A Card for Karma
The first time I can remember seeing a vintage baseball card in person was when I was 12 years old, and my Aunt's boyfriend brought home some stuff he found abandoned at a work site to give to my cousin. "Here, I don't know if these are worth anything but you can have them." We looked on with wide eyes as he laid out a pile of 1956 Topps cards. They were ragged but we didn't care, it was the oldest cards we had ever seen and they were amazing. The fuzzy corners and faded ink just made them look that much older and desirable in our eyes. I was green with envy but didn't show it, and I was happy for him even if I was a little sad figuring nothing so cool ever happened to me. His mom ran an antique store so he was used to inheriting these sorts of treasures. From that point on we hit garage sales as much as we could in search of that elusive find.
Nowadays it's not so hard to find cards like this, with the Internet and Ebay which has taken a little fun out of the treasure hunt. But there was one card that I would come across that would change all that.
Now I want to start by saying that I was a pretty good kid by most standards. I was an only child and learned to entertain myself at an early age and living out in the country it's pretty easy to stay out of trouble. But even us church going, well behaved, straight and narrow kids are prone to making some big mistakes from time to time. I think most of us have done something stupid in our youth that we look back on with regret and shame. For me it involved a 1957 Topps Roberto Clemente. My cousin and I were on one of our many garage sale adventures which usually resulted in nothing more than some used Charlie Brown books (I could never have enough). But this time was different. There were baseball cards, and a lot of them. Most of them were not worth even sifting through; even at the time we all knew stuff like 90 Fleer was never going to be more than kindling. But as I looked through the books, I noticed something out of place. A card the likes of which I had never seen, except maybe in a Beckett magazine. There was Roberto, in a cheap penny sleeve. Somehow he had lost his way and landed in the wasteland of the dust filled book pile. I quickly snatched him up before my cousin could; usually he was the one with this kind of luck. But what to do now? Surely this wasn't meant to be with the crappy cards was it? It didn't have a price. Even though my insides were screaming at me to do the right thing, and speak up, I did not. I put it with my other items and it was treated like a regular card, another casualty of mom indifference.
This was not one of my finer moments. I was so ashamed after the 40 minute drive home that I put the card away and never really showed it off to anyone. Was it worth going to that extreme just to get over on my cousin? Of course not, that's not what card collecting is about. A few years later I was getting ready for college and chasing skirts, and my cards got buried in the closet like so many other collections out there, until a few years ago I resurrected the artifacts back into the light of day. And there in the depths of the stacks sat "Bob". A literal skeleton in the closet that I no longer wanted to hang on to. But what to do with it?
The obvious choice would be to return the card to it's owner, as I should have years ago. But now nearly 25 years have passed and Des Moines is a city of over half a million people. I thought about running a Craigslist ad, but finding an honest owner would be basically impossible. But then as I was reading through the latest Crackin Wax charity case breaks, I had an idea. If I can't undo my selfish deed, at least maybe I could do a good deed for someone else. The irony of Roberto's own tragic life is not lost on me, and there are thousands of kids out there going through tragedies of their own. That's why I have posted a 7 day auction that 100% of the proceeds will go to Make-A-Wish.
Even if you aren't interested in purchasing the card, maybe pass the link on to someone who is. It's a small drop in the bucket, but if we can help make even one kid's dream come true it is worth it. Thanks for visiting and make sure to find me on Twitter. Happy card hunting, friends.