December 19, 2014

The throwback set: Ugly 90s cards never felt so good

Sy Berger’s death received national attention with names such as Keith Olbermann and Bob Costas getting nostalgic and talking about their days as card collectors. Twenty to thirty years ago, it seemed every little boy (and many girls) collected cards. They tried feverishly to get their favorite players while wadding up balls of gum in their mouths.

The New York Times ran an article on Berger from the eyes of their national baseball columnist Tyler Kepner. He spoke about his love of collecting as a child and buying a complete set of 1982 Topps – the set that got his love of collecting started. While he doesn’t collect anymore, he still thinks of baseball cards in a fond light.

We all have one of those sets. Despite the mass production of cardboard heroes in the 1980s and early 1990s, there is a set many people of similar ages tend to see and it brings us back to one of simple joys when packs of cards only cost a quarter and we traded with friends and family members.

My throwback set is 1991 Fleer. They were so ugly with their bright, yellow borders. And I loved it.


My mother would send me to the store to get milk or bread and I would pick up a pack or two with the leftover change. Much like now, I couldn’t wait to get home to rip open the pack, so I would stand in the middle of the store with a friend or my younger brother and fly through the cards looking for any New York Yankees.

Matt Nokes! Kevin Maas! Jesse Barfield! Oscar Azocar!

Getting Don Mattingly, though, was the best. I kept all my Yankees in a binder, while the other guys get relegated to a shoebox.

The best thing about these cards, however, was they were all mine. For years, I watched as my older brother and cousins would trade cards and rip open packs with each other. I had to live through their collections until Mom let me use her change to start my own collection.

Even though those sets don’t hold much value these days, it’s not the money that matters when nostalgia hits. It’s the memories that no one can put a price on.

2 comments:

  1. I have the complete 1991 Fleer Yankees team set in a binder and I just love looking at it. Whenever I do, I think of my first year at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry. I would leave class, take the bus to Central Ave and pick up a couple of packs of cards once a week, looking for Yankees. As ugly as that set is, it takes me back to a good time in my life.

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  2. Where did you go on Central Ave? There is just one store left there now. I still go to it from time to time.

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