Paul O'Neill 21: Moms and Cleaning Frenzies

JULY, 2011

In the 1970s when five of Paul’s siblings went off to college, our fastidious mother got into a cleaning frenzy. She had warned us about her de-nesting feelings. It was the non-diplomatic approach, get your stuff out of my house or else. True to her warning, many mementos, beat up bell-bottom blue jeans, clogs, polyester disco shirts, pogo sticks, infamous Halloween costumes, 45s records of Beatles songs and especially a thirty gallon trashcan full of baseball cards were thrown into the back of my dad’s Ranchero and never seen again. There were Pete Rose rookie cards, Willie Mays and Jackie Robinson. There were many Topps sets issued for the World Series in particular in the 1960s. Bob Gibson fans 17 in the 1968 World Series. My brother Pat, who had been the main collector and strong-armed, neighborhood card dealer in the 1960s, managed to salvage about a half garbage can full. I agree with him that those discarded cards’ values today would certainly reach into the tens of thousands, if not a hundred thousand. Many of them were in above average or mint condition.

So, we quietly went about our baby boomer business of growing up. None of us talked that much about mom’s frightful frenzy. After all, look what five boys and one girl delivered in ten years could put a woman through. Many, many more annoyances and injustices went from us to her. I thought we carried this slight alone until a relative of mine wrote me the letter below. Where my mom had committed a misdemeanor cleaning frenzy, his mother had definitely committed a felonious scrapping of sacred history.

Check out this letter we recently received from Paul's cousin:

Hi Robert,

I just wanted to thank you for the Ty Cobb article. it reminded me of Mutt and the letter he had Ty send me when I was playing ball in high school. Unfortunately my mother tossed it when I went into the army but I still have the autograph he sent with it.

My dad and I were invited to Cooperstown as Ty's guests for the Hall of Fame game and going to meet your dad and Mutt there. Unfortunately Ty passed away before we could get everyone scheduled but your story brought back some great memories. P.S. My mom threw out 3 mint Mickey Mantle cards too.


Your cousin,
Terry Guilfoyle

You may also be interested in: