I've mentioned before how, as a kid, I was always interested in the shiniest, newest cards. The 90s were all about color and sparkle (to an absurd degree), and that was what I was in to.
At some point, however, I became interested about the history of baseball. It might've come from a book that I got from my grandparents (probably for Christmas, but maybe for my birthday) called Cooperstown, which was about all the Hall of Fame inductees up until that point (I think Rollie Fingers or Reggie Jackson were on the last few pages of the book).
As I was digging through it, I found that there were three Hall of Famers who had spent time on the Padres! The living legends were Gaylord Perry, Rollie Fingers, and Willie McCovey.
But who to choose to add to my cardboard collection? Being a kid, dropping precious cash for a card on a guy named "Gaylord" seemed ridiculous. I hadn't quite developed my appreciation for facial hair yet, so I thought that Rollie's curly mustache looked absurd. Could he even be a real ballplayer?
And so, the choice became apparent: Big Mac
1967 Topps #480, Willie McCovey
I picked this up at the my most local card shop. I can't remember if it was still called "Procopio's" or if it had changed it's name to something more generic, like "Poway Cards" (after the San Diego suburb I grew up in). You'd think living in San Diego, it would've been easier to come across a card from his Padre playing days ('74-'76). I can't remember if there were any at the shop or not, but this is the one that I walked out with.
If I recall correctly, this was not a hasty purchase. Like most "big" purchases (before and since), I'm sure I agonized over it. It was my lawn mowing money after all, and I wanted it to Stretch as far as it could. I want to say that it was in the $18-$22 range, but I can't be sure. However much it was, it was by far the most I've ever spent on a card. It had some fuzzy-ish corners, but otherwise was in decent condition, though I'm not sure it would fetch that much now.
With the "big bucks" that I'm making as an elementary school teacher, I can't imagine spending that much on a card again. Too many other important things to worry about (although it'd be nice to score a Tony Gwynn rookie card, but I think I could find one for less). When my mom shipped the boxes of my old baseball cards to me last year, I remember my dad asking me afterwards if I still had that McCovey card. I was glad to say that I did, since I think he was the one that went back with me to get it. Even though it's a card of a Giant, it still holds a dear place in my binders.
Good memories of my days of fewer responsibilities, and of the man who hit 52 of his 521 career homers for the Friars.