Archive for hobby

The most annoying question in our hobby: How much is this card worth?

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , on August 17, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Raise your hand if your seen this before:

Guy buys into a break or opens a box of cards. Hits something they know is desirable. Then … they hit social media with some variation of the following:

“I just got this badboy. Anyone know how much it’s worth?”

It happens all day, every day, and with more frequency as folks blindly buy into breaks just hoping to pull the next winning lottery ticket. And as such, when someone hits a big card, their immediate thought isn’t that it’s a good addition to their collection. The question is, how much can I sell it for?!

I understand that the current state of our hobby has an emphasis on ripping and flipping, but it’s complete nonsense to see time and time again the question about how much a card will fetch on the secondary market. I seriously question how many collectors there are compared to the number of enthusiasts who are just here playing the shell game, constantly looking to move one big hit for another chance at hobby greatness, ultimately finding themselves on the short end of the stick because nothing will smooth that itch.

Additionally, anyone who is currently in the hobby knows they can find the value of their card, or get a fairly reasonable idea, by going straight to eBay and checking for themselves. The only reason you’re really asking the question on social media is because you’re looking to show off your card. And that’s OK.

So next time you feel the need to ask “How much is this sick hit worth?” first ask yourself why you’re posting that question when it can be answered fairly easily on your own. If you want people to know you pulled the card, don’t pussyfoot around it. Just show the damn thing off.

I could never own a card shop

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , on April 14, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

When I was a little kid, I had the luxury of living directly across the street from a card shop. I could peer out the window of my first-floor apartment and see the moment the shop owner flipped over the “We’re Open” sign. But who am I kidding? My friends and I –we all lived in the same building — often beat the owner there. We were often the first customers, and sometimes the last when we would return in the evening after a day of collecting bottles and cans for more cards.

I had dreams of owning a shop. In fact, I once created little business cards and slipped them under the door of my friend’s apartments. It was silly, but remember, I was 8 and fresh into this hobby. I held this dream through middle school as I had no obvious desire to do anything else.

As I grew older, this dream of course began to fade. And now as an adult — even with the ever-changing landscape of our hobby — I realize the dream was best left as it was — an imperfect heaven that appeased my immature brain.

I give a lot of credit to card shop owners who have had the ability to make a living to support themselves and/or their families in this niche hobby. It’s not like there is this endless pot of gold to which you can continue to return; there are no overtime opportunities to bridge the financial gap during tough times. Card shop owners cease to make money the moment they shut their doors at night, or on a random Tuesday or Thursday as some stores might do.

While the financials might not make sense in my head, the reason I couldn’t own a shop is because of my conscience.

Because when the mother and boy walk in seeking baseball cards, I’d almost rather give the kid some cards to get him started instead of trying a hard sale on some lower-end wax.

Because it would pain me to see a guy spend 90 minutes digging through the quarter boxes and not give him a heads up that someone else spent that same amount of time the day before pulling every card up with upside — the same purpose this newer customer were there.

And because I could not standby and watch a teenager spend his lunch money on packs from a box on the counter which you may already know is void of the single guarantee hit advertised on the box, knowledge you’ve acquired because one of your whale customers decided to open and buy pack by pack from that box until that hit was gone.

It seems to me that it takes a certain amount of selective memory, and a certain shrewdness to make ends meet. And I’m not piling on shop owners, because I understand how difficult these decisions could be at times. I’m merely saying that I know that with my personality it would make it difficult to be a shop owner … and that’s not even addressing how tough it might be to draw the line between collector and retailer.

Month of pack cleansing about to face test with 2019 Topps

Posted in Commentary, Misc. with tags , , , , , , on January 27, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

A lot of people joke they are addicted to sports cards. It’s usually said in a light-hearted manner to really describe their insatiable thirst for cards – their desire to acquire; the urge to constantly move items around to see new things in their collection.

And then there are those who truly have an addiction. Those who can’t go a day without buying something – a pack, a blaster, a spot in a break.

I’m probably somewhere in the middle of the two types described above, although I recognize I do have an addictive personality. And that is why I like to use the month of January as a respite from packs.

It’s a bit easier for me than others as I pretty much collect only baseball.  And for the most part there haven’t been any baseball releases since mid-December. And truthfully, I am not the target audience of those late-year releases – I stopped prospecting years ago, and I really don’t purchase the higher end stuff until the single hit the secondary market.

But right about this time every year – in late January – the hobby discussion begins to turn toward the release of the new Topps flagship set. The 2019 Topps cards are scheduled to be released this upcoming week, but we have already started to see some leak out.

The anticipation for these cards has caused some – including me – to check their retailers to see if the cards had hit retail shelves in their area early. It has happened before.

What’s interesting is that we all know that these cards are not rare. Hell, if you look hard enough you can still find some Series 1 from 2018 sitting at some retailers.  But it’s this urge for the newest items that some – including me – can’t resist at times. We want to be the first to have it in hand. The first to say we found it. We want that attention, that satisfaction that in 2019 – or whatever year – you were the first or among the first folks – to own cards from that year.

More than ever I find myself fighting myself on this notion. As documented here, there have been many changes in my life over the last few years and this has no doubt had an impact on the way I collect for economic reasons – single-income households are tough to maintain. And because I have been in this game for three-plus decades, it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks – or in other word, fight those urges to go out and buy a bunch of the new stuff, when really just a few packs – or no packs at all – will suffice. I mean, when it really comes down to it, I really only collect Roger Clemens and Clayton Kershaw. That’s not to say that other cards can’t have a place in my collection, but it should serve as a reminder that I do no need to clear out a retailer of a product simply because it’s new – and I’d guess I am not the only person in such a position.

The age of social media has made this tough as we are constantly exposed to the new stuff, and are usually hit with images of the good pulls because it is our nature in present times to share everything almost immediately.  And when we see those pulls, we think we could do the same by purchasing a pack, a box, a spot in a break, etc.

When 2019 Topps hits shelves this week and the images start flowing for real on my Twitter feed, I know exactly how I’m going to feel. I’m going to be excited. I’m going to be filled with the thrill of endless possibilities. But it’s important that I temper those urges to buy more than I “need.” What I should do is stay the hell away from retail shelves – those are my weakness — and just buy one hobby box to open it with my son so that we can build a set and experience the newness together.

 

 

 

The hidden shame of collectors

Posted in Project Organize with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Funny story, last week, my ex-wife contacted me via text message and told me about this new show she was watching on Netflix called “Tidying Up.” The premise of the show being that the host had a methodology for de-cluttering one’s home and helping folks reacquaint themselves with their items. My Ex instantly reached out to me because in the second episode, they were dealing with a husband who had amassed a large amount of baseball cards.

Later that same day, my girlfriend – which feels like a silly title, but we’ve been together for almost a year and a half now – told me about the same show. And of course, the same reason she thought of me was because of the second episode, which I shall forever now refer to as the “baseball card episode.”

And so last night, while I was working on Project Organize, I took a break to watch the show. While the episode does not spend a lot of time discussing the baseball card issue, it does give a broad overview of show participant Ron Akiyama’s card collecting habit and storage. Basically, he had collected cards with his two sons for three decades and now he has amassed so many cards that the pile of boxes literally touches the ceiling.

I’m not here to judge Ron. Hell, Ron, if you read this, I thank you for sharing your story.  My family has had the same issues you and your wife dealt with before this show and I know it can be very difficult to admit the issue, let alone tell others (or the world in this case) about it and then let people inside your world to offer suggestions.

I digress, Ron’s passion for cards is one that looks like a familiar story for many of us, especially those of us who grew up or collected during the late 1980s and early 1990s – we owned everything and still own everything, so it’s a ton of shit.

This episode struck home for me because I am in the middle of my own Project Organize. I’ve been trying to determine what makes me happy, or “sparks joy” – to use a phrase from show host Marie Kondo. The idea of course is not to dump everything and quit the hobby, but to really assess what you own, think about why you own it, and determine if you still need or want to own it.

This area has been a sore spot for me because I’ve felt a lot of shame in the amount of stuff that I feel I’ve accumulated, and this idea that I am still participating in a hobby that many think – or thought – was meant for kids. And I’d venture to say there are a lot of others who find themselves in the same spot. What’s important that we understand that it’s perfectly healthy for us to have a hobby — this hobby — and not allow the feelings of guilt surrounding spending and clutter consume our lives to make us feel like we’re living under an adult-size Jenga Tower of boxes, which is how much of Ron’s collection appeared.

In the process of doing Project Organize – which began before I even heard of this show — I’ve found myself being re-acquainted with items I forgot had, and I am truly starting to enjoy this hobby again. And this joy, honestly, is more valuable than any single card I could pull today.

 

 

How long have you been writing this?!

Posted in Misc. with tags , , , , , , , on January 3, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Funny story. Yesterday I wrote a blog post on my laptop while sitting at the kitchen table and my son saunters over after I am done and asks what I’ve been doing.

He recently showed interest in the hobby, so he notices when I am looking at cards, or reading about them. So he wanted to take a look at what I had just done. I let him sit in my chair and have a look. He starts paging down, looking occasionally at the words, but focusing mostly on the pictures of cards.

I explain that this is my blog/web site.

“How long have you been doing this?” he asks as he scans over the fourth page of posts, pointing out some cool images I have posted.

I reply: “Ten years … but I haven’t been writing much in recent years.”

Astonished, he says, “Ten years?!”

And it was at that moment that it really hit me that I have owned this domain and used it for longer than both he and his sister have been alive. I actually started this blog some two months after my ex-wife and I learned that we were having our first child. And next week, that oldest child turns 10.

People often call music the soundtrack to their lives. For me, baseball cards are essentially my timeline.

Cardboard Icons author in video interview about hobby, collection

Posted in Commentary, Misc. with tags , , , , , on August 26, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

Late last week Patrick at Radicards.com hit me up about doing an “on-camera” interview with him about the hobby. I paused initially because for years I was the one asking questions, not the one answering them. And for so long I had this phobia of being in front of the camera. But after some thought I decided to do the interview. And I’m glad I did.

It’s a 30-minute video, edited down from our hour-long discussion,  The audio on my end starts out low but does get better. We touch on my history in the hobby, why I collect what I do, some discussion about the state of our hobby and so forth.  Give it a watch (or listen) at your leisure. It was a lot of fun to do.

And if you’ve never seen Radicards, take an opportunity to check it out.  There are dozens of interviews like mine sitting there waiting to be watched, which is somewhat unique because we don’t often get to see people talking about the hobby other than when they are busting wax.

Thanks for reading (or in this case watching),

Ben, Cardboard Icons.

Reach me via e-mail at cardboardicons@yahoo.com; on Twitter at @cardboardicons, and LIKE the new Cardboard Icons FACEBOOK page

 

Cardboard Icons Turns 8

Posted in Misc. with tags , , , , , on July 3, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

WeaverBagIt all started here eight years ago today with a little post about an iconic 1951 Bowman Phil Rizzuto card. And what has become Cardboard Icons the blog and the opportunities this site have provided for me are things I never could have imagined.

When I started this blog in 2008 I had few connections to other collectors.  The Beckett Message Boards (the old ones, if you remember them) was my favorite way to communicate with other hobbyists. And when the company reformatted its Web site the message boards lost their steam and some collectors went looking for other places to talk shop.

For me, I decided to try my hand at blogging. After all, at the time I wrote for a living and had collected baseball cards for more than two decades (I’m actually coming up on three decades now). I was pretty much as qualified as anyone else to write about the stuff. And so Cardboard Icons the blog and persona were born.

I’ve always maintained that this site is really nothing more than a chronicle of my journey through this hobby. Sure, there were times early on after gaining some readership through connections that bigger ideas started to enter my mind, but many of those never really came to fruition. And honestly, probably for the better. Because what ended up happening was really  far beyond any of those “big” ideas that had entered my mind.

This blog started just about the time Twitter was starting to take off, and so I now had two platforms to share my stories and experiences, especially my passion for not only collecting, but also hunting sports cards and memorabilia through second hand stores, flea markets, etc. To this day the signature feature of this blog is the “Thrift Treasures” series.  The blog in an of itself was doing relatively well by my standards for the first few years. And then in late 2011 I discovered in a thrift store an item that would take the game to a whole new level for me — a 1977 game-used jersey of Hall of Fame Baltimore Orioles Manager Earl Weaver. Such items being found in such fashion are almost unheard of.

The discovery of that jersey ultimately aided in me fulfilling a dream of mine — being published as an author in Beckett Baseball magazine, a publication I had been reading since I was just 8 years old.

My first-hand account of finding the Weaver jersey opened more doors for me. It led to more writing opportunities for the magazine, which led to a trip to the annual National Sports Collectors Convention in Baltimore in 2012 where I got to meet Weaver just months before he died.  This journey was also picked up by Yahoo Sports’ Big League Stew, where author David Brown wrote: “A collector named Ben Aguirre must fancy himself a real, live Indiana Jones of sports memorabilia after recently finding not one, but two game-worn Baltimore Orioles jerseys — including one that used to belong to legendary manager Earl Weaver — at a Bay Area thrift store.”

In the following years I was able to assist in the creation of content for two special baseball magazines through Beckett Media and authored a monthly column for Beckett Baseball for almost two years. The column ended during the summer of 2015. And no, I am not bitter about it. The timing was right.

And so here we are.

By the standards of some of the larger and more popular (and way better, I might add) blogs, my near half-million page views aren’t special. But for a guy who really just started this as an extension of his own journey through the hobby that’s pretty remarkable. And I thank you all for contributing to the success I have enjoyed thus far by your continued reading and viewing of content on this blog.

Thank you,

Ben Aguirre, aka. Cardboard Icons.

In addition to this blog, you can also follow me on Twitter and on Instagram.