Recently, I was on Dr. Jim Beckett's podcast and told one of my favorite stories, which was, how did I get so interested in cataloguing and helping to increase knowledge amongst sports card collectors. Of course, in those days, the primary collections were baseball cards and the other sports were very tertiary in relation to the other sports.
And why do I blame Mickey Mantle for my career choice. Well, the answer is simpler than you think. In those days, when the hobby information was barely above stone knives and bearskins, I was working on a 1962 Topps set without benefit of printed checklists or anything more than card numbers and trying to guess who the missing players were. For example, I was always surprised Topps did not issue a Jackie Jensen card in 1962 not because of how he would or would not play but he was a famous athlete and had won an MVP award within the past five years. Well there is no Jackie Jensen card and there is no "Base" Roy McMillan card although he has an All-Star card and a multi-player card in the 1962 set. Love those quirks.
But the card which clinched my thirst for helping collectors not suffer as I did was card #318. You see by that point I at least had seen checklists which said that card was known as Action Card 8. Well I did know those were cool cards as my brother had gifted me his 1962's (mainly high numbers) and there was a Maris hits his 61st homer card in that collection. So I knew those cards were cool and somewhat advanced for their time. Ah yes, but was is Action Card 8. Well one day I was at the Sports Corner store and I saw a card saying "Switch-Hitter Connects" which as you can imagine is Mickey Mantle. So, I was happy to buy that card, I think we paid like $3-5 and I got that mysterious card added to my collection as I building what today we would call a master set. Happy to have the card but really upset about how no information was available to any new collectors who might want that card so I vowed if I had the chance, NO ONE would go through what I went through.
Please note, I was fortunate enough to see Mantle play in person and I feel so blessed I'm still able to say those words. And in case you are wondering, here is a photo of the checklist which probably annoyed kids back in 1962, which turned out to be the season in which Mickey won the 3rd and final MVP award of his career. Take a look and you will see Action Card 8.