My 1985 Topps Baseball Obsession – Part 2

Gary V. – @garyvassar3
August 11, 2016

Three and a half years ago I quit smoking cigarettes. About six months in, I needed a hobby to keep my hands busy. I was tired of spending money and not having anything to show for it. I came across a few YouTube videos of people collecting autographs through the mail.

I got hooked on it. I started sending out to everyone but especially players from the 1985 Topps set.Before I had my son it was self satisfaction, a small duty I felt I owed myself and Jimmy (my old LCS owner). I had told Jimmy two years ago why I loved the ’85 Topps set so much.

Someone had unloaded a ton of unopened rack packs on him and he was selling them for five bucks a pop. I kept buying them two or three at a time every week. He asked me one day, “You really want that McGwire, huh?” When I told him it was Buddy Bell who I was after I got some very surprised looks. I also explained to Jimmy why I was collecting autographs thru the mail and would tell him my recent successes.

When Julio Franco played for the Fort Worth Cats two years ago I asked Jimmy if he wanted me to get something signed for him. He grabbed a stack of ’85 Topps cards and handed me a Franco and said, “Get this for your set. You’re in this for the right reasons.” It amazed me how down to Earth Jimmy was.


A few weeks later I went by the card shop, only to find the doors locked and everything cleared out. I didn’t know what happened until I did a search weeks later to find that Jimmy had passed. I really do believe that people are put in our paths for a reason. Jimmy was different from all card shop owners I knew. He reminded me that its the memories you make on your journey. That’s what I’ve been learning by collecting this set. It’s not about me getting something signed, but about the interactions and stories that come from it. It’s something to get excited about.

I’m still waiting to meet Buddy Bell but when I do, I know it will have been worth the wait.


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