September 21, 2011
My first baseball card, a beautiful orange 1952 Topps Gil Hodges
By MIKE BERKUS
St. Paul, Minnesota. I was in the second grade and my grade school was located right across the street from Larry's Milk Store. Larry's was a 100 sq ft mom & pop store that carried around 15,000 different items. How he ever managed that, is lost forever. Larry was a 350-pound whale of a man who never moved more than three feet in 10 minutes. Fortunately, the new Topps baseball cards had just arrived and he was behind the cash register with three beautiful new green and red boxes. I had never bought a baseball card before and soon found out that my nickel, would bring me six "giant" trading cards. Being a true card rookie, I had no idea that baseball cards were supposed to be much smaller.
I was standing in line behind Mickey Applebaum and watched as he carefully placed his nickel on top of the counter. A hand, somewhat larger than a Buick, swallowed up the nickel and Mickey was handed a pack of Topps 1952 baseball cards. Mickey disappeared out the front of the store. I put my nickel on the counter and repeated the act that would be the first in many thousands of similar purchases.
I walked out of the store in time to see the gum disappear in Mickey's mouth. In his hand was the stack of baseball cards with a beautiful orange card on top......Gil Hodges. St. Paul was the AAA minor league club of the Dodgers and I was a big fan. I proceeded to open my nickel pack and before I could get the wax off the top card, Mickey offered to trade the card for my entire pack.
To this day I cannot tell you what cards were in my first pack, but that's why I can remember that the 1952 horizontal Gil Hodges card, became my very first baseball card.
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Mike Berkus is a founder of the National Sports Collectors Convention and a member of the National Sports Collector Convention Hall of Fame. He resides in Southern California.