My mother, what a card



Have been thinking about you a lot lately, possibly as a result of our phone conversation of five minutes ago when you said, "How come you never call?" and I said "Don't start that again" and you said, "Well, you could call more often. I am your mother, you know. By the way, Mother's Day is coming up and if any mother deserves a break it's me and how come you . . ."

So this Mother's Day column is for you, Mom.

It's for the woman who loved me no matter what I did, taught me right from wrong, cared for me when I was sick, drove me to Little League, helped me with my homework, threw away my baseball card collection. It's for the woman who was always there to . . . you know, that business about the baseball card collection really bothers me, Mom.

Do you know the players I had in my baseball card collection? Let me tick off a few names here.

I had Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays. I had Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson. I had Frank Robinson, Juan Marichal, Duke Snider, Harmon Killebrew and a whole lot of other major league heavyweights.

And do you know how much those cards are worth today, Mom? Huh? Do you? Plenty. Big, big bucks. We're talking two, three, four hundred thousand dollars, easy. Heck, there are baseball card dealers and nerdy memorabilia collectors who would hack off their arms with a machete just to look at some of my old cards.

I'm telling you, Mom, if someone wanted to put a down payment on a yacht, he could whip out a Mickey Mantle rookie card and the boat dealer would say: "Yes, sir! Be right back with your change."

That's how much those cards are worth today, Mom. Big, big, buckaroos.

Anyway, that's why I called you a few years ago and asked you to go up in the attic and hunt around for my cards.

Remember what you said after you threw your back out moving my weights?

"Oh," you said, "I threw those silly cards away when you were in high school."

You threw them away. Just like that. Five, six, seven hundred thousand dollars worth of baseball cards -- maybe more, I'm being conservative -- in the trash.

Our old garbage man is probably sitting around a pool in Rio de Janeiro right now, sipping a pina colada and lighting his cigar with a 100-cruzeiro bill and thinking: "Good thing I fished out that dumb kid's baseball card collection 20 years ago."

Thanks, Mom. You know, that could have been me sitting around that pool in Rio with the pina colada. Instead, what kind of life are we talking about?

Heck, you've been over to the house, Mom. You've seen the flaming torches lining the hallways so we save a few bucks on electricity. You've seen the way we cook over a spit. The way we have to raise and lower that old wooden bucket for the well water.

It didn't have to be that way, Mom, that's what ticks me off. But, hey, that's water over the dam now.

No use crying over spilled milk. What's done is done. You can't look back. Besides, what difference does it make that I cry myself to sleep every night thinking about what might have been, only to wake up puffy-eyed and depressed with another back-breaking 12-hour workday staring me in the face?

As long as you have your health, I always say.

Besides, this isn't about baseball cards, Mom. It's about Mother's Day. It's about the woman who tucked me in at night, made sure I had clean socks and underwear, helped me with my science projects, threw away my mint-condition Hardy Boys books.

Remember the Hardy Boys mysteries, Mom? Joe and Frank Hardy, those geeky junior detectives who solved cases with cornball names like "The Mystery of the Old Hollow?" I think you got rid of them about the same time as you got rid of my Tom Swift collection. But look on the bright side. The Hardy Boys books are only worth a couple hundred bucks each, so it's not as if I could have retired on the money or anything. Maybe we could have bought a refrigerator, though.

I don't even want to get into those old arrowheads -- priceless by now, they'd have their own wing in the Smithsonian -- that were next to the snow tires.

Aw, heck. Happy Mother's Day, Mom. You're still the greatest.

Love always, Kevin.

P.S. When you get a chance, dig out my old stamp collection and that inverted Hindenburg issue they've been talking so much about on the news. You do still have those stamps, right?

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