One of my favorite events at the SABR 43 conference in Philadelphia was the Research Committee Meeting for Baseball Card History and Influence. The meeting had a very different feel to it than other presentations at the conference. It was a chance for everyone in the room to participate, to share their love of baseball, and discuss what baseball means to them. And it was a chance to talk about baseball cards!
In this meeting, all of the people in the room took turns describing their favorite cards of all time. Some of the cards that people said were their favorites included: a 1960 Brooks Robinson, a 1974 Hank Aaron, a Derek Jeter relic card, a Dwight Gooden rookie card, a card of the Ripken brothers, Billy and Cal, that was autographed by the two players, and a 1953 Satchel Paige card. Other favorites in people’s collections included a 1985 Kirk Gibson card, a 1961 Babe Ruth card, and a 2008 Evan Longoria relic card from the slugger’s rookie season. Some of the cards are common, others are rare, but they're all special in their own ways.
It was fun hearing about the cards people really loved. But it was even better listening to the stories of how the cards ended up in their collections. One man who owned the 1974 Hank Aaron card said that when he was young, he bought an Atlanta Braves team set of cards. But for whatever reason, it didn’t include one of Aaron. He was mad. But weeks later, he opened a random pack of cards that included not one but TWO cards of Hammerin’ Hank!
I was able to share my own story, too. Last year, I bought a Topps box with 24 packs of cards. It was guaranteed to have at least one relic or autographed card in it. I only had five or six packs left, and I was starting to get excited about what relic or autograph card I was going to get. I opened up a pack and found the Jeter relic card. Being a huge Yankees fan, I nearly fell to the floor! It's now in a binder that also includes a Nolan Ryan relic, a Robin Roberts autographed card, and a Don Mattingly relic card, among many others.
All in all, the meeting was great. It was such a laid back and fun SABR 43 event, and it exciting to see how kids and adults had different opinions about a great hobby: collecting baseball cards.
Max Mannis is an 11-year-old special correspondent for sikids.com and a member of SABR. Catch his posts on advanced baseball statistics. To learn more about SABR and to join, visit www.sabr.org.