Almost three years ago, I moved to Australia from the USA. And yet, it was just this January before I successfully moved my card collection over. Cost me more than 100 bucks in excess baggage charges, too.
My collection isn't as extensive as some people's - I tended to spend my money on yearly sets, taking the view that if I do that, I'm guaranteed to have one of everything. I'm a completist like that. But as I was moving, I found a box with some random cards. A lot of them are Reds team sets, but, towards the bottom of the box, I found a pack of 1993 O-Pee-Chee Premier cards.
Now, here's the thing about this...I have no recollection of how I got these. I've been to Canada three times in my life - five if you count the stopover at Pearson Airport on my way to the Netherlands and the time we may have drifted over the maritime border while sailing on Lake Erie.
Of these visits, none would have been in 1993. The closest would have been 1994. August 1994. You remember what happened in August 1994, right? Well, that was during this trip. I doubt I would have been buying any baseball cards then. Especially not year-old bilingual cards, unless I did it with a sense of detached irony.
Anyway, back to the cards. As I was flipping through the set, it was about what you'd expect - heavy on the Jays and Expos, four Star Performer cards (Joe Carter, Gary Sheffield, Fred McGriff, and, umm, Pat Listach). Barry Bonds (card no. 1) also makes an appearance! It's his first year with the Giants, so his head is normal size.
However, would you believe that, in flipping through 36 cards (so it must have been two packs), there wasn't a single Red, Oriole, Athletic, White Sox or Mariner? I found Walt Weiss, but in a Marlins uniform. Scott Fletcher, but as a Ranger. I even got not one, but two Andy Van Slykes. He was an Oriole for about five minutes, but that was still in the future. Yep, we were facing a shutout.
That is until...
Wait a second...
No, it can't be!
Yes, it's the immortal John Smiley. In 1993, he was just starting his Reds career, a career that would see him go 48-48. But Smiles was the ace of the staff in '95, the last time the Redlegs made the playoffs. He went 12-5 with a 3.46 ERA and 124 strikeouts in 176 innings. Later on, he would be traded along with my dad's least-favorite Red of all time, Jeff Branson, in the deal that brought Danny Graves and Scott Winchester to Cincinnati.
John Smiley, you may not have had the most illustrious career, but you'll always bring fond memories.