Here we go …

June 14, 2008 at 6:36 pm | Posted in Introduction | 6 Comments

Collecting baseball cards is a great hobby. It’s one that I have enjoyed for a good chunk of my life. I still remember the day in the summer of 1984 when my mom bought me my first ever cards, a rack pack of 1984 Topps in the grocery store. I was not even five years old. Through my childhood, I learned to love the game of baseball. Maybe it was because of my grandfather’s career as a sports writer covering the Buffalo Bisons, a Triple-A team. Maybe it was hearing stories from my dad about the great players from his childhood and the baseball cards that he collected back then. Maybe it was because all of my friends were baseball fans too.

Whatever the cause, baseball was at the forefront of my mind from about 1986 until 1994. I played baseball in my backyard almost every day during the summer. I played tee ball and Little League baseball. I attended more Rochester Red Wings Triple-A games than I can remember. And I became a die hard fan of the New York Yankees. OK, don’t hate me yet – I’m not a Yankees fan anymore! Growing up in the 1980s and 1990s and loving baseball, it was impossible not to be caught up in the whirlwind of excitement around baseball cards.

It was in the 1980s that many people began to realize that baseball cards could be valuable. It was the first time in decades that more than one company produced cards, and for the first time, the cards (and not the gum) became the main reason why people bought packs. The hobby became “The Hobby” and the it was exploding in popularity before my young eyes! In fact, a whole generation of kids were swept up in the excitement and became collectors.

By 1994, I had a collection of thousands of cards. I worked as a paper boy and I cut grass for my neighbors, and almost all of the money that I earned was spent on cards. I took the most pride in my Yankees cards, especially the ones of my favorite player and childhood hero, Don Mattingly. By 1994, I had about 200 of his cards, which I kept in a special binder.

There were many factors that led to the decline of my interest in collecting, and I plan to write a lot more about those reasons in future posts. But the single most important factor was the terrible event that began on August 11, 1994, a date that will forever live in infamy for me. That was the start of the Major League Baseball players strike of 1994-1995 that wiped out the 1994 World Series. Just like the eruption of Mount Vesuvius effectively ended the civilization at Pompeii, the strike led to a huge decline in my interest in baseball, and I gave up card collecting.

I did buy a few cards in early 1995 soon after the strike ended, but my heart just wasn’t in it like it was before. After that, I didn’t set foot in a baseball card shop until 2001 when I found a 1984 Fleer Don Mattingly rookie card that I had always wanted years earlier. This was around the time that I graduated from college, and I decided to spend $20 on the card for nostalgic reasons and because I remembered the card being listed in Beckett for $40 years earlier.

In the summer of 2003, I pulled out my old binder of Don Mattingly cards and decided to try to complete my collection of all of his cards. I discovered the power of using eBay to buy cards that I wanted and I went to the Beckett web site to get a list of all of the Mattingly cards that had ever been made. What I found on the Beckett site was shocking. It turned out that there were over 2000 different cards of Mattingly out there, and the majority of them had come out since 2000! Mattingly had retired after the 1995 season. I did buy some of his post-2000 cards, but ultimately decided to focus only on the cards from his playing days, up to and including cards from 1996.

Since 2003, I have managed to grow my Don Mattingly collection to 923 different cards. I also discovered PSA graded cards and began to buy some graded cards from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. These were mostly cards of Hall of Famers, which I knew would retain their value, or become more valuable, as the years went by, so that I could one day pass a collection of valuable cards to my children. Through it all, I avoided buying any new cards. Even though I was buying some cards after 2003, I didn’t consider myself to be a part of the current “Hobby”.

That changed in early 2008. It began innocently enough when I did some eBay searches for players from my current favorite team, the Tampa Bay Rays. I was surprised to see that I could buy certified autograph cards of some of my favorite players, like Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton, and Scott Kazmir for under $10. I decided to go ahead and buy some of these cards. When the cards arrived in the mail, I was especially impressed with one of the cards. It was a 2007 Goudey Graphs card of Carl Crawford. From my earlier days of collecting, I remembered the Goudey sets of the 1930s. Now, Upper Deck had the rights to the Goudey brand. Anyway, I loved the design of the card, and I began to think about possibly buying more Goudey cards.

I wanted to do some internet research before actually buying a box. I found Upper Deck’s web site, and I was very impressed with how it showed what every card in the set looked like. I looked for reviews of the set and came across “The Baseball Card Blog” written by Ben Henry. Ben sounded like me, someone who loved the baseball card hobby as a kid, then became disinterested in it, and later got back into it. He had some very good things to say about the Goudey set, so I was convinced to buy a box.

I wound up buying two boxes to save on shipping and to try to build a base set. I opened them on the night of February 29, 2008. To my amazement, the magic of opening new cards was back! I loved the Goudey cards, and almost immediately, I got back into “The Hobby”.

I returned many times to The Baseball Card Blog and thoroughly enjoyed Ben’s writing. I also began to discover some other great baseball card blogs. I was amazed at how many high quality blogs there were. The blogs helped me to understand the current state of The Hobby and helped me to get enthusiastic about it. Eventually, my favorite blog became Wax Heaven, written by Mario Alejandro. I became a daily visitor (actually multiple times daily) and a frequent comment leaver.

It occurred to me that blogging is a big part of the current and future Hobby. When I was a kid, literally every friend of mine had at least some sort of baseball card collection. When we would get together, we’d always bring our cards, make trades, and talk about cards. Today is very different. Unfortunately many people left the Hobby like I did in the 1990s, but not nearly as many got back into it. Living in a world where your friends are not fellow card collectors can be difficult, but the blogs give us a real sense of community. It is because of this that I am starting my own blog.

My goal is not to start the biggest or the best baseball card blog out there. Wax Heaven and The Baseball Card Blog have already exceeded anything that I could imagine doing. I just want to have a place to share my thoughts about baseball and baseball cards and fully participate in the growing baseball card blog community. I hope to attract some loyal readers and get their thoughts on the Hobby, and hopefully I can help to attract some people to the Hobby, or back into the Hobby, along the way.

I am envisioning that my first posts will mostly be about my own personal history with being a baseball fan and collecting cards, just to give my readers some background. After that, I will begin to write more about my thoughts on current developments in the Hobby. I am looking forward to an exciting ride!

And with that, my first post is done, and the Fielder’s Choice Baseball Card Blog has been born! Why “Fielder’s Choice” you ask? Well, when I was a kid I used to imagine one day opening a sports-themed restaurant called “Fielder’s Choice”. I even pictured having Cecil Fielder in my commercials saying “When I’m in town, I always chow down at Fielder’s Choice!” I’ll probably never open a restaurant, but I like the name, and it’s the best I can come up with for the name of the blog. It’s 2008 now, so I’m going to make a graphic with Prince Fielder to make this place look good.

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6 Comments »

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  1. Wow, awesome story and thanks for the kind words.
    Please let me know the second you are ready to go public so I can add you to the Sports Cards Blog Directory and give you a shout out at Wax Heaven.

  2. Thanks, Mario! It is an honor to have my first comment coming from the king of all baseball card blogs 🙂

  3. Dave!! Glad to see the peer pressure finally caught up to you! haha… I’m really glad to see you start your own blog. You’ve left some great comments at TNB and I think you’ll do just fine.

    I’ll link to you at TNB as well. Hopefully that will help you get some traffic. Let me know when you’re ready for me to. I know I spent nearly the first week playing with settings on WP until I got it to where I wanted it. it’s better if you’re 100% happy with how it looks and how it works before people start popping in.

    Email me if you have any questions about WordPress. I got a crash course in it when TNB started taking off… Good luck and I’ll be reading daily!

    jv

  4. Thanks Jason! I should have mentioned that you have also been a great influence on my decision to start a blog. I really like that your blog contains so many personal connections to your love of collecting. You can see that in my first few posts here, I have also written about my personal history as a collector and baseball fan. Your style of writing has rubbed off on me, and I think that your tendency for long-windedness has too. I’m planning to start writing shorter posts though, once I get these introductory posts out of the way this week.

    Thanks also for your offer to help with WordPress. I think that I’m starting to figure it out, but I’ll let you know if I need any help. I appreciate it!

  5. I said the same thing, “once I finish the introductory stuff I’ll go shorter”…

    That didn’t seem to work for me…haha…

    Thanks for the kudos…That was really kind of you…

    jv

  6. Wow thats cool how collecting baseball cards have affected your life. Im 16 and just stating to collect some cards. I am a Big o’s fan (we won the first series with rays this year) and i am starting to collect some o’s cards. I really like the topps hertiage cards are they pretty cool cards? I like the way they look. well nice blogs even though your a rays fan haha.


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