ST MICHAEL, Minn. — Our passions can open the doors of opportunity.
Mario Olson found his passion in baseball at an early age.
"1980, at the Met Stadium doubleheader with my mom, an 8-year-old boy with his shirt off is probably my deepest memory," Olson said. "One thing I like about baseball is just the uniqueness of each stadium."
He loves the game so much, he turned the garage of his St. Michael home into a baseball shrine, featuring several jerseys of his favorite player Kirby Puckett.
"I met Pete Rose in Vegas one time and he debated me on why he wasn't in the Hall of Fame and Puckett was, and I just had to challenge him and say he's got two rings," Olson said.
When the world shut down two years ago due to COVID-19, Olson needed a positive outlet.
"At that time, I was starting to really purge the house and go through a lot of things, and ran across 30-40 years worth of baseball cards," Olson said. "Not really worth money, but of value to my heart."
He found a fresh canvas and an opportunity for some creative therapy, in the form of art.
"I started to glue them on poster board, 66 cards at a time."
Olson brought the card collection to life, and 9,500 cards now line the ceiling in his garage.
"I probably put in about 80 hours overall, which was a good project for me for a year during COVID," Olson said.
Olson's wife Rhonda supported his artistic expression, and it's now one of the best gifts he's given his daughters.
"They think my collection is a little bit more than they knew of their dad," Olson said. "It's hard to tell them that we need to have habits in moderation when you have 9,500 cards on your ceiling."
This habit provided an opportunity to shift the perspective to simpler times, to learn a valuable life lesson.
"Follow your passions, whether you're 10, 30 or 50," Olson said. "Just enjoy it."
There is more space on the ceiling for more cards, but Olson said he’s done for now. While he has no plans of moving anytime soon, he says he hopes the next owner appreciates baseball like he does and keeps the ceiling intact.
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