Wendt: A meditation on a mess of baseball cards

From Holly Wendt at Baseball Prospectus on September 1, 2017:

The collection has been housed in a leather valise, harder than glove-leather, dry with age, the colors of infield dirt before and after the dampening spray. It looks like it’s going somewhere, waiting for its steamer-trunk sticker. The rusting clasp features a small lock, though key and case have long parted ways. Under the flipped lid, an imbroglio of cardboard and plastic—cards and sleeves tumbled loose, some correctly paired, everything shaken free of even the suggestion of stacks. Here and there, snap-closure plastic cases separate fifteen or twenty cards from the rest: whole or partial sets of things, or maybe the lone pack of a certain brand or special release.

The empty sleeves distract, and the first thing I do is pull them out. Without someone’s face between their translucent skins, the soft ones look like trash, like cigarette-box wrappers. The rigid ones tinge yellow, age and maybe smoke getting the better of them. I wouldn’t want to put new cards in them, or anything I think has value.

I wish value wasn’t the first thing I thought about when I lifted the lid, but that’s what baseball cards seemed to mean most in the 1990s. That’s why my brother collected them, going to shows and crowded road-side shops and that one table at the weekly farmers’ market, and why he bought those hefty newsprint guides that told you what you—your collection—was worth.

Read the full article here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=32660

Originally published: September 1, 2017. Last Updated: September 1, 2017.