Blog Bat Around – Which Came First, the Game or the Card?

For as long as anyone can remember, baseball cards have been around for over a hundred years as have the game of baseball itself. For me as a collector of baseball cards as well as a fan of the game, I am not sure which one I became interested in first. I remember in elementary school when I collected a few baseball cards, but I never really watched the game. I became more interested in watching games later in middle school and beyond, but for some reason, I wasn’t really interested in the cards. So how did I get to the point where I am now?

In the 5th grade, a classmate gave me an autographed Willie Mays baseball because her mom worked with him. It was my first introduction to baseball memorabilia and it’s probably my most valuable piece in terms of sentimental value. Over the years, I collected a few cards here and there, but I was more interested in watching the Giants and cheering for them even though they were pretty horrible in the late 90s. And still, I’m not quite exactly sure what got me into collecting, whether it was the game itself or collecting, but at least I can pinpoint what type of collector I can identify with.

First and foremost, I clearly identify myself as a player collector first. This is evident in the content of my entries as they all somehow surround Tim Lincecum. Secondly, I collect San Francisco Giants cards, but I’m not so much into team collecting because of all the variety of cards from different manufacturers and products and collecting them all would be near impossible (but maybe that’s why it’s so fun). In fact, all the packages that I’ve received of other Giants cards are sitting in three cardboard boxes on my desk unorganized because I still haven’t decided how to organize them yet. Some are in sleeves, some are in toploaders, some are mint and others are bent. If you know me, I am one of the most obsessive-compulsive people out there when it comes to the condition of cards (amongst other things) so I really hate to organize imperfect cards with mint ones. So that is one of the reasons I collect one player. It is easier to organize: everything is in a penny sleeve, toploader and organized by year, manufacturer, product, parallel, etc. The main reason I collect one player is because I am a fan of the game and his skill. It’s kind of like playing fantasy baseball. When you play fantasy, those players that you draft become your “guys.” You cheer for them and root for them to do well. That’s kind of how it is with collecting one player for me. It makes you want to watch every one of their games and wish them well. So in terms of collecting Tim Lincecum, I watched his games and how dominant he was, then started collecting his cards.

On another topic of collecting, I also love following one team, the Giants, but I don’t necessarily collecting every single player or card from that team. As I said, it’s just too much to handle. But I would love to collect historical cards of mementos from team history. If I had a chance to have a Mays card or Bobby Thomson card, I would go for it just because of their significance to the franchise. In fact, I have been looking for vintage Thomson and Fred Merkle cards.

When it comes to challenges that I face as a player collector, the biggest is without a doubt the price. Especially when your player does well (which you want), but when they do, the price of their cards skyrocket as is evident with Timmy winning the Cy Young. On that note, cards in general are ridiculously expensive. I’m not sure how the industry can sustain itself with such a high price on its products. I can understand vintage cards or relics, but boxes for $70?? How will the next generation become interested in cards if prices are so high. Want to sell more cards? Regular releases with high numbers of base cards should be no more than $40-50. High end products will be $70-90. What else can manufacturers do to ensure my happiness? I’ve said it before and I’ve said it a thousand times. Stop making stupid parallels. I can understand the refractor, x-factor, blue, gold, orange, red, superfractor of the bowman chrome series. I really can. Why? Because they actually look nice and are shiny and you know how collectors get when they see shiny things! But when it comes to those awful parallels from Baseball Heroes or Masterpieces? Seriously, no. (Okay, at least Masterpieces has colored frames, but I can’t think of another example right now that has dumb parallels of a billion different colors). It’s annoying to collect and it’s the same card! While you are at it, stop with the mini parallels for Allen & Ginter. For collectors who are trying to collect the mini set, it’s so difficult. Not only do you have to deal with the base minis, but the SP Ginter backs, the no numbers, the Bazooka backs, the black borders. It’s a headache and it made me stop collecting those sets. I really hate parallels. Lastly, I would really like to see manufacturers who care about the collectors, especially the bloggers. We are the voice of the hobby now and so if you don’t listen, we will probably have an uprising sooner or later. I have my opinions on Upper Deck and Topps, but that is for my next blog entry.

And lastly, my successes and failures as a player collector. I have had many failures. First, I should have listened to Gellman. Don’t buy retail boxes/blasters. It’s a waste of money in the long run because I could have used that same cash to buy a better hobby product. Second, sometimes it’s better to buy a single card rather than a whole box looking for that card. I made that mistake when I first looked into getting the Lincecum Bowman Chrome rookie autograph. I bought two boxes of 2007 Bowman Chrome. Ended up getting crap, and ultimately bought the cards on eBay for the price of two boxes of 2007 Bowman Chrome. What a waste. Another failure is not buying his rookie cards when they were low last spring. I bought two autographed Bowman Chrome rookies for around $150. Now they are combined to be worth $500 on eBay since I got them graded (that is eBay’s going rate, not book value). I have had some successes though. I am an avid bargain hunter and as such I have never paid more than above average for a card I wanted on eBay. I also accidentally stumbled upon collecting the whole Allen & Ginter 2008 set when I opened a few packs. I’m not a set collector, but I must admit, it was pretty fun going after the set. I’m still like 6 cards away from finishing the set. And lastly, my biggest success IMO is creating this blog as a forum to connect with other collectors as well as do trades. I think that’s half the fun in collecting right now. I am able to discuss topics with other hobbyists and send them cards they need and receive cards I need.

I hope this gives you guys some insight into my collecting. I didn’t really plan on doing this blog bat around this time even though I commented that I would. I have been busy, but I managed to find an hour to type this up. I didn’t really think about doing this entry so maybe some of my thoughts are jumbled so please excuse the jumpiness of my thought process.

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3 Responses to “Blog Bat Around – Which Came First, the Game or the Card?”

  1. Great post! Now we all know what makes you tick as a collector…

    I really agree with you about the parallels. In my opinion, there shouldn’t be more than two types of parallels per set – one that is inserted in every pack, and one rare type that is maybe one per box. Anything else just causes confusion. I’d make an exception for refractors though – they are just damn cool!

  2. You whipped this post up in an hour? Wow, that’s some awesome perspective off the top of your head. I don’t envy you player collectors. Companies make things unecessarily difficult on you.

  3. Bailey, that is a great perspective on being a player collector and somewhat parallels how I got to where I am in collecting. I have liked the blog bat arounds that I have read, really knowing there are other adults that are collecting because of the love of the game.

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