The 1980 Bathtub Incident or Rickey Rollin’


It was night like many others that summer. The sun was slow to set, the lightning bugs were showing their asses, and according to my mom, it was bath time for me.  The younger brother Andy had already had his go in the tub and was playing by himself with the original Luke and Darth figures that sported the very economically sound retractable light sabers built directly into the arm.  The time was in the neighborhood  of 9:30 pm EST.  The location was my family’s two-story townhouse in Greensburg, PA.  It was a Thursday.  Actually, the time and date in the aforementioned are completely pulled from my ass.  It could have been Tues at 8:30.  It also could have been September.  I threw the lighting bugs in for effect too, pardon me.

I turned on the faucet and adjusted it, testing it with my hand until it was good to go.  As the tub began to fill I took a seat on the toilet and read the back of my 1980 Topps Dale Berra which was BY FAR the most coveted card in the house. (actually…we might have had two of them, so …”cards”)  I think we were fascinated with Dale Berra for two reasons. 1.  He was Yogi Berra’s son.  2.  It was my first real experience with the anticipation of things to come from a younger player….sort of a rookie card experience for me even though he debuted in 1977 and had double-digit games played totals in 78 and 79 as well. He was a rookie in my eyes.  His 1979 card was shared with two other players in the lovely, horizontal, black and white, “Pirates Prospects” card and his 1980 was OFFICIAL…no more sharing a card with no-name bums! Solo!  He had arrived! He was the flavor of the day, the new kid, the son of a baseball legend and he was on our team!

Then, for a reason that remains enigmatic to this day, I decided to get into the bathtub with my whole shoebox of 1980 Topps….probably 200-300 cards or so.

I dumped them in the water and for a moment I was like Godzilla emerging from an ocean of cardboard.  I submerged them, pushed them around, belly-flopped on them and I think I put a couple in the toilet too.  What was I thinking?  Who the fuck knows.

I don’t think I washed myself (it was one “those” bath nights….I think I only used soap during 1/3 of unsupervised baths from the ages of 8-11.) and I stepped out of the tub, knelt down and scooped up all my wet cards and put them back in the shoebox.

After that, I decided that I would lay them all out on my bedroom floor and give them a long dose with my mom’s hair dryer.  As I began this treatment they began to curl up and after a few minutes most of the cards in the first round of hot-air restoration looked like tiny colorful toilet paper tubes.  My brother, as well as myself, found this to be amusing.  I do not recall what I did with these cards after this but I do recall that over the last two decades not a year goes by without me wondering if I floated, dried, and curled up a Rickey Henderson rookie or two.

I think I have made it a bigger deal than it was (makes a better tale of woe!) because even without the bath-time I decided my cards needed, the damage from indifferent handling, rubber bands, and flipsies (you do know about  flipsies right?  More later…) would have left any cards from that box in about a PSA 3 state on average pre-baptism.

The real value in this tale comes as a firm reminder that 96.3% of all little children are stinky little morons,  no matter how bright they seem, so we have to be able wave off a lot of their decisions and force ourselves to restrain the fruitless effort of trying to decipher exactly what in the hell makes them do the incredibly random dumb shit that they do on a daily basis.


2 Responses to “The 1980 Bathtub Incident or Rickey Rollin’”

  1. 1 sirrahh

    Great story. Baseball cards are supposed to be fun. They’re supposed to link you to the players you care about, like Dale Berra once was. They were never meant to be an investment. Anyone who thinks otherwise needs to get a grip.

  2. Thank you sir. Cards are definitely markers on my personal timeline. If I have trouble remembering when such and such happened I always think back about what year of baseball cards I was opening during the period in question and voila….revelation!

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