I lived in Phoenix, Arizona as a kid from about age four through the fourth grade, when I moved to Cooperstown, New York. Phoenix is where I became a full on card collector. I'd been buying (or having cards bought for me) pretty much since birth, but '85, or probably more accurately '86, were the first years I really became an avid collector. '86 was the first year I can remember trading with other kids. By '88 it was a full on addiction (as it was for so many others), and it only grew from there for me until probably around '92 or '93, when prices and other teenage interest pushed baseball card collecting to the back seat for me.
But during that period from '86 to '90 when I was living in Phoenix, our neighborhood card shop was a place called "The Batter's Box." It was never what you would describe as fancy, but it was better than all other shops in the valley my parents would haul us around to. I imagine that over the years the perception of the shop has grown in my head to more of a fictionalized idealist memory.
Last weekend I was in Scottsdale. My grandparents have recently moved into a place in Sun City, and I dragged my family out to visit them. On the way back I took a well planned, but unannounced, detour. Sun City is at the west end of the metro area, Scottsdale on the east, and The Batter's Box sits more or less in the middle. Using the excuse of showing my daughter my old house, I then proceeded to The Batter's Box, only to find it was no longer behind the Dairy Queen next to Thunderbird High School. At this point my wife was on to me, and none too pleased, eager to get back and begin our evening entertainment plans. However, google maps was helpful enough to give me a new address for the store that was only a couple of miles away.
I found the store, in it's "new" location (it looked well worn as always and as though it had been there for years), and made my way in, knowing the wife and child in the car would only grow more annoyed with each passing minute. So with more haste than I would like, I took in the shop. It did not disappoint. For a vintage collector, it's as good a card shop there is to be found in any random strip mall. It's no frills, sort of thrown together, but it's cases are not filled with the usual jersey swatch cards, and autographs (sure they have a few). Their cases are filled with beautiful, mostly ungraded cards from the 50's, 60's, and 70's. They had stacks of singles from '52 through '75 sorted by series just waiting to be gone through. I chose to attack the '72 semi-hi and hi numbers which they had at absurdly reasonable prices, as well as picking up a good number of '59 needs which were priced at 50¢ apiece. Too many card shops today seem to operate in an alternate reality where the internet does not exists, and charging full price-guide price for cards is still their norm. The Batter's Box is not one of these shops.
I worked through as much of I could as quickly as I could, and made my purchase thinking I had done well on all fronts. I was wrong. I was immediately reminded that my 15 minutes had in fact been closer to 30 (I think it was 23). I took my reprimand and headed out. My childhood shop had met my expectations after 25 years. I will be sneaking back there on future trips to Arizona.
I spent Saturday putting together envelopes to mail out. It's been about a year in the making, and since I don't keep a to do list, it's a tedious task of skimming through old blog post and finding the corresponding envelope for the return address. Going forward I'm a keeping a list. So I now have a large box of mailings to take to the Post Office Monday.
Also, if anyone needs '84 or '85 Topps, email me your need list, 22Stackhouse@gmail.com, and I'll see what I can knock out for you.