Baseball cards: Fool's gold discovered in East Potomac Park!
Baseball cards from the 1980s are like paperback books filled with highlights and margin notes: You can't sell them, and yet you can't bring yourself to throw them away, either. You can't even effectively donate them — what does the name Fred Lynn mean to a needy youngster these days? For that matter, what do baseball cards mean to him? It's been more than a decade since boys collected baseball cards in any massive numbers.
And so there are a lot of stunted 30-something guys like myself who haven't managed to part with them. As I was preparing for a brief, ill-fated move to Chicago earlier this year, I told my book publicist that I was looking to separate the wheat from the chaff in my collection. I'd already once filled a car with worthless cardboard and hauled it from New Jersey to Washington, the rear bumper sagging toward the pavement. I couldn't bear to do it again. I needed to unload the commons somewhere.
Can you hang on to them a little longer? my publicist asked. At least until after you've done your interviews?
The message was clear: I couldn't be the guy who wrote a book about baseball cards and then tossed his own into the Dumpster. That's when I realized the cards were with me forever, for better or worse. Instead of disposing of them, I simply stuffed them into a couple of closets and the basement of the house I was leaving, vowing to return for them in springtime. Or maybe summer.
When I moved back to Washington unexpectedly after just a few months, my old housemate, Greg, suggested we get together for beers to catch up. He also suggested I finally get my crap out of the house — especially the thousands upon thousands of valueless baseball cards. There was no room in the closet for the vacuum cleaner.
So I swung by the house one day and removed a stash of cards, each of which had a market value of around $.01. And as I dumped a heap into a streetside garbage can I looked guiltily over both shoulders, as if I were throwing out the love letters from a once-meaningful relationship. I left the bulk of the cards behind at the house, where they remain today.
So I have some advice for the owner of the cards from East Potomac Park, if he chooses to come forth and claim them. (I don't like making assumptions along gender lines, but if the "he" turns out to be a "she" then I'll eat my 1985 Yankees team set.) It's time for this collector to make some hard decisions. Winnow it down to a manageable collection of meaningful cards and find a proper resting place for the rest of them. You can't carry these boxes around for the rest of your life. The longer you hang on to them, the harder they are to unload.
And Greg, if you're reading this, I haven't forgotten about the rest of my own cards. I still plan on coming by the house to pick them up. If not this weekend then the next ...
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