The Ten Hobby Commandments…but probably not.

I’m one of those brave souls…or maybe just foolish physical manifestations of a current human being?  I went to a card show this past Saturday. 

Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.

It was a card show with other collector’s, other humans.  People that have different priorities than me.  People that may think facts and science are negotiable.  In the time of a major pandemic.  In an area where the numbers are not going down.  It was risky.  I grant you that.  Of course I wore my mask and sanitized the hell out of my hands before i left the car and once I got back into the car.  I did my best to not touch every single thing I see, but then again I’m not four years old…that part was easy.  Sports card collectors have not traditionally been the healthiest of crews.  We all know what I’m talking about without saying it…but I’ma say it anyways. 

We’re all some version of the stereotypical cardboard hoarder; the fried food eating, soda drinking, epic hit oversharing, hunched over a box of cards looking to score a big hit kinda person.  That person, we all know them and we own some of those characteristics.  I know I do…the fried food, love it.  Sodas, love ‘em.  Hunched over a box, my neck is sore after every show I go to.  Ironically though,  well, maybe not ironic…maybe it’s just a timing thing with this post.  For the month of January, the bride and I are doing a thirty day cleanse after a much needed year of eating and drinking our feelings.  Drowning our sorrows in whiskey and wine all year while chasing it with some burgers and fries hasn’t done our bodies well.  We’re one full week and I’m feeling significantly better…but enough about me. 

Let’s talk about some commandments in the hobby that I abide by and how some of them relate to card shows and collecting.  I know some folks around here have noted some type of community agreement for card shows and collecting in general, so these are from my perspective.  Oh yeah, I’ve based them on the Notorious BIG’s “Ten Crack Commandments”.  Very possibly inappropriate and most likely have very little to do with the actual hobby in itself, but I’ve always wanted to mix this song into a blog post.  So, I may be going all over the place here and relate absolutely nothing back to the hobby…but you should read because I think it’s fun and I’ve got 1960 Topps cards in between…Let’s go…sorry, as one of my favorite colleagues says…one more thing. The cards and the stories have absolutely nothing to do with each other. You’ve been warned. Ok. NOW. Let’s go.

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Number ONE! Biggie Says: Never let no one know.

My hobby isn’t really a secret, but I do like to stay somewhat anonymous.  I’ve tried to scrub my name from the blog and rarely…if ever posted a photo of myself.  The bride has suggested that this is not a good way to drum up business and attract readers or buyers.  Her thought is that people want to know who they’re dealing with.  My thought is that I don’t want that.  I like anonymity and I like blending in.  I’ve never been one to stand out in a crowd and don’t really feel the need to stand out in the hobby.  Who knows though, maybe she’s correct.  I often find myself googling other blog authors or collectors to see who they are (does that make me a stalker…?)  I’m not on the facebooks, so it’s a challenge to find faces and match them up with their blogs.  So, I fully embrace the notion of letting no one know.  A fun future blogger game would be to match the face with the blog.  That would be a fantastic year end game to play…?

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Number TWO! Biggie Says: Never let ‘em know your next move.

This one relies heavily on secrecy and finding a “honey hole” of sorts…no, scratch that.  That’s a horrible term.  Maybe it’s really just a favorite spot.  I have those.  But I share them.  I know some folks have a Target or Walmart that they hit up during a certain time of day during a specific day to grab those retail commodity boxes…guess those folks play to the never let ‘em know your next move.  I’m not big on that, I think that sucks.  Share and share alike I say.  So maybe this one applies to some, but not me.

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Number THREE! Biggie Says: Never trust nooobody.

So, this one may be ABOUT me and I’m still feeling a little guilt about it.  When I was at the show Saturday I stopped by Bill’s table (Gavin knows this guy).  Bill is an older gentlemen that lives in Salem, about an hour south of Portland.  He buys card lots from people and has about 4 tables of 10cent, 50cent and Dollar cards.  The dollar cards though, if you buy seven of them it only costs you $5!  It’s been that way forever…or at least like 10years forever, that’s how long I’ve been hitting up these shows…I mean, I’ve been going to these shows for over a decade and it’s always been like that…well, at least that’s what I remember.  I went through the $1 cards and separated my stack into sevens and tallied up the total.  I like organization, remember?  As I was counting, i had an overwhelming sense he was peering over me…I believe he was…I KNOW he was.  When I told him my total, he said “you sure…ok…I trust you…”.  Bill can be an odd duck, but that stuck with me.  I wandered around the other tables and dealers for a bit but couldn’t get it out of my head.  My guilty conscience brought me back to his table to clarify if the $1 box was still 7 for 5?  “Nope” was the response and the shame rained down instantly.  I did a quick recount and gave him the difference in cash and explained to him my “why”.  He seemed to be ok with it.  I guess.  I hope.  I should have asked or clarified when I felt odd about his response, but I didn’t.  That’s a whole nother blog post to explain those issues about me.  I did square it away and I feel good about that…but f’real Never trust nobody…including yourself.

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Number FOUR! Biggie Says: Never get high on your own supply.

I think this is a great one as we all do this.  Opening boxes is great, right?  Who doesn’t love opening things.  My kid loves it.  My bride loves it…hell, my dog loves it.  She opens every single stuffed animal we buy her.  Therefore, I too love opening boxes.  I have a stash though.  I love the stash…but mostly open them when I’m bored or in need of a fix.  The people that hold on to boxes can really see a jump in value if they wait the right amount of time.  That’s a hard thing to do, sit on something and just wait for a rainy day or come across some ebay listing that says it’s going for twice what you’ve paid for it.  How does one NOT get high on their own supply at this point.  Apparently 1989-90 Hoops are going for close to $100/box.  That’s ridiculous…but it also proves that if you don’t get high on your own supply, you can make a buck or two plus in the future…you know, to buy more cards.

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Number FIVE! Biggie Says: Never sell no crack where you rest at.

I am a collector first and foremost.  This is an expensive hobby though…like really expensive, especially the last couple of years.  I’ve been listing my cards on ebay now, quite a bit.  I’ve also done well, so much so that I’ve opened a shop on ebay and have been dealing with the crazies all across the country buying my unwanted cards.  Essentially running a small card shop from my home.  I do mostly PWE’s and have been adding my return address just in case something gets lost or ends up bouncing back and forth between Miami and Minneapolis.  I don’t mind fellow bloggers having my addy, but not some coocoo man from Florida type that could receive a card they don’t like and decide to take a road trip to the PNW.  I’m thinking of getting a PO Box to help with this issue so I’m not selling no crack…cards where I rest at forever.

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Number SIX! Biggie Says: That got damn credit? Dead it!

Cards are expensive, remember when I mentioned that in item 5?  Yeah…really expensive.  How many collector’s run up a debt in their collecting process?  Hopefully not many, but I’m certain some do.  Living on credit is tough during these Soylent Green sorts of days and almost necessary for some of us.  But man, that got damn credit?  Dead it.  If I can’t pay cash for a card, I don’t need said card…that’s mostly the impetus for selling so much on ebay.  Ultimately, my goal would be to not spend any of my day job money on cards and just get to a point where I can spend card sales money on cards!

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Number SEVEN! Biggie Says: Keep your family and business completely separated.

I love my family.  They love me…even my 8 year old.  The dog loves me.  At least one of our cats loves me…not sure about the other one.  He’s definitely more of a momma’s boy.  They all have some kind of idea what I do with my hobby, not explicitly, but generally.  My always asks why I collect cards and in return I ask why he always plays video games…it’s because we enjoy it.  Also, we’re both incredibly anxious and these things help our emotions stay in control.  Part of the hobby can be dense…too much for a spouse to deal with…or maybe just not want to deal with.  I let the bride on to some things that we deal with in our hobby, but mostly don’t.  Not because I’m hiding anything (don’t tell her about my stash!!!), but because I don’t believe it will generate a lot of interest for her.  Keeping this part of my life separated from her is ok…she knows how much it means to me…she just has some concerns about the time I spend with the hobby.  Maybe the hobby does its own part in keeping family and business separated…?

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Number EIGHT! Biggie Says: Never keep no weight on you.

So, as I mentioned in item 3, I was at Bill’s table this past Saturday.  Lots of new faces in the crowd.  Sneaker head faces behind their Supreme and Nike facemasks, just straight ballin’ out…sorry, that wasn’t really necessary.  But seriously, the landscape of these card shows and the hobby have changed.  The hobby has been influenced by influencers.  I’m sure I’ve been sucked into some of it as well…I’m a sucker most of the time.  Well, anyways.  While at Bill’s table there was a group of twenty somethings buying graded basketball cards.  Not just some basic cards, LeBron and Kobe rookies.  These youngsters has some loot too.  The tallest one, I’ll call him Chad for the sake of conversation.  Chad pulled out a ziplock back…the kind with the plastic slider, not the integrated slider…he had the baller ziplocks.  That bag was way too aggressively slammed down on the glass display case and in it was a four inch stack of cash…at least.  All twenties, at least from what I could tell.  Chad was not messing around.  He wanted those slabs and got those slabs.  The Chad gang left right after the purchase and went to their cars…I guess to unload the weight.

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Number NINE! Biggie Says: Stay the F*** from police.

Well, maybe the police don’t have anything to do with this one.  Other than possibly the moral collector police or the “back in my day” police.  I totally get the frustration we all have with the hobby at times and the influx of new faces, but things change.  I like to see this change as good for the hobby.  It increases accessibility, awareness, attendance and other words starting with A’s.  It also increases interest.  Our hobby has had, in my mind, a negative perception for those that don’t know.  We’re seen as overgrown children doing children things…collecting WHAT??!!  I had those when I was a kid…why do you still collect cards…now you know why number one was so important to me.  I like to see how others collect and I honestly don’t care if someone objects to my collection process or methods.  This hobby is huge and has many lanes for all of us to participate in…let enjoy and not overly police others that are new to the hobby.  So, not only stay the f*** from police, don’t be one!

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Number TEN! Biggie Says: Consignment, if you ain’t got no clientele, say hell no!

Consignment, yeah…no thanks…well, maybe.  Selling cards is tough, you really need a lot of stock to make some money in doing it.  Collecting cards is also tough, you really need some good collector friends and online searches to find what you want.  Do we really need consignment in our hobby?  Many times I’ve been sent a link on twitter for a great Washington card and pursued it.  Some times the favor was returned when I posted a card…sort of a communal sharing.  Ebay is a bit of a consignment…they take a huge chunk of your change so you can sell your items to a significantly larger audience.  Helpful yes.  Paying for them to such a thing, not so much.  But, honestly would I have sold that card without them and their reach…?  I don’t know…may say hell maybe to consignment.

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Hope you enjoyed the read.

Hope it was slightly entertaining and engaging.

My apologies for the ramblings, but hey…isn’t a blog supposed to be about ramblings? 

Have a great evening and see you next time!

-Cardboard Hogs

And now…the inspiration for today’s post…as well as the inspiration for the song for the post…so metta.

Next level favorites and more autographs

I didn’t receive a Topps Now Christmas card today…and honestly i’m not too upset although i kinda feel a little left out.  So to make up for my collecting insecurities i stopped by the LCS to see Brian today.  There was a show on the other side of town, but i was with my offspring all morning and afternoon.  I thought making an attempt at hitting up the show would be a major failure due in part to the snow, but also to a rambunctious young boy.  I decided the baby step with a card shop visit would be a more appropriate first step…i mean, you don’t learn how to ski going down a black diamond run on your first visit to the mountain right?  The boy did great and i was able to pick up a couple new Redskins that i will get posted here soon as well as a box of the heavily discussed Bowman Draft cards.  I’ve been on a bit of a run this year with Bowman cards since they offer a huge array of prospects and on card autos for everyone…plus the chrome versions (as with all Topps chrome cards) have an odd but appealing scent to them.  I’ll try to get to those later in the week once i have a chance to open a box and go through them.

All of that stuff from the first paragraph has nothing to do with the cards i’m about to show right now.  This past September, i was between jobs and didn’t buy too many cards during that month but did pick up a couple of retail packs and a Stadium Club box from the card shop.  As you may have seen from an earlier post this week, i noted that the Willie Mays card was my favorite of the year.  Honestly, that set had numerous images that could have been labeled “Best of 2016…”.  So here are a couple other images i thought were worthy of noting.

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First up is the Alex Gordon rainy day photo from the post season of 2015.  This may not be the greatest photographic image, in fact, i believe it could have helped a bit with a little more separation and cropping to show his feet and home plates…this may have allowed a little more blue at the top of the photo.  Also thing this in a landscape with some “rule of 1/3rds” going on could have made this an epic card.  That’s all nit picking…it’s a great card and a great moment captured by a talented photographer just before the pitch.

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Every time i see or think of Lou Brock, I can’t help but think of the Q-Tip lyric “…got the scrawny legs, but i move just like Lou Brock with speed, I’m agile plus i’m versatile…”  You get the idea.  Being a big Rickey Henderson fan, i’m also a fan of Lou Brock.  Their careers became so intertwined as Rickey entered the league breaking all of Lous’ records along with some of Maury Wills records.

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The other image is of Monte Irvin and his total control of 5 bats.  Mr. Irvin passed away at the start of the year at the age of 96.  Irvin was one of those players whose professional career overlapped America’s involvement in WWII as he was part of the 1313th Battalion in Europe…but it was also during the Negro League days where he was one of the many stellar players that would eventually be part of the breaking of the color barrier.  Reading the stories of the players during this part of our countries terrible history is quite sad.  Makes you wonder what kind of numbers some of these incredibly talented players could have put up during their younger or peak years.  This is just a beautiful card.

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Last image is of one of the three autos i received in the box.  It’s of Matt Wisler.  The young pitcher for the Atlanta Braves who was involved in the Padres deal for Craig Kimbrel and Melvin (BJ) Upton Jr.  While he was in the Padres organization he pitched for the San Antonio Missions!  I spent many a night as a child watching the San Antonio Dodgers on the south side of San Antonio.  They later became the Missions as the relationship with the Los Angeles Dodgers was ending.  Since San Antonio is home to many wonderful historic missions, the name made sense.  Besides, everyone remembers the Alamo, right?  Speaking of San Antonio, my alma mater played in their first bowl game today but lost to New Mexico.  Tough break for the young program.  Baby steps.

As i mentioned, i received 3 autographs but two of them were redemptions which i have yet to receive.  I’m hoping to get them in the next month or so…no idea when really, but both of the names are great and i’m not too interested in asking for a replacement…so now i wait…

The next two cards were from a jumbo box of Topps Series 2.  One is a great prospect and the other is a guy form the Reds organization that may or may not pan out…who knows?  Sticker autos are always a little disappointing.  There’s just something about the card being in the signers hand rather than a sheet of Apex sticker sheets…or whatever is used.  Anybody know?

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Kind of proud of the Raul Mondesi card.  Ties in nicely with the Alex Gordon from above i guess.  Raul is only 21 and is already a World Series champion with a very bright future…lets see what happens in 2017!

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As i mentioned, i wasn’t able to make the card show today which isn’t too unusual since i tend to hit them up every other month and i was there in November.  Still enjoy going to the shows and talking to my favorite dealers and collecting with the old guys there.  The vintage dudes seem to love telling stories of cards they had and have lost through the years…love it!  Great time…wish i could have a drink with most of those guys though.