Monday, June 19, 2017

Blog bat around: Why I collect these guys

I am not a player collector.

I do not own a binder, box, shelf, room, shrine or dungeon dedicated to the cards of a single player. There is an element of player-collecting that still weirds me out and that's one of the reasons I don't do it.

I also don't do it because I enjoy focusing on sets and my favorite team a lot more. Individuals are fallible. "Things" don't let you down (unless that "thing" is the Mets).

But it's true that there are certain players that I admire more than others and that I keep a running tally of how many cards I own for each of those players. It's listed on the "Dodgers I Collect" page. It's the only place where you will see these individuals separated from the other cards I own.

This page is what is allowing me to participate in the latest Blog Bat Around, which originates from the
Eamus Catuli blog. P-town Tom would like to know how my player collection(s) came about -- you know -- if I were to have player collections.

So let's take a look at them in an order of my choosing:

1. Clayton Kershaw

Number of original Kershaw cards: 514.

How did it come about: I've known that Kershaw was going to be a special pitcher for at least 10 years. I've never been the type to get in on the ground floor of a prospect, but I decided the time was right with Kershaw. I think I chose wisely. Not only was I able to obtain many early Kershaw cards that people are scrambling to buy for high prices right now, but he has been everything that we Dodger fans hoped for back in 2008. I like the Dodgers' tradition of pitching quite a bit and I'm happy that Kershaw has basically taken that tradition to a new level.

Most unusual Kershaw item in my collection:

Unfortunately, Kershaw emerged during this current period of hyper-licensing. No one can make anything of a baseball player or a baseball team without it being licensed by someone. That puts a real damper on creativity, variety and just plain oddness. This is the best I can come up with: a signed card of Kershaw on, not the national team mind you, but the junior national team. Look at wittle Kershy there in red, white and blue.

2. Hideo Nomo

Number of original Nomo cards: 475

How did it come about: I've speculated plenty of times on this blog that Hideo Nomo owns the best-looking cards, the most interesting cards of anyone to ever play the game. After all, they were interesting enough that they prompted me -- a traditional set collector -- to try to accumulate cards specific to Nomo. He is a pioneering player and his mark in history will never be erased. Those are good enough reasons for a player collection.

Most unusual Nomo item in my collection:

If I had some more time I might be able to find something more interesting. I like this little figurine mostly because I can remove his cap. But I think I wasn't able to find anything more odd because many of Nomo's cards are so "out there" that there was no need to create anything else.

3. Orel Hershiser

Number of original Hershiser cards: 277

How did it come about: You had to be there in the mid-to-late 1980s. Orel Hershiser was the most unlikely dominant pitcher since Kent Tekulve. It was such a thrill for the Dodgers to own a pitcher who was so dominant for a period, one who led my team to a World Series title, that I couldn't help but be a fan. Hershiser remains one of my favorite players of all-time.

Most unusual Hershiser item in my collection:

There are a bunch.




But the one that blows everything else away is my 8-by-10 photo, signed by Hershiser and addressed to "Night Owl". I received this in the early days of the blog after Zach of Autographed Cards coerced Hershiser to sign the photo as you see it. Of course, now, Hershiser knows who Night Owl is. But at the time he just had to go on faith.

4. Sandy Koufax

Number of original Koufax cards: 159

How did it come about: Koufax and Jackie Robinson are the holy grail for Dodgers collectors. And I came across Sandy Koufax when I was in fourth grade, reading a book about him during "quiet time". I've always been a fan even though I never saw him pitch. Collecting his cards was a mission long before I could afford any of them.

Most unusual Koufax item in my collection:

I'm sure there are some great Koufax finds from the past, but I'm not willing to delve into that expensive world. Save for some Koufax oddball cards, I don't own much that is considered all that different. So I'll go with this:

I own not one, but two, 1966 Dodgers yearbooks. It's a landmark yearbook that commemorates the Dodgers' 1965 World Series championship.

All of the members of the 1965 team are included within with glorious black and white photos mixed among 1960s ads and fashions.

But there is one obvious favorite page in the entire yearbook. And now I have it in duplicate:

It's the Sandy Koufax page.

That is fantastic.

5. Ron Cey

Number of original Ron Cey cards: 121

How did it come about: Ron Cey was my favorite player when I was a kid, probably brought about by owning his 1974 and 1975 Topps cards and then the Dodgers making the World Series in 1977, 1978 and 1981. I was able to watch Cey play more often than if I was a fan of, say, the Texas Rangers during that time. The Dodgers actually appeared on TV periodically all the way on the East Coast and I was able to see Cey's game for myself! I liked his power. I liked his look. I liked his second-banana status. He remains my favorite player and will be forever. I may have the fewest cards of his than the other four on the list, but that's only because misguided card companies have yet to discover what I found so interesting about Cey as a 10-year-old. Get with it card companies!

Most unusual Cey item in my collection:

Cey played in the '70s, so I have lots of unusual items. Just the other day, mr haverkamp sent me an email asking if I had ever spotted the following Cey item. It's some sort of storage box for cards that Topps was selling off of its wax wrappers and Cey is on the box! I admit, I've never seen it before. I don't plan to pay $19.95 to add it to my collection, only because I have other great unusual items of The Penguin.

Such as the 45 record of Ron Cey's 1976 hit song, "Third Base Bag" (with the flip-side single, "One Game at a Time"). Tell me how many of you player collectors have a player with his own 45?

But as cool as this item is, it can't match the most unusual Cey artifact.

Nothing will ever match the Ron Cey-signed penguin lamp created by the band Fleetwood Mac to honor The Penguin.

Yeah, when I look at this particular item, it will be difficult to explain to anyone that I am not a player collector.


  1. That penguin lamp story you told a while ago still might be my favorite post ever to appear on this blog. Also love the bulldog.

  2. Hear you loud and clear about collections focused on single players. When I first began my renewed interest in collecting as an adult (thank goodness I was able to hang on to my collection from my childhood), I started out with binders of cards each year of certain players. Found it to be boring. Trashed that idea and started collecting teams like I did as a kid and in the process rediscovered why collecting is fun. Really enjoy your posts.

  3. The Orel Hershiser bulldog card is wonderful!

  4. "but that's only because misguided card companies have yet to discover what I found so interesting about Cey as a 10-year-old. Get with it card"

    Be careful what you wish for. Imagine being a player collector of a highly printed player with all the parallels and assorted weirdness card companies do with cards now.

    I collect Bill Virdon because I grew up in the same town as him. While I'm happy to find new cards of him it its very disheartening to try to track down the same card, in different colors, numbered to 100, 25, 10, 5, and 1. A few years ago there was a Virdon game used jersey on eBay. I thought "I'll bid it up to a certain $ amount and maybe I'll win". I ended up paying 3x the dollar amount that was in my head because I got to thinking "If Topps gets this thing it is going to cost me 100x more chasing all the jersey parallels down for the next 5 years."

  5. Great bunch of oddball items. That one of a kind lamp should be displayed in Cooperstown or something. It's so awesome!