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The Slice: Even baseball’s best couldn’t survive this strike zone

Sorry, Ernie Banks.

Please accept my apology, Ron Perranoski.

My bad, Boog Powell.

Don’t know what to say, Camilo Pascual.

You all deserved better. Well, at least the baseball card versions of you.

Over the decades, mothers often took the rap for getting rid of baseball card collections that might have been worth something one day. But I can testify that moms were not always to blame.

In fact, one of the best baseball card collections I ever saw met an unsightly fate at the hands of a 14-year-old kid named Matt and his best friend. The latter numbskull would be me.

The previous year, my family had moved to an adjacent state. But the next July, I spent several days at Matt’s house.

Much of the world was focused on Apollo 11 and the upcoming walk on the moon. But Matt and I were mostly intent on seeing how much commotion we could create in his basement (where we were supposed to be sleeping) at 2 a.m.

Eventually, Matt’s dad would appear at the top of the stairs, livid and wild-eyed.

“What?” Matt would ask.

So we would turn out the lights and head back to bed.

Then something would happen.

I can’t remember who started it. But one of us would reach into one of several shoe boxes containing Matt’s hundreds of 1960s baseball cards. And a single card would be tossed silently in the direction of the other boy’s face.

In response, a card would be flicked back.

This, inevitably, would be followed by a frantic, furious escalation which culminated in grabbed fistfuls of cards being hurled across the room at high velocity in the dark. Naturally, this would be accompanied by delirious yelling, knocking over lamps and what have you.

And suddenly, Matt’s dad would appear once again.

It takes a while to pick up hundreds of baseball cards. Long enough, in fact, to forget a pledge to knock it off and go to bed.

Sadly, many of the cards emerged significantly worse for wear from being used as ammo. So much for their down-the-road value as collectibles.

But the moon mission went well, so that was good.

Today’s Slice question: What happened when you asked the neighbor kid to mow your lawn while your family was on vacation?

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