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Stadium Giveaway Baseball Cards

As a kid, one of the most exciting stadium giveaways to me was baseball cards. I recall begging my dad to take me to the game so I could get a team set that was only available at the park. He didn’t always comply. The first year I got the team set was 1988, and it allowed me to add the first Chris Sabo card to my collection. We went again in 1989, missed 1990 for some reason, then went back in 1991. The ’91 cards are especially nice because they celebrate the 1990 World Championship. I did not get cards in 1992 or 1993, as I drifted away from the hobby. I own a set of 1994 Kahn’s cards, but I honestly cannot recall if I got them in 1994 or more recently.

I have been picking up sets here and there that I missed out on as a kid. I lucked out by finding the 1986 Texas Gold cards on eBay for about a buck; in this area they are generally $25-50. I have not yet found a 1987 set in my price range, and have not sought out the early 1990s sets. I went away to college in the fall of 1994 and did not return to Cincinnati until 2006, so I missed out on a lot of giveaways in that time. Flea markets, card shops, and card shows have filled a few holes in my collection.

Rijo Kahns

Friday night, I picked up the 1996 set at Redsfest. There were several stars from the 1990 team, including World Series MVP Jose Rijo, Eric Davis, Chris Sabo, Barry Larkin, Hal Morris and Joe Oliver. Davis, Sabo, and Oliver all left the Reds for a time, but came back to Cincinnati by 1996; this would be Sabo’s final year in the majors. There are other familiar names: Reggie Sanders (who was supposed to be the next Davis), Jeff Brantley (who is now an annoying broadcaster for the Reds), Bret Boone (an underachieving second baseman at the time), and Ray Knight as manager. It’s an intriguing look at a team mostly past its prime, with some youngsters full of promise. They were good enough to win the NL West Central in 1995, and even good enough to triumph over the Dodgers in the NL Divisional Series. But no one had a chance against the Braves with Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine.

Sometimes I wonder if I would be a Reds fan today if I continued to follow the game in the mid-to-late 1990s.

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