Archive for January, 2013

What I’ve Learned, Part Two

I didn’t slow down much at all really. My addiction to baseball cards went into full-blown relapse. It started out with two or three Bowman Chrome packs shortly after my birthday. I really liked the way the card looked, and the quality was outstanding, compared to the old ’80’s packs I was used to opening.

2012 Bowman #6 Matt Garza

2012 Bowman #6 Matt Garza

 

I admit, I had to look up some players I hadn’t heard of, definitely looked up what others had or were looking for from the set to sell or trade, and by then I was hooked again. Every few extra bucks went into a pile and I discovered the blaster box – 8 packs, 50 cards or so, for $20.

Gypsy Queen blasters were particularly attractive to me, so after I built up enough of a Bowman collection to trade a few and finish out the whole set (want to know my favorite thing? No 800 card sets to try to build!), I moved on to Gypsy Queen. Pulled my first-ever memorabilia card, a Justin Upton jersey patch. Had a few Bowman prospect autos to go with it into the cool pile too.

2012 Gypsy Queen #264 Ernie Banks

2012 Gypsy Queen #264 Ernie Banks

Then, summer came, cash flow slowed down a bit, and I kind of went on pause. The kids and I still stopped in the local card shop, went to the American Legion shows and had some hot dogs, and spent a lot of time at Victory Field with the Indians. I did a lot of trading through the mail, and pretty much finished up those sets. You should know, I still need some for each of those sets, so if you’ve got some, let me know.

But then July came. My lovely wife went to Guatemala for 28 days. The kids went to stay with their grandparents for 28 days. I was home alone. With a bunch of baseball cards, and “extra” money from the food they weren’t eating and car sitting parked and babysitter we didn’t need. And Allen and Ginter came out, then Bowman Platinum.

Between the two, I bought 5 hobby boxes, so yes, I got in trouble for the money I spent. But I had a blast. I love these two sets, and I can’t wait until July to get some 2013’s.

I love Allen & Ginter’s oddball subsets and weirdness. I loved the look of Bowman Platinum, and I pulled a lot of cool stuff – die-cuts, autos, serial numbered cards, patches, and players I like.

2012 Topps Allen And Ginter Mini Musical Masters #MM6 Johannes Brahms

2012 Topps Allen And Ginter Mini Musical Masters #MM6 Johannes Brahms – He was a pansy!

2012 Bowman Platinum Relic Autographs #SM Starling Marte

2012 Bowman Platinum Relic Autographs #SM Starling Marte

And after the dust settled, and the apologies and repayments to the family budget were made, I realized my most important lesson had occurred.

Specialization. I needed to sort out what I liked and what I would go after with my money. If you can’t guess, my plan in 2013 is to sit on my hands (and cash) until July. My goal is to save up enough spare change to buy a case of Allen & Ginter (released on 7/15/13), and hopefully two weeks later to have some money left for several boxes of Bowman Platinum (released 7/31/13).

My personal collection now includes Cubs cards, and Pirates prospects (guys we will probably see play in Indianapolis soon – like Jameson Taillon, and as much as I like them, I hope Gerrit Cole and Starling Marte spend some time in Indy this spring before they go up to Pittsburgh). I like set-building, so I’m still finishing up most 2012 sets by trading and buying an odd pack here or there, and I’m planning to build A&G and Bowman Platinum in 2013 with my big purchases.

As far as players go, I am slimming down my Pete Rose collection (I don’t really need 32 copies of his 1988 card, so hopefully someone needs between 1 and 31 of mine). I am building my Nolan Ryan collection, which is a lot of fun to do with the boys. We’re also way into collecting Starling Marte. Lance has a 1/1 that I gave him this summer after he did some pretty amazing days in a row of being a great kid, and I’m usually bidding on eBay for his stuff if it isn’t stupidly expensive. We almost have the “rainbow” – all the parallels – of him in 2012 Bowman Platinum, I think the only ones left have low serial numbers (/25 and down). I’m sure there will be some other Indianapolis Indians we like this summer, and we’ll have to add them. I can’t decide on some players, whether to keep them or try to unload what I’ve got. I had quite a few Kirby Puckett cards, and some players I’m not as enamored with as I was back in 1991 or so – guys like Canseco, McGwire, Clemens, etc.

Trimming down the collection is tougher than I thought. First, very few collectors still need the cards I’ve got. I did sell an ’88 Topps Bo Jackson on eBay this summer and I about passed out. I sent the buyer 3 of them just to get them out of the house. I found a guy who had just decided to collect Don Mattingly and unloaded a lot of cards. Other than that, I’ve got a lot of the same cards a lot of other people have a lot of. Besides that obstacle, some are just hard to let go. I’ve backed out of more than one deal just because my poor heart couldn’t take it. There are several I went through with and kicked myself for three days after. On the upside, I can’t remember what those were now, so I made the right call letting them go. So the word for 2013 is “picky”. I’m focusing on cards and players I like, and/or the boys like, and not allowing much else into my house. We’ll see how well it works, since Gypsy Queen is only about 10 weeks away now, and Bowman Chrome comes right after my birthday. If I can make it through May, I’ll be ok!

The thing I didn’t think I would do is actually the foundation of my plan, which is buying singles (mostly online) of players I want. At least I haven’t caved to grading yet. That’s another post though.

What I’ve Learned, Part One

2012 was my accidental return to the baseball card hobby. A combination of several things, including having too much time on my hands, the real and present danger that Mom really would finally throw them out, my oldest child getting to be about the age I was when I got my first cards, and some sudden spark of interest that struck me for some reason.

Somewhere in the middle of all that was the realization that 12 year old me was a fool, and 35 year old me had to take a big breath and acknowledge that the pieces of paper I had loved so much were not the gold mine I had planned for them to be. There would be no paying off college loans or mortgages or even full tanks of gasoline.

11 year old Jim might have wrestled a grown man to get this. Luckily, I’m pretty sure he only paid $1 for it. Still.

So what I learned was to quickly decide what I did, and do, like about the cards, and the hobby in general. There were a lot of smaller lessons under that though. First, and most surprising to me was the Topps logo on basically every product. Fleer had always seemed so interesting and exotic to me. I will always have a special love for 1988 Fleer, because when Walgreen’s got a box of them in, it was gone the next day, or the day after. Mom made several special trips to Walgreen’s after school because word in the gym was they had some in. Without realizing it, I just about collected a whole set. Of course, if they didn’t have them, we had come all that way – all five minutes across town – so no point in not getting cards from Donruss or Score (also gone) or especially Topps.

It must have happened much more frequently than I remember, because I’ve got somewhere approaching 10,000 cards from that year alone. If memory serves, a guy got 15 cards in a pack from any of those sets. Which means, I got about 650 packs of cards that year. Figure my brother got about the same. Then there are the singles bought and traded for, the complete factory sets for my birthday and Christmas, and a few miscellaneous things acquired here and there. It makes a man wish he had eaten his vegetables, or kept the room picked up at all. Mom and Dad spent about $1,000 that year on baseball cards, and can certainly never be repaid for the amount of whining, begging, and fighting they caused.

So, the giant “these aren’t worth any money” pill was a bit tough to swallow. I am blessed with children who really do not ask for much, financially speaking. Every few weeks, there will be a suggestion we cruise through the dollar store and blow some cash on toys, but outside of that, even birthday and Christmas lists are pretty modest. Therefore, every memory of me demanding a trip to the card shop (or Walgreen’s) to get some cards, and every recollection of insisting we drive an hour to the card show next month, stings a little bit deeper than just a lousy return on investment.

Maybe I hate this hobby, I thought. Why keep 40,000 little reminders that Pete Rose broke my heart and the Cubs were always pretty lousy, and I was pretty much a spoiled punk? Not to mention the evidence that my ’83 Donruss Wade Boggs I traded for an ’85 Topps Eric Davis was about the worst deal I made prior to age 30, and unwrapping my ’86 Topps Traded Tiffany set was a bad move?

Because it’s fun.

It amuses me greatly. I love remembering that I basically spent an entire summer sorting cards while the VCR played Major League for background noise, and that was only interrupted by Mom’s occasional insistence that we go into town with her, which led to me checking some baseball books out from the library (and probably prying a few bucks out of her for cards). By the way, I still prefer the edited-for-TV version of Major League. “You may run like Mays, but you hit like his sister,” is much funnier to me than what the script said.

Anyway, 20 years changed me a lot, apparently. I had to get over the money thing, which actually wasn’t difficult. Spreading out all over the floor with cards all around me was tons of fun, and this time, the kids were with me. Of course, they didn’t care at all when I went “Wow” at every Gregg Jeffries card I pulled out. They did like to see the Nolan Ryan cards I collected, but it helps that they know a kid named Nolan.

I quickly realized I needed proper, grown-up type storage, so I found a card shop and loaded up the kids and went. I had a blast, the kids got some cards out of the deal, and I was back. It was pretty fun buying a pack of 1989 Donruss cards for the boys, and they cost less now than they did then. Pretty sure they were glad to hand them over. I, of course, had to get caught up on what people collect now, and there was plenty. Probably too much. As much as I may have felt a little shame and guilt at the number of cards I got when I was 11, it didn’t slow me down a whole lot when I was 35.

The blog is here.

I’ve finally claimed a tiny obscure corner of the internet to show off my baseball card collection and just do my collector nerd thing.

Besides just showing off what I have, I’m hoping to do some trading, which I mostly do through SportsCardForum.com. I also try to get to the monthly card show at the Fishers American Legion, and can be found from time to time at Baseball Card Exchange, the most fun card shop I’ve ever been to.

Additionally, my wife would love it if you took some of these cards out of her house, so if you see something you just have to have, let me know! To make it easy, I’ll have an “Available” tag for stuff that is … available. Following? And all the cards that are mine will have a “PC” tag.

For example, and to start the thing off right, I have 83 of this 1992 Score Procter & Gamble Fred McGriff card you see here. If you want one, please let me know. I’d gladly send you one.

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Hope you enjoy the collection, offer me lots of money for 1990 Fleer duplicates and such, and have fun.

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