Friday, June 16, 2017

Blog Bat Around: The Origins of My Player Collections

P-Town Tom posed up a question about the origins of one's player collections. Honestly, I’m not even sure why I collect some of the guys I do, but thought it’d be fun to give some of the back story.
Tino Martinez – Obviously my #1 PC with over 800 unique Tinos. I was 12 years old when the Yankees acquired Tino in December of 1995, and obviously a big Yankees fan. I loved Don Mattingly, and wasn’t so sure about Tino as his “replacement.” I saw how much Tino struggled in April of 1996, but I loved how he carried himself. I could just tell that he cared. I was immediately drawn to him, and not long after, my basketball coach (RIP, Andy) came up to me after church one day and gave me a 1992 Topps Tino, saying he knows I liked him and that he and his son (also RIP – gone way too soon as a high schooler) had some cards and found this and wanted me to have it. I wanted more Tinos after that.

As luck would have it, Tino would go on to have a monster year in 1997, further cementing himself as my favorite player. I was 13-years-old, homers were cool, and Tino hit 44 and won the HR Derby. I also got AOL that summer, and found baseball cards forums or newsgroups. I started buying Tino cards online, usually sending cash and a SASE. I would literally mail like $.45 in coins to people for Tino cards. Crazy, right? It’s quite a bit easier now, and I’m glad to say I’ve been a Tino collector for over 20 years (with some gaps in between).
Ty Hensley – I felt like the Yankees got a steal in the 2012 MLB Draft when projected top 20 pick Ty Hensley fell to them at #30. I was also really getting back into collecting at this point. After a few pleasant interactions with Ty on Twitter and a TTM success, I really started to follow and root for him. I also started scooping up all his cards, and have been fortunate to have interviewed his mom on my blog, as well as exchange a few notes with him over the years. I’m sure he thinks I’m a creepy fanboy, but I really appreciate how kind he’s been to me, and hope he finds success in the Rays organization after he was scooped up in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft.
Michael Pineda – I’m not really sure why I collect Big Mike. I was excited when the Yankees acquired him, even though I hated losing Jesus Montero. I had a couple of Pineda cards with the M’s, but immediately bought a few more on COMC and SportsLots. When I got up to 20 cards or so, I asked myself if I was a Pineda collector. I didn’t know. Then he missed two years with injury, and his cards were super cheap, including autos. I bought low, although his demand never remotely returned to 2011 levels. When he came back in 2014, he pitched a brilliant game versus the Cubs that I watched in the hospital the day my daughter was born. I’ve continued to pick up Pineda cards ever since, and how have over 150 different.
Phil Rizzuto – This is another collection I don’t pursue as hardcore as my Tino or Hensley collections, but I do appreciate getting Rizzuto cards. In fact, I do list all the ones I have on my blog. He holds a special place in my heart from my TTM experience with him, which you can read here.
Prospects – Gary Sanchez, Dellin Betances, Mason Williams, Tyler Austin, Aaron Judge, etc – While none of these may be “formal” player collections, I love Yankees prospect cards. I don’t prospect to benefit off of them (although I could have made a pretty penny on Sanchez last year and Judge this year), but because I enjoy following the minor leagues, and hope I’m able to get a head start on having a bunch of cards of the next great Yankee. In some instances, it works. I have a decent amount of Sanchez and Judge cards that I couldn’t afford today, including printing plates and autographs. I also have a lot of cards of guys like Mason Williams and Slade Heathcott and other guys who haven’t panned out. I don’t like those cards any less though. I enjoy collecting these guys from the ground floor up.

Thanks for posing the question, Tom. It’s always nice to revisit why we do certain things, as sometimes we’re so focused on accumulating that we forget why.


  1. It's always fun to know people collect certain players.

  2. The story about Michael Pineda defeating the Cubs the day your daughter was born is a great story. I will always feel tied to Matt Clement because he clinched the Cubs playoff birth in 2003, the same day I proposed to my wife.
    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Oh man... I miss the days of trading on the AOL forums. Good times. I'm really enjoying these BBA posts and yours is no exception. I can't see a Tino without your blog popping into my head.

  4. I remember how a little after Montero got traded you decided to trade Pineda as if the two just happened to switch bodies and identities.