Jason Michaels hopes kids enjoy getting baseball cards that feature him and his Cleveland Indians teammates as much as he enjoyed getting cards of his favorite stars when he was growing up in Tampa.
MLBPLAYERS.com: When did you start collecting cards?
Michaels: When I was growing up, I was a football fan. I played football and baseball, and I was good in both. But I wasn't big enough to play football [at a high level]. My buddies collected baseball cards, and I got a little jealous. I wanted to collect, too.
I had the Fleer set, or Topps 1986. They had those thick team names on top, Cubs or Sox. I think I had the whole set. I was 10. It wasn't the set. I just liked to get the cards and check out the stats.
MLBPLAYERS.com: What was the appeal of the cards, and could that same appeal be recaptured today?
Michaels: To me it was awesome. You had your eyes wide open, curious. To see these guys on the bubblegum cards. It's hard to describe. I remember Dwight Gooden's card. Gary Sheffield. Both from Tampa. Floyd Youmans, a pitcher; I think he was from Winter Haven. We didn't have the Devil Rays at the time. We didn't have the Marlins. It was all [the National Football League's] Buccaneers. We just had Spring Training, seeing the Reds with Eric Davis. I just enjoyed watching the games. I never got into autographs.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Any other cards that stick out in your mind?
Michaels: Dave Kingman. He hit a lot of home runs. He was finishing up then. I'd like to track the cards down. I think my parents may have them. Great history.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Were you on any youth-league cards?
Michaels: No, but my sister, Andy, was, playing softball. She was 9 or 10.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Where did you first appear on a card?
Michaels: First year in the Minors, at Batavia, N.Y. An awful photo. I'm putting a bat in the bat rack and my zipper was broken on my pants. I don't understand why they didn't retake it. I signed a week late, and I think I was the last guy who had his picture taken. I [also] had a card with my name and team and stats on it, but it was a photo of Mike Lieberthal. I signed that card. Maybe it was in 2003. People show that card and ask for autographs, and I tell them, 'It's not me.' Get Mike to sign it, too. I'm on a mistake card.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.