By CHRIS OLDS | Beckett Baseball Editor
It’s been awhile since we last dedicated an issue of Beckett Baseball to the player collector — in fact it was April 2007 — but we’re confident that there are supercollectors out there who haven’t been found.
Why? Because we keep hearing about you guys in the pages of Beckett Sports Card Monthly where we profile supercollectors each and every month.
But the collections we want to showcase in a future Beckett Baseball issue — or perhaps issues — (later this summer) are a bit different. You see, the bar was set pretty high last time around. For example, the Ichiro Suzuki supercollector from that issue owned more than 4,100 cards valued at more than $97,000 at the time. Bruce’s goal? “To have an Ichiro collection like no other.”
It was that then as it probably is now — and we’ll check in with some of those past supercollectors to see how things look in 2010.
But it’s not about the money as we search for the latest batch of baseball supercollectors for Beckett Baseball in 2010. We want to see the most outrageous collections — perhaps it’s your stash of some prospect gone awry that you still keep up with for some odd reason or perhaps it’s your stash of 47 of 50 Gold Refractors of “Player X.” Or perhaps it’s your collection of 97.3 percent of all Brook Jacoby cards that exist … we want to know about it.
I’ve always had rules about my collecting habits and my very different collections for two players — a pair of former Oakland A’s outfielders who wore No. 33, Jose Canseco and Nick Swisher — reflect that. They also reflect how my rules of collecting have changed over time as well.
And, until recently, I managed my collections, my wantlists, rather loosely. My mantra? If I don’t have it, I want it. (Though, of course, I have price limits and/or patience.)
For years, my Canseco collection was built via trading and the rule that I never spent more than $15 for a single card (and some of those weren’t even for Joses). Most of my collection, which began back in 1987, was mostly built in small bits but also in bulk lots.
Today, it’s a collection that includes 21,219 total base cards (no, it’s not a typo) — most notably 167 of those being his famous 1986 Donruss Rated Rookie (plus one counterfeit), a card quantity that I used to update in my signature file on the old BMBs — some of you might remember it — before I worked here.
But I also own 17 copies of his 1983 Fritsch minor league debut card (perhaps my favorite now), just 35 memorabilia cards, nine patch cards and just eight certified autographs. How many different ones? I don’t know — I never collected “Joses” (they’re not just “cards”) that way. I just picked them up when they presented themselves and I picked them up on a budget. I know I have plenty of variety — and there’s always going to be plenty more to find, though I have slowed down in recent years. (The 1986 Donruss and the 1983 card remain a favorite target.)
And, while I’ve never been one suckered in by low-numbered parallels, I have been sucked in by some outrageous lots in the past. His 1986 Sportflics Rookie Card was once the toughest one for me to find. Until, of course, I found a dealer sitting on some large lots, which I acquired relatively cheaply and just for fun. How many do I have now? 1,758 — give or take a page or two here in there in some other album somewhere. I got a bigger kick out of opening a box with an outrageous amount of one card that I like inside than I did opening an envelope and getting a signed card of a guy whose autograph I already got on something else 20 years before.
It’s a collection that has plenty of the oddballs and plenty of other memorabilia to go along with it — his 1987 Topps contract, several autographed and other oddball items, a game-used bat — and it’s one card-wise that largely reflects its era (largely pre-eBay) and its “rules” of being built. It’s my childhood collection of sorts, one that was built during an era of overproduced cards and countless card companies but with a few more adult touches, more pricey additions (the contract, the bat) here and there in the years since.
(And obviously, it’s quite different than the $17,900 Canseco collection profiled in the last Beckett Baseball.)
My Swisher collection, on the other hand, is more reflective of the timeframe during it was built — in the last decade — with a different approach altogether. You can tell when comparing the stats from the Canseco Count to the Swish List. (No, I don’t use those names … just thought they sounded funny right now — and I needed something to distract from the outrageousness of the Canseco number.)
I own just under 2,000 standard Swisher baseball cards — but those really aren’t the emphasis as I’ve dabbled a bit more buying up cards of a player who is more affordable. (Canseco, for all of his controversy, still sells well.)
As of mid-March, I own 26 1/1 Swisher cards — including his 2006 Ultimate Collection Tandem Materials Signatures Logo (top), a dual-signed Logoman with Rich Harden which is easily the most expensive card in my collection not pulled out of a pack. Along with those, I own eight autographed patch cards, 16 other patch cards, 17 autographed memorabilia cards, 82 more memorabilia cards and 65 more signed cards on top of that. I don’t keep totals beyond those — and like others I struggle to keep wantlists updated, though I still know generally what I have and what I don’t.
Needless to say that, while Swisher isn’t all that expensive (which helps build a collection) the $15 rule stopped applying somewhere along the way. It’s a collection more easily built using the advantages of today — sites like eBay or Checkoutmycards.com and countless others. And, of course, I’m sure that there are others who might have dabbled in Swisher more seriously, too. (After all, I got countless cards off of just a couple of sellers over time.) I don’t claim to be the Swisher supercollector, I just aim to be one of them. (And judging by the prices fans pay for his cards in a Yankees uniform over his earlier Oakland says? They’re out there … )
To go along with the cards, I’ve got an autographed game-used jersey from very early in Swisher’s career, a USA Baseball gamer to go with that, an A’s game-used batting helmet, more than a half-dozen game-used baseball bats, a handful of autographed baseballs and a few other items — even a small Mounted Memories-created, MLB-certified game-used dirt display with Swisher on it. (We all need one of those, don’t we?) And, again, for Swisher all of those memorabilia pieces are much more affordable and relatively available than an equivalent Canseco item especially given the differing timeframes of collecting.
And unlike in my Canseco collection, I do have a Swisher autograph I got directly from him — I got him to sign a random bat for me a few years ago at a Tampa Bay Rays game, a contest in which he homered and I was sitting just a few rows behind home plate with an unobstructed view. (I did see Canseco play once, but that’s it, and it was from an upper deck seat. Read more about that here.)
While Canseco had a twin brother who played in the majors — a small amount of Ozzie Canseco‘s cards are actually peppered into my collection’s stats as I never bothered to sort them apart from each other — Swisher has a MLB relative as well. Swisher’s father, Steve, played for several teams with his Rookie Card found in the 1975 Topps set. While I have a handful of those cards, they’re not part of my stats, but I’ll admit to owning a couple pieces of odd memorabilia for him as well. Surprisingly, even a small amount of his memorabilia has popped up online since I have collected Swisher. I own one of Steve Swisher’s Topps baseball card contracts as well as one of his game-used minor league caps from when he managed the Binghamton Mets. They, too, weren’t too expensive to try and add to a supercollection. I figured, “Why not?”
So, as my collections built under different timeframes and different methods have evolved, there’s really one thing that hasn’t changed over the years — the interest of collectors — and that’s what started this whole collecting confession seeking information for upcoming issue(s) of Beckett Baseball.
We want to know who you collect and what makes your stash more outrageous than the next one — give us your sales pitch, your stats and convince us that you’re somebody with a supercollection worth spotlighting.
To help, we’ve set up a thread on Beckett.com for supercollectors to mention who they collect, give us some basic information and network with other collectors to potentially add to their stashes. And, of course, you can leave some stats and perhaps image links right here via a comment. (Be sure to include an email address so we can potentially follow up…)
And, of course, you can message me via Twitter if you have questions or want to show off links to photos. And, of course, there’s always email, too (address below) where you can send us information as well. (Don’t send photos — the inbox can fill fast).
We know you’re out there, baseball supercollectors. You’ve heard from me. Now, we want to hear from you …
Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.