- I was collecting baseball cards, since before I could read.
- I used to divide them into teams, colors, brands, years, logos, mustaches.
- Putting them into sets or plastic protector sleeves was a daily ritual.
- Baseball cards were very important in bringing the baseball world into my everyday life.
- Years ago, players appeared more elusive because of the lack of information available. Before the internet, twitter, or MLB Network (Intentional Talk), the only way to get much information about a player was through his baseball card. Name, birthday, height, weight, stats, interesting facts.
- It always seemed that having a player’s baseball card made them more real and more personal. Cards allowed you to know more about them. And it was always more fun to root for players you knew.
- And I rooted for a lot of players, and had lots of baseball cards, BUT only one player had all my pride and all my love…
I’ll never forget the first time I found my dad’s baseball card! Of course my family had several around the house, but NONE of those were ever found in a fresh pack of cards. All of those Steve Dillard baseball cards were given to our family by very generous fans.
My hand was shaking as I reached down and picked it up. 1980 TOPPS! I had never even seen this card of dad before! I knew he had Red Sox cards, Tigers cards, and Cubs cards, but this particular card was not one of those. What a find! I couldn’t wait to break the news to the family!
Quickly, I ran down the hall to find daddy-o. “Dad! Dad! I found one of your cards!” I was filled with pride and bursting at the seams when I ran up to him! I carefully handed him the NEW discovery. He examined it, chuckled, and handed it back to me. And my very amused dad said…
“That’s not me boy, that’s Mike Schmidt.”
HUH? “Who?” I asked. “Mike Schmidt.” my dad said. Wait. Wait… I was confused. This guy sure looked like Dad. “Are you sure?” I hinted. “Yep.” said Dad. “Well, is he any good?” I asked. “Yeah he’s pretty good. He’ll be a Hall of Famer.” Dad said.
After this case of mistaken identity, I was suddenly more aware of the Mike Schmidt cards I had in my collection. But to be safe, I had to cross-check ALL cards with dad to see if it was him or not.
- “Dad, did you play for the Phillies?”
- “Dad, are we related to Mike?”
- “Dad, did we live in Philadelphia before I was born?”
- “Don’t think so.”
- “Dad, I found one of your Phillies cards!”
- “Not likely.”
- “Dad, this mustache yours?”
- “Not mine.”
- “Dad, remember when you were with the Phillies?”
- “Still not me.”
- “Dad, is this you?”
- “That’s Dave Winfield.”
I’ve since realized the importance of reading. But for a while I thought my dad played for the Phillies. I’ve never met Mike Schmidt, but thanks to his BASEBALL CARDS, I know that:
- He’s 6′ 2″ 203 lbs.
- He was born in Ohio in 1949.
- He’s lived in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
- His middle name is Jack.
- He bats right and throws right.
- He was a 2nd round pick in 1971.
- He was the 1st player to hit the top of the Astrodome.
- He likes electric trains, and enjoys listening to music.
Baseball cards are great, and will always hold a special place in my heart. But my favorite baseball cards will ALWAYS be the ones of my dad, Steve Dillard…
…and apparently, there’s a former Phillies player who looks like him.