Thursday, November 7, 2013

How a skinny kid from the south found Hockey Part I

Hi, my name is Sean. I am 37 and I live in Oklahoma and I enjoy following the Toronto Maple Leafs.

I love the picture Alex posted of the old team up there and since we can talk about memories and cards I'll blend the two. I wrote this last week as a response to a question, I get a lot living in in Oklahoma so here is part I. Please forgive in typos. I gave it the once-over but usually need the twice and thrice-over.

When people see my Hockey paraphernalia in my office they always ask how someone raised in Louisiana and Oklahoma learned to like hockey…and the Toronto Maple Leafs no less. Well there are two formative events that steered me toward this wonderful sport. The first event involves the famed 90-91 Upper Deck Hockey product. As a kid I enjoyed attending a local sports card shop called Davis Card & Coin and the owner was kind enough to employ a couple of us kids to help him run his weekly auction. Well he paid us $10.00 a night (3-4 hours) which I am sure violates some child labor law somewhere but he did let us drink his pop and ordered pizza for those of us working and back in those days, ... I ate like a wolverine so I didn’t mind. One evening after the auction, a bunch high rollers were playing home run derby (aka pack wars) with 1990 Leaf packs, which I thought was insanity at $5.00 a pack. A portly gentleman saw me eyeing the packs of 90-91 Upper Deck and asked me if I wanted to play Derby with him… He said player with most career goals in his pack wins. Well, I won the first…and the second…and the third…and the fourth. These packs were $1.50 a piece I think and the guy was already out about $15.00 in a matter of three minutes. I started sweating. I had heard of Gretzky, Lemieux, and Hull but my friend’s dad Russell who was watching the festivities told me I had won rookies of some dudes named Roenick and Richter who were really good. I won two or three more rounds, and then the fun began. The man actually accused me of cheating (as if I was some kind of David Blaine slight-of-hand specialist) and quit. He started cursing at me and complained to the owner that I cheated somehow. When Russell, who had been watching the festivities, came to my defense the man paid what he owed and walked out to his car. I thought my night was over and I was looking back through my cards and I was trying to learn the names of some of the players that had helped me win that I didn’t know. Names like Hawerchuk, Gartner, Neely, Anderson, Trottier, Francis, Stastny, Goulet, Bossy, Verbeek, Vaive, Andreychuk, and LaFleur. I had no idea who these guys were. Just then the guy came in and plopped down two 20.00 bills and wanted to start a fresh box. I only had 10.00 which meant I could only lose 3 times and still walk with a dollar he could lose 13 times. Long story short I beat the pants off this guy over and over and over again. In 18 rounds I did lose three times my final loss being on the final two packs and I did go home with only a dollar but I went home with about a box and half of 90-91 upper deck that I had a blast with…

I loved the holograms, the “star rookies”, the “first round picks” all of it. And I had a blast learning some of the bigger names in the sport…and for that matter the teams. I had to learn how a Maple Leaf could be a worthy mascot, how unoriginal the Montreal Canadiens mascot really was, and finally what in the world was a Nordique? And for that matter a Canuck? What kind of stat was a “PIM” and what was +/- and was it good to be in the + or the -? My education was just beginning.

1 comment: