March 13th……….“AS A LITTLE BOY, ON YOUR FARM THERE IN SOUTHERN MINNESOTA, DID YOU COLLECT BASEBALL CARDS? WHAT DID YOU DO WITH THOSE CARDS”?
O.K., I confess, I mangled Mickey Mantle!!!! I also rumbled Roger Maris and yumped all over Yogi Berra, too!! “Alright, “Baseball Card Officer”, I’ll go peacefully, but when I get to Crumpled Card Court, I’ll plead innocent by ignoramus infarction with intent to have fun”!!!
My little farm boy life of collectible card care crime all started when I saw a fellow First Grader pull a wad of baseball cards from out of his jacket pocket while riding the school bus one day.
My classmate gingerly held out his valuable card treasures to me as I blurted out, “Heyyy, these are really neat”!!!, as I shuffled through my buddy’s pretty impressive collection of baseball’s greats. Being a tiny Minnesotan, I couldn’t help but be impressed with our very own Minnesota Twins player, Harmon Killebrew. His baseball card really caught my eye. As I flipped through my pal’s cool card collection, I said, “Yummm, these cards smell like bubble gum”!!! My Grade School friend enlightened me that that’s exactly how he got his collection; he bought packs of these cards for just a nickel at “Bloom’s Variety Store” there in Kiester. He shared that a nice, big piece of “Topps” Bubble Gum came with each pack to enjoy chewing, just like we kids would see some of our baseball heroes chomping on during the baseball games on our little black & white television set at home.
Given that we were allowed a whole twenty five cents to spend on Saturday nights, while shopping with family in Kiester, I eventually garnered quite an impressive collection of my own baseball barons. These impressive athletic dynamos all looked like Superman, himself, with those manly poses on the myriad of cards I had acquired. And, besides, with all that bubble gum from each pack of cards, I was one sugared-up, bubble blowing “king of swing” in my own imaginative eyes. There came a day, though, that my blissful, ignorant innocence caught up with me. I had brought my shoebox of baseball cards on our school bus to take to school for my “Show N Tell” time. Up from the back of the bus came one of those giant “High School” bullies to see what I had in my box. “Hey, kid, I’ll give you TEN baseball cards for that one Roger Maris card”. Little did I know, in those days, that I was being “hoodwinked” by this undercover hoodlum who knew good and well that he was “taking candy from a baby” in giving me ten junk cards for the one he really wanted for his collection. Partly out of fear of being roughed up and mostly just being a naïve little boy, I made the trade.
Paralleling my love of baseball cards, in those tender years, was a love for motorcycles. My dad’s brother, Uncle Doren Noorlun, rode “Indian” brand motorcycles in Europe during World War II and when he returned to civilian life, he made sure he bought one of those handsome motorcycles for his own enjoyment…….and mine!!! 😉 During one of our family gatherings, Doren offered me a ride on this massive, loud, motorized wonder. I was beyond thrilled as he grabbed my little boy body and had me straddle the big “saddle bags” behind his wide seat. With a foot kick to the starter came a Varrrooom!!! and those motorcycle pipes came alive with a roar as we sped off down the gravel road and up over the railroad tracks nearby. I was mesmerized and, somehow, I just had to recreate that motorcycle sound on my little boy bicycle when I got back to our farm.
Yes, you guessed it, out came my baseball card collection and clothespins that I snitched from Mom’s laundry bag. The more cards I bent over and pinched onto my bike frame, the more motorcycle-like sound they emitted as the bike wheel spokes made them slap with each revolution. Of course, in those days, and in that playtime, I was completely oblivious to the reality of how much those classic baseball cards, in mint condition, would be worth someday. Mickey Mantle’s 1952 card was recently valued at over $400,000.00. Little did I realize that there were likely millions of dollars buzzed into nothing on the bike wheel spokes of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.