Well, it feels like I've been hibernating and I just woke up.
Like a lot of kids who grew up in the 80s and early 90s, I used to collect sportscards (baseball and basketball). The thing that made it a tad difficult for me was that I lived in France (still do, actually). A country in which baseball is absolutely nonexistent, and sportscards unheard of. So while all american kids would rip open waxpacks wondering if they'd get that Mattingly RC or if a 91 Donruss case would put them through college (it wouldn't), we in France would be stuck with panini stickers of cartoons or soccer players. Which was also a lot of fun, but lacked any kind of info or statistics whatsoever. And yes, it's the same Panini as the company now selling cards with airbrushed logos.
I grew obsessed with those cards. The first ones I discovered were 90-91 skybox basketball cards, brought back from a friend who spent a few weeks in Arizona, and I instantly fell in love with them. We didn't have baseball, but we did have Michael Jordan and basketball courts appearing everywhere. It would still be a few years before Upper Deck brought basketball cards to Europe (more on that in a later post), but magazines would offer 91-92 Upper Deck cards for new subscriptions or for sale. I bought a box and soon started knowing each card by heart. I was 15, I should've been out partying and experiencing, but all I wanted was to play with those little pieces of cardboard. I'd arrange them by name, by number, by team etc. There was no way of buying 9 pocket pages, no online trading, no cardshops, no nothing. I was stuck with that box and the NBA Finals I'd follow religiously, even though it meant getting up at 2 in the morning.
One day, I went to an american bookstore in Paris (Brentano's, that actually shut down a few years ago) and saw that they carried sportscards. I started doing the Baloo dance, until I realized that they only had baseball. I knew nothing about baseball. But I knew I needed to have the cards. So I bought a few packs of 1993 Upper Deck and 1993 Topps.
It all went downhill after that.
I started looking at the stats at the back, trying to understand them (good luck with that, especially when you never saw a game in your life) and to figure out which players were good. In my first pack, I got a Jose Canseco. His name sounded familiar, seems like I'd read about him in an american sports magazine or something. I had undoubtedly struck gold ! My collecting career was a promising one. The Topps ones didn't really impress me, even though I liked the gold ones, but the pictures in that 93 Upper Deck set were amazing. And Jesus, how many players are there on a baseball team ?? I bought a few biographies (Aaron, Bo Jackson, the 1961 Yankees...) and started learning about the game of baseball and actually understanding the backs of the cards I' been accumulating.
1993 is the year I went to Cleveland (well, the Cleveland area, actually) to spend some time in a family who'd actually decided to participate in that programm and take in a french guy. From France, Cleveland is still the United States, a dream come true. I wound up in a trailer park in the middle of nowhere, but I'd play baseball all day with some great people and spend tons of money on baseball cards. And traded a lot too. Because yes, in 1993, everybody collected cards. And I suppose they thought it'd make a great story for their grand kids one day : how they traded cards with that french guy who just came and went and who probably payed for college thanks to those trades (not really). I bought my first Beckett magazine (and actually subscribed on the spot) and realized that hey, those things actually are worth something (ok, they WERE worth something), and what do you mean by 'insert odds' ?
I went back there for a couple of months the following summer. I had a ticket to go and see the A's play the Indians on August 17th. Except the baseball strike started a few days before. We now know that the hobby would never recover, but I stayed with it for a few more years. It was very frustrating to go back to France and having no way of buying packs of cards (a 93 UD was the equivalent of 3 $ a pack for me. And my allowance wasn't that important, plus I had some Calvin & Hobbes books to buy) or attending shows or going to a nearby card shop just to look at commons (I couldn't care less about the value of a card. I just like great photos and funny looking guys). Trading and buying basketball cards was actually easy, but I was more into baseball (I do collect Knicks cards though). THere were a few shops in Paris at that time, but prices were way too high and mainly it was all about basketball.
I bought a few boxes and complete sets in 95-96, completed a few trades off the internet around 98, got ripped off a couple of times (there's someone out there holding my Guerrero and Andrew Jones Bowman RCs and having a good laugh) and then just got tired of it. I had close to 12 000 cards, knew each and every one, but it was time to let them rest in my closet. My last Beckett issue was that of July 98.
So that's for the small intro about my life. Hi, my name is Kevin, I collect Blue Jays cards mainly, this hobby's been asleep for me for 16 years, but I'm ready to embrace it again. I also collect Griffey cards (ok, so they've always been too expensive for me, so I'd just trade for them from time to time or I'd just be happy to pull one from a pack and put it in my binder. I have 250 of them. 14 750 to go), and that's how I found the Junior junkie. I sent him an email just to say hi, I like your blog, and he wrote back, suggesting I get into that blog game myself. So here I am.