How I Turned My Son Into a Lifelong Baseball Card Collector

How three generations of baseball card collectors kept the family tradition alive.

Welcome to Great Moments in Parenting, a series where fathers explain a parenting hurdle they faced and the unique way they overcame it. This week, Evan Krebs, a baseball card collector and father of a college freshman, explains how he found a lifetime bond with his son with just a pack of cards.

I’ve collected baseball cards since I can remember, and when my son, Ben, was born I knew I wanted to pass that down. I don’t think Ben ever knew that I did this, but I always let him open up the best cards. You see, when he was younger (about five or six), he would see me pull out a box of cards and always ask me if he could open a new pack. I knew exactly which pack to give him.

ADVERTISEMENT

Secretly, I would play this game where I’d open a bunch of packs without him and pull out all the good cards — you know, the ones with the autographs and the ones of up-and-coming rookies that everyone was getting excited about. Then, I’d take those good cards and I’d seal them all together into a ‘new’ pack. That’s the one I’d let Ben open. I think that is the reason why he ended up getting hooked on baseball cards.

Watching him open those trick packs and see how excited he’d get over those autographs — those are some of the best memories that I’ve had with him. But I don’t think I ever told him that.

I started collecting baseball cards when I was that age, too. My dad collected baseball cards, but it wasn’t something that he brought me into. I kind of snooped my way into it. My first memory of starting this tradition together is going through his things as a kid and finding his cards and thinking ‘Hey, this is pretty cool.’ I was just being nosy and asked him about the boxes he had. Then he started showing his collection to me and I knew I wanted some of my own.

So my brother, our dad, and I went together when we bought the first couple of packs. Back then, it was really just for fun — I was just trying to buy as many packs as I could so I could get my favorite players. I’m from New York, and I just wanted a Mickey Mantle card, so bad. And my dad had one. He’d let me play with it and I can’t believe that now. All of those old cards that could be in mint condition but I was playing with them as a kid. A few years back, I had my dad’s collection rated and encapsulated for him. I wanted to protect them for the long haul.

And even though I’ve been doing this with my dad since I was a kid, it’s Ben who has proven the value of baseball cards to me. When he was old enough, in elementary and middle school, he asked to go to baseball card conventions with me. We’d wake up early together and drive to Chicago and I’d stand in line for autographs and meet players and buy cards for him.

We still go to conventions together, but now we don’t stand in line for autographs — no, we’re trading cards up for higher values.  These days, he’s teaching me more about these new players and trading cards than I can teach him. It’s amazing to see.

It makes me proud that he’s found interest in something that I’ve found interest in. It’s an additional bond between us, because as you get older and you go away from your parents, there are fewer things you can do together. But we can do this together in the long haul.

Get Fatherly In Your Inbox