Bill Curtis played in the Anaheim Angels organization in 1999 and 2000, hitting .306 in 82 minor league games. The brother of former major-leaguer Chad Curtis, who hit a walk-off home run for the Yankees in Game 3 of the 1999 World Series, he is now the baseball coach at Forest Hills Eastern High School in Michigan and a scout at Inside Edge. He kindly shared with me some great baseball card stories.
Do you have any stories about cards of yourself or of other players?
I started collecting baseball cards when I was 8 years old in the summer of 1986. My older brother gave me some cards he had collected. They were 1975, 1980, and 1983 Topps. I still remember leafing through them and studying them. I loved the colorfulness of those 1975 Topps cards. That sparked my habit and I started buying packs and boxes of 1986 Topps cards. That 1986 Topps set was the first set I ever collected and completed. I remember my parents taking me to a card shop in Tucson, Arizona so I could buy the last few cards I needed to complete the set. I felt so accomplished! For the next 6 years I think I spent every penny I got on cards. I even branched out into football, basketball, and hockey cards. I was completely hooked. I remember figuring out sequences for packs of 1989 Fleer and Donruss baseball cards and searching every Walmart, K-Mart, grocery store in Tucson. I must have had 100 of each of the Ken Griffey Jr rookie cards. Of course I also had 100 Todd Zeile and Jerome Walton cards – oops! In 1991 I opened a pack of Donruss baseball cards and pulled out an Elite Nolan Ryan insert card that was valued at $500! I had no personal attachment to the card so I took it to a huge card show in Phoenix hoping to trade it for a Michael Jordan or Wayne Gretzky rookie card both of which were valued at around $275 at the time if I recall. After showing my Ryan card to a few dealers I found one who was interested. He said he would take my Ryan card plus a 1989 Upperdeck Griffey RC (which was like gold at the time) that I had for his 1986-87 Fleer Jordan RC. I told him I would do it, but he had to throw in an unopened pack of 1989 Upperdeck just to give me a shot at getting the Griffey card back. I probably had 5 or 6 of the UD Griffey’s, but just felt better about the deal. Guess what? I opened the pack right there and pulled out another Griffey! Anyway I was pumped because I had the Jordan card which my 13 year old mind thought was completely unattainable for my entire life! I still have that Jordan card to this day!
Do you have a favorite card of yourself or of another player?
I would say I probably have 4 favorite cards. In chronological order… The first is the 1986 Topps Darryl Strawberry card. I loved the Mets that year because I had read a book from school about Dwight Gooden. I remember being mesmerized by the musculature in Strawberry’s forearm on that card. It was just so cool looking.
The second would be the Jordan Rookie that I told about above.
The third would be my brother Chad’s first Major League card which was the 1992 Leaf Gold Rookie. It was so much fun to buy packs and pull out my brother’s card since I had been collecting for like 6 years at that time.
The fourth and most meaningful to me was my first card in the 1999 Butte Copper Kings team set by Grand Slam. The experience was very surreal. I don’t think it was as big of a deal to guys who didn’t grow up collecting cards, but for me it was like Christmas! I had my own baseball card. On top of that, there were two versions of it. The original card had all of my information on it but a picture of another player. The company corrected the mistake and put my picture on my card. The result was while most players received about 20 of their own cards, I received a box of 400 of mine! Cool stuff! Ironically it was my only licensed card as the next couple years I missed being in the team sets because I was bounced around between levels.
Do you collect baseball cards?
Not anymore. I stopped around the time I started high school, but still have great memories of collecting them as a youngster!