When the massive Creek Fire hit the Sierra National Forest in California, Reese Osterberg’s Fresno county home was burned to the ground. Thankfully, her family—along with their livestock—have evacuated to safety before the blazes encroached upon their residence last month.
The 9-year-old girl is devastated by the loss of their home, but her grief multiplied when she learned that the wildfire burned her most prized possession: her baseball card collection.
Reese—a diehard San Francisco Giants fan—is one of the best players in her league, according to a Facebook post by the CAL Fire/Fresno Country Fire.
“She’s a fierce competitor, and loves baseball. Reese is a natural lefty with a swing as smooth as butter,” the department wrote. “Like so many other children, Reese’s 2020 baseball season was canceled by the pandemic.”
When Fresno County residents received evacuation warnings in September, the Osterbergs immediately prepared to move out. Reese had asked her dad to bring her baseball card collection, but he forgot to grab it during the frenzy of evacuation.
Less than 72 hours later, the massive fires destroyed their home. Reese’s 100-card collection—which she had compiled over three years—was burned to ashes.
“It’s been really tough because just thinking of the cards I owned brings back memories and stuff,” she told KGO-TV.
Reese’s uncle rushed to a hobby store to purchase a pack of baseball cards and a binder for her and her sister, hoping it would bring the girls comfort.
But the damage has been done. The collection included three Buster Posey cards – Reese’s absolute favorite player.
So, the young athlete wrote a letter to Posey. Part of it said: “…I am writing this letter to you because I lost my favorite card in the Creek Fire. It was your card…”
Reese’s mom, Amy, wasn’t sure how to get the note to Posey or the Giants, so she sent it to a friend working in local law enforcement. That’s when Reese’s story gained national attention.
The CAL Fire/Fresno County Fire posted a plea on their Facebook page asking people to donate whatever cards they have to Reese and her friends. The fire department dubbed it the “Step Up To The Plate” Baseball Card Drive.
When news of the project reached avid baseball collector Kevin Ashford, he knew he had to contribute.
By contributing, he means donating his entire set of 25,000 baseball cards—a collection he’s been compiling for 25 years!
“I got to thinking about it, and I got to thinking about, ‘What do I have out here in the garage?'” he told KNTV. “And I thought, ‘You know what? Rather than sell these on eBay, I’m just gonna donate them. I’m gonna donate them all and put a smile on a little girl’s face.'”
With the fire department’s help, the San Jose resident cleared out his garage and had the authorities take the dozens of boxes containing the cards. Reese will be thrilled to find that the collection includes one card featuring Buster Posey.
“He’s a catcher and I’m a pitcher, so one day I think it would be awesome if I could pitch it to him,” Reese said.
Amy said Reese plans to keep a few cards for herself to restart her collection but wants to share with others who have lost theirs in the fire.
As for Kevin, his only regret about losing his collection is that he won’t get to see Reese’s reaction upon receiving it.
“I would give anything to see the smile on her face when she receives them,” he said. “I feel really good about making the choice to do this.”
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