My Jackie

1953 Topps #1 - it's a little bashy, but I wouldn't be able to own it if it weren't.

In baseball cards, for the most part, I’ve stuck to OPC. The reason for this, primarily, is that I’m a shameless homer. These were the cards I had as a kid, they were the ones you could buy north of the border and there’s more than enough there to keep me busy for years.

OPC, though, save for a 1937 issue that’s rather expensive, only goes back to 1965. There are a couple other Canadian issues from the ’30s, a Parkhurst set from ’52 that covers ball and a couple food issues, but otherwise there’s this huge void. (I have no idea what was available here in the interim. Presumably Topps cards were around, but I’ve never seen it written down.)

When I thought about venturing into something a little more “vintagey”, there was one person I wanted to get more than any other, and that was Jackie Robinson. I refused to pick up any other card until I could get my hands on one of his. It just seemed to me that this was the place where a vintage collection should begin. (Number two on my list was Koufax. Ruth would be wonderful, but let’s face it, that ain’t happening any time soon.) My pre-1965 baseball collection now stands at a whopping five (count ’em) cards, 40% of which are Jackie.

I hate sounding like one of those lame people who finally got around to reading The Boys of Summer and now suddenly find themselves fascinated by the whole Brooklyn Dodgers thing. The unfortunate thing is that, well, let’s face it – I am one of those lame people. Given that my team didn’t bother to show up till 1977, though, I need something from that era to find fascinating. The baseball Leafs only go so far.

I’m of two minds as to the decision to have number 42 retired from all of major league baseball. I get what they’re trying to do, but it eliminates the option of players wearing it in tribute and it doesn’t make a lot of sense to have #42 listed as a retired number by teams for which Robinson never played. Both the Leafs and Jays have this notion of “honouring” numbers – the number is raised to a place of prominence but otherwise left in circulation. I find that works. The Leafs, for example, could have retired number seven on three separate occasions and number nine at least twice. It gives a modern wearer something to live up to.

Hockey did the global retirement thing with #99 (Gretzky) and it doesn’t really work there, either. There were cities where Gretz was persona non grata (mainly because he lit them up like Christmas trees) and now they have his number retired.

There is a Jackie Robinson biography at the local library that is next on my baseball reading list.

Home plate made of iron? Not all traditions are worth keeping.

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One Response to My Jackie

  1. Pingback: The Top 11 of 2011 – Hockey’s Babe, a Look N Scream, and my Jackie | Diamond Cuts and Wax Stains

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