The card my mom threw away

24 02 2010

Okay, before all the Dodgers fans start hating my mother, she didn’t actually throw this card out.  But to an eight year old kid with limited financial resources, she did something far, far worse.

Since 1981 Donruss was so damage prone, and 1981 Fleer did little for me at the time, I decided to spend my allowance money on 1981 Topps.  That was years ago, so I can’t say for certain how much I spent or recall how many packs I bought, but I do recall much of my initial set was damaged when I dropped it while pulling it down from a shelf in my room.  To give you an idea of how many I had, I was able to replace most of what got damaged in the fall and still have a few duplicates left to trade.  Mind you, not all the cards were damaged, and as I recall it impacted the first two hundred cards or so, more than the rest.  The point is, I had a number of these cards.

Ask anyone who collected in 1981 what the card to have was, and they will surely mentioned the one above.  Fernando Valenzuela.  No squirrel gimmick.  No parallel short print.  No signed manupatches that spelled “Fernando Mania.”  Just a simple, basic, rookie card.  And I had two of them.

My first mistake was to be proud of this.  Or rather, proud enough of this to proclaim this fact to my older sister, who at the time had taken a passing interest in collecting as the hobby swept through the house.  While I had managed to pull two of these, she still had none.

She must have claimed at some point she didn’t believe me, because I produced my two Fernandos to prove to my sister I had them.  She took them in her hands, looked them over, and then returned only one of them.  My sister then claimed that this second card should be hers and she was now going to keep it.

I wasn’t willing to settle for that solution, so we turned to the ultimate judge in the settler of children’s disputes, the court of mom.   After listening to our arguments (no witnesses were called), the ruling came down that the card should go to my sister, since I already had one and she had none.  There was no appeal process and the ruling held.

Then, in an ultimate big sisterly move, she decided to pass the card along to my older brother who already had quite the collection in my eyes at the time.  Negotiations were futile, and I was left with a single (and as you can tell slightly off-center) copy of the card.

Since this is card #302 in the set, it wasn’t affected by the previously mentioned drop.  But I was still frustrated that a great trading chip and at the time highly valued card was gone.  I never replaced it, either.

But now, Topps is promising me a chance to do so.   I’m sure the whole  “Cards Your Mom Threw Out”  applies to the card that she gave away as well, right?  So lay it on me, Topps.  Be true to the namesake of your contest and return to me what was rightfully mine.  Bring me back Fernando.

First try:

A 1979 Topps Ted Cox. It’s vintage-ish, I guess, but not needed for my set.  And he’s certainly no Fernando.  He does hold a Major League Baseball record, though, one of those “never be broken” types of things.  I couldn’t decide whether I should leave it up to guess and google, or just share with you the answer.  So I’ll leave you a link to the answer and the chance to do both.

Try number 2..

A 1987 Frank Wills.  Ugh.  At least he’s a pitcher like Valenzuela was.

I think I bought three wax boxes and a couple vending boxes of this stuff to boot in an effort to complete this set, and I still had to buy the Jim Deshaies rookie from my substitute Spanish teachers in high school.  That was back in the rookie card heyday, and he was firm in his price.  It was worth it then to get that monkey off my back, but I’m pretty sure I spent about 1/10 of the set’s worth today doing so.

I feel bad that I wasted what will probably be Frank’s only appearance on a card blog by talking instead about Jim Deshaies.  So here’s a link to an interview with Frank Willis talking about pitching to Hall of Fame inductees Jim Rice and Ricky Henderson.  The stuff about Reggie Jackson’s pretty good, too.

One more code, one more shot at Fernando.  Third try…

…a 1994 Topps John Dopson.  This will now be a one of a kind card in my collection, as it’s the only 1994 Topps card I currently “own.”  As of now, though, these will be staying with Topps so they can use them in another ten years when they have a similar contest again.

I’m sure these won’t be the last of the code cards I get.  I’m still planning on a box of this stuff at some point, so all hopes not lost quite yet.  And there’s still trading, too, so who knows.  Maybe I can still get that Valenzuela back.




2 responses

25 02 2010
John Bateman

In 1981, the Fleer Fernando card was going for a buck. I remember reading about it in SI at the time.

25 02 2010

I seem to remember the Topps version hitting double digits at some point, but I could be wrong.

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