Another year is complete at Night Owl Cards. This blog debuted on Sept. 13, 2008, meaning I've written a full 11 years of
I've said many times that I began this blog wanting nothing more than to babble about baseball cards. Who was out there meant a little bit but not a lot. Looking to build my collection, make contact with industry biggies and trading card heroes, becoming part of an influential community -- none of that -- was on my radar at all.
I just wanted to write. And I wanted the writing to be about cards.
Eleven years later, this blog is still a love letter to trading cards, a public cardboard diary, but it's become so much more. Even though I've been somewhat absent from my blog over the last year due to extenuating circumstances and the reader numbers aren't nearly as strong as even a year ago, I'm blessed to be where I am.
It's been a hell of a ride and in typical Night Owl Cards fashion, I thought I'd go through the 11 coolest things that have happened to me during my time writing this blog in countdown fashion. It's amazing what a few words can do.
11. Participating in Gint-a-Cuffs
A mere two months or so into writing NOC, I discovered that people ran contests on card blogs and that you could win cool stuff. That was a trip. I don't participate in that many contests anymore because what will I do with all of those cards, but it's still a fond memory.
The best of those contests was Gint-a-Cuffs, which may or may not be still alive, it went on hiatus this year and the enthusiasm for it has waned. But at its height -- I participated for the first three years -- it was exciting. Buy a box of Allen & Ginter, and not only bust open the contents but match your contents against like 30 other collectors based on a bizarre points system and you could win ANOTHER box of Allen & Ginter!
I never won, which is probably why this isn't rated higher.
10. Pulling a fancy card of Stephen Strasburg
Before I wrote a blog, I had no idea that cards existed in packs that if you pulled them you could instantly sell them for a cool $100. I slowly started to become aware and then during the height of Strasburg mania (which later became Harper mania, then Puig mania, then Bryant mania, then Judge mania, then Ohtani mania, then Acuna mania) I pulled a purple paralleled chrome card of Strasburg. I nearly drove the car off a bridge.
The aftermath was an experience and a lesson in how frenetic the frenzied portion of this hobby is. I've pulled a few other big cards since but nothing on the Strasburg level and I feel fortunate. I'm not made to live in a whirlwind.
9. Receiving personalized items from favorite baseball players
The lengths that some collectors will go to get meaningful items to me was an eye-opening experience that humbles me to this day. There's still a lot of good in the world -- don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
The first of these gifts came when Zach of Autographed Cards sent a personalized glossy photo signed "to Night Owl" from Orel Hershiser, one of my all-time favorite players. I was still trying to craft the "Night Owl brand" at the time and this was mind-boggling confirmation that it was working, almost like Orel Hershiser made an actual commercial for Night Owl Cards.
I still receive cool stuff like this periodically, the personalized birthday card from Ron Cey this year is an example.
8. Card show company
I've gone to card shows mostly alone since my return to the hobby. When I was a young teenager, I'd be forced to go to shows with my brothers and we'd usually have limited time and they'd pull you to cards you didn't want to see, I just wanted some time to myself to focus on what I wanted. So for years I was happy doing the show thing by my lonesome.
Angus of Dawg Day Cards changed all that when we connected to go to a show in Syracuse three years ago. I found out that shopping for cards with a buddy opens up all kinds of card possibilities that I never would have found by myself. My collection is better for it and who doesn't want another person you can talk to about cards?
In fact, I'm supposed to meet up with another card collector, a former blogger, before the month is out. Yup, I'm sort of counting the days.
7. Jerry Reuss
There is nothing that alerted me to the potential of this blog like when former MLB All-Star and Dodgers pitcher Jerry Reuss commented on my blog not once, but twice back in 2010.
Around that time, I began to become aware that anyone could read this blog, not just folks who collected cards. The fact that the commenter was Reuss -- someone who I admired growing up a Dodger fan -- was a source of pride for me as a blog writer for a long time.
It's still pretty cool although I've received comments from other former players, and players' relatives since that time on a fairly frequent basis.
6. Creating a product for Ultra Pro
Do blogs still have pull? I don't know. They kind of seem marginalized now. Nobody can focus on a lot of words unless it's in a podcast, apparently. But back in 2014 I campaigned so often for the return of pages for 1975 mini-sized cards that Ultra Pro actually developed and created the page! You can buy the pages at Ultra Pro right now!
Ultra Pro even sent me a free box, almost like I was a consultant. I certainly appreciated it. At the time, Topps was producing another '75-mini sized set nearly every week. That was the reason for my desperation. How was I going to house these cards??
This was my best squeaky wheel moment. My dad, who was one of those guys who wrote complaint letters to companies, would be so proud.
5. A reason for having a mailbox and email again
Before my blog started, I almost dreaded checking the mailbox.
But today -- still 11 years later -- my mailbox is one of the biggest heroes in the house, yielding envelopes filled with cards every week. I may not receive them almost every day like I once did, but they still show up regularly and that is the reason why my daily thought "oh, it's time to check the mail" still features musical notes.
Email was much the same way for a long time as it began to feature trade offers and confirmations of cards sent to me as well as regular communications with blog fans or even those connected to former players. Much as that has died down as people almost regard email as a necessary evil now. But I'm still happy to check it.
4. I have access to The Big Cards
Before blogging, I automatically crossed off certain cards of ever being attainable. I still do that to a degree but I will never say never again.
Since I started writing here, I have obtained the 1953 Bowman Pee Wee Reese card, the 1956 Topps Jackie Robinson card, the 1952 Topps Andy Pafko card and a number of other formerly "forbidden" cards.
Most of these came from other collectors who have greater access to cards like this or more money or more time to search for deals. I wish I was in that situation but I'm not. I'm just happy that people can send them to me.
3. Speaking of which ...
My collection is much, much more impressive than it was 11 years ago. Blogging has put my collection on steroids. There is no way I would be able to collect at the same rate, have access to the same cards, if I did not blog. I have completed the 1972 Topps set since I started blogging. Same with 1971. Same with the 1975 Topps minis. Same with every Topps set from the 1980s. Same with many other sets that, simply put, would have been a pain in the ass to complete if I didn't have a blog.
2. I write for a national magazine
Today I received my assignment for my fifth story that I'm writing for Beckett Vintage Collector. My fourth story should be arriving on store shelves in a few weeks, I think.
This has become such a regular gig that I finally subscribed to the magazine so I don't have to drive an hour-plus or more to try to find the thing (although my daughter this week discovered the magazine and my article at a chain grocery store that happens to be in my town, too).
Writing for a national magazine, as I've said, has long been a dream of mine. Writing about cards for one was never a thought because how the hell could that happen? And to get money for it? Well, it just seems like this was the reason Night Owl Cards was created in the first place.
1. I get to write
It all comes full circle.
The thing that interested me about blogging in the first place is still the greatest thing about blogging.
I write for a living, but I don't write stories every day. Yet, I perpetually enjoy the F out of writing. It's a need and something that must almost happen daily. If this blog ever disappears you will know it won't be because I got sick of writing -- it will probably mean I'm writing somewhere else, somewhere better, or ... um ... not here anymore.
I'm still here, while many, many, many other card blogs -- in the hundreds now -- have stopped cold, the memory of them lost to all but folks like me who were around back then. I'm still going.
That's because Night Owl Cards gives me a vehicle to express my appreciation for cards and grow my collection and connect with like-minded collectors. But most importantly, it gives me a way to get my thoughts out, and avoid giving money to a psychiatrist. This blog is full-on therapeutic. With some baseball cards mixed in.
So, after all that, I've gone to 11 with this blog and tomorrow starts year 12.
It will be more of the same, hopefully with no crises in the middle of it. I fully intend to conduct the 100 Greatest Cards of the '80s in year 12. I know I've promised that multiple times but I feel the need to get this countdown out more than ever.
Other than that, if you have the guts to read this thing, I will write it.
And maybe if you don't, I'll still probably write it.