National Baseball Card Day is usually chock-full of memories

For the last four years, I’ve really enjoyed National Baseball Card Day. I know it’s been around in some fashion for at least a decade before that but I didn’t participate as much for varying reasons. But since 2016 I’ve been dragging my kids to the local to get their free pack of cards, an opportunity for them to see deeper into the hobby that has captivated me since I was 7.

It’s become a tradition for us. We’d go in the morning and find a few things to purchase and we’d each get our Topps NBCD packs and pose in front of the store with them. That first year my daughter, while wearing her colorful balloon patterned dress, opened her cellophane pack and unearthed a Greg Bird rookie autograph. As you know, signatures in these freebie packs are tough. The look on her face was priceless, a memory for life. I held on top the card until last year when I turned it back over to her to place into her binder.

The photos we took that day eventually got used in an advertisement that ran in Beckett magazine a year later, which is a fun fact I get to drop on people during casual conversation. The kids still get a kick out of the fact they were in an advertisement.

Since then I’ve incorporated my nephew into this tradition, and to some extent got my ex-wife on board as now she takes my kids on the NCBD days when I have to work. In fact, last year they surprised ME when they brought home an extra pack of NBCD cards, a package that contained a certified Fernando Tatis Jr. autograph. Needless to say that card is forever a PC item.

This year started as every other, a loose plan was in place to hit the shop, buy some stuff and get our packs. My nephew was out of town so it was just my kids and I. The one thing that really felt different this year was this sense of urgency to get to the shop before a line developed. Not only is the shop only allowing a fixed number of parties into the store due to COVID-19, but the hobby is hotter than ever.

We’d been to the shop fairly recently, and I knew the pickings were slim in terms of affordable options, but I was determined to make the best of things and try not to concentrate on the fact that I’m priced out of a lot of products. So we focused on supplies and older blasters for sale. I located three that were of interest: A 2016 Stadium Club one of two left in the store; a 2019 Big League with a Mike Trout cut-out card on the back; and a Topps Archives that was the last on the shelf.

We made the purchase, got our free packs and bonus Pete Alonso (even one for my absent nephew), and took our photo in front of the store just as a half dozen people showed up and began lining up outside. The NCBD packs were fun as usual. My daughter chose her pack first and grabbed the one with Francisco Lindor; my boy chose the one with Aaron Judge and I grabbed one with John Means. We collectively left the pack with Buster Posey on front for my nephew since he’s a Giants fan.

No autographs for us on this day, but my daughter did pull a Luis Robert rookie card which I’ll have her place in her binder next to the Greg Bird,

And what about those blasters? Not bad, we crushed the odds. The Stadium Club yielded a case hit (a Beam Team card of then-rookie Hector Olivera), the Big League contained a Christian Yelich rainbow parallel numbered to 100 copies), and the Archives served up an Expos autograph, which was a surprise considering I opened a fair amount of this product and didn’t see any ink when it was fresh.

Week Two of NBCD happens next Saturday, 8/15/2020, at which time the second bonus card (Yordan Alvarez) will be given out. I’ll have to have my ex-wife take the kids again since I am working. The real problem will be her finding something in the store that is affordable.

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