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7th grade was an interesting time for me.
I was still in Houston, but I was living with my mom again for the first time in years. I was in a new school, Campbell Junior High- what, what, and I had to make new friends. Again.
The apartment complex that we lived in was in Northwest Houston off of Jones road, and because my mom was always really supportive of my card collecting, she had helped me seek out card shops in the area. Because this was 1993-94 there were card shops everywhere in Houston. We even had a pretty amazing flea market nearby, Traders Village. It’s still there, so if you’re ever in Houston check it out, but more on this place later.
Because I moved around a lot making friends wasn’t very hard for me, and thankfully we lived in an apartment complex above a family that had two boys that were one year older, and one year younger that I could hang out with.
Seventh grade is also a weird time for boys. Things are shifting, things smell weird, and well… you know how it goes, but I was still into card collecting, and I had gotten pretty deep into comics as well. It was the time for hobbies!
I played baseball up to that point, so I was always a baseball sport fan, but maybe because of the strike? I don’t remember, but all of a sudden I was a huge basketball fan. I played it everywhere I could, and the two brothers and I loved watching it, playing it, and living that jersey lifestyle.
And even more interesting was the fact that even while the Houston Rockets were on the come up, I was a HUGE David Robinson fan. I don’t even know how to pinpoint what it was. I think I had watched a Sports Illustrated for Kids show, or the first issue was him on the cover? Either way, I was a huge Admiral fan. And it drove everyone crazy.
My mom bought us tickets to watch the Spurs when they came to play the Rockets at the Summit, and I had just gotten my Spurs jersey, so I was wearing it with pride. But Hakeem Olajuwan was in the contention for MVP that season, and they handed out towels to wave around the game that said MVP #34 in big letters. My mom just so happened to have a Sharpie in her purse, so I borrowed it and wrote, “MVP #50” on the back and held it up LIKE A BOSS. I was in 7th grade and cocky AF.
I got a few boos, but it was a really good game.
So during this whole time my obsessiveness was starting to show with my collecting. A trait that I learned much later in life is not too uncommon with a lot of us collectors. It didn’t have a name at the time, but my Personal Collection (PC) was David Robinson.
I wanted every David Robinson card I could get my hands on, and by the summer after 7th grade my neighbors and I had become friends with another buddy. His mom had a booth at Traders Village and she let us borrow a corner of it to set up our own table which we named, Top Dawg Comics & Cards.
Every weekend we took our comics and cards and set up shop. We each kept our own money and eventually spent it all on more cards at other card shops at the market. So with each Ozzie Smith autographed baseball, I’d buy packs of Fleer Ultra, Upper Deck, and David Robinson singles.
Eventually I had amassed a pretty sizable collection that I was spectacularly fond of. They were never to be dealt, and I would look through them all on many occasions.
That summer my mom got a job to go back to the valley to teach. I was born there, we had roots there, and she had a gotten a great opportunity. Or she just hated Houston, I don’t really know why grown-ups did things back then, but I was really sad to be moving again as I was starting to think I was going to finally be somewhere for more than a couple years.
When my buddies found out I was going to be moving, and after we celebrated the Rockets winning the championship downtown, one of them surprised me with an autographed David Robinson card as a farewell present. It wasn’t certified or anything, that was not really well known back then, but it was something he traded for during of the weekends I was unable to ‘work’.
I was not as emotional as I am now, but it is still to this day one of the most thoughtful things I’ve ever received from a friend. His signature had one of his typical bible verses, this one was Psalm 1:1-3-
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
It’s a 91-92 Upper Deck basketball insert for the All-Star game, and it has been with me, along with the other Robinson cards with every move I’ve made since. While some cards have been lost, the autograph is one of the few possessions I’ve never let go. And not because I’m possessive in the sense that I’m shaped by as an adult, but because it is a reminder of simpler times. While that’s cliche, those years of my early collecting sparked things in my personality that linger ’till this day.
My entrepreneurial drive, my desire to run and manage businesses, organizational skills, etc, etc. They were all created by starting my first card shop in my garage in 3rd grade, and have extended onward.
What was your first personal collection, or PC?
Let me know in the comments, or hit me up on the interwebs @sportscardmag on Twitter.
Thanks for reading– be well y’all.