A Child Lost Her Beloved Baseball Cards in a Wildfire, So a Stranger Stepped Up to the Plate to Help

A longtime baseball card collector seizes the opportunity to do good after a destructive wildfire.

little girl wearing San Francisco baseball hat and shirt showing off a collection of baseball cards.Courtesy Cal Fire
Reese Osterberg shows off her new collection.

When ten-year-old Reese Osterberg lost her Fresno County, California, home to one of the largest wildfires in state history early last fall, she had a very pressing concern: Did anyone grab her baseball cards?

No one had. With a houseful of kids and dogs and a farm’s worth of horses to evacuate, the family forgot the cards amid the stress. Naturally, the diehard San Francisco Giants fan and Little League lefty with a swing as smooth as butter was upset. When she watched the Giants on TV, she would lay out each player’s card on the floor in his corresponding field position.

“I like baseball cards because they are pictures of people doing happy stuff—­doing what they love, and what I love,” says Reese.

Reese’s loss touched the hearts of the Fresno County fire department, which posted her story on its Facebook page with a plea to help Reese restock her baseball card collection. That, in turn, touched the heart of Kevin Ashford.

Ashford knew exactly where Reese could find replacement cards: in his garage. He had more than 25,000 in his collection, with a ballpark value of $35,000 to $50,000. Ashford had been thinking about selling them when he saw the fire department’s post.

“I wasn’t really doing anything with them,” says Ashford. “I thought I could take care of this problem rather quickly.”

Portrait shot of Kevin AshfordCourtesy NBC Bay Area
Ashford’s cards might have fetched up to $50,000.

First responders transported the cards from Ashford’s garage to theirs and then surprised Reese during a tour of the firehouse. Towers of Ashford’s cards were stacked in front of the fire engine. After thanking Ashford (especially for the Buster Posey, her favorite Giant), Reese, ever the team player, was quick to share the thousands of baseball cards she received from Ashford and donors around the country with other kids affected by California’s Creek Fire.

She’s gotten so many, in fact, that she started Cards from Reese, an organization that collects cards and donates them to those in need. Reese is especially happy to part with Los Angeles Dodgers cards. As she ­explains it: “Go Giants!”


Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest