Armour: The great Topps baseball card monopoly

From SABR member Mark Armour at The National Pastime Museum on April 7, 2016:

In the spring of 1967 I tagged along with my mother on a routine trip to the grocery store, a six-year-old put in charge of pushing the cart. As a reward, or to keep me quiet for a little while longer, Mom bought me a “rack pack” containing 36 Topps baseball cards, which might have set her back 29 cents, plus tax. We were not rich, and Mom did not buy her children gifts every time we were in a store. But on this day she told me I could pick out something.

The baseball cards caught my eye, for reasons no longer known. I brought them home, unwrapped the packaging, and began thumbing through the 2.5 by 3.5-inch pieces of cardboard. With an occasional break for a year or three to live a productive life, I have been organizing baseball cards ever since, which would make this day one of the most significant of my life. This seems sad when I write it out like that, so let’s move on.

My card collecting, it must be said, did not spring from a love of baseball. On the contrary, I would not have recognized any of the players depicted on the 36 cards, nor any of their teams. I don’t recall that I had ever watched the game, or played the game. I did not own a glove or a bat. I learned to appreciate baseball in no small part because of baseball cards. When I showed my stack of cards to my father, he informed me that this Willie Mays person was very good at his job. My education into this greatest of games began right about there.

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Originally published: April 7, 2016. Last Updated: April 7, 2016.