Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I am a collector.

I love collecting cards. Love it. Baseball, football, hockey, Nascar, Battlestar Galactica, Marvel Masterpieces, you name it, I have it. Except basketball. But basketball doesn't count. (We'll save that argument for another post, shall we?)

It started out with a single card in the pocket of a five year old boy. Evolved into an obsession of set building. I collected, and traded for, every hockey set from 1978/79 to 1991/92. Every single one. I bought packs, and traded my duplicates with friends to achieve these goals. But it stopped.
By '91, I was so sick of the card industry... we all know what happened. Being secluded in Northern British Columbia didn't shade me from it. I just didn't know others were going through it too. So I stopped collecting. Period.

Things changed. I moved to another province. Got married. I have kids. A career. A mortgage. But I came back. It was innocent at first. No. That's wrong. It was ebay. I wanted to see what everyone was talking about. So I signed up. Started searching for things. Found things. I had no idea what was in store for me. The scope of what could be found, 24hours a day. 7 days a week.
I purchased a few things. They arrived. I was hooked again. But it wasn't just me that had changed. It was the hobby.

When I left in '91, the best pull I had ever had was a 1991 Donruss Elite Doug Drabek. Remember those? (google it if you must, I'll wait)
Now, autograph cards? Jersey cards? Bat cards? Glove cards? Stadium seat cards? Ebbets Field Urinal cards?

It was impossible to buy a card of my favourite players. Hell, it was impossible to buy a box of cards. They were an endangered species. Everyone was busting them open and running to sell the hits. Card companies saw this. "We've struck gold!" they cried. "Everyone is buying cases and cases of wax! So if a few hits are good... more is better!!!" And they did. They started cutting up every jersey, glove, sock, and bat they could buy. It was like the Golden Oldies station, Crankin' out the hits!

It was impossible for me, the set collector, to collect, well, sets. I couldn't even buy wax. I certainly couldn't afford what people were asking for one card. Game used Auto Jock strap or not. It was expensive.

With painstaking effort, I became a team collector. My beloved Braves. Goodbye hockey, farewell football. As time passed, it was possible to find some of these case crackers who decided they would sell off their "worthless" base cards. Little did I know it was because the well was running dry on the hit parade. People were not as crazed over the hits anymore. Prices were lowering. The amount of hits kept increasing. Supply and demand. Still no wax boxes though. I didn't mind. It gave me a focus. Braves. From that, Chipper, Adam LaRoche, Smoltzie... I was having fun again. Heck, with the prices of the hits falling, I could get one or two every once in awhile. Still no wax though.

I can't quite pinpoint when, but the hobby changed again. Not the card companies. They've still got their blinders on, pumping out set after set of crap. Still revelling in the last decade's cash cow. No. It was the collectors. They changed.

Prices have fallen. Hall of Fame players game used gear is available for pennies. Autos are everywhere. But the writing is on the wall. Wax boxes are once again selling. For reasonable amounts to the savvy buyer. But not packs. I've been to large card shops that sell boxes only! They will not open them to sell individual packs. Why?

They know. They realize that they will not get their money's worth out of the box by breaking it up. How many posts have you read about box breaks? How many times could you go and sell or trade those contents for the $$$ paid for the box it came out of? Rarely? Never?
Times are changing. And I am back to being a collector. I'm buying boxes of cards. Collecting sets. Or at the very least, ripping packs of football with my wife, and busting Scooby Doo 2 wax with my daughters. Having a great time. Then, shipping off the doubles to someone I've met over blog world. Reading an email or a blog post from them about how much they enjoyed the cards.

Have I come full circle? No. You try building sets with all the SP's and parallels out there. But I'm trying.
Anybody want to help me finish off my 1990 Donruss? You know where I'll be.


Rob- AKA "Guido" said...

Well said. Nice to run into a hockey guy in the blogsphere

Motherscratcher said...

I'm curious as to how someone from the north Columbia ended up as a braves fan? I understand Dayf. He lives there. He has to be. But you could have picked anyone. Why the Braves?

Either way, you're an all-star commentor.

Nice Post

Captain Canuck said...

the year was 1982, I think, and waaaaay up north, we received two channels. CBC,the government run Candaian Broadcasting Company, and CTV, the government run Canadian Television Station. You can imagine the selection.
So, my dad, being the resourceful kinda guy he is... drove down to Seattle, bought not one, not to, but three satellite dishes and all the gizmos that go with it. Brought them back to Smithers, sold two to his neighbours to pay for the trip, and hooked up the other one in our yard.
This is where I get to thank Ted Turner for introducing me to WTBS and Pete Van Wieren and Skip Carey.
Those two announcers, as well as being able to see 162 games a year back then, are why I am the biggest Braves fan north of the Mason-Dixon line.

T Hancock said...

Hey man. Great post. Everything in this post is "so true". I stopped collecting about the same time you did. And like you, EBay got me sucked right back in a couple of years ago.

Again great post.

Oh yea. Let me know what cards you need from the 1990 Donruss set. I have many, many duplicates from that set so I can probably help you complete your set.

Anonymous said...

I went to strictly Twins in '80s when I moved to LA and there were card shops to be found. I've never gone back to full sets (I don't want to lose my spousal approval) but thank God for the internet and a chance to find good homes for the non-Twins I still have laying around.
Nice writeup CC.