new gods: intro

August 2, 2022

For a few weeks now, as the world convulses, I’ve been sorting cards.

My method is to first sort cards into teams, with the teams themselves grouped on the table in front of me by the divisional alignment they were in when I was a kid, left to right, American League East, American League West, National League East, National League West.

After that, I sort the cards in each team into years. These new cards, which were collected by my friend Drew’s older brother, who didn’t want them anymore, were most heavily concentrated in the years 1977 through 1981, so while sorting each team I have stacks for each of those years, and have auxiliary piles for the few cards from earlier than 1977 and for the somewhat larger assortment of cards after 1981.

Then, I go through each year and sort the cards alphabetically, which allows me to sift out any duplicate cards, which I drop into a big clear plastic bag.

Finally, I carefully and with some ceremony, which I try to mask from my puzzled, perhaps even concerned family, introduce the inherited cards to my own childhood collection, going team by team and year by year and card by card, alphabetically, to see whether any of the inherited cards are duplicates of cards I already received in my gum-driven prayers from nearly a half century ago. The duplicates go into a clear plastic bag.

The new cards: how to integrate them? I was reluctant to allow them to seamlessly join the sorted cards in my childhood collection. I feel like that would make it so that I would soon be unable to remember which cards came to me as a kid and which came later. The cards which came to me as a kid formed me, as did, in a certain way, the gaps: the cards that didn’t come to me.

So I’ve decided, for now anyway, to keep the new cards separate. I keep my cards sorted by teams in the same kind of rubber-band bundles that I used as a kid, and now there’s a section of inherited cards in each bundle that faces the opposite direction of the cards I got as a kid. There’s one exception to that directional strategy. In each bundle, now, the top card, facing up in the direction of the cards I got as a kid, is a card that is new to me. It makes each packet seem new and exciting.

It’s been a revelation seeing cards from the 1970s that I missed despite buying pack after pack every summer. They seem both strange and familiar, these cards, as if I’m reconnecting with a joyful part of the boy I was by virtue of that boy receiving brand new messages from his gods.


  1. Josh:

    My idea of heaven is the chance to sift through a big pile of cards from my childhood years, sorting out singles and doubles, sorting them by teams, by years … just letting them riffle through my fingers once again. You’re lucky. Happy sorting.

    Jon Potter Brattleboro, VT

  2. I like that you’re keeping them separate. I wish I would had done that with my childhood collection.

  3. By big childhood collections were 1977 and 1980. Last year I found the trading card database (TCDB.com) and starting trading to complete those sets. I completed both of those sets this year (getting the last card for 77 just this week). I recently purchased a big lot of commons from 76, 78, and 79. I have a few of the stars from 78 and 79, and completing those sets will be my next goal. Love sorting through all those old cardboard gods!

  4. Sounds like great fun! It must be especially good to discover cards missing from your childhood collection. I hope this spurs new commentaries.

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