Name Your Favorite Childhood Baseball Card [ROUNDTABLE]


After a tremendous response to Week One’s “Digital Roundtable“, we’re circling up some of closest internet friends for an even-stronger Week Two response.

Our subject-matter this week?

Baseball. Cards.

Cardboard. Icons.

Gurus of the Gum.

Without further ado, let’s get into it.

The Question:

For either its value or its sentiment, what is the baseball card you remember most from your childhood?

The Cast:

Will Leitch (New York Magazine and
Gar Ryness (“Batting Stance Guy“)
John Marecek (550 KTRS)
Todd Thomas (Busch Stadium’s “That One Guy”)
Matt Sebek ( and

The Answers:

Will Leitch: My father had a thick, black bushy mustache when I was a child; he couldn’t grow a beard, oddly, so he overcompensated with a mustache that looked like it’d been put on with a roller brush.

I couldn’t wait to grow one myself. I didn’t resort to Beavis and Butt-head tactics (see, this) but I’d be lying if I didn’t once draw one on my face with a sharpie once or twice. (Mom was very angry.) It seemed to me that growing a beard was the true measure of a man. Dad secretly agreed, I think, which explained the mustache, but he still couldn’t quite fill out a full beard, not at 34; that wouldn’t happen until he was into his 40s, which means my father was going through a stage of puberty at 38. (At 34 myself, today, I can’t even pull off the mustache; honestly, I’m barely a mammal.)

So to me, the true example of virility, to this eight-year-old’s eyes, was Bruce Sutter, on the baseball card picture below.  There is so much hair there. It looks Pam Grier is nuzzling his adam’s apple. I can’t fathom what it must have been like for Sutter to pitch on the old Busch turf on a August Saturday afternoon with that thing. Engine No. 42 was the most manly man on earth for me in 1983. I can hope there aren’t eight year olds who feel the same way about Ryan Franklin right, but I have my fears.


Batting Stance Guy: Jerry Mumphrey 1985 Topps #736.

Unspectacular, but the most newsworthy card to me. I was turning 12 and it was the first year I made a true attempt to collect every card through packs. End of the season I was 1 card short. Broke down and went to a card show. Found it in the “commons” section.

Set complete.

Now what do I do w/ these 38 Joe Cowley doubles?


John Marecek: Could go with the entire 1987 Topps set – where you can find the Mike Laga pink shirt, or the super skinny rookie cards for McGwire, Bonds and Palmeiro.  All excellent choices.

There’s also the infamous Billy Ripken error in the ’89 Fleer set.

Most memorable though, is the Ken Griffey Jr. #1 1989 Upper Deck rookie.  That card played a big role in the launch of Upper Deck as a company, and was the card everyone wanted.

Plus, it’s probably the only one one from that era still worth anything.


That One Guy: I never really collected cards, but I did eat that little piece of powdered wood they called gum until it ran out of flavor in about 9.6 seconds.

In 1980, I traded 3 packs of Topp’s cards even up for a Fun Dip.  My buddy Curt felt bad about the trade, so he rifled through the cards and gave me the only one he didn’t want. . . Sid Monge.

I didn’t know anything about him then and don’t know much about him now other than he was an All-Star in 1979 and that Tony Gwynn’s (one of my favorite players of all-time) 1st big league was a double off him.   I do still have the Sid Monge card in a box somewhere in my basement.  Curt still jokes about the trade.  He says it was almost as bad as the Brock for Broglio trade.  I agree.  But, I did get a Fun Dip.


Matt Sebek: I wasn’t like most kids.  I collected cards with little/no value whatsoever and desired a portfolio that included the weirdest baseball had to offer.  The 80′s saw a tremendous amount of mustaches, glasses, exposed chest hair and general peculiarity displayed prominently on baseball cards.  For me, the beacon of that weirdness was a 1986 Topps Willie McGee card. 

First and foremost, the ’86 Topps design was one of the best in their storied history.  Simple, yet elegant.

But most importantly, this photo looks like it was snapped 5 second after Willie accidentally took a swig of Jack Clark’s tobacco spit cup.


The Archives:

Week One: Pick one St. Louis athlete to start your adult men slow-pitch softball team. (link)


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