When I was a kid, much of my world revolved around baseball cards. My brother and I each had pretty solid collections and traded often with each other and our friends in the neighborhood. Part of collecting was an occasional trip to a baseball card show where it was our duty to spend our allowance on cards we couldn't find in the wax packs at the local drug and grocery stores. Apparently I was on the mailing list for the main card dealer in our area and he graciously sent out postcards reminding us of upcoming shows.
Some of the main cards I remember picking up at card shows were the elusive Mark Grace rookie card, the Vince Coleman Fleer traded card, and a set of Jose Canseco cards. Occasionally I'd grab some O-Pee-Chee cards even though they were identical to the Topps cards -- but these were "imported" from Canada!
I once had the idea that I was going to sell a card to this guy -- a 1972 Hank Aaron Topps In Action card. Really, this card wasn't worth anything at all -- but I had it in my 10-year-old head that since it was Hank Aaron, it had to be worth a small fortune. I approached the card dealer at his table set up inside the sporting goods store at the mall and told him that I had a Hank Aaron card I was interested in selling. Somewhat intrigued, he asked to see the card and I'm quite certain his jaw physically hit the floor when I pulled it from a pocket inside my velcro Reebok wallet.
Needless to say, I did not make a sale that day but I did get a stern lesson from a grown man on the proper way to care for my cards. I don't remember for sure, but after his lecture, I'm guessing the card went right back into my wallet as I continued sifting through the endless boxes of cards.
Although not a lost art, true baseball card collecting and legitimate card shows are a thing of the past. Maybe they aren't extinct but they certainly aren't what they once were. Still, I have to smile when I see a table of cards at the local flea market. Even though I don't usually buy anything, I always stop and look.
Long live wax packs, endless rows of commons, and the smell of crunchy sticks of bubble gum!