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NICHOLAS MERCER: Collecting nostalgia

The recent purchase of a box of baseball cards brought back waves of nostalgia for Nicholas Mercer.
The recent purchase of a box of baseball cards brought back waves of nostalgia for Nicholas Mercer. - Nicholas Mercer

I bought a box of baseball cards a couple of weeks ago.  

It’s been years since I opened a pack of cards, baseball or otherwise. I saw the box, the price fit and I made the decision. 

It was purely nostalgic. 

The early part of my adolescence was spent heavily involved sports cards. It didn’t matter if they were basketball, football, hockey or baseball.

My first stint living in Corner Brook, I collected cards based on comic books. A lasting childhood hobby. 

Like a lot of things that hold your interest when you are young, interest gradually dissipates until it is gone completely. 

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve had a stronger desire to reconnect to parts of my youth I wish I hadn’t moved away from. 

So I bought the baseball cards. 

I believe my father’s favourite pro athlete is Barry Sanders. A diminutive running back with the Detroit Lions, Sanders retired from the NFL early. 

Dad always said he was the best he’d ever seen. He’d often lament Sanders didn’t have the same offensive line as the Dallas Cowboys gave their star running back Emmett Smith. 

When he started card collecting seriously, my father made sure to hold on to any special Sanders cards he found. He still has some of them. 

It is not often that I look at a pack of cards in a store and not think of my dad, honestly. 

I think about the trips to St. John’s after church, headed for the Avalon Mall weekly flea market. There mom would browse the baked goods, I’d look at comic books and dad would rub shoulders with card collectors. 

There was a short period when he was a pretty serious collector. It didn’t matter which sport — although basketball wasn’t as high as the others and football was king — dad picked up what he could. 

There were monthly purchases of Beckett magazines that told card prices, clear plastic sleeves, binders and small cardboard. He’d spend hours putting cards in order, cataloguing them in a notebook and just looking through. 

My brother and I would be there, too. We’d open packs on the living room table with him. It was something that was ours.

He had a friend in Bay Roberts who he traded with regularly. Even though I insisted every week, I only joined one of those trips up the bay. 

Dad once pulled a Marshall Faulk rookie card from a pack of cards. He slipped it in a sleeve and held onto it.

A couple of weeks later, we were in the mall for the flea market. He took the card and slipped around the corner where the old Winner’s used to be. He came back with a couple boxes of cards. 

Dad had sold the Marshall Faulk. 

He still has pieces of that card collection. He lost some of them a decade ago when the hot water tank burst in our Paradise home, flooding the basement. 

I don’t know if he looks at them much now. I like to think he does. 

It's a cherished period for me. 

I never realized how much I enjoyed flipping through a pack of cards and the sense of anticipation it creates. 

Each flip brings a different player and at times a different team. There are some you know, many more you don’t and other players you forgot existed, especially when it comes to guys from your favourite team. 

Just waiting to see who the pack brought with it was enough to push you to the next pack and its 15 cards.  

Imagine, 15 more chances to find a player that you really liked or maybe a special holograph card. 

I missed that. 

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