in my short time posting on this blog, i have already shown my favorite card (1978 opc/topps steve garvey) and what is probably the centerpiece of my garvey collection (2001 leaf certified jersey number patch 6/6). now i want to write about the card that may just be the most important to me. it’s a 1966 topps jim lefebvre.lefebvre was an infielder for the dodgers in the late 60s and early 70s. the national league’s rookie of the year in 1965, “frenchy” had his best season in 1966 with career highs in almost every category. he was part of the dodgers’ switch hitting infield, along with maury wills, wes parker and jim gilliam, and like many of his teammates, he appeared on various television shows, including batman, gilligan’s island and mash. after being released following the 1972 season, he played in japan before returning to coach and eventually manage several teams in the majors. most recently, lefebvre managed china’s olympic team in 2008.
it was in 1980 when i first learned about lefebvre. at that point, i collected current year topps by buying what would have been retail packs, trading with my neighbors and buying singles at the local card and comic shop. anyway, i noticed when we would play catch that my dad used a rawlings jim lefebvre model glove. i asked him about lefebvre, and while i don’t really remember what my dad said, i got the impression that he was my dad’s favorite player. i asked my dad what lefebvre’s rookie year was and that was that. the next time i went to the shop, i asked to look through the 1966 singles. i figured he wouldn’t have a 1965 card since he hadn’t played in the majors, so i didn’t know about lefebvre’s actual rookie card. about two-thirds of the way through the box, i found the lefebvre. i bought it and gave it to my dad for father’s day.
almost immediately after that, my dad took an interest in the hobby. he began collecting lefebvre and other players and teams. he started to help me put together sets by buying boxes (boxes!) of wax. we would open the packs together and sort the cards as we went, winding up with a need list and a stack of doubles that could go to my dodger team set or individual player collections. we did this a few times a year, every year. we started going to the annual conventions in orange county (a 3 hour drive each way). i could give him my want list at christmas or my birthday, and he knew what it all meant. of course, we did other things together – the two of us and as a family – but card collecting with him was special. it was awesome to have him involved in this endeavor with me, and i like to think that it was all because i gave him a card of his own.
i should point out that the 1966 topps jim lefebvre card in my collection is not the same one i gave to my dad. he still has it, with his other cards, and i’m in no hurry to get it back.