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07/22/08 11:50 AM ET

Francouer: Collecting hometown heroes

Braves outfielder coveted Atlanta stars as a youth

Jeff Francoeur, a star with the Atlanta Braves who grew up in the Atlanta area rooting for the club, recently took some time to recall a childhood collecting baseball cards of some of his favorite players.

MLBPLAYERS.com: Who did you collect when you were younger?

Francoeur: My brother, B.J., who was four years older, got better cards than I did because he was older and got first pick. But we'd go about once or twice a month to card shops around Atlanta, and we'd buy $10 or $15 worth of packs. We'd open up everything, and if we had some good ones, we'd think about trades.

I got six boxes full at my house. Hopefully, I'll pass them down to my kids. When I was younger, Ken Griffey Jr. was huge. We'd go after Barry Bonds. But we'd try to get older ones, too. We used to love the Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan cards. I had "Murph" [Dale Murphy], "Knucksie" [Phil Niekro], Bob Horner cards. I have Tom Glavine and John Smoltz. I've got to get those signed.

I do have a Hank Aaron card, and I do have that signed. I got it when I was younger. My dad had a Ty Cobb rookie card. He got it when he was younger.

I miss the whole idea of shops just being card shops. Now they're all kinds of collectibles. But back then, you could wheel and deal.

MLBPLAYERS.com: Where did you first appear on a card?

Francoeur: When you were 8 or 9, you had Little League cards, and they'd put your favorite food or favorite color on the back. For me, it was cool when I was 18, after I signed, getting your first pro card after you collected. It was a surreal moment for me.

The first photo I took for a card was in Princeton, West Virginia. I remember going out on the field early to take the photo. I was playing for the Danville (Va.) Braves. It just said "Braves" on the uniform. I looked about 5.

MLBPLAYERS.com: What is your favorite Major League card?

Francoeur: There's a cool picture of me in a red home uni on a Sunday. I remember a full dive, and I caught it. It got me with the ball in the glove.

-- Red Line Editorial

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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