When Lil’ Wayne was 16 he bought his first Mercedes-Benz, and when I was 8 I bought my first baseball cards: a crisp pack of ’97 Bowman. A magical summer later (and almost a magical fall, until Edgar Rentaria broke my young Cleveland area-heart) I was hooked on the stuff, this particular set becoming a sentimental favorite. Throughout the years I have come close to acquiring the complete set (the crown jewel being Jaret Wright’s RC, which I bought for twenty bucks at a card convention the March before the 1998 season*), but stopped when I discovered girls and drugs and D.H. Lawrence and stuff.
*Fun Fact: The Indians turned down a Jaret Wright-Pedro Martinez swap at the exact moment I made this purchase.
Why am I thinking about this today? Because when I did collect cards, I used to look at them – a lot – and one card that keeps popping into my head as I watch this World Series is Lance Berkman’s RC, an image I could never shake because of how goofy it is: Berkman, with that trademark boyish smile, leaning on a beat-up white truck (?) in the parking lot (?) of the Astrodome.
This was a much simpler time in my life, a Wonder Years before all the teenage angst.
Adrian Beltre’s RC card is somewhere in here too, and, although it’s not as memorable as Fat Elvis, it is charmingly awkward. (Also, among his “Skills” listed on the back are the “classic wrists” of a future “HR machine”).
On E-Bay you can get either one in pretty good condition for around 99 cents, while Jaret Wright’s card is gonna cost you at least a cool dollar – ADVANTAGE: Cleveland.