Friday, February 11, 2011

Why The Hobby Passed Me By

When I was growing up, there was nothing better than buying a pack of cards. It was a form of payment or bribery for me. My mom had to run out and need me to watch my little sisters? Sure, for a pack of cards. On a snow day, I’d shovel all the walks on my street for $2 per street. When finished, I’d go straight to the card store and buy a few packs. Some packs even came with a guaranteed insert card! Thanks Fleer Ultra!

I vividly remember gathering enough loose change, hopping on my bike, and riding 10 minutes to the local drugstore to buy a pack. Usually I’d get Collector’s Choice or Topps or a pack of Hoops basketball when I didn’t quite have a full dollar because they usually went for $.89. I wasn’t ever a set builder and I didn’t start my Tino collection until later on. I just enjoyed the cards and maybe getting a new Yankee card or trying to pull those tough inserts…a Collector’s Choice Gold Signature or a You Crash the Game card. Ahh, simple times.

Soon the price of packs started going up…$1.99, $2.99 and it became harder for a kid to collect. Luckily at that time, we installed AOL at my house and I started browsing newsgroup auctions and listings. I dedicated all my $ to my Tino Martinez collection…often I would send $.25 and a SASE for a new Tino I didn’t have. I quickly built up a huge collection – 400-500 cards strong – mostly commons and low end inserts, but I was able to win a few cooler cards…refractors and low end inserts and even an auto. I liked serially numbered cards of him and couldn’t believe I had one of only 2,500 of these cards made! I remember my first individually numbered card – a Tino Martinez/Scott Rolen Leaf Leagues of the Nation card. I probably paid like $12 for it at the time. My biggest regrets (looking back) was trading about $75 worth of Michael Jordan and Ken Griffey Jr cards for a box of 800 Tinos, most of which were stacks of 50 duplicates. But I was 12 years old and didn’t know better. Oops.

So I got older and went to high school and college. I’d still browse ebay every now and then maybe pick up a lot of 30 Tinos without really even knowing what they were, just because they seemed newer and I could add them to my collection. I didn’t follow the new sets, brands or gimmicks. I did notice a lot of the designs were retro or vintage…even Upper Deck which was weird because they had only been around 10 or 12 years at the time. Prices had skyrocketed because of rare cards, relics and autos. It was too hard to keep up. So I was content to just check ebay every few months, pick up a lot of Tinos or maybe a stack of Yankees for TTM purposes.

Then I was at Target last week, and while my girlfriend was shopping for goodies for our Super Bowl party, I ventured to messy card area and picked up a blaster that had a bunch of packs of 2010 Chrome…Topps and Bowman, and a few free refractor card loosely packaged. I bought it. Didn’t pull anything good, but it was still fun. I started reading a bunch of card blogs and couldn’t believe how great some of them were. Humor, wit, intelligent analysis and most importantly, a passion. So I decided to grab a blaster of 2011 Topps, and dedicate myself to at least paying more attention to the hobby. I’ll never be one to buy high end packs or cases on ebay, but I think it’ll be fun to work on my Tino collection, trade with some other collectors to help their collections/want lists, and maybe share some of my past and present experiences. I’ll also have a better forum to document my Topps Yankees Project. Post coming soon.

I’ll continue to iron out the kinks and make the blog a little more user friendly, but for now, bear with me and feel free to reach out and say hello.

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