Archive for rookie cards

Sometimes I wish for simplicity

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

When you look at your collection what is it that you see? What makes you proud? What still has you passionate about the hobby? Does the amount of cards or the complexity, or lack of focus, weigh you down?

These are the types of questions I often ask myself.

When I started collecting cards I collected because I enjoyed the idea of acquiring cards. Value wasn’t a big factor. Of course time has changed and I needed a focus, and as you know by now, value — or perceived value, or worth, or whatever you want to call it — most certainly does play a big factor in our hobby these days.

By the time I entered college I realized that I truly loved rookie cards because they were a player’s first card, often their most iconic card, and for better or worse the value of said first cards seemed to rise and fall with performance more than any other a player’s card. And so I determined that I was going to be a rookie card collector.

First it was a rookie card of every baseball player who had one. I actually pulled out a Beckett Almanac and started making a checklist of cards officially designated with the RC or XRC tag.

And then I narrowed it a bit to just Hall of Famer Rookie Cards, but I realized I was missing an entire generation of players who starred on baseball diamonds before Goudey cards were a thing. So I expanded to include t206 or any suitable tobacco or gum card released from HOFers playing days.

For the most part I had accomplished all I set out to do. I do not own a 52 Topps Eddie Matthews because they’ve never been affordable by comparison to what it cost me for other HOFers.

But I do own an authentic rookie or tobacco era cards of just about every other HOF player.

Ruth. Gehrig. Honus. Cobb. Big Train. Mantle. Mays. Aaron. They’re all there in my collection.

For all intents and purposes, my cardboard dreams have come true. I have accomplished what I set out to do — with or without the Eddie Mathews.

But sometimes I sit and wonder what my hobby experience would have been like had I not taken the plunge and sought out rookie cards.

Once I pulled the trigger on the 1951 Bowman Willie Mays in 2006, the seal was broken for me. I was no longer “just collecting cards” I was buying pieces of Americana; I was buying the most iconic baseball cards created. And because I had gone down that route, it seems as though I have spent the last 13 years chasing the fleeting feeling I got when my Mays arrived — and that is an impossible task. Because when the card of your desire arrives via whatever means, it usually creates a situation where you’re instantly looking for the next one that evokes the same emotion. It’s like a drug user constantly looking to match the euphoria they got on the previous hit.

Many people never collected the way I did when I actively chased the HOF rookies. In fact, most people are content with what makes/made them happy regardless of what it is. And in many ways I envy that; I have a great appreciation for those who find the same joy and express such passion in simplicity.

It’s nice to accomplish your goals, but inevitably there is a point where you begin to ask yourself: Now what?

The hunger, the passion that I once had for cards has waned a bit. And I have taken joy in reverting to player collecting. But it does at times feel like I poisoned my own hobby experience. I miss the ability to cherish my pulls, to enjoy cards for what they are and what they represent without constantly measuring them to the HOF collection. While I do not regret the path I have taken; I am not sure where I go from where. I’m not sure there is a suitable answer for the “what’s next” question.

31 of my favorite Clayton Kershaw cards for his 31st birthday

Posted in Collecting Kershaw with tags , , , , , on March 19, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw turns 31 today. Here are 31 of my favorite cards from my collection to celebrate his birthday.

eTopps Kershaw Rookie Card is a thing of beauty

Posted in Collcting Clemens, Collecting Kershaw, Misc. with tags , , , , , , , on March 19, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Way back before Topps started The Living Set, the 150 Years of Baseball set, or any of the other on-demand sets that have been for sale on the company’s site, the company had a thing called eTopps — essentially the precursor to on demand cards.

I’ll admit I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination when it comes to this, due in large part that I really didn’t like the business model for eTopps so I didn’t spend a lot of time learning or dealing with it.

The basic idea was the cards were available for sale on the site for a set price, and were available until sold out or for a limited time. And to my understanding you could keep the cards on the site and trade them like stocks, or you could choose to have them delivered later.

That was way too complicated for me when the company started eTopps in 2001 and by 2008, the year of Kershaw’s rookie cards, I still hadn’t grown to love the idea of paying for single cards directly from the company.

The eTopps model continued for several more years but looks to have stopped just a few years ago, but some of the business model has morphed into what we now know as the on demand market.

The reason this comes to mind today is a recent addition to my collection — the 2008 eTopps Clayton Kershaw Rookie Card, serial numbered to 999 copies and encased in a plastic holder with a holographic sticker to ensure the card has not been removed. The card arrived over the weekend and once in hand it’s easy to see why anyone could have fallen in love with these cards. The question now is whether I leave it in this holder, remove it and put it in something else — due in part to the fact that it looks like the card is upside down based on my preference — or send it to BGS so it can be displayed with my other Kershaw rookies.

As for eTopps cards, This is the third eTopps card that I own, one of which is a Roger Clemens Card designed to look like 1984 Topps — That Card was one of the New were autographed during a special signing session at Topps.

In Memoriam: Don Newcombe (June 14, 1926 – Feb. 19, 2019)

Posted in In Memoriam with tags , , , , , , , on February 19, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

1950 Bowman Don Newcombe Rookie Card.

In Memoriam: Frank Robinson (Aug. 31, 1935 – Feb. 7, 2019)

Posted in In Memoriam, Misc. with tags , , , , , , , on February 7, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

1957 Topps Rookie Card.

Baseball Hall of Fame `Class of 2019′ in rookie cards

Posted in Hall of Fame Rookie Cards with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

For the first time in several years I’ve been excited to see the announcement of the newest class of Cooperstown. I’m not going to dwell on the fact that my guy, Roger Clemens, still didn’t make it — although I appreciate that he is trending upward.

That said, Tuesday afternoon it was announced that Yankees closer Mariano Rivera was the first unanimous selection to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and joining him in the Class of 2019 are pitchers Mike Mussina and Roy Halladay, and designated hitter Edgar Martinez. Those four players were elected by the Baseball Writers of America and join the previously announced closer Lee Smith and Designated Hitter Harold Baines who were elected to the Hall in December by committee vote.

I’m a Red Sox fan and I cannot deny the greatness of Mariano. While I hated seeing him close out games against my team, I appreciated his pure dominance. And he was humble and emotional at the same time. One of my favorite scenes is watching him crumble on the mound after winning one of his first World Series titles. I’m proud to say I own a BGS Mint 9 copy of his 1992 Bowman rookie card. Also, one of my favorite inserts in my collection is his 1997 Bowman Best International Preview Atomic Refractor.

Mussina is one of the guys I pulled for in 1992, a year after his rookie cards actually hit the market I distinctly remember seeing his 1992 Ultra card — that set was super premium quality at the time — selling for $3 to $5 at my LCS, and remember the first time he was on the cover of Beckett Baseball. Moose was filthy, and it was a joy to watch his career. My favorite of his rookie cards is the 1991 Fleer Ultra Update, which I own in a BGS Mint 9. In terms of inserts, his 1996 Pacific Flame Throwers sticks out in my collection.

“Bad Ass.” That’s how I liked to think of Roy Halladay, both in real life and as a fantasy player. This guy was so fun to watch; and in our fantasy league was a source of controversy as there was at least one guy who thought he was overrated. Nope. Not one bit. One of my favorite memories of Halladay is that no-hitter he threw in Game One of the NLDS. This was four days after my son was born, and I remember sitting at home on the couch with him in my arms when the final pitch was thrown. I was genuinely sad when I learned Roy had died in 2017. I was at work driving around when word started to spread. The only graded rookie card I own of Roy is his 1997 Bowman, BGS Mint 9, which holds a special place in my heart because that 1997 set is the first Bowman set I actually built. I do own a few copies of his Bowman Chrome rookie in raw condition, however it is the International version of that Chrome rookie card that I like to think of when it comes to my favorite inserts or parallels in my collection.

I loved watching Edgar Martinez play, especially on those mid to late 1990s Seattle Mariner teams with when he had other hitters around him like Ken Griffey Jr, Alex Rodriguez and Jay Buhner. The DH position is often shunned in baseball circles, but this dude could hit. I really enjoyed his batting stance and watching him make solid contact with the ball. He has two rookie cards, and only one of them actually pictures him. I have several copies of his 1988 Fleer card, which I sadly do not own in a graded case. It’s shown here in a one touch solely for display purposes. I’ll have to add a Mint 9 or better BGS copy at some point — but I will not overpay for one right now. When it comes to inserts, Edgar’s Elite Series card is the one that catches my eye.

Whether or not you believe Lee Smith or Harold Baines belong in the Hall of Fame, fact remains they are in and were good players. I remember Smith being the closer for the Red Sox just as I was really getting into the sport — and he was dominant. Maybe not Dennis Eckersley dominant, but a stud nonetheless. When I think of Harold Baines I do think of a very good hitter. I LOVED his batting stance and often emulated it in Whiffle Ball games in the parking lot of my apartment complex — I got to watch him a lot in the early 1990s when he played in Oakland. I own a 1982 Topps Lee Smith in BGS Mint 9, and a 1981 Topps Harold Baines in a BGS 6 — which is comical, but was a must-buy when I found it for $2 at the LCS. I’ll probably update at some point.

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.