You needed to listen to Slayer.”
I waited with anticipation for school to let out and then popped that fucker into my fluorescent-blue Kmart cassette player. The famous riff intro to South of Heaven proceeded to slam its way into my brain and become forever locked in.
An unforeseen future nestled somewhere in time.
Unsuspecting victims no warnings, no signs.
Judgment day the second coming arrives.
Before you see the light you must die.
That was the best trade I ever made and opened a whole new, blossoming musical world for me–essentially changing my life forever. Thanks, dude…wherever you are.