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Welcome to Graded Gallery

Why do we collect? What is it that drives that within us? Something we were taught? Or is it something innate that we were born to do?

I was six years old when I opened my first pack of baseball cards. Six. No one told me to do it. It was a choice. My dad would pick me up from school in his pickup truck. Across from the school was a little gas station that we would drive to on certain days if he needed gas, or needed to pick something up for my mom on our way home. I would go in with him and would look around with curiosity.

One day, as my dad stood at the counter ready to pay for his purchase, I noticed something that caught my attention. Tucked away amongst all the candy and cookies were these blue packs that were stacked on top of each other inside a bright, yellow box. I walked over to that box and reached in to take out one of the packs. Slowly beginning my discovery of what it was exactly, and what could be inside. Then I heard my dad’s voice from behind me asking if that’s what I wanted. I immediately said yes. He took a look at what I was holding, saw the 25 cent price on the pack, and told me I could get four.

I walked out of that gas station happy, excited, and curious about what I had in my hands. I proceeded to the passenger’s side of my dad’s truck and began opening these packs. As a kid who already loved sports, who as a toddler, walked around with a ball and bat, or a basketball in my hands at all times, seeing these major league players on this cardboard as it sat in my hands was almost mesmerizing. They even came with a piece of gum inside the packs. Why would any kid choose the candy over these when you could get the cards and the candy?

On our way home, I began saying the names of each player within those packs. My dad would tell me which ones were good. When we pulled into the driveway, I would race inside to show my mom who I got, and which ones were the good ones. Then I’d head to my room where I would tuck them away in a safe place. Taking them out from time to time just to make sure I still had the good ones.

My dad and I would repeat this as the days moved on. We would sit in front of the television during the week as those same players would be at-bat, or on the mound, and I would cheer for them to do well. Why? Because I had their baseball card. When they got a hit, I felt like I got that hit with them. When they hit a home run, I felt like I was circling the bases too. And it pushed me to be better. It gave my mom and dad the opportunity to teach me about life lessons. If you want to get your name and picture on a card, you have to work hard, persevere, be a good teammate, listen to your coach, and get good grades. Lessons I would carry with me from little league to high school and onto a college scholarship. Those same lessons I carry with me today.

Rarely in life do we get to relive moments that define us. Moments that bring back memories so vivid, we feel like we can reach out and touch them. A fountain of youth, if you will. But sports cards have that unique ability to take us to another place and time. A childhood full of promise, time spent with our family and friends, a life in front of us that is yet to be lived.

Whether your memories include sports cards, gaming cards, comics, currency, or video games, now you have the opportunity to feel that once again. To go back in time. To hold a piece of history in your hands. Your history.

Welcome to Graded Gallery.

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