John Ferry

When I was in 3rd and 4th grades my closest friend at the time was Tim Ellison. Although my grandfather was a cardinal’s fan, Tim got to me first. I thus became a Die-Hard Cubs fan and even started collecting baseball cards. Now, Ernie Banks was really before my time. I grew up with Buckner, Kingman, Durham, Sandberg, and later Grace, Dunston and Dawson. In my early days of collecting cards I knew the importance of “Mr. Cub”, and the value of investing in the great players of the past that represented my franchise. Every year the Hickory Point Mall in Forsyth, IL would have an annual baseball card show. I would take my allowance and purchase valuable cards from grown men who made a living by taking money from children for cardboard pictures. I remember my 4th grade year I had exactly $5.00, and an Ernie Banks card from the traveling salesman with his volumes of sleeved cards was $5.00. I slept on this purchase knowing I was going to the mall the next evening to buy shoes for my cousin’s high school graduation party. The salesman who sold us the shoes turned out to be a friend of my cousin’s and said he would be at the same party. The shoes came first, then, I could go buy my card. I’m sure all I could talk about was buying the card. Then he said the sweetest words my ten-year-old ears ever heard up to that point in my life. He said he used to collect cards and he was sure he had a bunch of Bank’s cards and he’d bring me one from his collection.  I was so excited to get to the party and get my hands on that free card . . . I was a pretty spoiled/self-absorbed kid, and I am not proud of the way I always thought about situations growing up. He showed up, but he was empty handed. He said he only had one and wanted to keep it. I was crushed, and I know my face didn’t hide it well or even at all. Not only was I not going to get a free card and keep my $5.00, the show had passed and I couldn’t go back and buy the original card. Well, things always seem to work out for me despite my selfish ways. That young man left, came back, and threw the card on the table and said, “here you go kid”, and left again. I snapped up that card, ran to my dad with enthusiasm and told him what had just happened. I’m sure that my parents had to console my disappointment from the earlier moment because, my dad sprinted out the door and grabbed the young man and forced $5.00 on him. My dad was a sap for people who did selfless acts of kindness, and always wanted to make things right, or as close to “even” as possible, or a little better than “even”. The young man really didn’t want the money. My dad made him take it he didn’t have a choice. So what does Ernie Banks symbolize for me . . . Two things: 1. I will always save that card, not because it’s an Ernie Bank’s original baseball card, but because it symbolizes a generous act from a stranger – a young man giving up something he wanted for another he didn’t know. And 2. My appreciation for having a father (who grew up without his father’s presence in his life) who even though would always say, “the world is unfair”, would always try to make it fair. The world is unfair, “Why do I get a loving father and a Bank’s card?” Here is a picture of the Bank’s card.




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