Hey yo, Apollo

I’ve always wanted to write something about Apollo Creed. The Rocky movie series (some call it a franchise, but I prefer series because it sounds less like a business that way) was dependent upon this character. The first movie told the story of a bum fighter, more of a street thug really, who was chosen by the champion of the world to get a shot at the title. If you accept that that can happen, then the rest of the series just falls into place: Clubber Lang, Ivan Drago, all of it (up until Tommy Gunn, that is).

So when I picked up a couple hundred random baseball cards from the 1980s at a resale shop recently, I started pawing through them, looking for interesting things, when this card turned up. An Apollo Creed card! It was better than any baseball card could ever be.

Yes, Apollo Creed is a movie character, but that’s beside the point. He gave meaning to the Rocky series, which was escapist storytelling at its best for the teen-aged male that I once was. I hated Ivan Drago, but less for being a steroid-using Russian than for being the guy who killed Creed. That whole speech Rocky gave after beating Drago was nice, but avenging Apollo’s death was the real satisfaction for me.

Rocky V is almost like it never existed. Carl Weathers, the actor who played Apollo Creed, wanted a part in the movie, and Stallone said no. So Weathers wouldn’t allow footage from the earlier films to be used in Rocky V. And where there is no Apollo Creed, there is no Rocky series. If I’m the only one who feels that way, so be it.

So an Apollo Creed card, which I didn’t even expect to find, was a rare treat. And not rare meaning valuable, either. I had to convince the people at the resale shop that these cards, all of them, aren’t worth a thing, at least not to me.

There’s still some notion that a little cardboard rectangle with a picture on it can have some monetary value. Great monetary value, even. I can only shake my head and wonder how that ever came to be. The real value in these things is the memories they bring back, and the stories they can lead to. So yes, this is a very valuable card, in that sense. But the people at the resale shop might not agree with me on that.

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