Monday, March 18, 2013

Cards are Cool: Or, Why I Went Eric Cartman on Topps...

and embraced the hobby.

I've been thinking about this over the past few weeks in the wake of angst over Heritage and Topps's announcement today it wants to market to kids or some such. So, while I avoid grading, a quick two cents.

When I was a kid I was mostly a set collector. I had several player collections (Gooden, Bo Jackson, Fred McGriff) but that was about it. I'd get caught up in crazy RC stupidity from time to time like everyone else, but for the most part those were my interests.

Things got complicated when the number of sets grew geometrically. In 1987, for example, I had access to Topps, some Donruss, and NO Fleer. My world was limited, I paid too much for Goodens at the occasional show my parents would take me to, salivate over the Bo Jacksons, and that was that.

In 1988 I had access to EVERYTHING, Score showed up, and like most kids went wild and bought metric TONS of what in 2013 is garbage. Whatever, those were 50 cent packs, and chasing 4 sets allowed for weird, inter-set trading.

Then 1989 happened, with the birth of UD, the $1 pack (in my neck of the woods often much, much more), the Griffey, and Murphy reverse negative, the Jerome Walton, Jim Abbot, etc., and things changed. A LOT. This was a set that, by definition, I couldn't collect. I could hope for the players I collected, but that was it. I made do....

Until the next year, when Topps fired back with Stadium Club, and others followed suit.  A vortex of spiraling costs, the impossibility of even getting my favorite players, and girls effectively blunted my collecting in earnest. The 1994 strike buried it.

About 8 years later I found ebay and started to collect again little by little. Never having gotten too many autos as a kid, I relished the opportunity to buy certified autos. 2002 Heritage came out and I was back in. Only three years went by and then I wasn't. Even competing the 2002 set wasn't economically feasible for me, but I understand why those with the income would go after it. So I was discouraged again. Remember, since I was a kid I've always been primarily focused on sets.

2009 found me living next to a guy who collected in a way I'd never heard of or considered. Condition? Whatever. New sets? Almost strictly vintage. Graded? Who cares.

I started reading blogs and started one of my own. I ONLY work on vintage sets and ONLY collect players I follow. To quote Cartman, "I do what I want." I feel strongly that others should do likewise. It's all good.

In short, I keep the hobby fun for me and pay little to no attention to Topps, the monopoly, or the BS about attracting kids. The corporate side of the hobby abandoned kids 20 years ago. I grab trade bait now and again to flip to friends I've made through the blog, and it's cool to be in touch with people from all over with similar interests. I collect with my means, and if that means not reaching my goals (the first 2013 EJ plate sold for over $20!!!) so be it. Fun is the goal, and not much else.

And as for fun, at spring training I was standing next to a kid and his mom at the fence getting autos. I was able to give them cards of every player that walked by. I even broke up my 2012 Durham Bulls team set to give them a card of a player whose kid attends the same preschool as the little guy in question.

And I'll say this: seeing a little person light up when he/she recognizes his/her hero on a little piece of cardboard, THAT is fun and it costs next to nothing.


  1. Right on, brother! Preach it from the top of a mountain made of 1987 Topps!

    Collecting for me is much more enjoyable when I do what I want, and not listen to the fads. Not that I ever have, as I tend to collect sets a few to 20 years after they've been out. Save for this year's 2013 Topps release.

  2. That was cool of you to hook up the kid with cards. I love handing out cards to my students and watching them get all excited. As for your philosophy of collecting what you want & having fun... is there any other way? If there is... I don't want to know.