We all do dumb things when we’re young. Back when I was ten years old my life consisted of playing baseball after school and trading baseball cards on the weekends. We had a whole motley crew back then which included a younger kid named Ryan Pezos.
Ryan and I would spend every weekend in fierce negotiations over Jose Canseco and Bobby Bonilla trades. Ryan’s collection consisted of all the great stuff, including Leaf and Upper Deck while mine mostly featured Fleer sets sold in pharmacies and other unwanted oddball brands.
One day Ryan came out of his home with his shoebox of cards and pulled out a fresh, pack-pulled 1990 Donruss Jose Canseco. He knew I had nothing to offer for it so we just sat outside looking through his cards until he was interrupted by a phone call from his home.
The second he went inside I dug through his collection, found the ’90 Donruss Jose Canseco and shoved it in my pocket. When he came back outside he informed me that he had to go to a restaurant with his family but he’d talk to me later. He then grabbed his box and went inside and I ran home excited about my new acquisition.
I am not proud of what I did and will blame youth for it. Unfortunately for me, karma had intervened and the beautiful new card now had a horrific dent running through the middle, making the card completely undesirable. Also, Ryan moved away a couple of months later and I never got to speak to him again until my last year of Middle School, when he entered as a Freshman (6th grade).
By that time, Ryan was all grown up and somewhat of a ladies man. Each morning he’d arrive to school on bike and eat breakfast with a table full of young, Middle School girls. While we were no longer friends as many years had passed by, we’d always wave at each other when passing through the halls of Tequesta Trace Middle.
One day I arrived to school late from oversleeping and found pandemonium. There were kids crying, police cars, a firetruck and an ambulance. When everything calmed down we were sent to our first class of the day all anxiously waiting for the morning announcements. When they came on, I knew something terrible had happened because the school principal was reading instead of the students.
“It is with a heavy heart that I must inform the student body that 13-year old Ryan Pezos has passed away”. Counselors were brought on to deal with the kids who needed them, while some were even allowed to go home early. All I could think of however, was that 1990 Donruss card I shamefully stole from him as a child.
It’s all I have to remember him by today.