Stepping Back and Looking at My Collecting Goals
January 24th, 2010 by slangon

When I first started getting back into collecting, I was very unfocused. I knew I enjoyed collecting baseball cards and I knew I liked the Mets. For a while, my collecting “strategy” involved just buying whatever cards I could lay my hands in, in the greatest quantity possible, for as cheap as possible. I bought rack packs that were on clearance. I bought those crappy packs of 100 cards that consists of one early 2000’s cards of somebody along the lines of Pudge Rodriguez sitting on top and 99 cards from the late 80’s/early 90’s of guys like Mike LaValliere. I bought those “Mystery Packs” that they sell at flea markets and card shops, where it’s a brick of crap-end cards wrapped in brown paper. Whatever meant my collection was growing was fine by me.

Of course, now that I’m a bit wiser and bit more conscious as to what I add to my collection, I very much regret all those dumb purchases. Yeah, it might’ve been just $4 here, $5 there, but if you add up all those 1,000’s of worthless cards, I could’ve added some cool stuff to the old collection. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a hugh fan of a card needing to cost big money to be cool. I have plenty of cards that I think are cool that have a book value of probably $0.05. When I call a card worthless I more mean it’s boring. It does nothing for me. The player is uninspiring, the design is uninspiring, the card is uninspiring.

As I spent a little more time researching cards on the web and looking at some of the awesome card blogs that were out there, I narrowed my focus a little. I now decided that I was going to collect every Mets card out there. No big deal. I continued to spend a lot of time and energy compiling checklists of what, as far as I could tell, was all cards depicting a player in a Mets uniform. Even taking into account the fact that the Mets are not that old as far as teams go, thanks to the glut of sets that started to pop up in the 80’s and continued to multiply up until today, that came to be 1,000’s of cards. That didn’t deter me though. I figured collecting is journey, not a destination. Of course it’s going to take many years to try and collect all them Mets. That’s sort of the point.

Again, I started to grab up as many cards as I could, just this time they were mostly all Mets. Again, this led to my collection becoming stuffed with 1,000’s of more uninspiring cards. The only difference was that they were Mets, so it wasn’t as bad.

The last few months, I’ve been trying to get my act together and actually get my collection into some sort of shape where it’s not just a boat load of cards stuffed into boxes. Mainly, I’ve been trying to put together my nicer cards into binders. In the process of doing this I’ve been realizing how many cards that I own that I don’t even like. I’m sure everybody has cards they don’t like, but I mean I have tons of them, many of them Mets. Yes, I realized that a large portion of the cards that I purposely set out to collect, I do not like. Imean, come on, does anyone like ’95 Fleer? Anyone? Yeah, I thought not.

Anyway, I was realizing how many Mets cards and cards in general that I have in my collection that I feel that way about. Cards that I’m acquiring for the sake of acquiring. Because they’re on some checklist and my collection won’t be “complete” unless I get this card. I guess I really started to notice it recently with all the various vintage Mets and Keith Hernandez cards that I’ve been tracking down. When I get those cards, I get really happy that I have them, and not just because I’m able to cross it off of a checklist. I constantly take them out and look at them. I feel kind of lame when I get a card, come home cross it off my want list and then put it in a box never to be looked at again.

Long story short (too late), I’ve been sort of re-evaluating my collecting goals lately, and I think I’ve come up with some new focus and direction.

I obviously still want to collect Mets cards, but only ones that I like. I don’t NEED to own every card that has a Mets logo on it. I generally like Topps, and always loved the company as a kid, so I think I’ll try to keep up with collecting every years Topps team set for starters. That also works well for me since there’s that continuity. It’s not like Upper Deck or Donruss that have only been around since the 80’s. There’s a Topps set for every year of the Mets existance. There’s also several cool looking insert sets through out the years from different companies. The ’51 Topps Red Back inserts from 2010 Topps, for instance look awesome, so I would try to collect them. Everyone who reads this blog knows that I’m gaga for retro sets, so it sort of goes without saying that I would probably want to continue to collect them. Although I must admit, I don’t know if National Chicle has any Mets in it, but I’m not so sure I’ll be running out to get those cards any time soon. Point is, I plan on being way more selective in the Mets cards that I allow into my home.

I still want to collect vintage cards. This might not jibe with other folks idea of vintage, but I consider anything pre-1980 to be vintage. I just feel like any of those cards are so cool looking that even if it’s some scrubby player who never did anything, I would still be psyched to get that card. Hell, probably 90% of my vintage cards are scrubby players who never did anything anyway.

There’s also some player collections that I would like to expand on. Most folks are aware that I collect Keith Hernandez, but there are a few other guys I would like to focus more on. I like Daniel Murphy a whole lot, and him being a new player gives me an opportunity to focus on newer sets that I might not otherwise collect. I also a while back decided that wanted to collect Moe Berg cards, but never really started in on that. The good thing about those three particular players is that they span from the late 1920’s to today, so it’s a good way to get a sampling of the entire span of cardboard history. I would like to figure out a player who’s career ran from the 1940’s to the 1960’s to have an excuse to buy cards from that era, but otherwise, I think I’m covered. I was thinking perhaps Red Schoendienst. He played from 1945 to 1963, so he would fit in quite admirably.

There’s a few other random things that I’d be interested in, but don’t necessarily warrant their own category in my collection. For some strange reason, I love manager and team cards. I like All-Star cards as well as World Series cards. I enjoy League Leaders. I know there’s a handful of T205 and T206 cards of players from local New Jersey minor league teams. Things like that.

On top of all that, I’m very much committed to continuing with sending out custom cards to get signed (which reminds me, I have a giant stack of them on my desk waiting to be posted about).

Anyway, I’m looking forward to expanding the old collection in 2010, but doing it in a way that makes more sense.

4 Responses to “Stepping Back and Looking at My Collecting Goals”

  1. Your well written thoughts certainly strike a chord with me. I’ve had some of the same experiences coming back to the hobby and am still struggling to make sense of my collecting. Thanks for the very inspiring post.

  2. Agreed man. My house is filling up with junk O’s cards that I don’t even like. What do you do at that point? Are you going to sell or throw out all the Mets cards you don’t love?

  3. @ The Beard: I’m not even sure at this point. I mean, it seems that the ones I don’t like also happen to be the ones that are worth bupkis, so I feel like I wouldn’t get squat if I went through the trouble to sell them. Also, I couldn’t imagine anyone in their right mind being interested in buying them. And as far as throwing them out, the pack rat, err… I mean collector in me couldn’t do it. I guess I’m resigned to just letting them take up space and serve as a constant reminder to not buy cards unless I love them. Which I guess that in itself is worth keeping them around for.

  4. Great post. I got back into cards and I have been scooping up whatever I can find. Over the past few days it has struck me that I really like minis, “painted” cards and older stuff- the so called “bad wax”. Your post really brought it all into focus. Thanks.

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