Tuesday, September 27, 2011

SIGnificant Cards -- Reggie Jackson 1994 Upper Deck Buyback

This is the start to a feature you can expect on a daily basis from me. I know others have done the, "Card of the Day" to death, so I am trying a different take on it. These are cards that I have acquired, that are important to me and why.

I am kicking it off with one of my all-time favorite cards.

Backstory: As a kid I grew up in the New York area. For most of my life I was shuttled back and forth from NY to NJ because my parents divorced when I was 3. I was really a resident of both the Garden State and the Big Apple for most of my young life. I had a choice to make, either the Yankees and their storied history of winning or the Mets and their storied history of sucking.

Television really made the choice for me. WPIX hosted the Yankees and had way better programming than WOR who played the Mets games. So I started at a very young age watching the Yankees. I watched in 1975 when they stunk, in 76 when they almost took it all, but I was captivated in 1977 by the awesome play of Mickey Rivers, Chris Chambliss, Graig Nettles, Bucky Dent, Thurman Munson, Roy White, Willie Randolph and Reggie Jackson.

There was unreal talent on the team and it showed. Getting Reggie from Baltimore put them on a whole different level. The friction between Reggie and manager Billy Martin is legendary. Ron Guidry had a terrific season and as a lefty myself, he became my favorite pitcher.

I would go to the stadium before the games and wait for the players to arrive. I will always remember the yellow police barricades that were supposed to hold me back. I could easily slip under them to get close to the players.

One particular incident is what makes this card so special to me. I was waiting and waiting and waiting for Reggie Jackson to show up. I hadn't gotten his signature yet and desperately wanted to add it to my collection.

Autograph from the great Mel Allen circa 1977.
Famed announcer Mel Allen walked out of the stadium and was heading to his car. I practically grew up listening to his voice on "This Week In Baseball". I caught his attention and I asked him for his autograph. He was an amazing guy. He tells me to follow him, so I did, right into the player parking lot. Mel signs the autograph for me and starts asking me questions about the Yankees. Of course I answer them all. Then he sees a bunch of players walking towards the stadium and calls them over to sign for me. Ron Guidry was one of them, Fran Healy, Ed Figueroa and Fred Stanley were the others. I was absolutely jazzed. I still to this day have the autos.

Ever see a Reggie Jackson autograph in pink?
When I got back to the barricades, I was discussing what had just happened and these two gorgeous ladies informed me that I missed Reggie coming in while I was gone. I was devastated. You want to talk about going from a high to a low with no drugs ingested? My sadness didn't last long, the women gave me a gift. I am pretty sure it is one of very few, if not the only Reggie Jackson autograph signed in pink ink.

Reggie went on to be a Hall of Famer. His three homers in the 1977 World Series made up one of MLBs most unbelievable moments. The Yanks repeated in 1978 and well you know the rest...

This Reggie Jackson card contains the auto of my favorite baseball player ever. Reggie and the Yankees got me into collecting. When he was with the A's I followed his career and their championship runs. The first library book I ever checked out was a short kids biography about him. This card epitomizes how autographed cards should be handled today. It comes with a certificate of authenticity, it is hard-signed and it contains a clean, full signature. Full disclosure, it's called accountability. You don't see it much in the hobby today. Companies should demand these kind of sigs from today's stars. Of course I grew up to do a collectibles radio show and the first guest on my show bucket list was Reggie. I got to do that interview at the 2004 National Sports Collectors Convention.

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