If Paul Bako had to do it over again, he'd save his baseball card collection. Alas, the living baseball history that he had assembled starting from his elementary school days has been lost. But it was fun while it lasted for the Louisiana native. Bako, catching for the Orioles this season -- his ninth team -- recalled his card-carrying days.
MLBPLAYERS.com: When did you first start collection and who did you pursue?
Bako: I was probably 10 years old. I collected up through college. When I signed professionally, I kind of felt since I was going to try to compete with these guys some day, I really didn't want to collect their cards anymore. I felt I should have held onto them. I never looked at the values recently, but I had some good stuff. I had the Ken Griffey Jr. Upper Deck rookie card. I had a Rickey Henderson rookie card. A lot of other stuff that was hot when I was in high school. I rooted for the Red Sox. My dad was a Boston fan. I never traded them. Once I got to know what some of them were worth, I just collected them.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Who is your all-time favorite player?
Bako: I was a big Will Clark fan. Left-handed hitter and Louisiana guy (like Bako). I had tons of Will Clark stuff. I was a Johnny Bench fan, but his stuff was harder to come by when I was collecting than Will's stuff.
MLBPLAYERS.com: When did you first appear on a card?
Bako: It was rookie ball in 1993. I was in Billings, Mont. I was catching. Just a little bit thinner, not much. No complaints about it.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You've been with the Tigers, Astros, Marlins, Braves, Brewers, Cubs, Dodgers and Royals before you came to Baltimore. Do you have a favorite card from any of those stops?
Bako: Maybe the first one. Actually, I was drafted by the Reds. I had a card where I was in the Minor Leagues with the Reds. I like poses where I'm catching. Either/or (batting) is fine.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.