September 20, 2011

My first baseball card: something touched me deep inside


It happened in the spring of 1951, just before my ninth birthday. Upon leaving my elementary school, P.S. 101 in Forest Hills, N.Y., I spied a colorful piece of paper on the ground which I promptly scooped up. It was a 1951 Bowman baseball card of Washington Senators' catcher Mickey Grasso. My life would never be the same.

I knew practically nothing about baseball and was totally unaware of baseball cards. My family would not own a television set until later in the year, so I had never seen a game. But there was something about that Mickey Grasso card that captivated me.

That baseball card changed my life, and is almost beyond words, like a religious experience or the birth of your first child. It was as though a light had been turned on.

Baseball has been a dominant force in my life every since. That's 60 years. Baseball cards and the game became my passion as a youngster. I just had to have all those 1951 Bowmans and I eventually owned all of them.

In the early 1970s, Vivian and I became baseball card collectors and eventually part-time dealers. In 1979, we created a publication devoted to baseball card collecting, Baseball Hobby News, which was published for nearly 15 years.

That 1951 Bowman Mickey Grasso still has a hold on me, as does the game as well as baseball cards.


Vivian said...

The first cards I bought were 1955 and 1956 Topps (I'm considerably younger than Frank.)

I can still smell the bubblegum.

Tom Henningsen said...

My mind is playing tricks lately, but I'm fairly sure that the first card I remember is a 1950 Bowman Dom DiMaggio card. Quite awhile ago, I wrote a column about my first card for BHN. If I said something different then, that's the right story.I was much younger then!! I'm old enough to remember the smell of the carmel which was packed with the 1950 Topps cards.

Anonymous said...

Jeffrey Leonard commented:

These stories remind me so much of BHN...I really miss reading it every month. Those were fun days.

Anonymous said...

From Barrie Sullivan . . .

The first card remember was in a small group of 1948 Bowmans WHICH MY FRIEND HAD SECRETLY ACQUIRED FROM A NEIGHBORHOOD LITTLE GROCERY STORE (sorry, my caps lock was on) and I
remember seeing Eddie Joost pop out at me. Wish it could have been someone sexier.

bh3443 said...

Hi Frank! I truly enjoyed this segment as well as all your great articles and blogs. Many decades ago I bought a few Mickey Grasso cards from you at a show to give to our family friend, Mrs. Mickey Grasso (no relation to the ballplayer) here in my hometown. She was so happy!
This is just one fond memory I have of many times I met you. Take care and God Bless, Bill Hedin