Sunday, August 8, 2010

Getting Carded

There are times when I want to write about something, but struggle to figure out how to tie into running. Lat week, I took my son to the biggest card show in the country. I was trying to figure out how I could write about it, when, boom, instant inspiration struck. What follows are some random thoughts that occurred to me that day on everything from running, to cards, to my dad, to G-d.

My father used to take me to card shows when I was younger. He was not into cards but he took me because I was. I, on the other hand, still enjoy cards, and still have a small collection. I am sure this says a lot about the differences between my dad and me.

During the show, there were times when my son would go ahead and I would look for him. Other times, I would move ahead a bit and he would look for me. It seems to me that this parallels our relationship with G-d. Sometimes we look for him, other times, he looks for us.

As we wandered through the massive show I was looking at some cards from about 100 years ago and found… track and field cards. That’s right, 100 years ago, some executive at a tobacco company decided to put track and field cards in a pack of cigarette cards instead of baseball cards. I suspect he was soon unemployed. It gets better than that. The set had track and field and boxers in one set. What made him think of that combination? It wouldn’t be much of a fight between them unless the track and field guys could use javelins and shot puts in the fight.

My dad and I were once at a show, and off in a small room, sitting by himself signing autographs for a dollar, was Bob Feller, one of the greatest pitchers of all times. I could tell, at least I think I could, that my dad thought it was cool meeting him, although of course, my dad would never ask him for his autograph. I, on the other hand did, and treasure that autograph to this day.

In the set, there is a Jewish runner named Abel Kiviat. Kiviat was an excellent runner. Of course, I bought the card. On the back of the card, he is described as a “Hebrew runner”. What exactly does that mean? Did he run from right to left?

Tobacco cards of that time sell for $35 and up, much more for the stars, if you are talking about baseball. The track and field cards were $5 each. I’m sure there is a message in there somewhere.

Just as when you go to the supermarket it is good to bring a list so that you don’t spend more money than you planned, the same is true at a card show. We were both like little kids in a candy shop. I had to have self-control for two.

We live in a consumerist culture, where we are constantly encouraged to buy things we never would have thought we needed. I walked in never having heard of track and field cards, and walked out with four, with the hope of acquiring more.
Eddie Mathews, a hall of famer, once signed autographs for free after a show, for my friend and me. Willie Mays charged $300 for his autograph at this show and it was made clear that he would not personalize anything. If you look at their stats, Mays was better. That’s not the way I will remember them.

My mom once schlepped into Brooklyn on a Sunday morning so that I could get the autograph of my idol, Ted Williams. He didn’t even look up when he signed. Ted was a better hitter, my mom, a better person.

It is good to find a common language with your children, even if it is not the one you would choose on your own.

As a child, my favorite player was Carl Yastrzemski. My friend fit that into a song he sung at our wedding. I bought one of his cards at the show. It made me smile on many levels.

I have tried to figure out what makes some of us collectors and others think that collecting is crazy. I have my theories, but nothing certain yet.

Unlike many moms, mine never through out my baseball cards. Not only that, she took me to Fenway Park for the first time.

When my dad died four years ago, I led prayers during the 7th inning stretch at a game where I took my son. I think my dad would have gotten a kick out of that.

I supposed to go to card show one Sunday morning when I was about 12 with my friend Arie. When we were about to leave, my mom answered the phone and started to cry. That was the day my grandmother died.

When Bob Shepherd, the voice of the New York Yankees, recently died, another person who made me think of my parents left the world.

Cards remind me of a past, when things were simpler, or at least, in retrospect they seem that way, especially for those of us who didn’t live through those times.

I miss my parents.

PLEASE donate in my mom’s memory to help children with cancer:

1 comment:

  1. First, I just want to make clear that I was not the anonymous commenter on the previous piece - which meant a lot to me. Instead of posting a comment here I pasted the whole piece onto my blog. Now, onto this piece:

    I loved this piece from the title on down, there's so much here. I laughed out loud when I read "Did he run from right to left?" I liked the points about self restraint and the need to find a common language with your kids. I was touched at several points, in particular by the line, "Ted was a better hitter, my mom, a better person." There's a song about someone seeing Willy Mays at a home depot, the story didn't happen. And yet. I wrote a book report on Yaz when I was a kid. My cards "disappeared" over the years and that makes me sad. I wonder what makes some of us collectors and others think it's a crazy thing. It's one example of many striking personality differences between people. It's almost a proof of G-d that people can be so different. I get the feeling a lot of people miss your parents...