I'd like to thank Jeff for being this week's participant for the Collector's Corner interview. Without further adieu, enjoy!!!
1) When did you start collecting ______ and why do you collect ______ ?
I started collecting as a kid (probably around 10 years old). *I don’t know what initially got me in to collecting other than the fact that I was a big baseball fan, and there was a rush that came from opening packs.
Why do I collect?
There’s a number of factors:
- On a basic level I find it fun and relaxing. After a long day of work, it is fun to surf eBay or auction houses and see what cool items are out there.
- There’s a challenge in searching for hard-to-find items, and there’s a community that has been created around collecting, especially in places like FCB
- Collecting ties into my interest in baseball history, and particularly in elements of baseball history that connect to world history. Items I find lead to research and picking up books on interesting areas of baseball history, and my reading leads me to finding new items that I want to collect. One small example, I had no idea that long before he broke in the Majors in 1947 (or played in the Minors in 1946) Jackie Robinson played on integrated teams in high-school and college. I have the signed yearbooks that clearly show this though, and it’s given me a different and more nuanced perspective on integration, and pushed me to learn more and dig deeper
- Investing/Prospecting – Even though the time spent compared to the return is not huge, I still get a big thrill out of finding cards to buy that go up in value. I don’t prospect minor leaguers, so it’s not about finding someone no one has heard of. *It’s identifying the player who is in front of everyone’s eyes. This season my guy has been Chris Sale who I think is criminally undervalued. Cards have gone up a little and time will tell If I swung and missed
2) What was the turning point in your collecting ____ ? What put you over the edge and made you completely focus on ______ ?
The biggest turning point for me was when I shifted from focusing primarily on cards to memorabilia and other collectibles. I still collect and appreciate cards, but I have found a world of items that are fascinating and connect to the history in a way and on a level that I did not find with cards
Currently I collect a number of different areas:
- Jackie Robinson/Integration related items – Includes signed baseballs from Jackie’s rookie and minor league season. *Signed high-school yearbooks, a barnstorming ball etc.
- Negro/Puerto Rican/Mexican League contracts – Somewhat related to the integration items, I find the Negro Leagues a sad but fascinating part of American history (sad that there was reason it existed, but fascinating and incredible in many ways).
- Lineup Cards – I started out collecting lineup cards of managers who are in the Hall of Fame but expanded to cards of significant games (far more expensive in general) and when they are cheap, I try to get lineup cards from WS winning seasons. *Most interesting one I have is probably from George Brett’s 3,000th hit. *Also have Tom Glavine’s first win, Frank Thomas’s 500th homerun, Andrew McCutchen’s 1st homerun and a few WS lineup cards including 1999 Yankees.
- WWII-related baseball items – Again, history meets baseball. *Key item I have is the last ball used in the 1945 Army-Navy All-Star Game. *At that point most of the big names were in the military (albeit in roles that didn’t include fighting outside of a few like Bob Feller and Hank Greenberg). *The Army-Navy All-Star game(s) was a 7 game series. *
- Rookie Autos – I’ve bought and sold rookie autograph cards for a really long time (long before the collections listed above) and still try to find a few guys a year to “invest” in
3) What has been the high point in collecting ______ ? The low point ?
Couple of high-points, though I’d probably come up with others if I gave it more time.
- Picking up my favorite item in my collection - a Negro League baseball signed by the 1953 Jackie Robinson All-Stars Barnstorming Team. There’s a very small number of Jackie Robinson signed Negro League items. I knew it was special when I won it, but I think my appreciation has grown since.
- Another high point was finding a lineup card from Frank Thomas’s 500th homerun lineup card in a large lot of lineup cards I purchased. There are no obvious identifiers on lineup cards to indicate that the game was significant so some sleuthing was needed.
Low point has definitely dealing with a couple of scams. Thankfully in the card world I was never out any real money (once happened with a different kind of collectible) but a couple of issues took months to resolve and get my money back.
4) What deal did you have slip through the cracks, that you regret ? Why didn't it work out ?
Was bidding on a jersey that was supposed to be from Ted Williams while he was in the Navy on an obscure website. My high bid was the exact winning bid (around $3200), but I got a message from the company that their rule is that a live bidder takes precedence over an online bid (even if placed before) and so I did not win it. Item later was resold for something like $30K
5) What's your favorite piece / card in your collection ? Why ?
As mentioned above, my favorite item is my Negro League baseball signed by the 1953 Jackie Robinson All-Stars Barnstorming team. *The team was one of the first integrated barnstorming teams and includes Jackie, Gil Hodges, Ralph Branca, Maury Wills (long before he made the Majors) and a number of others including some Negro League players, and legendary Negro League midget entertainer Spec Bebop. *
Some other items I really appreciate are:
- 1929 Negro League Contract of Dick “Cannonball” Redding. *Many consider him the biggest omission from the Hall of Fame. *He was illiterate and this is his only known signature in existence
-1946 Nashua Dodgers team signed picture – The same season Jackie Robinson entered the Minors, Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe were playing in Nashua. *Team signed picture with all of them
- 1945 Army-Navy All-Star Game Used last pitch baseball signed by Stan Musial and others on the team
- A number of lineup cards – 1933 card signed by manager Walter Johnson, 1956 Dodgers lineup card with Jackie, Campanella and other greats, 1963 Dodgers lineup card. *Koufax was on the mound. *That year they won the World Series and Koufax was Cy Young and MVP.
6) What's your wife / significant other / family think of your obsession (or collecting) for ______ ?
Not in a relationship right now. *Growing up my family was ok with it because I mostly did prospecting and would make money on cards. *My Mom used to drive me to shows was I was 10-15.
7) What's your white whale or just a card you can't seemingly track down or acquire ?
Baseball signed by Jackie Robinson from his Negro League days
Item tied to the 1935 Bismarck Churchills – One of the absolute earliest integrated teams. *Satchell Paige was pitching for them at this time
Lineup card with Babe Ruth or Lou Gehrig in it
Lineup card from many hard to find Hall of Fame managers. *Most may be impossible but Connie Mack and Casey Stengel on the Yankees should be findable. *It’s been a few years with no luck though EDIT: Since submitting this, I was able to pick up a Mack lineup card with an assist to [MENTION=2442]mchenrycards[/MENTION] so has now twice noticed lineup cards that were available and alerted me. Thanks!
8) Have you met the player you collect and what was the experience like ? (For set collectors, it'd be asking about meeting other set collector's of said set and having discussions with them).
I met a Negro League historian at one point which was really cool. **Was able to show him pictures of the Negro League ball I have and he was really impressed by it, which was awesome.
9) What is your biggest pet peeve about collecting ______ ?
Probably the approach of the card companies, which doesn’t take long term value into consideration. *I have an MBA, so I tend to view things from a business perspective and I think the companies are setting themselves up for failure in the long run.
10) How have forums / eBay / COMC helped your collecting of _____ ? How have they hurt ?
I pretty much grew up collecting-wise in the eBay era (I’ve been on eBay since 2000) so it’s largely what I know. *The message boards are probably one of the reasons I still collect as I’ve learned a ton from the boards and it provides a community around the hobby.
I’ve recently joined some Facebook groups and I am frightened by how many people are clearly and obviously addicted to opening packs and collecting, and how much misinformation there is. *I worry that a lot of people are getting hurt by the hobby.
11) How much competition do you face in your collecting of _____ ? How often do you check forums / auction sites for your player ?
Integration Items – My focus is a little off the beaten path so competition varies based on the item. *For example, my Negro League signed Jackie Robinson ball cost far less than a single signed Jackie ball. *For me, the ball I have is far more interesting and desirable. *On the other hand, 1947 Dodgers team signed baseball (Jackie RC season) is definitely a pretty popular items
Contracts – Right now these are cheaper than they use to be, though definitely competition on these
WWII-related items – Somewhat obscure but there’s a specific market that focuses on this
Lineup cards – Other than for key games, there’s not a ton of competition on these. *For HOF managers, the lineup card often costs no more than the cost of the manager’s signature on any other surface
RC Auto’s – I try to find guys who are undervalued but it’s definitely more “mainstream”
12) Any thoughts of ever giving up the collection ?
I’ve sold out in the past when I was only collecting cards, and on some level, I can only justify the cost of my collection because I know there’s a way to recoup the funds if needed. *That said, with the shift in my collection to memorabilia, I definitely enjoy the items more (although I am starting to find that I enjoy specific items more than others.
To me, as long as I don’t need the money and the collection brings me joy, I see no reason to move it. *But if that ever changes I hope I’ll be smart enough to give it up.
13) How has the generosity of FCB'ers or other forum / site members helped your collection ? Elaborate
I have learned a ton from members on the boards, and people have been involved in some charity fundraising efforts I’ve done in the past. Members have also pointed out items they came across that they think will fit in my collection, which I really appreciate.
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