Two packs into my box of 1987 Topps, ordered online in a moment of nostalgic indulgence, the memories were rushing back faster than Vince Coleman used to s
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Few things fuel a sense of nostalgia like opening a box of 1987 Topps


Few things fuel a sense of nostalgia like opening a box of 1987 Topps

Two packs into my box of 1987 Topps, ordered online in a moment of nostalgic indulgence, the memories were rushing back faster than Vince Coleman used to steal second base.The smell of the gum was unmistakable, even though these pink slices of formerly chewy goodness were 27 years old, brittle and partially fused to the backs of these cardboard relics. The rush of seeing “Future Stars” plastered across the front of special rookie cards was still very real, even though I now know Tim Pyznarski never really became a star for the Padres, and Pat Dodson never lived up to the promise I believed in because the back of his card told me he hit .417 in 12 at-bats for the Red Sox in 1986.MORE: Take SN's 1987 Topps Real or Fake Fun Facts quiz A few more packs in, I remembered the sequencing issues that used to frustrated me to no end. In this particular box, every time I saw a Steve Garvey, I knew Andy Van Slyke, Bryan Clutterbuck and Mike Smithson were next in line. As a kid, on those occasions when I saved enough allowance to buy a full 36-pack box at .40 cents a pack, the anticipation of unveiling each card was exhilarating. Knowing what cards were coming next, especially if they were all commons and/or I only had a few packs left, was so very disappointing.As a kid, I opened each pack slowly, reading every word and every number on the backs of every card. These were my 11-year-old self’s Baseball-Reference, and I devoured the information. I memorized the stats, and found a connection with the tidbits of personal info.For Terry Mulholland, the lefty pitcher for the

Giants who wore No. 45: “Terry works as a gas station attendant during the off-season. He’s an avid baseball card collector.”Hey, he was just like me, an avid baseball card collector. Maybe one day I’d be a gas-station attendant in the offseason after I made the majors, too. At 11 years old, anything was possible. I’d remember these nuggets in case any of the players were signing at a baseball card show in the area so I’d have something to talk about in my 15 seconds with them.Eleven 2014 managers were players included in the 1987 Topps set. (Ryan Fagan/SN)Then, about midway through this box, I ran across a Todd Worrell, with the golden Topps All-Star Rookie trophy in the lower right-hand corner. A cold chill ran up my spine.It’s silly, I know, but I’d been dreading the moment of seeing that particular card. Here’s why: One snowy day in suburban St. Louis late in 1987, my buddy Tommy and I had each bought our own box of Topps and opened them at his house.I pulled three Todd Worrell cards out of that one box, and I was elated. Three Todd Worrell rookie cards! I knew they were selling for $3 each at our local baseball card shop, Mr. Baseball, and I rode home from Tommy’s house on my bike trying to figure out whether I could bear to part with one or two of those beloved cards so I could make a little money to, y’know, buy more cards.I was in my own little world of wonderful hypothetical scenarios, steering my bike with one hand, holding the box in my other hand. Then, Schnitzel happened. This little dachshund was infamous with the kids of the neighborhood for charging out of his owner’s garage at a million miles an hour and barking up a storm every time we rode past his house.We also knew Schnitzel never actually tried to bite anyone (and he was tiny), so we weren’t as much afraid as we were annoyed with the pooch. This time, though, I had completely forgotten I was riding past this pesky noise machine’s territory. The barking startled me, and I dropped the box of cards into the snow.It all happened in slow motion.I had put the Todd Worrells near the top, because I didn’t want to throw them in with the commons. That meant, of course, that all three fell directly into the powdery white stuff. The plastic sleeves were at my house, which was just up the block. The unprotected Worrells were ruined.In my entire childhood, I don’t know that I was ever as mad at any dog as I was at Schnitzel, in that moment. Sitting at my desk as I’m writing this now, I have to remind myself those Todd Worrells are worth approximately a nickel each, at most.It doesn’t help 1987 Ryan feel any better, but that’s OK.The point of buying this box was to immerse myself in a wave of nostalgia, to take a very tiny break and remember the joy of opening packs of my favorite baseball card set ever.And that has made 2014 Ryan feel pretty darn happy.

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