This Decade in Baseball Card Collecting

The card that brought me back ...

It’s been a crazy decade to say the least. I’ve gone from a struggling lowly college student spending all of his money on cards from three sports, to a husband and father who enjoys buying only baseball cards. But the journey to where I am today has been a fun one. Here is a quick recap of the last decade in sports card collecting.

2000: Sold basketball card collection, which at the time contained two of the hottest cards on the market: Topps Chrome Rookie Refractors of Tim Duncan and Vince Carter, both graded Mint 9. Truth be told, the collection was pretty wack aside from those two cards. There were a ton of star cards and lower-end rookies, but nothing really to brag about. Reflecting on things, both the Duncan and Carter cards could gave garnered Gem Mint grades had I resubmitted them. Bummer, I know.

2001: Had the pull of a lifetime, 2001 UD Hall of Famers Walter Johnson Cut Autograph /5. I’ve told the story before, but the card came from packs purchased at 7-Eleven in San Jose, California. A few months later I sold the card for what I believe is still the most the card has ever sold for, $3,605. The sale was documented in Beckett.  Unfortunately, I failed to retain a scan of the card; the hardrive the image is on is no longer in my possession. Trust me, it was a beauty.

Other big pulls from that year: 2001 UD HOFers jersey of Joe DiMaggio AND 2001 SP Legendary Cuts bat card of Mickey Mantle.

2002: Still riding the momentum of the Walter Johnson pull, I managed to snag a 2002 Topps Heritage auto-relic of Willie Mays, serial numbered 01/25.  Again, another retail pull. I purchased the remaining 18 packs in a box at a different 7-Eleven (Cupertino, California) in an effort to work on the Heritage set. Toward the end of the pack ripping session, the Mays “brick” fell out of the middle. I was floored and the card remained in my possession until 2004, when I sold it for a better looking Mays autograph.

Also during this year, I pulled a Mark McGwire jersey card while living in Salem, Oregon,  a card that I immediately sold and paid for my first trip to Las Vegas with some college buddies. Good times.

2003: Despite my attempt to have massive pack pulls three years in a row, 2003 proved to leave with nothing of note. Actually, this was the year that I bought the least amount of cards because I had graduated from college and really had no income source. I purchased a few packs here and there, but pulled nothing of note.

2004: At some point in 2004, I realized that even though I had ditched basketball cards, my collection was continuing to grow at a rapid pace, one that I was not able to comprehend. And to make matters worse, much of what I had acquired was stuff that I really didn’t enjoy.  That’s when I decided to drop football, which to me felt like a big money pit. I had amassed a pretty decent collection of rookies, including those of Walter Payton, Jerry Rice and Joe Montana. But along with them were dozens of rookie card of supposedly up-and-comers like Robert Edwards, David Boston, Akili Smith, etc. Quite frankly, I enjoyed watching football, but collecting the cards just wasn’t cutting it for me, so I sold everything, save for maybe two dozen cards I felt I couldn’t part with, including my Montana rookie.

2005: The biggest purchase I made in 2005 was singles I bought from a friend who had an on-again, off-again relationship with baseball cards. He always had all the luck, and wouldn’t you know it, he managed to pull autographed rookie cards (which to me at the time were still amazing) of some of the hottest up and comers, Justin Verlander (2005 SP Authentic) and Ryan Zimmerman (2005 Bowman Chrome Blue Refractor). I had steered clear away from packs during this year, due in large part to the fact that my wife and I were getting married.

2006: I kind of returned to the hobby late in 2006 after taking about 10-12 months off from buying anything. It was an odd return. My first purchase: A blaster of 2006 Bowman Draft Picks from Wal-Mart. I remember buying the box and thinking, “What the hell am I going to do with these?” Then about half way through the box, I managed to pull a blue shiny refractor of some kid named Travis Snider. I immediately went to eBay to judge how good the kid was … yeah, he was thought to be pretty good. That pull led me to buy several more Blasters, and my luck continued less than a week later when I unearthed a Clayton Kershaw auto refractor. Both cards remain in my collection.

2007: This was a bad, bad year in baseball cards in my opinion — and it was my 20th year of collecting. I bought WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY too much of that god awful Topps base set (ugliest in recent memory), too many boxes of Allen & Ginter, and too much of Bowman Draft Picks. What did I end up with? Two sets of A&G, a ton of Topps commons, a crap load of inserts, and a few hundred prospect cards. I did manage to pull this Jay Bruce Magenta press plate out of BDP though. I thought I had struck gold at the time. Yeah, not so much. Regardless the Magenta plate remains in my collection and I have since purchased the Cyan plate. I saw the Black version on eBay but the seller wanted way too much for it. Too bad.

Also of note, I attended my first card show in like 10 years  and it had an interesting affect on me — I decided that my collection was missing some real corner stones. I subsequently went on a selling and buying spree on eBay and wound up some cards I had always wanted: rookies of Nolan Ryan, Willie Mays, Reggie Jackson, Jackie Robinson, Roger Maris and Hank Aaron. Also got my first vintage Mickey Mantle, 1953 Bowman Color, and a copy of one of the most iconic baseball cards to date: 1952 Topps Andy Pafko, Card No. 1

2008: This year continued where I left off in 2007. While there were some dumb purchases, both in singles and boxes of cards, this was the year I added some REAL vintage to my collection, most notably 1909-1911 T206s of Christy Mathewson and Nap LaJoie, and a 1933 Goudey Lou Gehrig rookie. Other notable rookies purchased: 1963 Topps Pete Rose, 1954 Topps Ernie Banks and 1973 Topps Mike Schmidt.

Also during this year I started this blog, mainly as a way to appreciate my cards and to document why certain cards are in my collection.

2009: In some ways, this has been a rather calm year in collecting. I’ve still made some foolish purchases, but there have been some awesome additions, most notably my Roberto Clemente rookie.

The Future: As we enter a new decade, I look to enter a new phase in my collecting, I like to think of it as less junk. My garage is cluttered, my daughter is growing and I simply do not have the space for much of my cards. The solution: Buy less, sell more.

I can’t promise to never buy another pack again — although I do have a running clock on the front page of this blog documenting the time since my last pack — but I can try to keep it at a minimum. The result likely will mean less set collecting, which is fine because all those turn out to be are money pits that I do not enjoy.

One Response to “This Decade in Baseball Card Collecting”

  1. Looks like I need to start hitting up all of the 7-11’s in the Bay Area… Amazingly, I have lived here for over 30 years and I’ve never bought a pack from one.

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