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 York...how close?..like 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.