Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Memoirs Of A Team Collector

I have talked about being a team collector before (here and here), but Gellman has asked the blogosphere to write about their collecting habits. I’m game. I guess the logical place to start would be at the beginning.

My love for Major League baseball, particularly White Sox baseball, started in 1982. I would catch White Sox games on channel 44 in Chicago. I liked the way the White Sox played the game. Two players ultimately stood out from the crowd. Harold Baines and Carlton Fisk. This was before I was aware of Fisk’s World Series moment or the scouting of Harold Baines by Bill Veeck. I just knew that I liked what I saw.

In 1983, my dad bought me a pack of 1983 Topps. What hooked me into card collecting is a card that you wouldn’t expect. It was an Alfredo Griffin card. There was something about the moment that was captured that convinced me to collect. I collected everything I could get my hands on.

It was somewhere in 1987, where I bought my last pack. The combination of a seventh place team and an interest in other activities stopped my card collecting. I started hanging around kids with other interests, so the card collecting ultimately tapered off.
My resurgence back into card collecting, as I lovingly call my second wave, happened in 1990. I still followed the White Sox closely during my absence from collecting, I just didn’t pick up cards. I was looking to buy a Topps team set of the White Sox. It was May 1990. I saw a framed set with matting and an opening for each card on sale at K-Mart. I liked the colors of the 1990 Topps set and I liked the pictures of the White Sox players. I thought that the price was too steep, so I bought a few packs instead.

From there it grew. I liked what I saw and I wanted more. I kept feeding the addiction. Soon I began to buy other brands. I started to incorporate the 1990 Donruss logo into my high school art projects. I was hooked again. Ironically, my original goal of the 1990 White Sox team set wasn’t completed until 2008.

Through the next few years, I bought anything I could get my hands on. It peaked around 1991. I started to buy less and less, but there was a reason for that. In 1991, I discovered baseball card shops springing up all over the place. I could get exactly what I wanted without buying as many packs. So, while my pack buying diminished, my card buying increased.

By 1994, I had bought the last packs of my second wave. I found that the sets were becoming too plentiful, too large, too costly and had too many parallels. I had other interests that interfered with the hobby. By the time the strike happened, I had enough. Baseball had betrayed me by greed. It was written everywhere. I just couldn’t take it any longer. Something had to give.

Old habits die hard though. I didn’t stay away from baseball for very long. I was cautious as I slowly came back. I was ready to run at the first sign of trouble. Baseball had ruined the chance for a White Sox/Expos World Series in 1994. It could have been something that saved the Expos franchise and created a dynasty for the White Sox. Neither would come to pass.

I went to a few games, in which I was still wowed by the theatrics of the sport. It wasn’t until 1998 that I started to listen to radio broadcasts. I was intrigued by a young player named Magglio Ordonez. I was hooked on the White Sox full time again. It was only a matter of time before I would buy cards again.
Around 2004, I started to seek out team sets on eBay. I did that for a few years and was happy. Then, on a whim, in 2007, I bought my first pack in thirteen years. It was a pack of 2007 Topps. From there, I went into my buying frenzy again. I decided to be smart about it though. I would keep the White Sox cards and sell the rest on eBay. I could use the money from sold cards to fund my White Sox spending habit.

That was fine, until eBay changed the rules on me and left my best business out in the cold. Eventually, I stumbled upon baseball card blogs and that opened up a whole new world to me. I was able to unload my unwanted cards and get White Sox cards back in return. It was like 1985 all over again.

The preceding paragraphs outlined my trials and tribulations as a collector. But why did I become a particular type of collector? I sat myself down one day and asked myself what I really enjoyed collecting. The answer was cards of the White Sox.

Being a White Sox collector is both easy and frustrating. There aren’t many of us out there, so product is usually available. Since there aren’t as many out there as say the Yankees, there is actually less product produced. It’s a struggle sometimes to weed through a set and try to pick out the White Sox cards in it. In some sets, the White Sox aren’t even represented.

Mainly, I am a team collector. On occasion, I have added to that criteria. I am a player collector of Carlton Fisk and Harold Baines. I have also decided to chase the 2008 Topps Heritage set. When completed, this will be my first hand collated complete set. I am also currently thinking about expanding my player collections to include John Cangelosi and Don Wakamatsu.
I have gained more focus over the years. I have narrowed down my collection to something that will be ongoing enough to keep me busy the rest of my life and compact enough to where it’s not overwhelming. I have a lot of support from the blogosphere and that certainly helps in my goal.

I just collect what I really enjoy now. I’m a lot saner and a lot happier for it.


PunkRockPaint said...

Well done! I guess I will write a post about my collecting habits...

Steal to buy drugs; sell drugs for baseball cards.

Except for the stealing and drugs, it is my M.O.

Motherscratcher said...

I'm curious as to what rules Ebay changed on you and why that made it so you couldn't sell cards?

Steve Gierman said...

Most of my sales were from commons or semi-stars that were listed well under a dollar in my eBay store. They changed their policy to not include store items for under a dollar.

While I could still sell cards, over half of my inventory was booted off the site. My sales crashed and the fees were too cost prohibitive to list the commons at auction. Those cards that were listed for 50 cents or under would not sell for $1.00.

I regularly enjoyed sales of $100 per 30 days on average. Currently, the last 30 days total to a whopping $7.50, which means the last 30 days I have lost over double of what I have taken in.

I already have one of the lowest shipping prices, at $1.75 with discounts for multiple cards, on eBay and cannot lower it any further or it will severely cut into shipping costs. For now, my pleas to eBay have fallen on deaf ears. My sales suffer and there isn't much that I can do about it.

Rob- AKA "VOTC" said...

Funny how we both were tainted by the strike of '94.

I comment on it in my post as well and subsequent 4 year jiatus until 1998 as well.

That '94 Sox team wasn't going to be denied a WSC that year.

Motherscratcher said...

That's a bummer. This is a bummer, dude.

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