30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Who are some of your Cardboard Gods?

Has anyone else read Cardboard Cards by Josh Wilker? I picked it up last Friday after watching this video on YouTube:

There are so many collectors on YouTube these days... that's it's like an all you can eat buffet. But to me nblackford1412 is the mashed potatoes and gravy... in other words... it's the first things I grab when I go to buffets... and Nate's videos are always the first videos I look for when I go to YouTube.

It's pretty simple... Nate has a variety of videos that entertain me. His videos range from "top 10 baseball cards from the 80's" to "how to display your cards". If you have a few minutes to kill, I encourage you to head over YouTube and check out some of his vids.

Okay... getting back on track... I'm not a huge fan of reading. In fact, most of the books I read are books recommended to me by my students. Which is why I figured I'd return the favor and pick up a book for them. So after watching Nate's video... I headed down to Barnes and Noble... used my teacher discount card... and picked up a copy of this amazing book:

I'll get this out of the way and say it's a "must read" for anyone who grew up in the 70's and early 80's collecting cards. Without giving away too much... I'll just tell you it's an autobiography about a guy (Josh Wilker), his family, and his friends. Wilker and his brother collected cards throughout the 70's and in the book he uses some of them to connect with specific moments in his life. One of my favorite stories was about Mike Kekich and Fritz Peterson who were two baseball players who swapped wives. I personally thought it was very creative of Wilker to use the story of these two players to introduce the readers to his "non traditional" family.

It was at this point in the book that I realized that as a teacher, I probably shouldn't recommend this book to my students. It's nothing most teenagers have watched or heard before, but there are a few words and inappropriate topics within these pages.

Anyways... back to the biography.

Another story he weaved into his own life was the time Dock Ellis threw a no-hitter against the Padres, while on an acid trip. I vaguely remember hearing the story years ago. But this book ultimately led me to this video, which features Ellis as he recounts that historic day:

You'll have to read the book if you want to see how Wilker relates his own life to Dock's.

Wilker was also one of those guys who loved to memorized statistics, so throughout the book he points out trivial, yet interesting baseball facts. I was able to find a couple of Wilker's cards in my own collection, but this one was one of my favorites:

It's a Herb Washington's 1975 Topps rookie card that I received from Mark @ Stats On The Back almost two years ago. Before reading the book, this was just another ordinary card... but then I learned that Washington is the only player to ever have "pinch runner" listed as their position on the front of their baseball card. Pretty cool trivia... huh.

It seemed like every other chapter I was either looking for these cards mentioned in the book on eBay or COMC... or searching on Google for more detailed information on these players... which made this book enjoyable and informative at the same time. And when I wasn't on my laptop... I found myself daydreaming... or should I say reminiscing my own childhood while reading this book. There were at least a dozen times I stopped to think about which cards I would use if I created a biography similar to Wilker's.

One of the cards that came to mind was this 1981 Fleer Rickey Henderson card that I still have from my childhood. I would have used this card to talk about a trip to Seattle that my parents took me on to see my cousin who was attending the University of Washington. It was during this trip that two major events took place in my life...

A. I bonded and looked up to my cousin... who was a Seahawk fan... and as a result... I became a Hawk fan too.
B. My parents bought me my first baseball card set... a 1981 Fleer baseball set... as an early Christmas present.

What about you?

Who's one of your cardboard gods?

In other words, is there any particular card that represents something from your childhood?

You probably won't see me recommending too many books on this blog... but it's impossible not to encourage my fellow sports collectors to head to the library or their local bookstore to grab a copy of Cardboard Gods. At the very least, it'll inspire you look back on your own cards and figure out the role they've played in your own life.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend everyone... Sayonara!


  1. I don't have an answer to your question (yet), but I do have a funny story regarding that book. I've never read it, but want to someday, and recently it showed up in my life.

    On record store day (a few weeks ago), my girlfriend was selling her crossstitch as part of a homemade market outside of Luna Music in Broad Ripple, Indiana. Luna rules, it's an awesome record store, and the day was also really cold and rainy, so we kept leaving the booth in shifts to warm up inside the store. At one point my girlfriend came out and said she had found something to get me for Christmas, but that she couldn't say what it is. I said cool, and forgot about it a few hours later when I walked in and spotted Cardboard Gods in the book section and instantly knew what she meant!

    But then, of course, I went outside and said, "Ooo you mean Cardboard Gods? I've always wanted to read that!"

    And she of course said, "Surprise ruined. Now you're getting something else instead."

    lol. Me and my big mouth. I'll still read it someday but I guess not as a Christmas present lol.

  2. SpastikMooss - LOL... great story... It must be your destiny to read this before Christmas. It's definitely worth the read. The author is coming to Oakland in a couple of months, so I'm hoping to get my copy autographed by him.