Every now and then the thought of collecting hockey cards jumps into my brain. Sometimes it is because I am at a store that is selling them by the box rather than the pack. This is a strange novelty that I would never have considered when I was a child. It also seems to happen when, rare though it is, I am in a local convenience store. They keep the packs up at the counter, at eye level, where they used to keep the cigarette packs.
My earliest memories of hockey cards are walking to the local variety store with a quarter in my hand, maybe more, most likely less dreaming of the treasures I would buy. I don’t remember how many seasons it was, but for at least a few of them, hockey cards were that treasure.
Most people, when reminiscing about sports cards, never fail to mention the gum. And while smelling that pungent odour yesterday is what provoked this blog, I am not one to lament the disappearance of that hard, brittle, flour tasting gum. Although I understand the nostalgia for the crackerjack toy, the nostalgia for gum that nobody would purchase on its own seems rather ridiculous.
My hockey card collection is not worth any money. The cards were played with, sat on, tossed against walls, and run over by my self-righting battery powered wall tumbling car. The back of each card was scrutinized for statistics, fun facts and trivia. They were crammed into pockets, jostled by friends and haggled over by all the kids in my grade.
Whenever the thought to take up this hobby rears its head, so do the reservations that I have.. Cost is a huge factor, Gum or no gum, several dollars for each pack of five cards seems rather high. I have heard of inflation, but printing technology should have made this cheaper, not more expensive. There are also so many card sets and makers that I would have a hard time choosing which one to buy, leading me to buy more than one set.
That makes space another factor. Where would I keep all the albums full of cards I would inevitably buy?
Perhaps the biggest thing holding me back is something less tangible. When you’re a kid, sports stars are heroes. I wanted their cards because they were larger than life. I would watch Hockey Night in Canadaevery Saturday, rifling through the cards between periods like Catholic clutching his rosary beads. They were as much an article of faith as anything. I still enjoy the game and cheer with every goal, but those heroes have to compete with other heroes.
As an adult, there are other ways to get the statistics. I can watch lots of highlights on YouTube and there are a lot of souvenir items out there. I suspect, beyond collecting my team, there really isn’t much in the hobby for me. I suppose I could be a market speculator, hoping to make a buck, but that really isn’t who I am. I’ll probably just settle for a few Doug Gilmour cards and try and keep that idea in check.