Do You Remember YOUR First…?
…game-used card? Sure, they’ve lost their luster now. But remember when pulling a card with a swatch of fabric or wood affixed to it actually meant something? I know I do. My first such pull came just days before Y2K. I was at my local card shop busting packs of the then-brand new 2000 Upper Deck Black Diamond. I just HAD to spend some of my Christmas money there. The store owner, Carmine, an Italian man in his fifties who had retired from the corporate world, watched me rip away. I had opened five packs without pulling very much when I decided to “just try one more.”
In pack number six, one card stood out. One of the middle cards had a streak of white running down the side and I knew I had something. When I revealed the card, I stood there in shock. Actually, I stood there with my mouth open saying “holy crap!!” I had just pulled my first ever game-used card, a 2000 Upper Deck Black Diamond A Piece of History Mike Piazza bat card. These cards were seeded 1 in every 179 packs on average. That’s a rate of only 1 in every 6 boxes!
It was my best pull to date. So what would I do with it? Keep it? Sell it? Ultimately, I traded it to Carmine a couple weeks later. As excited as I was to possess that little chip from Mike Piazza’s bat, I knew he would enjoy the card a heck of a lot more than me. He was a lifelong Dodgers fan with a great fondness for Piazza, despite the fact that he was no longer with Los Angeles (must have been the Italian thing). In return, I received some Yankee inserts and various other star rookies for my collection (including a Clemens Donruss) and a small pile of packs. The packs, of course, were of 2000 Black Diamond. At this point, I was just concentrating on a base set and seeing what I could pull. But then….
Lightning struck twice!! Are you kidding? ANOTHER game bat card? Granted, the player’s not as nice as Piazza (literally). Still, I was happy to pull my second-ever bat card, but like the first one, this did not stay in my collection for very long. I traded it away shortly after pulling it.
I wouldn’t own a copy of either of these cards again until 2005. It was then that I started a little project. Influenced by some members of The Bench, I decided to complete an actual game-used set. Guess which one I chose. Almost immediately after deciding on the A Piece of History set, I found the first two pieces of the puzzle on the forum. I bought them from another member for about $2 each. The players? Raul Mondesi and Andruw Jones.
After about a year of searching through various forums and World’s Greatest Marketplaces, my set was finally complete. I owned a copy of all nineteen cards of the POH set. Here’s the checklist:
Ken Griffey, Jr.
Cal Ripken, Jr.
Well, there’s the story of my first game-used card. I got lucky, pulled a huge card, traded it, got some good value out of it, and bought it years later for dirt cheap in order to complete a set that doesn’t mean a thing to most people (I am not most people). What’s your story?