Recently another blogger, The Junior Junkie, asked what your "Best Binder Page" was. Not a literal page in a binder, but your nine favorite cards is how I understood it. If the house was on fire and for whatever reason you could only save nine cards, what would they be. My nine are above. Here are my rankings and explanations.
First a quick disclaimer, or rather three things I used as criteria. I decided against including any cards that were passed along from my father. There's no doubt some of his cards are among my all-time favorites, but I guess they're not really mine (though my brother has no interest in them). As I work on vintage sets, I keep his cards completely segregated, not because he wants them back, but they feel more like an heirloom than a "need" to be checked off a want list. I also decided against going with an All-Wallach page, which would have been very easy. Finally, in the last ten years or so I've been very fortunate to have acquired a large amount of vintage cards. I tried not to include any of those. For one, they haven't been in my collection that long, and as such, don't have much history with me. The nine cards above all have a large amount of sentimental value. So as much as I may love a particular '53 Topps I've picked up, it just isn't something I feel could not be replaced.
#9 1958 Topps Jim Brown
Right off the bat I'm breaking one of the rules I laid out above. This card is a very recent acquisition. And on top of that, it's a place holder, for the 1962 Topps Football Ernie Davis, which is currently at the top of my want list (where it's been for many years). However, a well-worn rookie card of Syracuse legend Jim Brown, easily makes my nine favorite card list at this point. I come from a family full of Syracuse grads, and while I may not live there, Central New York is my home. So until I land an Ernie Davis, Jim Brown makes the cut.
#8 1989 Upper Deck Dale Murphy (Reverse Negative)Card Sharks," by Pete Williams.
#7 1983 Topps Traded Darryl Strawberry
#6 1987-88 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky
#5 1995-96 Collector's Choice Lawrence Moten
#4 1983 Topps Tim Wallach
This was the first Tim Wallach card I ever had. Not this exact card (I don't think), but a copy of this card. I'm sure the original is still among the 221 copies I have, but I never made a point of keeping it separate as a kid. It remains my favorite Wallach card design wise, and I don't see that changing.
#3 1962 Topps Luis Aparicio
#2 1977 Topps Andre Dawson
I mentioned above that I've never received many cards as gifts. For a variety of reasons, not least of which, it's hard for a non-collector to pick out cards for a serious one. For Christmas in 1986 my father, completely unsolicited gave me this card and a 1981 Donruss Tim Raines rookie. I briefly felt disappointed with the card when Dawson became a Cub, but quickly got over it, as his monster '87 season (in which he won an MVP that should have gone to Wallach) made me the envy of the neighborhood. I've ended up with a good number of copies of this card of the years, but this is the original, easily recognizable by the small nic to the right of the green "R."
#1 1982 Fleer Tim Wallach (Autographed)
When I was in first grade, Beckett published the addresses of every Major League Stadium so that readers could seek autographs. Every kid on my street sent at least one card, along with a SASE to their favorite players. It took nearly three months, but this is the card that came back to me. I was the only kid to get the card they sent back. The coloring on it is terrible from 20+ years of sun light, as it sat atop my dresser in my parents through all of elementary school, high school, and college, until I finally reclaimed it when I had a home of my own. This card, and gesture of returning it, bought a lot of good will for the otherwise anonymous Expo amongst my family, and simply put is the one card I would save before all other's if my house was on fire. Had this card not been returned, this blog may very well have ended up being titled "Eric Davis" or "Hubie Brooks," "At Attempt to Collect Them All."