Wednesday, March 21, 2012


       By my early teens, my mother was out of ideas.  She raised me, my older brother, and my younger sister by herself - my father put the absent in absentee father by disappearing before my eighth birthday, never to return.  To her credit, she could have given up at any time and never did.  I was always precocious and hard to handle, but when the double whammy of my brother leaving the house to join the army and puberty hit, I became borderline incorrigible. My mother grew up with four sisters and didn't exactly know what to do with a boy. It was my mother who took me to baseball games as a child and now at age 13, when she was trying anything to reach out to me, she decided to take me to Cooperstown.  This was a grand idea as it was pretty close by (we live in northern New Jersey close to New close? 400-yards-from-the-border close) and it combined my two favorite nerdy things: baseball and museums.  The first trip went so well, it became a yearly tradition.  We went four or five times in my teens and they are some of my most cherished late-childhood memories.  My last trip took place somewhere around my 17th birthday.  Through the years, I had always wanted to return.  My brother and I talked about it and talked about it but never went.  For four years, I dated a woman from Syracuse with family in Watertown, Rochester, and Buffalo, so I was constantly in upstate New York, yet somehow I never got around to going with her either. 

       So last month, when I was suffering from a nasty case of cabin fever, I got the brilliant idea of driving up to Cooperstown.  I find spontaneity the best, so when this idea came on that Saturday morning, I got in the car and just went.  After a long winding two hour drive, I was there.
That scan shows my ticket and brochure.  The bottom ticket there is from one of my childhood trips in 1992, but it has the "junior" discount, so I think that is my sister's ticket and not mine.  It has been in my Hall of Fame binder for 20 years and I just noticed that.  Either that, or my mother somehow convinced the guy back then that her gigantic 16 year old son was a "junior".

I also took some great pictures in the museum with my cell phone.  Do you think I have any idea how to get pictures off of my phone and onto my computer?  Nope.  I tried for two days with no success, so you will just have to imagine how much fun I had in the museum. Besides, this is a card blog, not a repository for my pseudo-vacation photos.

OK, trips like this require a pocket check, so let's do it:
Now, aside from the museum, the strip of Main Street in Cooperstown has about a dozen sports memorabilia and card stores.  It is basically the baseball geek mecca.  I had left without my wantlists or anything, so I was flying blind, but I picked up some good stuff.  The receipt there is from one of the shops.  The Cooperstown Bat brochure is for a gift I want to buy for my uncle.  I even found two dollars stuck in the CB Brochure there - score!  I also had to buy a hat in the museum gift shop since I left the house without one and I chose the one day of the year it actually snowed this winter to drive north.

So what cards did I score?  Aside from the usual bevy of Mets (which will show up in another post) and, oddly, some Saints (which already got a shout out in a recent post) I filled in some holes in some pages and player collections and I will, appropriately, show the Hall of Famers I got here.
Working on a budget, as usual, I picked up some nicely worn and loved vintage cards.  That 1971 Bench set me back a whole quarter - but I knew my Bench collection was heavy on faux-vintage, so I had to have it.
From the same pile came they 1971 Kaline, which totally matches that 1966 in dinged cornerness.
Breaking with the pattern here, I did not buy that 1971, but that handsome 1974. And who rocked better sideburns, year after year, than Stretch?  I used to own the "Wash. Nat. League" error version; it was a cornerstone of my long neglected error and variation collection.  I still need one more vintage McCovey to finish this page - that Topps Archives card belongs with my Rookie All Stars.  You can see how organization is not my strong suit...moving on.
I found a bunch of these Ripken '94 Score cards I didn't know existed in one shop.  I grabbed nine of them and made this page, I decided to break up the longways and uprightways cards for a little variety.
When Topps went through their reprint-a-famous-player's-cards-every-year phase, Nolan Ryan was one of those players (also see Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle).  I had long known I only had eight of those cards.  Much like the McCovey, I put X in the center square and picked up that 1975 reprint for this page.
I have long been obsessed with Babe Ruth's pitching career.  And if there is one player that has more faux vintage cards than the Babe, I don't know who it is.  Yet somehow, I did not have the Babe in a pitching pose on a card...until now.  I have no idea why I didn't put it in the middle, where it belongs.
Last but not least, I had recently reorganized a few players pages and I recalled that Fergie could have a nifty stripe of the three teams he is best known for if I somehow scored a third Rangers card.  When I saw that 1976 Topps with the palm trees, how could I resist even if I didn't "need" it.  Turns out, it makes this page look pretty awesome.


night owl said...

Good stuff. That town is just packed with cards. I've been to Cooperstown 4 or 5 times, and the first few times, I'll bet you couldn't find a card outside of the Hall.

But the last time I went (which is quite a while now), I couldn't believe how many stores sold cards. Heaven.

I've often thought of just taking off for a one-day trip to Cooperstown. It's close, but there is no direct route from Watertown to Cooperstown.

jacobmrley said...

There is no direct road from Cooperstown to anywhere. I have been to places in the Badlands more accessible.