Some answers are obvious: I have rookie cards of my all-time favorite athletes from the big three – George Brett, Joe Montana and Julius Erving.
I am a huge George Brett fan. Not only was he the local hero when I was growing up, but I pattered my style of play after Brett. That would explain the arthritic hips, the knobby knees and the ankles that all are paying me back for not taking better care of them in my youth.
I also named my son after him. “Brett,” of course, not “George” – the wife wouldn’t let me. My son joined probably thousands of little boys – and many girls – in the Midwest named after the Royals all-time hero.
In addition to building sets, I also have collections of my favorite players. Probably my biggest beef with the sports card industry is directly related to my overwhelming effort at one time to collect every card ever made featuring George Brett. Not only did card companies continue to produce George Brett cards long after his retirement, but they produce many in limited quantities – including those dreaded 1-of-1’s that cost more than my rent.
In 1992, Upper Deck created a Joe Montana gold card (card No. 1 in the subset), that I would have to say is my favorite card. I think I paid about $16 for it in eBay, including postage.
The design is simply beautiful. The entire card, front and back, is 24K gold and limited to 2500 made.
I have since found two other cards with gold fronts that stand out: A 2001 Upper Deck Harmon Killebrew (card No. ES8) from the Endless Summer set, and a 2001 Upper Deck Ty Cobb (No. C1) from The Class of ’36 set.
Beautiful, simple cards.
One of my most recent favorites I have only had a few weeks.
I won on eBay a 2011 Topps Leather Nameplate of Royals first baseman Billy Butler with the sole intent on getting it signed.
Butler is one of the nicest guys in baseball, and often stops and signs until everyone is satisfied. Getting his signature on the leather, just above his name, was far easier than getting the card itself.
Other “heroes” that I grab all the cards I can find include, from baseball, Nolan Ryan, Johnny Damon, Dan Quisenberry, Dick Howser and a host of current and former Royals players; from football, Len Dawson, Barry Sanders, Priest Holmes and Derrick Thomas, and current hero Tony Gonzalez; from basketball, Larry Bird and Reggie Miller, and current hero Kevin Durant; Jaromir Jagr and Mario Lemieux from the NHL; pro wrestlers Harley Race, Terry Funk, Ric Flair, Kurt Angle and “Jumpin’ Jim Brunzell – my childhood favorite; and Brock Lesnar and Ken Shamrock from mixed-martial arts.
Ed Sprinkle was a multi-time Pro Bowl end for the Chicago Bears (1944-55). Genealogy websites also show him as a distant cousin of mine.
Sprinkle was known as “the meanest man in pro football,” a tag that probably cost him the NFL Hall of Fame.
I am aware of only two cards, his 1951 Bowman “rookie” card and a 1988 Chicago Bears Fan Convention card. I own four of the Bowmans and one of the fan convention card, along with an autographed photo he sent me when I wrote an argumentative essay on his exclusion into the Hall of Fame while a budding journalist in college.
Favorite cards don’t have to be expensive. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.