Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Favorite Cards of 2012 #1 - A Great Man
Being the wild guy that I am, I was in bed by 9:30 on New Year's Eve and, despite not having to work today, was up at around the normal time, 4:30. Not much on the agenda today, other than to cook up a batch of black eyed peas for luck in 2013 (It's a southern thing.)
So, finally, we come to my favorite card of 2012. It is also one of the last I acquired this year, a 1954 Topps Jackie Robinson. It isn't the most expensive card I have ever bought, nor does it have the highest "book value." My reasons for liking this card follow logically from the previous entry.
That entry, the 1940 Play Ball cards of the Waner brothers, appealed to me because of their age and the opportunity they presented for me to consider, quite speculatively, their path through history to get to me.
This card is special to me not because it passed through history, but because it is history. Baseball Reference indicates that 17,943 individuals have appeared in a major league baseball game since 1871. Many of them never made a career of baseball. Fewer still were ever stars. And it is a very exclusive club of players who continued to be widely known and admired a generation removed from their playing days. But, it is a very small group of players that not only changed baseball, but the very arc of world history. I suppose you might make a case for Jim Bunning, the Hall of Fame pitcher turned US Senator. But, politics are in the eye of the beholder, and most politicians will have a mixed legacy. Jackie Robinson is the only baseball player I can think of that figured prominently in the advancement of society as a whole and will have an uncontroversial legacy as time advances. While we still have a long way to go to achieve a truly integrated, color-blind world, we have advanced quite far over the past few decades. Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball was a great step forward in that trajectory. But, for him to become one of the all-time great players while maintaining a preternatural grace and dignity cannot be underestimated.
Jackie Robinson changed the world. And it is for that reason this is my favorite card of 2012. And, to be perfectly honest, I have a hard time imagining any other card ever being as valuable to me. It is, at this moment, and for the foreseeable future, my favorite card of all time.
With that, please accept my best wishes to all of you for a happy and successful 2013.