Card No. 329
Image courtesy of 1986 Topps Kirby Puckett Card no. 329It was 1986 and, I, the nine-year-old boy, didn’t know much about his home team Minnesota Twins. I was vaguely aware of the neighboring rivals, the Milwaukee Brewers, but had not formed any particular allegiance to them. I did love the game of baseball; I had been playing the sport since I was old enough for tee ball.
On that summer day, I must have been particularly well-behaved. I was rewarded with something I had never even heard of before. My mom gave me my first pack of baseball cards. I was so excited about my gift that I was already cracking that freshly sealed wax pack as we slowly rolled up our driveway.
Out of that beautiful blue wax pack of 1986 Topps baseball cards came the very first card I had ever owned. Card no. 329.
It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my young life. Not having followed the Twins to that point, I had no idea who Kirby Puckett was. I was all too eager to flip that card over and learn.
Kirby had made his debut just two years prior and had already made an impact. The back of his card also revealed to me that he spent three years marching his way through the Twins’ minor league system, moving up on the ladder as each season progressed.
Although this was not his coveted rookie card, it was my very first baseball card. That made this card all the more valuable to me. Kirby Puckett being the first baseball card I ever pulled helped to shape me both as a card collector and as a Twins fan. Had my first card have been Robin Yount‘s, perhaps I would be devoted to the neighboring team which has yet to win a World Series.
My excitement over card no. 329 forged a loyalty to the Twins that lasts to this day. My connection to the team has become so much more personal over the years due to collecting Twins baseball cards. I can flip through binders and relive World Championship seasons and playoff heartbreaks. I can display cards that were personally autographed for me by greats like Rod Carew, Tony Oliva, Harmon Killebrew, Jim Thome, and Joe Mauer; and I can tell a story for each.
This story, however, is the one with the most significance. Had I not been so well-behaved that summer day, there’s a chance I would have never become interested in the Twins and baseball cards. If my mom had instead chosen to reward me with a candy bar, I might have never fallen in love with that gorgeous 1986 Topps eyesore. While my opinions on Kirby Puckett may have changed over the years, his card came to me at the right place at the right time. The rest is cardboard history.
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