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A little on what makes night owl tick (and ticked)

This has been a weekend of discoveries as it pertains to my hobby.

It's been little things, mostly, but collecting cards is all about the little things anyway. It's not a big-deal kind of hobby (Look what I found during my trip to Tibet!).

To start, it's coming up on the year anniversary of my mom's passing. The only reason I mention that is because I realized I've just reached the mental state where I can go through the many, many family photos -- a significant number taken by my mother -- that I removed from my parents' home when we were cleaning it out last summer.

Back then I had taped the albums up in boxes and then transported them to my house where they sat in the basement for months because I couldn't begin to look at them. But now I'm starting the long process of scanning and uploading and downloading, etc., and remembering fondly the old times and old friends.

This is a photo of me and my brother and my mom. We're at a park about a half hour away from where we lived. I'm the kid in the red shirt and Dodger hat, as if you hadn't figured that out already.

This is a very familiar photo to me but there is so much you rediscover when taking old snapshots out of their pages and cropping and displaying them on a backlit screen. I've just discovered, upon viewing this in a new way, that I brought my baseball cards to the park!

This photo sums me up perfectly. In fact, if someone were to request a picture of me that encapsulates my personality and interests, this is the photo I would hand them. It is summer. We are near the water. There are boats and hiking trails and a beach nearby. And I brought baseball cards.

I'm quite sure that I was hoping that I could stay at that picnic table all afternoon and sort through my cards. But I'm guessing somebody required me to go down to the beach or into the water or walk around the lake or something infinitely less interesting.

I never understood the appeal of the beach. That hot sun beating down on you relentlessly. Ew, get it OFF me! And then going in the water? What are we supposed to do now? Yeah, not my thing. I knew, when I got older and realized girls in bikinis were everywhere at beaches and in the water and I still didn't want to go down there, that I wasn't made for this outside stuff.

Basically, all I've ever wanted to do can be done inside. Collecting baseball cards, listening to music, reading and writing. All inside activities for the most part. That's me, the night owl. If baseball could be played indoors -- not a dome, I mean like inside my house -- that would be terrific. And about the best way to convince me to go outside is to say we're going to a baseball game or a music concert.

But mostly, what I'd rather be doing, is staying inside and writing. Yup, this quarantine is still not affecting me much.

I'm still hammering away at this blog, after all. And while I've been writing this for years upon years, other bloggers have drifted in and out. I certainly don't expect anyone else to have my priorities, but writing is just about No. 1 on my list, so there will be no drifting.

Years ago, many bloggers moved on to Twitter. and since I jumped on Twitter, too, I would see them there. One of those former bloggers is Eric, a.k.a., Those Back Pages, who ran The Diabetic Card & Comic Geek blog. TBP and I had traded a few times, he is a known Mets and Heritage lover and he once sent me the entire 2012 Heritage base set.

He was quite active on Twitter and then suddenly I didn't see him much there, except for his familiar daily morning greeting. I wondered where he had gone, perhaps maybe he had lost enthusiasm for the hobby.

I couldn't have been more wrong. Yesterday, I discovered that he has his own YouTube channel talking about the hobby and has been doing it for almost three years! (Check out his vast unopened boxes in the background!) Where had I been? Yeah, I know, I probably had my nose down, writing. But I have a lot of video viewing to do now.

So, now YouTube is where a lot of collectors get their hobby fixes. It's not blogs or even Twitter or Facebook but on video (or a podcast). And there's been a tiny part of me that wonders whether that's something I could do. But then the larger, smarter part of me counters with: no, you are a writer.

I'm not here to appeal to video show-and-tell. I'm not here for people who don't want to read more than 10 paragraphs. You're not interested in what I produce? Fine. I don't want to write for someone who won't appreciate it.

You're not going to see me on the beach, or in the water, or on YouTube.

But, obviously, everyone is different. Even we card bloggers are different. And so, while I've continued to write, some other bloggers ditched their blogs and have been gone for years. But with this pandemic closing everything down, a few have come back. I've counted about a dozen who had disappeared for one, two, even five years, and then suddenly they've returned.

This is good news, because I missed those guys. But obviously,  they had found other stuff out there -- outside -- that made them tick. I stayed put. This is what makes me tick.

One former card blogger, a very well-known one, mentioned on Twitter about getting the itch to blog again. She wondered if people blogged about cards anymore, or was it just YouTubers now? I had to jump in and say: do you know how many people have come back to their blogs in the last month?

As much as people want to label blogging about cards as "so 10 years ago," it remains a vibrant community. You can read new content on about 100 different card blogs within a three-day period. This isn't 2009, I'm talking about. This is now. 2020.

Yet, still -- and this is the part that ticked me off -- there are some who don't believe.

One of the comments on the tweet from the former card blogger thinking about getting back into blogging was from someone who is also a former blogger. He was a very well-known blogger back in the day, heck, the first card blog I ever read, and a major inspiration for starting my own blog. This was the comment:

"Haven't blogged in quite a long time and it's kind of sad to me that so few out there are writing about cards. I would love to read 1,000 words about the design of 2020 Topps."




That's my post on viewing 2020 Topps for the first time.

All right, it's 2,607 words. Maybe that's too much.

But the point is: PEOPLE ARE STILL WRITING ABOUT CARDS. LOTS OF THEM. And they're still writing about 2020 Topps. And Heritage. And Gypsy Queen. And Panini stuff, lawd amighty.

I could go through and find probably 25-30 posts about 2020 Topps when it first came out. Maybe that's not as much as when reviews of the first cards of the season were at their height, which I'd say was around 2009-12, but if that's what you want, you can find it. And I would assume that a former card blogger knows where to go to find card blogs.

So this is why this is just empty whining to me -- while also marginalizing a passionate and faithful base of bloggers -- because it's obvious that we're STILL ALL HERE!

Which is why I said:

Don't pretend that life is more sad than it already is. Life may have changed for you. That doesn't mean everyone else gave up their blogs, too.

I have found what makes me happy.

While others travel to distant lands ...

While others follow bands from coast to coast ...

While others attend a different sporting event every week ...

While others bike trails and go on shopping excursions and post videos with their phones ...

I write. And I blog.

I'm not saying this is the best thing ever. I'm just saying that this is what I enjoy the most, writing, collecting, inside, with my cards. This is the best thing ever for me.

And, obviously, there are others who enjoy it, too. Because I'm reading new blog posts from many collectors every day and have been doing it for a dozen years straight.

The blogs are here. The writing is here.

OK, since I've shown barely a baseball card in this post, here are few cards from the 1979 Topps set that I thought were cool when I was sitting on that picnic bench in that snapshot:

The stack of cards I brought to the park that day were 1979 Topps cards. There are other photos of me, from a few months earlier, looking through rack packs of '79 Topps that we received in our Easter baskets. But you don't need to see me in my jammies.

I'm quite enjoying this card blogging renaissance and all of the little discoveries I'm making.

You can, too. If you want to.


Robert said…
Whoever that was that couldn't find people that are writing about cards likely wasn't looking hard enough.

As you well pointed out in this post.

Would be good to see Sooz back writing on her blog again. I replied back to her "still blogging". I'm going on 9 years now (will hit that mark in July).

I'm a bit more "outdoorsy" now that I'm down south, I guess much more warmer weather has a lot to do with that, but when I lived up north I was quite the indoor person as well. Those long winters will do that to you.
I'm one who faded away but is back now. And while I sometimes add something to the community, it is the pillars like you who make sure there is a community to come back to.

I kind of think about you, and a few others, like the old players who played for one team their entire careers. Gehrig, Williams, Musial, Banks, Ripken etc. I don't know exactly how to put my finger on it, but I have a real admiration for that, and it doesn't happen much anymore.

I know that isn't exactly the same as what you are saying, blogging is a choice and what team you play for isn't always. But you guys are steady and reliable. Those traits aren't valued as much as I think they should be.

Good writing, thanks!
Billy Kingsley said…
Well said Greg. I love going to Lake George but I rarely went to the water itself. The place we stayed at from 1987-2012, you could see the water from almost every room, only the bathroom was out of view. I would sit on the couch, cropping scans on my laptop, in the later years. The largest purchase I ever made (over 1200 new cards in one day) was in Lake George and I sat at the table sorting them and being distracted by the boats every few minutes...doesn't get much better than that. I don't have access to that place anymore and it still bothers me....I'd give up almost anything to go back there.

Writing, to me, is the best. Reading other's writing as well. I don't want to watch videos...I'm usually watching actual sports on TV. I do have my own youtube page but nobody wants to see me. Or hear me. 99% of my videos are silent by choice.
Fuji said…
I've been watching ThoseBackPages videos for awhile now, but had no idea he had a blog until now. Or maybe I did... and I just forgot. When it comes to the internet and collecting... blogs are my favorite thing to browse. But I do enjoy watching and listening to certain collectors on YouTube. As for Facebook and Twitter... I can't say I interact with either very much except to reply to messages every now and then and plug my posts.

P.S. I hated writing when I was little... but I really enjoy it now. And I owe it all to blogging.
Zippy Zappy said…
I've consumed media on YouTube for the better part of the last 10 years but I won't watch anything card related. Mainly because they're just streams of box breaks or "hey check out these pulls!" that could've otherwise been done in five seconds via a Tweet because the video makers rarely add anything interesting. Although one notable aspect of it all is that you can really tell there's an age divide among the card collecting communities. If they collect sports cards the community is old, very old. If they collect Pokemon cards they're literal toddlers. Everything in between is everyone in between.

Anyway I look forward to the music version of this where Night Owl ventures out to discover modern day rock music. King Gizzard is my recommendation.
When my son suddenly died in December, I thought my life would completely shut down, especially since last year was already a down year and my hobbies had taken a backseat. It was adding up that this would be a dismal year. But for some reason that I'm not quite sure of yet, my blogging (and trading) were resurrected in January, and my other hobby of model building has flourished, I enjoy it more than I ever have. My son was an artist, so maybe this is all in tribute to him, or for his approval, he always supported my hobbies. Its still early in the grieving process, we cant yet bring ourselves to go through his stuff, I know that the time will come when we need to do that, and I'm sure we will find some wonderful things that will bring smiles to our faces. I'm a man of few words, and my blog reflects that, but those few words and some pictures of cards, are helping me deal with it. The blogging community has been kind as well, and I'm thankful for that.

BTW that is wonderful photo of your family.
Nick said…
A few things:

1) I HATE THE BEACH, and it's so nice to know there's at least one other person who feel the same!

2) If you ever get a blogger card made of you, you should use that photo of you & pair it with a current one, kinda like the "Super Veteran" subset from '83 Topps.

3) I use YouTube a lot to watch sports stuff, but I find the card side of it incredibly dull. Blogs are a more personal interaction to me, reading the words someone took the time to type, rather than just watching someone talk about whatever.

4) I saw that same "does anyone blog anymore?" tweet, and I audibly groaned at that exact moment. I never thought it was all that hard to find card blogs, but I guess I'm wrong...or people are just too lazy. (Probably the latter.)
Brett Alan said…
I was thinking about my Mom's passing just before coming to read this, too. (OK, because I just watched a TV episode where the main character is dealing with the death of a parent which aired tonight.) Hang in there.

I'm not a writer, at least not in any kind of professional way, but I'm a reader. Video blogs just aren't my thing.
Vrooomed said…
Funny thing - I pretty much have really just started reading the blogs (still not religously, but as I make time to do so - or a post title catches my eye), so I still find the blog thing to be "new". Not 10 years old. I appreciate what the bloggers do, and I've said it before, I really enjoy reading your gift (talent) of being able to write so well. Keep it up. Thanks. (And you could've posted the whole 1979 set to show the "cool" cards from it - first set I put together - still love it to this day - but most collectors seem to hold that first set they collected completely in very high regard - very few of them say "Oh, my first set, it's terrible.")
Nick Vossbrink said…
Yeah I don't get the youtube thing. Sort of okay with it when it's a couple guys conversing since I can see what it adds but even then the time commitment is rough. Much much prefer reading and (sorry) skimming when necessary.

And while I'm not a writer I need to write. Sit down. Get some thoughts out. When it's done it's done. Then I publish and if I'm lucky someone besides my parents and San Jose Fuji reads it. But I write for myself not the audience.
"I have found what makes me happy."

That's what card collecting -- and life in general -- should be all about.

Great post and cool photo!
Old Cards said…
Nice post and very much like a magazine article. No doubt that writing is your passion. As a kid, on our vacations to the beach, I took my baseball magazines to read in the motel room and couldn't wait to get home to my cards.
BaseSetCalling said…
Keep on blogging on everyone. My blog always goes dark when it gets light out and I start working what feels like 25/8

But eventually I get to come back indoors and read all y’alls blog posts from 2 months back...
Elliptical Man said…
What is going on in that Bill Lee card? It looks like there are a bunch of people standing in foul territory instead of sitting in the seats whee they belong.
Anonymous said…
Ben Henry was cool back in the day, but it was his co-blogger that really made his blog great. Ben alone kinda sucks, as his clueless tweet shows.
Jongudmund said…
I love reading card blogs. I've wanted to start my own card blog for a while now. Living in lockdown has given me time to start setting one up. Launching on Saturday! (Hopefully)
Fred Pike said…
If you keep writing. I will keep reading. Thanks.
Matt said…
You and i have a lot in common, except I do prefer to be outside lore but not in crowds so much.

This was a great read and you made a lot of good points. I don’t plan on leaving blogging anytime soon and don’t even expect me to ever be on a podcast, seen on YouTube even as a guest. Not to mention ever being a host and you can pin that. I prefer to write as well
Sean said…
Nice post. I much prefer the written word to the spoken one, both as a reader and a writer, so blogging has always been my thing rather than Youtube or platforms like Twitter that are so limited.
Matt said…
I'll read between 12-20 blog posts a day. If that's a lean time in the media, I can't wait to see it come back in style!
gregory said…
When I started blogging about trading cards a year and a half ago, I knew about 15 or 20 other trading card blogs and I thought that was an impressive number. Then I found a dozen more. And then a dozen more after that. Even as recently as yesterday, a blogger mentioned another trading card blog to me that I'd not heard of. What a group!
Bo said…
Just wanted to say I agreed with everything you wrote in this post. Including about the beach (and I've lived 10 minutes from the beach my whole life).

Interesting comment about Ben - didn't know there was a co-writer. That explains a lot.
mr haverkamp said…
Great post, as usual. I met Eric/TBP at the National last summer (he's kind of easy to pick out), and congratulated him on his vids regarding the grading companies scandals. Did not know he used to be a blogger.
Much rather read (and write) than watch usually terrible quality video of someone in a cave opening packs of card. I do not find it that alluring. My own blog posts are kind of sad and boring, but I like writing them and scanning the cards (and getting the cards, first!) and am grateful for what few readers drop box. Bless you and your blog.
jacobmrley said…
We used to go to the Jersey shore in the 80s to a little notch called Silver Beach, between Point Pleasant and Seaside Heights. There was a little old school beach junk shop there called Hydes (alas, it is now a bigass Wawa) and they a has all the stuff you'd expect - magazines, sunscreen, cigarettes, beach toys, and baseball cards! I used to go down once a day and get my uncle the papers and a few packs of baseball cards and some candy and my whole morning was set. Your post made me remember those days and I am still smiling.

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