As it is the Christmas season, a time of peace and joy, I thought I would share my happiest hobby memory.
The year was 1993. I was 11 years old and a rabid baseball card collector. I had started my Ken Griffey Jr. collection a year or two before, and I remember seeing a commercial for Upper Deck cards on TV talking about heroes....
....incredibly, I found the ad on youtube (isn't it an amazing age we live in?)
From the moment I saw that ad, my only thought was "I HAVE to get that Griffey card~!"
And so I started collecting 1993 Upper Deck Baseball Series 1. I bought pack after pack, but the Griffey Triple Crown Contender was nowhere to be found. In fact, despite the fact that they were inserted 1:15 packs (so 2-3 per box) I had only pulled one card from the set (Juan Gonzalez if memory serves). I made regular trips to my favorite card store (R.I.P. MVP Sportscards) but that Griffey never showed up in the singles display case. I went to several local card shows - still no dice.
Then one day my friend and I took a walk over to Ball Four Sportscards. Being 11 I obviously didn't have a lot of money, but what I did have was going to go straight into busting some packs. I also happened to have a few other cards on me that I had brought to show my friend - a small 6-card set I had gotten from my brother-in-law Jay that included cards of Robin Yount, George Brett, and Nolan Ryan.
I immediately spent ALL my money on 4-5 packs of Upper Deck, only to grow more and more disappointed as each pack was found to not have one of the elusive Triple Crown inserts. The box was mostly full, so I just knew there had to be some in there. I reluctantly decided to trade 5 of the cards I had gotten as a gift for 2 more packs. I held on to the Nolan Ryan card because that was Jay's favorite player, and I would have felt bad trading it away since he had been nice enough to give it to me. I opened the two packs, AND......
I was so disappointed. I had no money, and no other cards to trade, except the Nolan Ryan. But I just coudn't trade that one, that was Jay's favorite!...but, somehow I just couldn't walk away. I doubt the store owner was actually interested in trading, but I think he felt bad for this little kid that wanted to get just one more pack so bad that he agreed to give me a pack for the Ryan card. I took it and we walked out of the store.
Walking down the street I opened the pack, and immediately I saw there was a purple insert card in the middle of the base cards! "Oh my God it's a Triple Crown card!!!" I thought. I wanted to dive right to the middle to see what it was, but afraid of jinxing myself I stuck to my usual pattern of flipping through all the other cards first and leaving the reveal of the insert to be a surprise at the end of the pack. I lifted the last card and saw........
I've rarely had another moment of such pure joy. I remember jumping up and down screaming, apparently making a scene to the point that my friend joked "OK, I don't know you" and started to walk away from me lest any other passersby think he was associated with this lunatic kid.
My Griffey collection has since grown to over 600 cards. I certainly have many cards that are much more rare and/or valuable than this one. But even 17 years later, this remains my favorite card of my entire baseball card collection.
Merry Christmas everyone!