Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Collecting cards of retired players means never having to say you're sorry

Times are tough for player collectors. Brian McCann's in the AL. Matt Kemp rumors are in the air. Jacoby Ellsbury is heading to the enemy.

I really feel for guys like Jack Plumstead. What are you going to do with all your Ellsburys, John?

True, not all player collectors are committed to that player's team. Those collectors will follow the player from team to team and scoop up his cards along the way. But I also know that a lot of player collectors are fans of the player because they play for their favorite team. And when you're a Red Sox fan and your guy goes to ... the Yankees? ... what do you do with your collection?

Do you sell it?
Do you burn it?
Do you keep what you got and pretend the last year he played in his career was 2012?

Or do you sell your soul and say, "eh, it's just laundry, I'll still collect him."?

I can't handle decisions like that in my hobby, and that's why I just want to shut out the world when I hear Kemp-to-the-Mariners babble. It's also why I'm not a super-committed player collector. What do you do when your player leaves your team?

Among the modest player collections that I have, the players who are retired provide me with the most comfort. There is no chance that Ron Cey or Hideo Nomo or Orel Hershiser is going to be traded ... anymore. That black cloud hovering over each individual player collection is gone forever. And I can keep collecting Dodger cards of those guys for as long as I want and ignore their unmemorable years with the Cubs or Brewers or Giants.

Sure, Steve Garvey signed with the Padres and it was a tragic moment for Dodger and Garvey fans that I still hear about to this day. But the worst is over. Garvey is still remembered mostly as a Dodger, and the majority of his cards are with the Dodgers.

Recently, I stupidly deleted the "Dodgers I Collect" page off my blog. Jon from Community Gum kindly showed me a way to recover most of the list. Unfortunately, the recovered file is only through the summer of 2012 and I've been trying to update when I have the time. Last week I finished the Hideo Nomo list. It was tortuous because I have more of his card than anyone else, but it was also beneficiary because I found out I now have more than 400 Nomos!

That tired me out so much that I've left updating the Kershaws and Kemps and Sniders for later. But I just had to jump ahead and update the most recent addition, Garvey, to add the very latest card.

Jeffrey contacted me recently and said he had won a certain card and knew I might like it.

I sure do.

This is from Topps' Million Dollar Chase thing from this year. I wish I could tell you more, but I didn't pay attention to Topps' online hysteria this year.

I know it's a Garvey pose we've seen before and it's a sticker auto, but LOOK AT IT!!!!!

That thing is diecut in about 46 different ways and it's got a nifty wood finish that makes it look like a plaque and it's numbered to #268 (who knows why) and it's an autograph and it's Popeye.

Isn't that fantastic?

I particularly like this card because there is no way I'll ever be able to compete with some very enthusiastic Garvey collectors in the world, but still this little card came to me. Thank you, Jeffrey, I'm packaging up some cards for you this week.

Thanks to the Topps' retro phase, which has been going on about 15 years now, collecting players who have retired is a whole lot of fun. Sure, there are no new action photos or the thrill of finding a card after your player just won a World Series or threw a no-hitter. But there isn't that black cloud hovering either.

If I was an Ellsbury collector, I'd probably stop collecting his cards now, or at the very least just keep collecting old Red Sox cards of him. Then I'd wait until he was retired and hope that Topps is still entrenched in retromania and gobble up all the new Ellsbury Red Sox cards.

Because we all know this Yankee thing isn't going to work out, right?


  1. N.O. , that Garvey card is awesome, sticker or not? I'd put it in my collection. It is , he was, and would be worthy!

  2. This is why I was never really a player collector of anyone on the Red Sox (especially after witnessing several favorites leave before). Even my extensive Jason Varitek collection is more of a part of my Red Sox collection than a separate collection. I may have player focuses (Carlos Quintana, Varitek, Felix Doubront, Jackie Bradley Jr.), but ultimately I am a Red Sox collector, not a player collector. If any favorites leave, someone else will take over, and the team collection will continue.

  3. My Pedro collection acts like his career ended in 2004. Mets? Phillies? No idea what you're talking about.

  4. i prefer my garveys in dodger blue, but i did not stop collecting his stuff when he went to san diego. same with cey and lopes. i didn't just like those guys because they were dodgers. cards of other players (such as gary sheffield) i have no interest in other than the ones featuring them as dodgers. nice auto, by the way - i paid about $35 for mine and someone sends you one for free. i would say that you compete just fine.

  5. I have wondered this question for a while actually....

    Even more I wonder what prospectors do when 'their guy' never even cracks the bigs. Which leads to tangential wondering - are there Mike Hessman player collectors? Did Scott Kazmir collectors track down a Sugar Land Skeeter card?

    And then there's a retro-active question - when a fan of a team launches a player collection of a player on that team that came up through the minors in a different organization, does a player collector go track down all those 'rookie' cards of him, possibly showing him in a major league uniform he never wore?

  6. I'm primarily a team collector, but I do have a few player collections. Carlton Fisk, Johnny Bench and Joe Mauer because I'm a catcher at heart. My big player collection is of course Will Clark, regardless of team. It just means that for his Ranger years, I need one copy for the player collection and one for the Ranger collection.

  7. This made me laugh, because during this past weekend's COMC promotion I did search for Mike Hessman cards... but I came up empty. I'm not a prospector or a huge player collector, but I do seek out cards of players I like, and Hessman is one of them... however (to use the Kazmir/Skeeters example in his comment) I don't generally buy cards that aren't from nationally-issued sets.

    I'm mainly a Mets collector, and if there's a player I like or an up-and-coming guy, I will collect cards of him in pre-Mets uniforms. I've got a decent collection of obtained-from-elsewhere prospects Travis d'Arnaud and Zack Wheeler going.

    I also got to like Eric Young, Jr. this past year and I've been looking for his earlier cards... But I draw the line at looking for cards of Eric Young, Sr.

  8. That's a gorgeous Garvey (though, yes, an on-card auto instead of a sticker would've really put it over the top.)

    As a player collector, especially these days when I barely follow baseball anymore, I don't have to fear that looming dark cloud. I'm almost equally as happy to get a Garvey or Adrian in a Padre uni or Dodger.