I’d go to card shows in the 1980’s and 1990’s and see fathers and sons flipping through the cards, working on building sets together, and dreamed that one day that’d be me, with my boy, crossing out numbers on checklists and sharing the thrill of the hunt, stumbling upon that much-needed bit of cardboard on our way to completion.
It never happened. None of the kids were really into cards. Nate’s hyperlexia/high-functioning autism took his obsessions in directions other than cards. I took Robbie to a big show near O’Hare Airport when he was little, but I don’t think he had much fun. Joey remembers a card show connected to Fan Fest during the 2002 All-Star Game in Milwaukee. I don’t think that ever happened.
There was a show in Albany this weekend that I planned on going to. I figured it must be pretty good since it was in its 40th year. I asked Joey, who’s been more into baseball lately, if he wanted to go. He did.
It was a fairly small show at the Ramada Plaza, but definitely the kind of show I was looking for. A slave to my want lists, I knew I’d be able to knock off a chunk of my 1968 and 1969 Topps sets. I did – 83 1968’s, over half of what I needed, and 23 1969’s, about one-third of what was left. I also got 16 1956s for $2.25 each.
Joey was a little lost without a goal, but soon dove into the fun and freedom of not having sets to fill. His only mission was to get a Minnie Minoso card. He got a 1961 as I was looking through some sheets and I found a 1958 in a bargain bin (where I also found a 1955 Al Rosen. He wanted a Rosen card too).
There was a big box of cheap inserts, where Joey found game used items, including a Rocco Baldelli patch. Joey loves Rocco Baldelli.
He also grabbed cards of guys he liked and knew (Felipe Alou and Vida Blue)
or guys who looked cool that he never heard of (Zoilo Versalles and Jose Vidal).
We talked about Tommie Aaron when Joey stumbled upon a 1969 card of Hank’s brother
and, like a lot of us, he fell in love with 1971 Topps, especially Lindy McDaniel.
He also discovered printing errors and now is on a mission to find more Timothy Leary inspired cards like the 1972 Felipe he bought for .50. (If you’ve got cards like this send them to me!).
The last dealer we stopped at had rows of 1968s and 1969s he was willing to part with for .80 each, including high numbers. I asked Joey if he would help me go through them and he did. It was a bit arduous, but, as we sat side by side, my dream came true.
“Got one,” he’d say as he passed me another card, which led to conversations about Clete Boyer and the playing career of Tony Larussa.
When we were finished I thanked Joey for being such a good sport and helping me realize an old dream. At first I thought he had more fun at the show than I did, hunting and pecking for neat cards while I slogged through various sheets of paper, but I realize now that I got so much more out of our Saturday afternoon in Albany. If I never get the chance to share another show with Joey, I’m fine. I got to do it once and it was wonderful.