by Ryan

No matter how hard you may try, the little kid in you will always get out.

Ever since I could remember I’ve collected sports cards. It started with football, and I’ll never forget when I got my first Jim Kelly “Crash” card. You might know the ones, it was like fantasy football on a trading card. If he threw for a touchdown on the date listed, you sent the card in and got a shiny new one. I never sent a card in, I thought the original ones looked too cool.

Recently my trading card habits have subsided quite a bit. Every so often I will buy some hockey cards, and I think everyone tried to get a Sidney Crosby rookie a few years back (I have a few), but I just can’t afford to drop a significant amount of my paycheck on cardboard. (Blogging just doesn’t pay the bills, people.)

I do make one exception: Allen and Ginter.

These cards are modeled after the first trading cards that came with cigarettes. Topps started making them in 2006 and put baseball players on, as well as celebrities and a few otehr athletes. The series was very successful, and even I had a bit of luck pulling some nice cards out. My favorite of the set? A Manny Ramirez jersey card.

Since then I’ve been waiting each year to get my hands on the new set. On Tuesday the 2008 version came out, and I happened to be at the mall. I was $15 lighter when I left, but in return I did get an Empire State Building card, as well as a mini Joba Chamberlain. However, my new favorite card is this:

Jacoby Ellsbury is probably my favorite Red Sox player of Navajo descent. In fact, I may name my first born after him for his antics in the last World Series. To pull a card like that out of a pack is always a nice feeling; nice enough that I wanted to share it with you.

You see, I’m not one of those people who thinks my card collection will buy my retirement home. I understand the market, and I know the cards I buy won’t net millions a few decades down the road. However, I don’t buy cards to make money.

In a strange way, I think buying sports cards puts you just a bit closer to the game. It’s not about looking at their stats, it’s not about getting them graded and listed “near mint”, it’s about looking at a card and saying, “hey, that looks pretty cool.”

I have a Chris Drury “Salute to Captains” Parkhurst. I think that is insanely accurate, and I still have that front and center. I have a Bobby Orr Parkhurst replica that is probably worth a dollar at best, but there is something about having Bobby Orr streaking up the ice that makes you keep it out.

Its fun to look at the different players moving from team to team. Each year a new player signs with a different team but they are pictured in their old jerseys. Players are traded mid season and are represented as a Red Wing or Star the whole season, only to have a dash or split stat reading the next year. I like watching a team’s uniform evolve; it’s always fun when the pictures are taken with the alternate jerseys on.

I know I’m rambling, but with sports cards everyone has a different reason for buying. The important thing is this: you always have a favorite card. For me, it will always be this:

1997 Pacific Miroslav Satan. I only bought one pack, and he was in it. There is something about luck and getting your favorite player that is just really cool. It also helps that you are young and impressionable and send it away to HSBC Arena to get signed. When you put your favorite hockey card in an envelope and aim to have a Slovokian man sign it and safely return it to you; you are talking about some serious trust.

Thankfully, I got it back in the mail a few weeks later, and it’s been on display ever since. Even after the cell phone hand, even after the lockout, even after the Islanders and now the Penguins. It’s going to stay on that wall for a long time, even if it is just to the left of a dart board.

Since it’s a Friday and nothing is happening unless you are in Rochester, I want to hear your story. If you ever collected cards, or even just bought a few, tell me about your favorite. There is nothing to be ashamed of, unless it is a Pokemon card or something.

/closes closet door


  1. dani

    Miroslav Satan was my first favorite Sabre. Can’t say I’ve ever collected cards, but I did blow $12 on Max, Goose, and Vanek coins last season *idiot*. Wrapped up in emotion I guess, we must savor every historic playoff moment we can!

  2. Jon

    If I ever play darts at your house, Miro’s gonna get it.

  3. sabresfan88

    Oh man, I used to look so forward to heading to the flea market every so often to the guy who had sold every type of card imaginable. Every sport, every company. I used to love this stuff.

    I sent out a handful of cards to try for autographs when I was in maybe ninth grade. I went with one or two established stars, a few solid veterans, and maybe 4 or 5 young guys who I figured wouldn’t be getting much mail. I still have the two cards of the lot that came back: David Legwand and Manny Legace. I was very happy to see Manny as an All-Star this year. There’s something about signing and sending a card back to a kid that makes him seem like a nice guy.