Sunday, December 16, 2018

░▒▓█▀▄▀▄▀▄★ Sentimental Sundays: Do the Reminiscence Bump ★▄▀▄▀▄█▓▒░

I'm a little late, but here's my Reminiscence Bump post, as popularized by Night Owl Cards. This is a rundown over the years of how I got into card collecting and some cards that are linked to specific memories for me. I'm also throwing in some tunes while I'm at it, documenting how I got into music.  

 1985 - I'm a kid playing on a grassy field with my friend William. I give him like a piece of candy or something, and to return the favor, he gives me 4 or 5 baseball cards, all of which are Oakland A's cards from 1980 Topps (who knows why). I don't really care about baseball, preferring to watch cartoons and play with my G.I. Joes, but I happily toss the cards in with my inventory of toys.

♫ 1985 - I'm attending a friend's birthday party at a local roller rink (hell, it might have been William again, I don't remember). While skating around under the dim lighting of rays bouncing off the mirrorball, "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" comes on over the soundsystem and hits me in a wonderful, unfamiliar way.. the first time music really connects with me.

1986 - As a kid in San Diego, I'm aware of big names such as Tony Gwynn and Steve Garvey of the Padres.. and I recall seeing those distinctive "black top" 1986 Topps cards owned by friends of mine, though I don't have any of mine own. I do somehow manage to acquire a few '86 Topps Football cards from a buddy somewhere along the line. Highlights are a Bernie Kosar rookie, Busta Rhymes, an Eric Dickerson "1000 Yard Club" insert, and a Rushing Leaders card with Marcus Allen and Gerald Riggs. I don't care about football, but am happy to expand my tiny sports card collection into another sport.

♫ 1986 - I watch a lot of The Monkees in syndication on weekday afternoons over summer break, being watched (babysat) by family friend Kit, hanging out with her three daughters, Missy, Kristy, and Cindy. Seems like those guys are having a lot of fun on tv. I start making it known that I'd like to be a musician when I grow up. My music collection begins by receiving cassettes of greatest hits albums for my birthday of the Monkees (Then & Now... the Best of The Monkees) and the Beach Boys (The Beach Boys ‎– Do It Again!), the latter of whom I'm a fan of thanks mostly due to "I Get Around" being featured in the film Flight of the Navigator which I like a lot.

1987 - I still don't care much about baseball, but every so often I run across a new card for my tiny collection. My mom buys a loaf of bread that strangely has a baseball card in it and I'm mildly happy to get a card of one of the few ballplayers I know of, the legendary all-time great Steve Garvey. (Years later, I would be shocked to learn he wasn't in the Hall of Fame.)

♫ 1987 - I'm riding in a car in Chicago with some family members on our way to my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary party. Somebody asks me about the music I like and I mention I like that "I was standing, you were there" song, which I caught on the radio once or twice, and my cooler older cousin Siobhan perks up and seems to be impressed, "INXS?" Yeah, that one. In a rare moment, I kinda feel cool.

♫ 1988 - My card collection is stagnant for 1988. As for music, my favorite cassettes are Paula Abdul - Forever Your Girl and Roxette - Look Sharp.

♫ 1989 - My card collection still consists of just those few A's cards from William and an oddball or two I wound up with. Cards are totally off my radar, though in hindsight the "overproduction era" was ramping up like never before, so it's almost surprising it hasn't gotten to me yet. As for music, I've found my first official "favorite band" with Def Leppard, being a huge fan of their album Hysteria even though I know I'm a couple years late to it. I'm also into some popular rap, with Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock's It Takes Two getting a lot of play on my little boombox. This is the year I buy my first "explicit lyrics" cassette tapes-- Guns N' Roses Appetite For Destruction and Tone Lōc's debut album, Lōc-ed After Dark. My mom snatches them behind my back to give a listen as a concerned parent. She returns them without incident-- even says she kinda enjoys that "Take me down to the Paradise City" song-- though I am extremely mortified at this turn of events. Specifically, GNR's "Rocket Queen" is nearly impossible to listen to now, what with the naughty lady noises.

1990 - Baseball cards hadn't been very popular at my elementary school, but then here in this first year of middle school-- BOOM! Damn near everybody collects. I'm hesitant to jump on the bandwagon at first. My locker in P.E. is right next to a cool kid named Troy. He's a good dude, but not the sharpest tool in the shed. Troy is always having problems opening his locker. I help open it for him each day and he returns the favor by giving me a random baseball card. They're all '90 Topps and '90 Donruss. The name "Howard Johnson" sticks with me, perhaps due to the hotel/restaurant chain of the same name. I eventually amass a decent little stack of Troy's castoffs, and my life as a card collector has officially begun. I soon start buying packs myself, trying to get a sampling of all the options on the market, even the pricy Upper Deck. I begin watching all the televised baseball I can, plus read the sports section, pouring over the box scores to see who had a good game the day before, learning who the good players are. I may be a late bloomer to the sport/hobby, but I hit it hard and it basically consumes my 6th Grade.

♫ 1990 - My best friend Doug and I are nuts for the two big pop-rap albums ruling the charts, Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em and Vanilla Ice's To The Extreme. Nearly every day after school, I hang out at his place and we listen to a side of one of these tapes in his room while goofing off. When Christmas rolls around, my (cool) cousin Siobhan gives me a couple cassettes: New Order Substance and Fine Young Cannibals The Raw & The Cooked. Brilliant move by her taking my love for danceable pop, but guiding it a little further from the mainstream. These albums knock me for a loop and open my eyes to what would soon become known as "alternative" music.

1991 - I've got the pedal to the metal with my card collection. I make weekly trips to the local card shop, PB's Baseball Cards, to spend my allowance, which is conveniently just a couple blocks from my home. I buy at least one pack of any baseball card set that comes out on the shelves, though I mostly stick to the big boys: Topps, Donruss, Fleer, Upper Deck, and Score.

♫ 1991 - I've forsaken the "pop" radio stations I used to listen to (San Diego's Q106 and Z90), and now am a loyal listener of 91X "the cutting edge of rock" (San Diego's "alternative" station). I get a CD player for Christmas and the first two CDs I buy happen to both be from 8 years earlier, 1983: Yes - 90125 (love that "Owner of a Lonely Heart" song!) and my old favorite Def Leppard's Pyromania ("Photograph" might in in the running for my favorite song of all time).

1992 - I'm still balls-to-the-wall with collecting baseball cards, though I've also expanded into spending some allowance money on comic books, too.. with Spider-Man being my focus. My two best friends have chosen their favorites to collect: Doug: Tony Gwynn and Wolverine, Chris: Darryl Strawberry and Punisher, Me: Reggie Jackson and Spider-Man. Not much change from the prior year as far as my collecting habits, as I try to sample a little of every baseball card pack PB's has available, though I tend to stick to the major releases. I also buy a lot of "old" packs that the card shop has on the shelves, as I look to "diversify" my collection, including several each from 1986 Leaf (bizarro Donruss!) and 1982 Topps (so vintage!), the latter of which ends up giving me the best pull of my life up to that point, as I rip a wax pack while crossing Jamacha Boulevard and get a Cal Ripken rookie, excitedly showing my bud Doug. I'm floating on air as we make our way back home.

♫ 1992 - I gotta give my mom a lot of credit for shaping my taste in music.. Among the albums I listen to this year are a lot of artists I became familiar with through my mom's record/CD collection, including Paul Simon, Talking Heads, and the Beatles.

1993 - My intense baseball card collecting fascination for the past 3 years has finally started to ease up. I buy a handful of packs, mostly 1993 Topps, but apart from the thrill of pulling a Frank Thomas Black Gold insert, am just not getting the enjoyment from the hobby I once did. Once I'm in high school, my friends and the rest of the guys at school have pretty much stopped collecting cards, too, so I don't really have anyone to connect with there. For the first time, comic books take priority for my allowance money, with my favorite monthly titles being Spider-Man 2099 and Image's The Maxx. But by the end of the year, I lose interest in them too, as I get my first serious girlfriend and most of my interest/money goes toward that relationship.

♫ 1993 - Actually, what really starts taking priority for my allowance money in 1993 is my music collection, buying lots of CDs. Something about starting high school and music suddenly having a much more important role in your life. My favorite band is now Jane's Addiction (and their new offshoot Porno For Pyros). Also listen to lots of Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails, Catherine Wheel, Lemonheads' Shame About Ray, and Matthew Sweet's Altered Beast.

♫ 1994 thru 2004 - My cards and comics are packed away in boxes, with no new additions over the next decade save for maybe a random oddball found in a box of cereal or something. I instead get my collecting fix by tracking down every live recording I can find from my favorite bands, mainly Jane's Addiction and related side projects. Pixies, Frank Black, Paw, Dig, and John Frusciante are also among my top artists. Lots of buying bootlegs and trading fellow collectors for live tapes, eventually building up an impressive collection.

2005 - After many years, I stick my toe back into the card collecting waters in the summer of 2005. I'm impressed by how easy it is to find/buy specific cards now thanks to the rise of eBay. Among the earliest cards I pick up online are a 1986 Donruss Fred McGriff rated rookie (which I had always hoped to pull from those '86 Leaf packs as a kid back in the day, but came up short)-- and not only that, it's my first ever graded card-- which is a concept that kinda blows my mind. I also buy singles of 1980 Topps Ozzie Smith, 1974 Dave Winfield rookie, 1972 Topps Harmon Killebrew (base card + his In Action card), a lot of few '73 Topps cards (my favorite vintage set), and I also relive the thrill of opening packs for the first time in years with a lot of 20 unopened packs of 1984 Topps, a set I've never had much of (they weren't carried at my LCS in the early 90s), so I figure they'd be somewhat "fresh" for me, and they're cheap. I spread them out over a few days and pull a Boggs and Ripken and feel pretty good about it. I also end up trading live recordings to a guy for a few good cards including a John Elway rookie and a Ryne Sandberg Fleer rookie. But despite this flurry of card-collecting activity, it doesn't really take, and I then go dormant a few more years.

♫ 2005 - I'm no longer into Jane's Addiction that much (though I never really turn my back on music I once enjoyed; hell, I still listen to MC Hammer, Roxette and Paula Abdul every once in a while to this day), with the title of my favorite band now belonging to Neutral Milk Hotel. Again, the collector in me compels me to hunt down every circulating live & rare recording of theirs out there. I even spend much of my spare time working on a fansite for the band. I finally finish up college and briefly get a job at a computer shop with my buddy Chris. My days are generally very lonely, having no luck with the ladies or making new friends. My best friend Doug got married a few years back and no longer has much time for hanging out with me other than occasionally having me over to watch a Chargers game. I write and record a lot of my own songs, though no one listen to them. Seriously, 1994 through 2007 were dark times for me.

2008 - I'm at Target and notice a box of current baseball cards near the checkout and throw one in my basket on a whim. It's my first pack of new/current cards in 15 years. When I get home and rip the pack, I'm not all that impressed by them. A CC Sabathia insert is the only card that stands out in the slightest. I later do make one eBay card purchase this year, though (Saturday, Nov 22, 2008, to be specific.. yeah, that's not from memory but thanks to searching old emails), spending $3.14 + $1 S&H on a Topps 1973 Roberto Clemente. I get a thrill reminiscent of my early collecting days landing a vintage card of the great Roberto Clemente, a mythical figure if there ever was one. Me as a kid would have been blown away! But again, my interest in the hobby is fleeting and I step away for a few more years.

♫ 2008 - My favorite band now would probably have to be Rilo Kiley. I've been listening to them for a few years now. I've got a fansite for them too. I'm also a moderator on a popular fan message board for the band. One night the year prior, I drunkenly flirted with a certain female regular on the forum I had thought was really cool for a while. We ended up sparking a relationship, but she lives way up in Portland, so the long-distance thing is a strain.

2012 - Yep, I live in Portland now, moving away from San Diego in 2009 to be with my special lady. I've finally got a job with some extra money to spend (just a temp job, but still). I take a curious look on eBay at the current state of baseball cards. I'm intrigued by this new Topps Archives product, with its comforting familiar designs for me and a nice mix of active players and favorites from the past. I buy a blaster, then a couple more, and before I know it, I'm back in the hobby. I'm thrilled by pulling a Roberto Clemente rookie reprint during a very rough period (our awesome dog Lucy is dying of cancer) and it gives me strength and reminds me what a positive force card collecting can be. Around this time, the band message boards I moderate fall apart and I find myself without an online community to be a part of. It's a hole in my life to not have a bunch of buds to check in with everyday. I somehow stumble upon an old blog dedicated to 1988 Topps-- while that's always been among my least favorite sets, I still find it fascinating reading the author's take on the cards and players. From the commentators on that blog, I find a guy named Night Owl who seems to have some interesting things to add, too. I find out he has his own daily card blog, and I become a loyal reader of it.

♫ 2012 - Man, music-wise, everything seems to blur together around these years. I'm not sure what I was listening to in particular. I'll go with Metric here. I would still find new bands online from time to time, but mostly I got to the point where I stuck to listening to stuff I already liked. I guess that comes with getting old.

2013 - Ok, I've been reading card blogs for a while now. I'm really impressed by how cool the community is, sharing info about cards and trading and generally being great people of all ages and backgrounds. I even take the plunge and start writing my own blog in June of 2013, and soon do my first cards-for-cards trade in over 20 years (trading Marcus an extra McGriff rated rookie I ended up with). I must be on the right track, as I narrowly squeak out a win for "Best new blog of 2013" in awards voted on at another blog. As for my collection, I rarely spend real money on cards, though am active on Listia, selling crap for credits that I can turn around and spend on cards. One particular card I win on Listia is a really sharp looking autograph of Bill Madlock, a guy I got an in-person autograph from as a kid. Turns out the set is called 2004 Topps Retired Signature Edition and I'm in love with everything about it. I think I'll try to get some more of these cards. Yeah, maybe! Speaking of being in love, I ask that girl I've been shacking up with to marry me and she says yes!

2014 - I have pretty much focused my collection on retired greats and fan favorites from yesteryear up to this point, but inspired by reading card blogs, I finally come around to the current state of baseball and slowly start collecting some active players in addition to my old favorites. Funny enough, there are a few active card blogs that focus on the Padres, and they help teach me about the current lineup, and even though the team has broken my heart so many times in the past, I slide back into being a fan, for better or worse. Speaking of for better or worse, we get married over the summer.

2015 - I kick off the year by posting The game of Wallet Card, an idea I had come up with at the end of the previous year which I think is a fun concept for the cardsphere. It damn near goes viral and gets attention of collectors online far beyond my blog's normal reach. Feels like I've "made it" as a part of the baseball card collecting scene. My collecting habits expand further as I enter the world of working on vintage sets, deciding to make a run at my favorite set, 1973 Topps.

2016 - My dream of making my own baseball cards sort of comes true as I start toying with designing/printing my own custom cards. I have lot of fun coming up with various "cards that never were" and cards of hot rookies. I fly a little too close to the sun and start trying to make a little extra card-spending money by selling my custom cards online. After scary (though honestly a little flattering) legal threats from Topps and a Texas newspaper, I give up any intentions of making money off my customs. It doesn't matter much to me, though, as I'm lucky enough to score a good job with the company my wife works for. I no longer need to pinch my pennies quite so much, and start splurging on adding nice cards to my collection here and there.

2032 - I die of heart failure in a storage unit I've been crashing in since the money ran out. Alone with nothing to my name besides my beloved card collection boxed up all around my lifeless body, with no next-of-kin to be found, my collection is auctioned off for a few hundred bucks to a pawn shop asshole who turns a tidy profit on them and then puts a down payment on a mid-priced new card for his teenage son.

And I guess that's pretty much it. These days I've got lots of various collecting project in the works, with my focus for the first time being less on player collections and more on vintage sets and other fun/off-the-wall stuff. Still going strong with the blogging here as 2018 winds down, fortunate to have kind folks reading and interacting, both on the blog and twitter. Lots of incoming cards. Enjoying the hobby very much.

Thanks for reading all this!


  1. Ah, Rilo Kiley--great music and a relationship-starter too!

  2. 2032? you plan well. thanks for the background on you - music and cards. I only wish my hobby story went back to childhood but alas, only 1993.

    1. We still would like to hear about it, Julie :)

  3. Solid post! For someone who is supposedly getting old, your memory is still surprisingly sharp :)

  4. Cool! I guest star in your reminiscence bump!

    Siobahn has excellent taste in music. All of my favorites then (and now).

  5. Man... so much to comment on... so little time. Awesome post. Love Tears for Fears. I'm off to try and track down a copy of Songs from the Big Chair LP.

  6. That must have been quite the shock to jump from 1994 into 2005 how much things changed. I missed two years and I was stunned

  7. As I mentioned when I did my own reminiscing posts back in January, I'm 98% sure your blog was the first one I ever read. I have been active online in the hobby since 2000 but I somehow missed the existence of card blogs until sometime in 2014. Cardboard History may not have existed if not for Baseball Card Breakdown.

    I had sort of forgotten what music meant to me over the years. I'm rediscovering it now,ever since I found and listened to my CD collection for the first time in a decade last summer.

  8. Great post Gavin, an enjoyable read and like many others I have to compliment your musical taste. Especially Neutral Milk Hotel!

  9. I didn't realize you were away from the hobby for so long. Then again you had better luck with the ladies than I did! Also, the wallet card was your idea? Damn Gavin, you've done some amazing stuff on this blog in a fairly short amount of time. The gif cards, the list of baseball card references in pop culture..and of course the customs. Good thing that Topps Archives set brought you back to collecting!

    Always enjoy seeing posts with music included (and I would have missed your hidden text if not for Julie) I might try that with my next Nostalgia post.

  10. Excellent post. I'm still planning on writing one of these -- and like you, I cannot emphasize enough how big of an impact the blogs have had not only on my card-collecting life, but my life in general.