Pick a card, any card

It recently was brought to my attention that the Canadian Mint will issue a gold coin worth $200 in honour of the Winnipeg Falcons—the team that won the first-ever Olympic ice hockey gold medal in 1920.
The coin could be a real collectible for the sports lover in your family.
But more importantly, it made me think back to when I was 15 years old, way back in good ’ol 1991—where my one lot in life was to achieve success in the absolute black hole of collecting: the sports card trade.
While I collected a variety of brands and sports, my favourite set had to be the first-ever 1990-91 Upper Deck 550-card release. It hit stores off the heels of the Edmonton Oilers winning the Stanley Cup and everything seemed right with the hockey world—except for the fleeting Canadian market and impending over-expansion.
That was quite the set. Jeremy Roenick, Ed Belfour, Sergei Federov, and Pavel Bure all had their rookie cards in there, along with the first prints of all-stars Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, and Gerard Gallant (don’t laugh, he scored 36 goals and 44 assists that season).
I even had several prints of Fort Frances’ own Mike Allison card as he had just finished his last season as a Los Angeles King. But I don’t remember what his card number was or how he did that year. Sorry, Mike.
I must have flipped 2,694 burgers (give or take five) that year at my part-time job at McDonald’s to afford those cards—the “valuable” ones kept in special plastic protectors.
The Federov and Bure rookie cards each were appraised at $30—and I had quite a few! But good luck trying to find someone willing to spend that much. It took me a while to figure out that when something is mass-produced,it’s bound to lessen in value.
It was the greatest economics lesson I learned. Yet what did I do? I kept buying stacks and stacks of cards.
And the industry kept feeding our addiction. The supposed “experts” (who were probably employed by Upper Deck or O-Pee-Chee) brainwashed me and my fellow sheep to keep buying new cards as a long-term investment.
But by the end of the year, I finally stopped collecting. I learned if you’re only collecting sports memorabilia for the sole purpose of making money, then you will be missing out on its true beauty: expressing love for your favourite sport.
Well that, and I was saving up for a new pair of real cool Reebok basketball shoes.
That whole phase in my life didn’t seem so ridiculous to me until I flipped to the Home Shopping Channel and saw some guy trying to pawn “authentic” Beatles stamps from 1964 for $499, telling us we would make a killing if we turned around and sold it on e-Bay.
This Bill Loman-wannabe began using those lovable collectible buzz words: “People, you are looking at a 1964 George Harrison rookie stamp . . . in mint condition!”
Then he went through the Beatles lineup as if they were going to do the coin toss before kicking off the Super Bowl: “On bass guitar, Paul McCartney, on rhythm, John Lennon.”
I almost picked up the phone.
• • •
Former Muskie Karen Harris was one of seven Lakehead University athletes honoured as its athletes of the month for November.
Harris, a starting middle with the women’s Thunderwolves volleyball team, helped them to a 4-3 record.
A native of Crozier, Harris is in her third year in the biology/concurrent education program.
• • •
Local oval snowmobile racer Steve Arpin earned a third-place finish in his first test race in Beausejour, Man. last weekend. He’s set to enter his first year as a professional racer in the “Champ 440” class, where he’ll be sponsored by the local Pinewood Sports, which is making their first foray into race sponsorship.
The 17-year-old Fort High student is scheduled to compete in 11 circuit races this season, the first one Dec. 29-30 in Roseau, Mn.

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