Time it was, and what a time it was, it was
A time of innocence, a time of confidences
Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph
Preserve your memories, they’re all that’s left you..
—Simon & Garfunkel (Bookends)
This is the one piece of cardboard I cherished most as a young boy growing up in San Jose. I mean it was more important to me than TV, toys, and girls. Eventually TV became color, my toys got bigger and more expensive. Girls got bigger and more expensive too. At some point, my baseball card collection was lost, stolen or dumped. I don’t really know what happened to it. I went to college, got a job, got married, and had a son of my own. Life happened.
Then one day in 1988, I took my son Jared to a baseball card show in San Francisco. It was there I was reacquainted with a 1963 Willie Mays card and my childhood memories came rushing back. When I held the card, I actually had a physical reaction. I mean I heard the sounds of street baseball with the gang in our driveway, the smell of bubble gum and Slurpees on a warm afternoon. The excitement of opening baseball card packs on the front lawn, just hoping to find a San Francisco Giant. And then, the sheer unbridled joy of finding a Willie Mays card! Was I in heaven or 7-Eleven?
Needless to say I bought the card on the spot. I didn’t really care that it wasn’t in mint condition. It wasn’t an investment. I was buying back a piece of my childhood. How do you put a price on that? I also bought my son several cards that day and we shared a little collection of the next few years. But I‘ll never forget the feeling of holding a 1963 Willie Mays card again. It was magical.
A Giants-Dodgers pennant race.
Mays and Koufax face to face.
Sometimes I dream of Willie Mays and tell him I was there.
Sometimes I dream of Willie Mays, and the sun comes out and the fog lifts and he’s there.
—The Baseball Project (Sometimes I Dream I’m Willie Mays)