My collecting strategy for 2009February 6, 2009 at 12:48 am | Posted in My Cards, Personal | 20 Comments
So I think I’ve finally figured it out. Back when I wrote my post for the first Blog Bat Around in November, I was all over the map in what I was collecting. I didn’t know how to classify myself as a collector. As you may know, I returned to the baseball card hobby in 2008 and started buying new card products for the first time in 14 years. I now understand that I went way overboard with all of the cards that I collected. Consider that in 2008 alone, I purchased hobby boxes and/or retail blasters of all of the following products, including multiples of many of them:
- Topps Heritage
- Topps Heritage High Numbers
- Topps Updates & Highlights
- Topps Chrome
- Topps Allen & Ginter
- Topps Finest
- Topps Co-Signers
- Topps Stadium Club
- Topps Triple Threads
- Bowman Chrome
- Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects
- Donruss Threads
- Razor Signature Series
- Upper Deck Series 1
- Upper Deck Series 2
- Upper Deck Goudey
- Upper Deck Masterpieces
- Upper Deck Heroes
- Upper Deck SP Legendary Cuts
- Upper Deck Ballpark Collection
That’s 21 different products, and I also bought individual packs of many others. In addition to that, I bought hobby boxes of many 2007 products in 2008: Topps Allen & Ginter, Topps Heritage, Upper Deck Goudey, Upper Deck Masterpieces, Upper Deck SP Authentic, Upper Deck Sweet Spot, and Upper Deck Sweet Spot Classic. There was also an Upper Deck SP Rookie Edition hobby box that I got for free.
Some people might say that I went overboard, and others would call me insane, but I was really excited to try out a bunch of different products in order to reacquaint myself with the hobby and figure out what I really wanted to collect. Anyway, as I opened all of these boxes, I began to do what seemed natural; I started making trades and buying singles in order to complete the sets. So now I have a bunch of sets sitting around the bonus room of my house. Some are completed, and others are close.
But what I’ve started to realize is that there was really only one set in 2008 that I truly loved collecting. It’s the only one that I go back and look at almost every single day. Sure, I enjoyed building other sets, like Allen & Ginter, Goudey, and Masterpieces, but the one that stands head and shoulders above all of the rest is Topps Heritage.
Topps Heritage is simply the perfect set for me. This might be a bad analogy, but when I opened my first box of Heritage, it was almost like my first date with my wife (which coincidentally will be 5 years ago this Saturday). Everything went perfectly, and I knew that she was the right girl for me. And so it was with Topps Heritage. There was just something about it that made it unbelievably fun for me to collect.
Maybe it was that the cards are produced on actual cardboard. Maybe it’s the retro design. Maybe it’s the fact that there is gum in the packs, and the cards actually smell a little bit like gum. Maybe it’s the challenge of getting all the short prints. Maybe it’s the wide variety of players. Maybe it’s the amazing refractors, or all of the great inserts. Maybe it’s the fact that I pulled my best hit ever from a box of Heritage. I like all of it. And yes, I like Heritage High Numbers too.
When I look at all of the card releases that are scheduled for 2009, there is really only one that I am excited about, and that’s Topps Heritage. As you can probably tell from the countdown that I have on my sidebar, I absolutely cannot wait until 2009 Topps Heritage is released on February 23. I will be buying a hobby box, or maybe two, as soon as possible. I will be focused throughout the year on building my 2009 Topps Heritage set, and then Heritage High Numbers when it comes out in the fall.
Will I buy boxes of other products? Probably. But I don’t have immediate plans to do so. I’ll probably eventually start collecting either the Topps or Upper Deck flagship set. From what I’ve read about both of them on other blogs, I’m leaning toward Topps. But I’m in no hurry. And I’m definitely not going to rush out to Target to buy retail packs. I’ll just wait a couple of months until the hobby boxes are selling for half of what they are now. I’ll probably collect Allen & Ginter. And I’m sure that I’ll be tempted by a few other products too – maybe Topps Finest or Upper Deck SP Legendary Cuts. Or maybe something new will interest me. I’m starting to develop a mild interest in the new Topps American Heritage product. But there’s no way that I’ll be buying 21 different products this year. I think it will be closer to 5.
Here are some other guidelines that I’ve set for myself in 2009:
- I’m going to try my hardest to not buy a single retail pack or blaster all year. As tempting as they might be whenever I walk into Target or Wal Mart, they are simply a huge waste of money. First, there’s the fact that the odds of pulling a hit, or even an insert, parallel, or short print, are greatly reduced in retail packs. And second, in most cases I can get hobby packs for less money anyway. For example, with 2008 Topps Heritage High Numbers, I could buy a retail blaster with 8 packs for a fixed price of $19.99, or I could buy a hobby box with 24 packs for around $50 (with no sales tax and free shipping). That seems like a no-brainer to me.
- I’ve also set a goal for myself to completely avoid my local hobby shop. I know that this idea will seem sacrilegious to some people, but there’s really no good reason for me to go there. All of their singles are overpriced, they don’t sell individual hobby packs, and they overcharge significantly for hobby boxes, compared to the price that I can pay on eBay or on online stores like Dave & Adam’s Card World or Blowout Cards.
- I plan to buy the majority of my hobby boxes from Dave & Adam’s Card World on Thursdays in order to get free shipping and I’ll try to purchase multiple boxes at once in order to qualify for free packs or boxes with my order. The only exception will be when they’re selling something for more than the market value on eBay, which is rare.
- Since I won’t be buying as many boxes of new products, I’m going to buy more old stuff. I’m thinking about trying to build older Topps Heritage sets (2001 – 2007). I’m also intrigued by the Topps Cracker Jack retro sets from 4-5 years ago, Topps Fan Favorites, Topps Gold Label, Donruss Diamond Kings, and the Fleer Platinum set that looks like 1984 Fleer. I’m also considering the possibility of buying a wax box of 1984 Donruss.
- I will try to buy or trade for all of the Rays cards, especially Evan Longoria and David Price, from all of the 2009 products that I’m not actively collecting. I’ve discovered that it’s much smarter to simply buy the cards that I want from most products than to buy an entire hobby box and get cards that I don’t care about. I expect my David Price collection to grow even faster in 2009 than my Evan Longoria collection did in 2008.
- Now that I only need 7 more Don Mattingly cards from his playing career (6 that I have a realistic chance of getting), I’m going to focus more on collecting Mattingly cards from the 21st century, especially autographs and relic cards.
- Finally, I am going to continue building my collection of graded vintage cards. I really love the history of baseball, especially now that I’ve been watching Ken Burns’ Baseball documentary weekly on MLB Network. I’ve started to take an interest in many different legendary Hall of Famers. In addition to adding vintage cards to my collection, I’ll also be looking for autograph and game-used relic cards. I’ve recently acquired some really amazing cards for really low prices that I’ll be sharing with you on my blog in the coming days. If you try hard enough, you can find some truly valuable things for much less than you’d think.
So I’ve given this a lot of thought, and I’m very comfortable with my strategy for collecting in 2009. Nothing is set in stone, and I’m sure that I’ll make some tweaks to this plan as the year goes on, but it feels really good to have a clear purpose with my collecting habits. Through all of my experience in 2008, I now know exactly how to maximize the enjoyment that I get from the hobby. I’m looking forward to a great year!