Let’s see a show of hands out there. How many of you ever spent your allowance buying packs of baseball cards when you were growing up?
You can include me in that group and I had to smile this week as the Reds were opening up packs of cards in the clubhouse here in Arizona. They were also signing their annual contract with the Topps company. It’s a deal that’s only worth $500 dollars but for a lot of these guys it’s not about the money.
Devin Mesoraco said he and his dad had a collection of cards back home in Punxsatawney, Pa. “Whenever I get them now I don’t keep them.” Mesoraco said. “I keep a dozen or so in the car and give them out to kids I see at the ball fields around home.”
Shortstop Zack Cozart was another avid collector growing up. “It’s pretty cool to see cards now with my picture on them.” Cozart said. “When I was a kid I thought it was the coolest thing ever to be on a card and now that I am it never gets old.”
Dusty Baker takes his card collecting back a little further than his players. The Reds manager pointed out when he was young, “You put the good players in a box and the bad players on your spokes.” Been there and done that, but Baker added these days most of his players wouldn’t even know what a clothespin was.
It used to be the Topps company would send a photographer to every spring training camp. The guy would go around and get every player to pose for a shot. Hitters with a bat in hand and pitchers with a glove. Smiling was optional but usually frowned on.
These days the cards are action shots taken during games. They still include the player’s statistics on the back of every card. But the one thing I always looked forward to is gone. That flat piece of bubble gum that was usually hard as a rock, is no longer included in each pack … that’s just wrong.