Aaron Rowand is one of baseball's most prominent wall-busters. He fears no fence in pursuit of long drives and near-home runs, and has that image depicted on one of his baseball cards.
Long before Rowand began risking his body running into outfield walls, however, he collected cards of those fearless outfielders of another generation. The current free agent talked about his collecting days with MLBPLAYERS.com:
MLBPLAYERS.com: When did you start collecting and who were your favorite players?
Rowand: My first full Topps series was 1985. I collected all the way until 1992 religiously. I probably have 30,000 cards in storage. My dad, Robert, used to get a Topps set for me every Christmas.
I have the Barry Bonds rookie cards. I had all the Ken Griffey Jr. rookie cards except the Upper Deck one. My dad still has a 1980 Fleer full set. I have a 1982 Donruss set with Cal Ripken Jr.'s rookie card. I'm not sure if Tony Gwynn's rookie card is in there, too.
I was always really big in collecting Frank Thomas' cards when he first came up. I have almost every Mark McGwire card ever made. I was big into Wally Joyner cards in 1986, where they first put bowls on the bottom of Topps cards.
MLBPLAYERS.com: What do you want to do with such a large collection?
Rowand: I'm sure I'll go through them and break them down at some time. Probably when my son gets a little older, I'll pass them down.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Where did you first appear on a card?
Rowand: I started out in long-season A ball, in Hickory, N.C. -- the Hickory Crawdads. The first card I had was in 1998. I was rounding second base going for third on a triple.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Do you have any cards depicting you crashing into a wall?
Rowand: One. It was an '02 card, maybe Fleer. It was at U.S. Cellular Field in left-center. Danny Wright was throwing against the Devil Rays. He had a no-hitter going with two outs in the seventh. Randy Winn hit the ball, and I ran full speed into the wall, caught it and I separated my shoulder. But Danny still had the no-hitter going. I got to watch the top of the eighth in the trainer's room and he gave up the first hit.
MLBPLAYERS.com: What's your favorite all-time big-league card?
Rowand: I have some (2005) World Series cards with the Sox. The best might be a Fleer card. It's a home run I hit off Mark Mulder in Oakland. It's the finish of the swing that they caught.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.