Sunday, May 6, 2012
Ken Singleton, 1982 Topps #290
Yesterday, I got to spend some time with Mike Siegert, who collected cards with his son Josh for years. They completed a number of sets from the 1980s and 1990s, including the 1982 Topps set that marked the year of Josh's birth (and mine as well, incidentally). But their proudest achievement was compiling all of the Orioles team sets from Topps' base sets dating back to 1954. I'm also going to go out on a limb and assume that Josh was a better athlete than me in his school days; he spent three years pitching for the baseball team at St. Mary's College in Maryland.
Josh was a passenger in his friend Jonathan's car in the early morning hours of March 12, 2003. The car struck a utility pole near the St. Mary's campus and both driver and passenger were unfortunately pronounced dead at the scene. Mike, a high school teacher in Howard County, and his wife Maryanne chose to honor their son's memory and celebrate his life by establishing the Joshua L. Siegert Memorial Scholarship for Future Educators. The scholarship is awarded annually to benefit students enrolled in the Master of Arts in Teaching Program at St. Mary's who qualify based on academic merit and financial need. If you wish to make a contribution, you can donate to the Joshua L. Siegert Memorial Scholarship Fund, Office of Development, St. Mary's College of Maryland, 18952 E. Fisher Road, St. Mary's City, MD 20686-3001.
Mike has held onto the binders and boxes containing thousands of Mike's baseball cards for nine years, but he wrote to me a few weeks back to offer me the Babe Ruth card from the Maryland Lottery set that I'm collecting, and told me that he and his wife were looking to pare down the collection. Mike didn't have it in him to sell the cards on eBay or to take them around to flea markets. He wanted to offer the cards to me, if I would be interested in taking them. I was humbled by the offer and told him so, but I also assured him that I would appreciate the cards and put them to good use if that was what he really wanted. We made arrangements for a pickup at Mike's house yesterday afternoon.
There's always a sense of apprehension when meeting a complete stranger, but Mike (wearing his orange T-Shirt Thursday Matt Wieters/Nick Markakis Gold Glove tee) made me feel welcomed right away. He greeted me warmly and showed me the stacked boxes piled in the living room and dining room, giving me a final chance to back out. But I wouldn't have left him hanging unless he was trying to unload a couple cases of 1989 Topps or something. We talked excitedly about Orioles players and teams past and present (back-to-back series wins in New York and Boston!), I rambled a bit about my collecting history and interests, and Mike let me know a bit more about Josh. He also showed off the relatively few cards he'd be keeping, the 1982 Topps base and traded sets and the full Topps Orioles collection. We filled the back seat and trunk of my car, and visited a little longer before I noticed that it was 1:00 PM and I was due to meet my friend Mikey for lunch. As Mike S. remarked, we probably could have spent the rest of the afternoon conversing about baseball. It's always energizing to meet someone with whom you share those common interests.
I want to take this opportunity to publicly thank Mike for reading and enjoying the blog and for generously sharing such a significant portion of his son Josh's legacy with me. I'm sure we'll run into one another at Camden Yards soon. In the meantime, I'm going to do my best to get organized and see what awaits me.