How did your dad pass the trading card torch?


By Andrew Tolentino

Unlike many collectors I’ve heard from, my dad and I never had that “passing the torch” moment with a single sports card — or any sports cards for that matter. In fact, short of a microscope, a rock cleaning kit and an army-issued shovel (which may or may not be street legal), he never really gave me any of his personal relics at all.

Do I resent him for that? Absolutely not. How could I?

As much as I’d like to talk about some *Pulp Fiction-esque moment when a Christopher Walken-like figure handed over my father’s cardboard bequest, I just can’t. Even though he never dusted off some old shoebox and handed me some dog-eared heirloom, my dad still helped me find my way as a young collector. (*Explicit language)

With Father’s Day coming up, I’d like to invite collectors to share their dad-related hobby memories, with or without the Hallmark moment. I’ll kick things off with a few of my own.

Here’s what I remember …

I remember begging him, on hot summer days, to take me to the local card shop.

I remember him obliging (sometimes more gladly than others) when the first shop didn’t have quite what I was looking for.

I remember not having enough money and watching him squeeze open his blue silicone change wallet to help me out (again, sometimes more gladly than others).

I remember cleaning the pool to pay off my debt.

I remember sorting my cards, pulling out players from the game we were watching together.

I remember his look of disappointment when Alvin Harper failed to show up for an autograph session at a local K-Mart.

I remember his patience as I browsed through packs near the checkout line.

I remember him coming home from work with a Daryl Johnston-autographed football and a Samaki Walker-signed photograph all in the same week.

I remember my dad helping to preserve my boyish sense of sports stars as gods.

I remember my dad quietly giving me these and many other moments to collect.

Thankfully my dad is still around, giving me more memories to pass along to my daughter and other generations. Here’s to you, Pops, and all fathers passing on so much more than sports cards.


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  1. Andrew Strong 11 June, 2012 at 18:53

    For my Father and I, sports was how we related, from the time I was 6 years old I was doing card shows with him and he would help me build my collection.

    On Christmas Eve 1992 (I was 9 years old) we were on our way back from my Grandmothers and had to stop for gas, when my dad went in to pay he picked up a few packs of 1993 Stadium Club Football, when he opened them he pulled a First Day Issue Dan Marino Members Choice card #246. I was and am a huge Marino fan and this was a huge pull at that time. He could have sold it for well over $100 at that time (back when a cad sold for what it was worth), but when I woke up Christmas Day I found it tucked away in my stocking. It was my #1 card then and 20 years later (as I write that I am shocked it has been that long) there is not a dollar amount that would get this card out of my collection.

    I have a 4 year old son and cant wait to pass along the joy of collecting to him, I wish the hobby was like it was in 1992, but there is still parts of it that are fun for kids of any age. I collect anything of anyone with the last name Strong (our last name) and this collection is for my son, I have over 20 game worn Strong jerseys (full jerseys not cards) as well as 90% of all cards ever made of anyone named Strong, with 5 Ken Strong 1/1 Cuts Autos!!!

    Love the topic, Happy Fathers Day to all the Fathers out there.
    Andy Strong

  2. afff 12 June, 2012 at 02:46

    Unlike most collectors out there I got my first experance from my grandfather. The way it started was that I would some how talk my mother in to buying a pack of anything (garbage pail kids even, lol) every once and awhile, in which this started my taste for collecting but the true experiance came from my grandfather when I was around 10 or so. When we were at my grandparents home, I was looking at some of the cards I had brought a long when he came up to me and and was interested in what I was doing. He didn’t say to much but he said that he had some thing that I need for my collection, after he came back from getting the card he then handed it to me a 1980-81 OPC #163 of Gretzky/Dionne/Lafleur (unprotected and a little banged up) and told me to take good care of it (as I was known to put a few in my bike spokes from time to time, haha). The card that he gave me was not a major RC of anyone or some super short print but it was important to me because he was the father figure in my life, even to this day i still have it in a penny sleave and top loader. I will look at the card from time to time just to remember that day and I am looking forward to the day that I will give it to one of my children in hopes that it brings them the same feeling it brought me when I received it.

    Great topic as I useally don’t tell this story a lot because I like to keep this personal but that being said I’ll say Happy Fathers Day to all the fathers/father figures out there that are or are not collectors.

  3. steve santucci 12 June, 2012 at 13:56

    Though we never really shared the hobby he did in away pass the torch, Back in 1982 we went to a local hobby shop. He looked at a group of old cards and asked to see the Mickey Mantle….It was his 1967 topps card. With a short comment about the $15 price tag hi bought it. When we got home he talked about how he collected cards and had grocery bags (the old paper bag kind) full of them and how they flipped them and used them in their wheel spokes. My Grandmother through them out as all Mothers due> to this day I have that card and built around the stars of the 67 topps set. It is one of the few fond memories I have with my father and an experience I remember to this day.

  4. Robert Demare 11 February, 2019 at 23:36

    My father was a collector, but the peculiar thing is that I was into collecting first. I had stumbled upon a set/box of 1980/81 OPC hockey trading cards. I was hooked, and this occurred shortly after the Beckett Price Guide came into circulation (close to 30 years ago!). My dad always loved sports, especially hockey and baseball. Being from Winnipeg, he also loved Teemu Selanne. He got the collecting bug when he bought 8X10 Selanne photos from the local dealer in Winnipeg. He would stand outside the old Winnipeg Arena, sometimes in -30 C, and wait for Teemu to show up usually 2 hours prior to game time. There would not be a lot of fans sticking it out in -30 C, and I was definitely NOT one of them. He then came along to purchase a Selanne RC from the 1991-92 Upper Deck series of trading cards. They were $3.00 each and he bought five of them. Chances are, he may have drove me too because I thought that the driving rules were for everybody else other than me!. Shortly thereafter, after his careful deliberation he purged on a purchase of a 1979-80 OPC Wayne Gretzky #18! He said “son, this card is going to be worth MONEY someday”. He went to local flea markets every Sunday, and he mentioned that the flea markets were like “going to church”. There’s something special about heroes; not just the players either. RIP Henry, you will always be with me at EVERY flea market!

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