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Opinion >  Column

Paul Turner: If I only had kept those baseball cards featuring former Spokane Indians

FILE – Paul Turner yearns for baseball card with players like these. Spokane’s Maury Wills, one of the heroes in Game 5 of the 1965 World Series, a 7-0 Los Angeles’ victory, slides home safely for the first Dodger run in the opening inning. On the ground is Willie Davis, Dodger center fielder and former Spokane Indian, his position a signal for Maury to slide. Wills tied a World Series singe-game record with his hits; Davis tied one with three stolen bases. (Associated Press)
FILE – Paul Turner yearns for baseball card with players like these. Spokane’s Maury Wills, one of the heroes in Game 5 of the 1965 World Series, a 7-0 Los Angeles’ victory, slides home safely for the first Dodger run in the opening inning. On the ground is Willie Davis, Dodger center fielder and former Spokane Indian, his position a signal for Maury to slide. Wills tied a World Series singe-game record with his hits; Davis tied one with three stolen bases. (Associated Press)

When it comes to our childhoods, we all would like a few do-overs.

Here’s one of mine.

I have lived in Spokane for 30 years, but I did not grow up here.

Still, when I was a little boy, I had a connection to the Lilac City. And I didn’t even know it.

You see, when I was a kid in the 1960s I had shoeboxes full of baseball cards. We’re talking hundreds of cards, most smelling like the chalky chewing gum they came with. Some destined for the insatiable maw that was the bike spokes on my sturdy Huffy.

That was not unusual. Several of my friends could have made the same claim.

But here’s the thing. I had in my hands back then the makings of a small set of cards I would truly savor today.

Baseball cards that mention Spokane.

You see, on the backs of the cards you would find the player’s career statistics, often along with a stupefyingly dumb cartoon and a scintillating fun fact: “Frank enjoys hunting and fishing.”

Those stats included what teams he had played for over the years, including his minor league assignments. For a number of the players in my shoeboxes, those careers included a year or so with the Spokane Indians.

Of course, I paid zero attention to that. I was more interested in seeing if I could get Matt Tanksley to trade me his Willie McCovey card for a Gaylord Perry, Vada Pinson and a Felipe Alou.

Now? I would love few things more than to have held onto all the cards for players who did stints in Spokane – practically any major leaguer who spent time in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization during my card-collecting era.

Yes, I have looked up many of those cards online and know I could still acquire them if I was willing to shell out a few bucks. But it wouldn’t be the same. There’s something about baseball cards gathered as a youth that seems more special than cards simply purchased as a nostalgic junior senior citizen.

I can’t recall what eventually happened to my baseball cards. We moved several times, and they must have been tossed or given away. Like many baby boomers who endured similar trauma, I have blocked it from memory.

I know my mother donated my extensive Silver Age comic book collection to an orphanage. I may or may not have been consulted. But one only protests such a decision at the risk of seeming churlish.

So what would I do with my Maury Wills card, my Frank Howard card and others if I still had them? Would I display them and wait for a visitor to step into my trap?

“What’s the deal with these guys? What do they have in common?”

I can almost hear myself clearing my throat.

Of course, I don’t pretend all that many people would actually care. But a few might. And I suspect that would give me pleasure.

“Both Willie Davis and Tommy Davis played here?”

But here’s the thing about collections. If you get a kick out of them, it doesn’t really matter what anybody else thinks.

So maybe I would just haul out my cards once in a while and marvel at all the Spokane Indians who made it to the bigs or Dodgers who came here for a rehab assignment back in the day.

And ask my wife if she knew Sweet Lou Johnson had played here.

“Who?”

Like I said, if you get a bang out of your collection, that’s enough.

Feedback

Carrie Johnson recalled old-school family vacations.

“When my three siblings and I went on a road trip, all four of us sat in the back seat of my father’s ginormous car. Any shenanigans would be stopped instantly by my mother. She had perfected the art of slapping us all at the same time. Sort of like the Three Stooges show, only we were the Four Stooges. Those were the days, corporal punishment and Dad smoking in the car with the windows up. How did we survive?”

Doug Burr saw the column item about possible slogans for Spokane based on the public records printed in the newspaper.

“I have had the advantage of perspective after moving away from Spokane and then coming back again years later. My suggestion for Spokane’s new slogan is: Not bad. Not bad at all.”

Contact the writer:

(509) 459-5470

pault@spokesman.com

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