As I grow older and older, I’m coming to realize I’m getting more and more like elderly people I’ve known through the years.
I wonder — to myself and out loud — what will happen to my family when I’m gone? How will they get along without the old man in this ever-challenging world? And, right up there, too, who will look after my two beloved dogs?
So many questions.
Another one, though, always seems to be high up on the list. What will happen to my prized sports possessions?
In my case, I just have to look around my personal office as I sit at my computer — the awards, the photos, the banners, the souvenirs that cover the walls and sit on shelves. Not to forget the thousands of columns I’ve written and kept in a filing cabinet.
Among my concerns, too, are the many, many sports books I’ve collected through the decades. Among them are many about Nova Scotia sports, written by Nova Scotia authors. As well, there are several dozen of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the team I’ve supported since I was eight years old.
Not taking a back seat to any of my keepsakes are the binders holding hundreds and hundreds of Maple Leafs hockey cards from as far back as the 1930s. Alongside them are binders filled with Toronto Blue Jays cards from the franchise’s beginning.
So what — or who — has gotten me onto this topic anyway?
Okay, blame Ken Reid. Yes, the guy who left his Pictou roots and quickly became one of the country’s finest talking heads on sports television. Yip, he’s up there with the best of them.
In the last four or five years he’s been proving to be more than just an excellent commentator when the cameras are focused on him.
He’s become a prolific author.
It doesn’t seem long ago — it was about this time in 2014 — that his book Hockey Card Stories landed in my mailbox. Because I had been a collector before he was born, I loved the publication, complete with many fascinating stories about his selected cards.
There was a comment on the back cover of that book that caught my attention. “Ken has been a sports fan and a sports card freak for as long as he can remember.”
There was something else I liked about Ken even before that. Just after he went off to Canada’s biggest city in search of fame and fortune, he confessed that his heart was still back home in Pictou County. He and I share those feelings.
Now the good news.
Ken has authored another book on hockey cards, appropriately entitled Hockey Card Stories 2. Like the first one, it was published by ECW Press of Toronto. It has a similar cover and, in my initial look-through, the stories are just as fascinating.
Why another book on cards?
He explained it in a press release from the publisher: “When I was a kid, you got to know the players through their cards. I wanted to share some of that nostalgia we all feel when we pick up an old hockey card. I think a lot of readers will be taken back to their childhood when they read these stories and, hopefully, will learn something new about the cards we grew up collecting.”
The new book brings Ken’s total to four. The others are One Night Only, featuring players who had just one-game experiences in the NHL, and Dennis Maruk, the story of a guy called “hockey’s forgotten 60-goal man.”
These are four books that can certainly upgrade any hockey fan’s personal library. Well done, Ken, you’re good at whatever you attempt.
The latest publication on hockey cards is just as well researched as the first one. For Pictonians in particular, there’s an interesting article on Thorburn native Lowell MacDonald and his rookie card. For other Nova Scotians, there’s also a story on Cole Harbour’s Cam Russell.
MacDonald and Russell are well known, of course, to sports fans in this province, having been pioneers in their respective home communities by reaching the NHL.
Lowell spent 13 seasons in the world’s greatest league, playing with the Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins. Cam had 10 years as a respected defenceman, primarily with the Chicago Blackhawks before a short stay with the Colorado Avalanche.
What interesting things did Ken Reid pick up on those two? I won’t spoil the details for those who get the book.
There’s one thing I am going to reveal — the fact Ken doesn’t do anything in a small way. If it’s worth doing, he does it big-time.
For his latest book — which contains “true tales” on 59 players from the 1960s and onward — who did he recruit to write the foreword? None other than the best — Sidney Crosby.
And, yes, Sid also collected hockey cards.
“I remember,” he writes, “going to flea markets in Cole Harbour, the Penhorn Mall in Dartmouth, and the big one at the Civic Centre in Halifax. As kids, we’d barter with the card dealers at the markets. Sometimes we’d make trades with each other.”
In the foreword, Sid confesses he made one card trade he regretted right up until he landed with the Pittsburgh Penguins. That’s the time he traded a Mario Lemieux rookie card and “got fleeced.” When he became a rookie in Pittsburgh, he lived at Lemieux’s home.
Having Crosby contribute to the book is another example that Ken Reid, as an author, takes his challenges seriously.
Having written two books myself — in 2016, I’ve Lived My Dream and, in 2017, Remembering Pictou County — I found out such efforts take a lot of work and a lot of time.
So it’s very easy for me to commend Ken for stepping up to the plate a fourth time — and producing a fourth winner.