Skip to main content

I reserve the right to throw out my cards

The trouble with Twitter is it's so damn topical. We always have to discuss the hobby issues of the day and fire our opinions out there for anyone to view and -- well, I can be opinionated sometimes and also sometimes those thoughts don't line up with other people's opinions.

This isn't some firestorm issue. Nobody blocked me (I don't think) or took away my account. It's just a hobby topic and one that's come up periodically.

It was the final question on another CardChat by former blogger Sooz. The topic for the chat was "base cards" and the final question, asked somewhat jokingly, was "do you throw base cards in the garbage?"

My answer to that was, "yes," but only in some very few instances.

But plenty of people said no. And plenty of people were horrified by the question. "Blasphemy!" they said. "People who do this should be fined!" "Fucking monsters!" Their words, not mine.

I rolled my eyes.

Refusing to throw out cards is one of those sacred cows among those of us who collect for the love of every card, those who open packs the traditional way, collect the traditional way, aren't in the hobby to flip or only for autographs, who aren't dismissive of base cards.

But people gotta face reality. Not every card is a treasure. There are sets I out-and-out hate. Do I throw out those cards? Well, no, mostly they stay in a box that's rarely opened unless I can trade the fools.

I also stash thousands and thousands of Dodgers dupes in a couple of large boxes. I have other dupes sitting in a closet. Some of those dupes are old and moldy, scuffed, dented, folded, ripped and pulverized. I keep them.

So, my record is pretty clean. Whenever people think of throwing out base cards I think they picture high rollers walking into a hobby shop, buying several boxes, opening them there at the counter, pulling only the cards that interest them, then leaving the "undesirables" for the trash, or whatever serf wants to scoop up the scraps.

I've never done that and would never do that. But there are practical reasons for throwing out cards. I've tossed flimsy unnumbered checklists from the '90s that come without a picture and from sets I'll never complete. I've thrown out cards that look like food was spilled on them 40 years ago. When Commons For Kids announced they were no longer able to accept sports trading cards, I looked through the box that was scheduled to be shipped to them, and pulled out maybe 11 Jeff Hamilton cards from 1991 Upper Deck. That's aside from the other 6 or 7 Hamiltons from that same set sitting in my dupes box, plus the '91 UD Hamilton in my Dodgers binder and the '91 UD Hamilton sitting with an incomplete 1991 Upper deck set.

I tossed a few of them. Nobody wants them and if they do, I don't know where those poor people are. I've used up my resources for stuff like that. Also, take that Hamilton instance and repeat it for just about all of his teammates from that time period. That's a lot of extras.

I try to run giveaways as often as I can partly in an effort to get rid of unwanted cards. But I don't feel comfortable sending some cards -- even for free -- to fellow collectors (see 1992 Donruss). So what to do with those cards? Some of them have been sitting in my closet for 20 years.

Then there's the very real matter of space. It's limited. Nobody is coming by to build an addition onto my house for free. Lack of space sometimes causes me to make tough decisions and those decisions will only get tougher as the cards That I Want grow and grow.

Also, I don't want to be a collector paralyzed by the idea of never throwing away a card. I know many collectors who can't throw away a card and wear it like a badge. But I think you've got to be a little more flexible. That sounds like a nice idea until people are gawking at you from their living room as Hoarders airs a segment on you.

Also, some folks aren't thinking about sets like this:

How there are still cards from 2012 Triple Play in my collection, I don't know (I still do have a little bit of resistance to throwing out cards). These things are terrible and have been terrible since they were first issued.

I have tossed a few Triple Play cards but they were those stupid puzzle pieces in which a drawing of a player is duplicated on nine different cards. Yes, I know, you still need those to complete the set, but if you're trying to complete 2012 Triple Play, you have more pressing problems.
I am aware this seems to run counter to my pinned tweet:

 But people are thinking in absolutes and either-ors. There is a lot of gray in the hobby. I adore base cards, more than a lot of people. But not all base cards are created equal and thanks to card companies not being able to put a lid on how many cards they produced, protecting every card like it's a newborn baby is maybe a tad unrealistic.
So, I try not to throw out cards, but there are situations when it happens and I don't feel bad or feel like I need to apologize. Cards are not sacrosanct. Yes, every base card is important for the completion of a set. But when you have shoeboxes and shoeboxes of 1991 Donruss extras in the basement and nobody is coming to get them and you put out feelers 10 times without a peep and people who live in the same house as you are threatening you over them and you trip over them every time you go downstairs, then, yeah, maybe toss a few. It's not a puppy, it's a piece of cardboard ... or fake cardboard.
And if you still have an issue with this, send me your address. I'll send you every unwanted card in my home and then, congratulations, it's now YOUR PROBLEM.
All right, I gotta to show some cards I received so this whole thing isn't a rant.

I got some more free cards from Johnny's Trading Spot during his daily giveaways. Lots of good stuff here. I really like those Brooklyn Dodgers phone cards, that's something that not even Trading Card Database has on file.

Then I won again and received these cards, along with an accompanying note apologizing for the dupes as he was running low on Dodgers for the giveaway inventory. And it's true, all of these are dupes. 

I could easily throw out these cards. I don't have a desire to pick up any new Yasiel Puig cards anymore let alone ones I have already. But I won't toss them. They will go with my other many, many, many, many Dodgers dupes with the hope someone will want them some day or someone will start another organization for accepting unwanted cards.

I have plenty of extras for that.

So I won't feel bad tossing a card here or there every 6 months or so. And maybe people can relax a little on the NEVER throw out cards thing before someone has to dig them out of their house with a loader bucket. I subscribe to a lot of old-school collecting ideals but holding on for dear life to a card like this ...

 ... I don't get.


Great post. Now through out all your Puig cards and release yourself from that burden.
simpson said…
amen. I also love and keep most commons, but historically, you know, the old cards we all treasure have worth because a bunch of them were thrown out. I'd love to go through all your dodger dupes btw ha ha...
Mike Matson said…
I throw out cards that are damaged or food stained. I've also thrown out cards from 87-91 that I have octuplets of.. I threw out basically a box of 91 Score because of the number of duplicates.
Any time I got those newer Triple Play cards, unless it was something that caught my eye, they caught the trash basket.
I felt guilty for a while, thinking that I could find someone who needs them, but really... Who wants 10 copies of say... Jeff Robinson from 91 Score??

If it wasn't for the fact that the only 92 Donruss I need now are the Update cards, I'd say you got a person in me.. lol I think you have me all I needed, unless you're sitting on Expos..
Jeff Laws said…
I throw away damaged cards but that's it. I just can't throw away a perfectly good card.

That being said, my cousin and I sold just under 88,000 cards, all base, for $500 to a guy who sorts them and sells them to a company that make those repack packs. That makes it easier to hold on to them.
Section 36 said…
I hate to throw out cards because I know there’s probably someone out there who wants them. But what else am I supposed to do with 10,000 non Red Sox commons from 2012?
I usually only throw away damaged cards, but I will say that every year I'll get some that I know I have hundreds of already.....goodbye, no guilt at all.
I pulled some more Dodgers out of the 1 trade box I've been using these last few months, we're good.
I held on to EVERYTHING for years, but after several decades I still had box upon box of the junkiest junk wax of the late 1980s and early 1990s. If it's truly junk wax and I don't need it and nobody I know needs it and it's not glossy, I throw it in the recycling.

I view it the same way that deer hunters explain the benefits of their pastime - the herd needs thinning out because there are few natural predators (or in the case of baseball cards, there's nobody flipping or putting them in bicycle spokes)
Crocodile said…
I figure I'm just helping out the future value of some commons nobody wants now, but maybe someone will want it in about 50 years.
Anonymous said…
Those Triple Play things should be made to suffer. Burn them.
sandyrusty said…
I think you are bang on with your sentiments. I do have boxes and boxes of dupes that hardly ever get looked into for a card someone wants in trade. For now I hold on to them but at times I do wonder why. I guess because I have the space. I did chuckle about your scenario where a buyer goes in a store, rips open packs, takes only the cards he is interested in and leaves the rest on the counter. I saw this in Honolulu in the early 1990s. The sad thing is that it was young kids doing exactly that, looking for the Griffey or Thomas RC only.
CaptKirk42 said…
I'm a life long collector who cringes at the thought of throwing out cards. As a kid I did sin that sin one maybe two times to purge my collection. I shouldn't have done it back then as now years later some of those cards would help to complete whatever set they were part of. I feel bad about sitting on the floor in that gray area between our dining room and living room with a black trash bag wrecklessly tossing away 1970 and 1971 Topps baseball cards with huge creases or tears or my black or red magic markered gigantic initial "K" emboldened across the front or back. It was the mid or late 1970s the idea of "recycling" was not yet a thing, nor a common practice. Today I opt to recycle unwanted cards, even ones with the foil or plastic, if the materials of a modern card are not recyclable then it is the recycling center's problem not mine. If a card has old food stains or unidentifiable crud stains well then yes they are ruined completely and can be trashed.
Fuji said…
I collect damaged cards... and even have a moldy relic card (that's stored in a Ziploc bag), but I too reserve the right to throw out cards. Most recently, I came across a stack of modern (2015 to 2018) Topps cards that were damaged by water. Figured nobody would want them (not even Goodwill), so I tossed them.
Bo said…
10 people on TCDB have that Holliday card on their want list. Four have the Quentin on their wantlist. 22 have the '91 Hamilton on their wantlist. 27 more have the "diamond logo" version on their wantlist. So somebody wants them. I have eight copies of the regular version for trade myself. Maybe I'll be able to trade them someday.

If nothing else, giving them to a place like Goodwill or the local church flea market at least gives them a chance to end up in the hands of someone who will appreciate them.
night owl said…
Someone just told me the other day that Goodwill actually won't take Triple Play cards anymore.
Grant said…
@Bo makes a good point. Collectors do in fact want these, it's just a matter of logistics and money making it worth the while.
Nick said…
I used to be quite militant that "cards should NEVER be thrown away!!" back in the day. I still don't throw cards out, but I can totally see why people do - I probably don't need 18 1991 Upper Deck Scott Fletchers in my house. Opening a new box of 2022 and tossing everything that isn't a "hit" is one thing, throwing out 1990 Donruss is quite another.

(Also, those Dodgers phone cards rule!)
carlsonjok said…
I have a hard time throwing out cards, although I have done so since my house was built in the 50s and only has small closets. I am the same way with books. It feels like destroying history to throw out a book. But, I had to have a serious conversation with myself about why am I holding on to a 40 year old calculus textbook with a split binding and torn cover.
Benjamin said…
I'll gladly take any boxes of commons you have sitting around, sir.
Jon said…
I've thrown out many Donruss and Fleer (baseball) from 1990 and '91 over the years, and still throw away badly damaged non-vintage on a regular basis. And I don't feel any remorse for doing so.
Matt said…
I remember a few years ago a blogger (don't remember who) threw thousands of cards into a bonfire and posted pictures of it. He triggered a few collectors on the TCDB forums, but in the end I couldn't fault him for it.