California Man Donates 25K Baseball Cards to Girl, 9, Whose Collection Was Destroyed in Wildfire

After a young baseball player lost not only her home, but also her prized baseball card collection in the Creek Fire, a local man stepped in with a very special gift: 25,000 cards of his own.

In addition to being a diehard San Francisco Giants fan, Reese Osterberg, 9, is also one of the best baseball players in her league, according to CAL FIRE/Fresno County Fire.

“She’s a fierce competitor, and loves baseball. Reese is a natural lefty with a swing as smooth as butter,” the department said in a statement. “Like so many other children, Reese’s 2020 baseball season was canceled by the pandemic.”

Although Reese and her family, along with their livestock, were able to safely evacuate as the Creek Fire encroached upon their Fresno County home last month, they forgot to bring Reese’s most prized possession with them: her baseball card collection.

Less than 72 hours after they made it to safety, their house was destroyed by the fire, taking her 100-card collection, which she’d spent three years building, with it, KNTV reported.

“It’s been really tough because just thinking of the cards I owned brings back memories and stuff,” Reese told KGO-TV.

So in stepped the fire department to arrange a special “Step Up to the Plate” baseball card donation drive for Reese, as well as her friends Emmett and Grayson, who also both lost their homes in the blaze.

Not long after news of the drive was announced, it reached aid baseball collector Kevin Ashford, who estimates he’s amassed about 25,000 cards in the 25 years he’s been collecting.

“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 help of the fire department, Ashford, who lives in San Jose, was able to donate his entire collection to Reese — and was thrilled to report that among the cards was one featuring Giants catcher Buster Posey, who also happens to be Reese’s favorite player.

“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 told KGO.

Though the fire department was the one to make the actual delivery from Ashford to Reese, he said he hopes it brings her joy.

“I would give anything to see the smile on her face when she receives them,” he told KNTV. “I feel really good about making the choice to do this.”