BOYD, Minn. (WCCO) — It seems fitting that one the biggest post card collectors in Minnesota lives in one of the smallest towns in Minnesota.

Fred Eckhardt hails from Boyd and his postcards help him keep the good old days alive. He’s been collecting for 40 years.

“We’d drag Main Street on Friday and Saturday nights. Sunday nights, big time,” Eckhardt said.

And maybe those memories are why Fred is so focused on collecting post cards featuring Minnesota main streets.

“History — I love history. And we are saving history by saving these so people don’t throw them away,” Eckhardt said.

Eckhardt is on a quest to get a card from every town in Minnesota and South Dakota- that means stops at garage sales during his cross-country trips. It was during one of those stops at an Illinois farm nearly 30 years ago, that he found something unusual.

“And then I saw these two cards. I don’t know anything about baseball cards. I asked the lady at the farm- how much? She said $5. I said, I’ll take a chance,” said Eckhardt said.

The cards were dated “1914.”

One had Jimmy Archer of the Chicago Cubs on it. The other had the legendary Shoeless Joe Jackson — famous for his alleged role in throwing the 1919 World Series. Not knowing their worth, he sat on the cards for decades.

“I was at a post card show and one guy offered me $25. That was it,” Eckhardt said.

Even the most knowledgeable card dealers were stumped, so Eckhardt turned to an online auctioneer who put them up for sale. What happened next was far more thrilling than dragging Main Street.

Pulling Shoeless Jo out of a shoebox, along with Jimmy Archer for the low cost of $5, proved to be a home run. The auctioneer sold the “baseball post cards” for more than $2,200. Not bad for a $5 purchase.

“I was surprised, yes. Quite surprised,” said Eckhardt.

The money went towards feeding Eckhardt’s old habit, and the story gives him a chance to recite an old saying.

“One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. You never know what you’re going to find in a pile of junk,” said Eckhardt.

John Lauritsen

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