I have been contemplating writing a post on my favorite baseball card, thinking that it would lead to other people writing a post about their favorite baseball card, and so on.
The risk of such an exercise is that every time someone runs a poll asking what the best baseball card is, the winner is the 1952 Mantle or the T206 Wagner or something. That’s well and good, but not what I am talking about. I not talking about the card you most want to own or most want to show off, I am talking about a card that reminds you of why you started collecting cards. So I thought I would restrict my criteria to “common” cards, or at least cards that you love for reasons other than their value. A card you can stare in order to teleport back to your childhood.
As it happens, I have a lot of cards that meet this criteria. I will choose one, understanding that I might choose another next week.
Mike Andrews was the second baseman on my beloved childhood team, the late 1960s and early 1970s Red Sox. He was a very good player, a guy who got on base, had some power, and could field his position. He was not my favorite player, but he was one of them. There was a kid in my Connecticut neighborhood whose name was Mike Andrews, so this was *his* favorite player. Mine was Yaz, which was admittedly the safe choice.
This card though. My favorite cards then and now depict a player posing with a glove or bat under a bright blue sunny sky. Andrews is wearing the bright home uniform — because so many photos in this era were taken in New York, most players (other than Mets and Yankees) tended to be photographed in road grays. (Happily, there were a handful of Red Sox cards that year taken at Fenway Park — George Scott, Joe Lahoud, Dick Schofield, a few others. Those were always welcome.)
More than that, Andrews’ expression exudes confidence. As he was getting ready to embark on another season for my team, I needed to see this expression. It heartened me. He looked ready to take on all comers, even those overrated Orioles.
Just so I am not accused of being a Red Sox fanboy, another example I could have chosen is this beauty of Jerry Grote. I love posed catcher cards, and this again has the beautiful spring day thing going for it. And when I look at Campy, who always took beautiful cards, I am transported back to the summer I was six years old and fell in love with cards and the game.