Baseball players were my first superheroes. And they were unrivaled as such from ages ten through fourteen. But in 1985 serious competition arrived on two fronts.
First of all, after years of pestering me to share his particular addiction, my friend Greg finally managed to get me interested in comic books. So actual superheroes were to arrive on the scene. As with just about anything that I become interested in, it became not just a hobby but an obsession. I was a Marvel Comics guy, particularly excited about the Fantastic Four, then written and drawn by John Byrne. But I didn't stop there. Because all of their exploits took place within the "Marvel Universe," I felt the need to collect every mainstream Marvel comic. And my compulsion to collect would eventually see my Fantastic Four collection stretch, completely, back to about 1965. One of the things that I loved about collecting comic books, which baseball cards couldn't offer, was that new releases were available every week. Talk about instant gratification!
The other heroes to take the stage for me around this time were rock stars. I had halfheartedly been listening to pop music since about 1981, but as the digital age dawned, compacts discs became another item to pursue with my paper-route money. Naturally, my OCD tendencies drove me to acquire all of the albums, singles and bootleg recordings that I could find from my favorite artists. I became particularly obsessed with Peter Gabriel and early Genesis. Although my musical tastes would expand greatly as a matured, my interests at this point were decidedly uncool. It is only because I am quite comfortable with who I've become that I feel free to share with you the fact that I could be spotted in these days walking down the street with a boombox on my shoulder blasting Wham! And that I had cats named after the members of Duran Duran. (I am actually more than a little tempted to abort these particular disclosures.)
Of course, the reason that this has anything to do with baseball cards is that a paper route didn't exactly provide the kind of income capable of sustaining three obsessive collections. I didn't abandon baseball cards. But this is the first Topps set since before 1980, my first year buying cards, that has fairly significant gaps in my collection. If I had to guess (which I do at this point because my multi-decade sorting project remains perpetually in progress), I'd say that this set is only about 90% complete for me. Looking through the set at the Baseball Card Cyber Museum, I'm seeing a fair number of cards for the first time. Or at least I think I am. It's been nearly thirty years, after all.
Anyway, in honor of my two new 15-year-old obsessions, here's Mike Hargrove (#425). Why Mike Hargrove? Because he had a nickname like a comic book super-villain, "The Human Rain Delay." And because he played for Cleveland, home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Also, his is a fairly unexceptional card (#425) in a somewhat bland set. There's some context for ya.