I've been a subscriber of Baseball Digest off and on since the early 80's. That's about as long as I've been collecting cards. And over the years, I've made a bunch of card purchases based on articles or facts I've read in their issues. But back in 2013, I took things to the next level after reading an article about Al Kaline in their November/December issue.
After reading about him becoming the youngest player ever to win a batting title, I knew I wanted at least one autograph of his. Then I discovered that he signed a contract with the Tigers the day after graduating from high school and gave his parents all of it, so they could buy a home. The article went on to talk about his career accomplishments and his contributions to the Detroit Tigers on and off the field.
One autograph purchase led to another... which led to another and then another. I got swept up in the fact that so many of his autographs could be purchased for under $20. I thought about stopping at six autographs, because that's the jersey number he wore the majority of his playing career. But the deals kept popping up on my eBay search list.
During a five year stretch, I picked up eighteen of his autographs... which is the sixth highest total among baseball players in my collection behind only Tony Gwynn, Rickey Henderson, Kurt Suzuki, Frank Thomas, and Jose Altuve.
But my favorite Al Kaline card in my collection is the oldest Al Kaline card in my collection. The one that comes from my favorite Topps baseball set and the one I led this post off with.
Here it is again... with the heart of my Al Kaline collection (in chronological order):
1956 Topps #20
1964 Topps Giants #12
1968 Atlantic Oil #2
1968 Topps #2
1975 Topps #4
1998 Donruss Significant Signatures #NNO
2002 Team Topps Legends Autographs #TT-AK
2002 Sweet Spot Classic Signatures #S-AK
2003 Donruss DK Recollection Autographs #40
2004 Donruss Leather and Lumber Cuts #LC-2
2005 Sweet Spot Classic Signatures #AK
2007 SP Legendary Cuts Legendary Signatures #LS-AK1
2007 Sweet Spot Classic Memorabilia #CM-AK
2007 Sweet Spot Classic Signatures #SPS-AK
2009 Sweet Spot Classic Signatures (Green Ink) #SC-AK
2009 UD Goudey Sport Royalty Autograph #AK
2011 Topps Tier One Crowd Pleaser Autographs #CP-AK
2012 Topps Five Star Autographs #FSA-AK
2013 Topps Five Star Autographs #FSBA-AK
2014 Topps Tier One Acclaimed Autographs #AA-AKA
2014 Topps Tier One Acclaimed Autographs #AA-AKL
2016 Heritage Real One Autographs #ROA-AK
2017 Archives 1959 Bazooka Autographs #59B-AK
2018 Topps Diamond Icons Autographs #AC-AK
2019 Stadium Club #278
Rest in peace Mr. Tiger. My heart goes out to your family, friends, teammates, and fans. You will be missed, but thanks to memories, magazine articles, blog posts, and baseball cards, you will be remembered. Like the Babe said to Benny in The Sandlot... "legends never die".
Happy Tuesday and sayonara!
Shoutout to Wrigley Wax for sharing this information on his blog this morning.