(This is the sixth in our series of posts about the best baseball cards from the 1980s. Check out the rest of those posts here.)

Forgive this indulgence, but baseball is no mere game.

No …

Baseball is the story of fathers and sons.

It’s the story about how we follow Daddy around from the time we can take our first step.

About how we want to know what he’s doing — all the time — and why he’s doing it.

Baseball is the story about how Daddy one day, finally, lets us try to cut a board on our own and then stitches our jagged-cut fingers back together with spit, sawdust, and electrical tape.

It’s about those hours spent hitting Wiffle Balls in the side yard and shooting baskets in the driveway until you finally hit one, and until you finally hit one.

Baseball is the story about how you first come to realize that Daddy goes away everyday so that you can play and go to school — and eat.

It’s about those nights when Daddy comes home with just a little light left in the sky, or none at all, and he still plays ball with you in the side yard or the driveway even though he’s dog-tired.

Baseball is the story of how Daddy becomes a Little League coach even though he doesn’t really know that much about the game, but he knows he loves you and wants to spend time with you.

1982 Fleer Pete and Re-Pete Rose

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It’s the story about how Daddy winks at Mommy in the stands every time you come to bat or take a ball off the shin while trying to field it.

The story about how, one day, you beat Daddy at H-O-R-S-E.

And the day you finally hit his fastball.

And the day Dad loses to you at one-on-one for the first time.

Baseball is the story of Dad teaching you to drive and then holding out when you ask to use the car.

It’s about the two of you arguing over politics.

And over girls.

And about your decision to quit baseball.

Baseball is your Dad’s beaming pride and swallowed sorrow when you leave home for college, and then decide not to come home for summer break.

It’s the beer you share on your 21st birthday and the cigars you smoke when your son is born.

It’s the wisdom Dad passes along as your boy grows and starts to follow you around — and calls you Daddy.

Baseball is that time you finally let your son use a saw for the first time. And how you stitch him up when things go sideways.

Baseball is the story about your Dad going gray and getting old … and frail. It’s about how he’s sitting the bench more and more these days.

It’s about being Daddy and following after your Daddy, again, and knowing you’ll do what he does, by and by.

He taught you everything you know, after all, and he’s your role model. No matter how great or lousy he may seem to the rest of the world.

And so, yes, there can be only one choice as the best card from the 1982 Fleer baseball card set.

And no, it’s not the Cal Ripken, Jr., rookie card or the Brad Mills bubble gum card or the Fernando Valenzuela eyes-to-heaven card or even that frightening Lee Smith rookie card.

1982 Fleer Pete and Re-Pete Rose (back)

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Because … whether you’re a father or a son or a mother or a daughter or an uncle or cousin, brother, or sister … baseball is a thread that runs among you and pulls families and generations together like locks of hair in an old scrapbook. At least if you’re doing it right.

Rarely has it been done so blatantly right as on card #640 in the 1982 Fleer baseball set — Pete & Re-Pete.

Pete Rose is no legend on this card, no future disgrace. He’s a Daddy — soon to be a Dad — taking his son to work and pulling him to the side to offer a few words of advice.

They’re part of our collective fabric of fathers and sons and, in that moment, they’re damn near perfect.

Just like you and your daddy.

(This is the sixth in our series of posts about the best baseball cards from the 1980s. Check out the rest of those posts here.)

 

 

 

1982 Fleer Baseball Card Lee Smith ROOKIE # 603 Chicago Cubs

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4-1982 Fleer Wax Packs Possible Ripken RC

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