Flashback #8: Mourning A Young Collector

Originally published at Wax Heaven on March 17th, 2009

We all do dumb things when we’re young. Back when I was ten years old my entire 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 young kid named Ryan Pazos who couldn’t have been more than 8 or 9 years old.

Ryan and I would spend every weekend in fierce negotiations over Jose Canseco and Bobby Bonilla trades. His collection consisted of all the great stuff, including Leaf and Upper Deck while mine mostly featured Donruss sets sold in pharmacies and other unwanted, oddball brands including Sportflics and Topps Big.

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. Ryan lived with his Aunt for some reason but spent almost every day outside riding his bike and looking for an escape from his home life.

The second Ryan went inside I dug through his collection, found the ’90 Donruss Jose Canseco card and shoved it into my pocket. When he came back, he informed me that he had to go to a restaurant with his family but we’d finish the trade later that night. He then grabbed his box of cardboard heaven and went inside as I ran home, filled with excitement about my newest acquisition.

I am not proud of what I did and will blame my 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. Later that Summer, Ryan moved away and I never got to speak to him again until my last year of Middle School, when he entered as a Freshman.

By that time, Ryan was all grown up and somewhat of a ladies man. Each morning he’d arrive to school on his GT Performer 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. It was an acknowledgement of one collector to another.

One day I arrived to school late from oversleeping and found complete 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 finally came on, I knew something terrible had happened because the school principal was reading the news instead of the media center students.

“It is with a heavy heart that I must inform the student body today that 12-year old Ryan Pazos has passed away”. Counselors were brought in to deal with the kids who needed them, while some were even allowed to go home. All I could think of at that moment, was that 1990 Donruss card I shamefully stole from Ryan as a child. It’s all I have to remember him by today.

You can read the news article on Ryan here.




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