This was really hard to choose which direction to go in. To pick 1 item and label it as a centerpiece proved to be much more difficult than I had anticipated. I hope Gellman won't be to ticked if I go in a slightly different direction.
Instead of centerpiece, I'm going to go with "anchors" or foundation pillars of my collection.
Any foundation has 4 corner stones, for my collection those would be the following;
#1 1975 Topps George Brett RC
This was the first card I fell in love with and the first star rookie card I ever owned. I acquired it in a lot purchased at a garage sale in 1978 when I was 8 years old. It was also the only card I had regretselling in 1993 to help fund a summer of traveling with the Grateful Dead. So when I re-entered the Hobby in late 2000 what do you think was one of the first cards I reacquired?
#2 1982 Topps Cal Ripken Jr. RC
When I began to formulate my collection I realized that Cal Ripken was by far my favorite active player at the time. It was only natural that a high grade copy of his first RC make it into my collection.
#3 1968 Topps Nolan Ryan RC
As a kid even before I started collecting, I loved Nolan Ryan. His intimidating fastball and a pitching style that caused even the most feared hitters in the game to think twice before digging in at the plate. Even if you were fortunate to hit him, you never looked at him because if you did, your next at bat would be high and tight at your ear. That was REAL baseball. As I developed my second player collection (Ripken being the first) I dreamed of owning this card. A few years ago, I said F@#& it and bought one to the chagrin of my wife. Hey, sometimes it's easier to apologize than ask permission.
#4 2001 UD Centennial Cal Ripken, Jr. Jersey
When I re-entered the hobby, this was the very first memorabilia card I pulled. It must have been fate because as a Ripken guy, I was back in hook, line and sinker as they say.
After writing this, if you held a gun to my head and made me choose, it would be the '75 Brett, for nothing more than sentimental value and the feelings I get when I see that card to this day.