The First Sports Bar, Or: How I Learned To Stop Caring And Love Baseball Cards


I’m 33 years old and I should be retired by now. As an impressionable and extremely lazy 11 year old, The Guy Behind The Case (official title) at the baseball card shop assured me this would be the case.

If everything had gone according to plan, I would have paid this months cable bill with a handful of Donruss ’89’s from that one factory set I still had laying around.

Instead? I’m pecking at keys, with boxes of Bobby Bonilla rookie cards in the darkest corner of my most unfrequented closet.

Autograph Hound

Paul Webb basketball camp attracted the greats. Kenny Gattison! Ted Jeffries! Cory…something.


I have encountered Eric Montross twice in my life.

One summer afternoon in the early 90’s, I was at the Paul Webb Basketball Camp in Virginia Beach and he was a guest. I don’t remember many details, but I’m sure he spoke to the group of eager campers about lessons he’d learned as a basketball player at UNC. He probably told us to study, eat our Wheaties, practice layups, say our prayers, Just Say No and Just Do It. Then he probably threw down a few dunks, to the campers delight. During the course of his visit, it seemed perfectly normal for me to take off my sweaty basketball sneaker, hand it to Eric accompanied with a Sharpie, have him sign said sneaker and then have him return the sneaker to me. A kid and his shoe, with a fresh autograph from a future NBA journeyman, was a recipe for happiness. These were simple times.