Collecting topps is tops for Nick

Nick Hartley

Nick Hartley

My wonderful girlfriend Jessica was spending some time at my place last week when she noticed some boxes in my closet, and we pulled them out wondering what might be in them. A look inside revealed my massive baseball, football and basketball card collection that had been left alone and forgotten for the past five years since I came to college.

Like many boys my age, I was hooked on sports card collecting at a young age. The collection numbers close to 10,000 by my estimates, including a size 16 shoebox full of various cards and several albums full of organized cards.

Then all of a sudden, the passion for collecting those valuable cards went by the wayside as I went through high school. Time and other money commitments took away from interest in the cards, as it did with countless other teenagers across the United States. With the invention of the Internet and eBay, one could easily get the cards they needed or wanted for dirt cheap instead of spending upwards of $3 on a pack of cards, hoping to get their favorite player. The market became overpopulated, driving away many collectors.

So this past weekend, Jessica, her friend Amy and I went to Sioux Falls on a whim. We stopped at Target while there, and I picked up 12 packs of cards to relive the days of the past. As we drove back listening to the women’s game, I got to thinking about some of the joys of opening packs from my childhood. Most of the time was spent hoping for an elusive Kirby Puckett, Michael Jordan or a Ken Griffey Jr. card in the pack. Sometimes I got those cards; most times, I did not. I can even recall my first card; a 1991 Upper Deck Kirby Puckett card #544, which today, is held together by tape.

While at Target, the first pack of baseball cards I opened was a 2007 Topps. The first card was a Carlos Silva card and a precursor to the rest of the experience, as I was filled with disappointment. Along with the pack of Topps, I also bought a pack of 2007 Bowman Heritage and a pack of 2007 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects that contained an Albert Pujols and a Chipper Jones card, along with many valuable rookie cards.

I moved on to packs of football cards after finishing the baseball cards. My best pack was a pack of 2007 Topps in which I was rewarded with three LaDainian Tomlinson cards and a Devin Hester card. I also bought a pack of 2007 Leaf Rookie & Stars and a pack of a 2007 Playoff Absolute Memorabilia pack in which I received numerous players who never see any kind of action on the field; needless to say, I was feeling quite disappointed with my haul thus far.

Hoping for a miracle of some sort, I finished with some packs of basketball cards. Three packs of cards awaited me. Included was a pack of 2007-08 Fleer Hot Prospects that contained a Dwayne Wade card; a pack of 2007-08 Bowman Draft Picks & Stars that revealed a Lamar Odom card and a Gabe Pruitt limited edition rookie card; and a pack of 2007-08 Topps holding a LeBron James card, a Joakim Noah rookie card and a Ray Allen card inside.

The act of dropping $25 on packs of baseball cards is not condoned by this Collegian Sportswriter, but the hobby of collecting these cards is endorsed by many. I am thankful Jessica revived a hobby I had lost most interest in, and one of these free weekends, I plan to check out the current value of my collection. Get back in the game and look through your collection. The past may be the past, but you can still easily look back at the good things that happened.