Saturday, May 24, 2008

Why I Left and Why I'm Back

This blog is going to be kind of long so go grab a bag of chips and a Dr. Pepper or something. I can assure you that this is the longest post I’ll ever type for TNB so don’t worry that you’ll have to read a novel every time you show up.

First of all, you’re probably wondering what “Treasure Never Buried” has to do with baseball? Why not call it Blister Pack, Manny-Mania, Lofton’s Loft or “If Heaven Ain’t a Lot Like Jacob’s Field, I Don’t Wanna Go”? Future card blogger, please, feel free to use them. Just make sure to reference me. I’m a rookie and I need all the exposure I can get.

Anyway, I came up with this phrase about 8 years ago when my first and only ATTEMPT at writing a novel ended in failure.

I feel that I am searching for treasure never buried, roses never planted.”

I quit collecting back in ‘94. Packs were getting more expensive and what in the world was a refractor anyways? Why are my cards serial numbered? Did they join the Army or something? None of it made sense to me anymore and so the cards ended up buried in the back of my closet.

Six years later in ‘00, I found myself in Wal-mart at 3 am for no reason other than boredom. I bought a pack of UD Choice on a whim. (note: 8 years later and I still have trouble deciphering which “You Crash The Game” cards I have…go figure)

Over the course of 3 or 4 months I would drive to Wal-Mart and spend all of my money on retail packs. One day the whim went as quickly as it came and all of the new cards went in the box with the old ones. Once again, I walked away.

In 2004, I returned from my first tour in Afghanistan and I started my first management job. New job, new wife, newborn, everything was coming at me at once. One day out off frustration, I drove off in my car to think for awhile. I stopped at a shopping center to find a restroom and there in the corner was a sight that I had long forgotten. I got out of the car and with every step I began to move faster, searching my pockets for spare change and wadded $1’s.

I stepped inside and I was 12 years old again. I stood there looking past the clerk counting and recounting my money. He could have had a store full of 1986 Sportflics and I would have spent every penny I had. Umm…but shouldn’t I be getting a little more than 5 packs out of $23? When did inflation hit the sports card market so hard? Had I been gone that long? Poor, poor Topps and Upper Deck…I felt bad that they were so strapped for cash that they had to charge so much for trading cards. Times must have been tough for them.

I’ll never forget how stupid I must have looked when I pulled a Clemens/Posada Yankee’s Dynasty Dual Game Used Jersey.I thought I had pulled a $100,000,000 card. What in the world was embedded in this thing??? The clerk told me that a customer had pulled an Elvis Presley card that had a piece of his Military uniform embedded in it. Huh? I must have misunderstood him. That just sounds dumb.

My job soon slowed down and the pressure subsided. One day, I took the cards up into the attic and opened the shoe box from my 7th grade football cleat’s full of old cards. I delicately placed the new cards inside. I never looked back as I came down from the attic.

In March of ‘07, we moved into our first home. While putting up the last of our stuff I came across all of those old shoe boxes. I decided to sell them and start working on the down payment for a new truck. After all, isn’t that what collector’s are supposed to do? Collect, store, reminisce, sell? I was just following the tradition.

Before I finished I noticed one tattered old Topps card in a penny sleeve. I took it out and sat in the floor staring as if I were holding a ‘52 Mantle. Of all the Jeter rookies, Manny inserts, A-Rod variations, only ONE card was in a protective case. I sat in the floor for hours sorting back through worthless cards in horrible condition.

If these cards meant so much to me, why did I always end up walking away again? Did I continuously “outgrow” them? Did other things take precedence? Yes, but more than anything it was with the cards themselves. I was reminded how frustrated I use to get trying to figure out if I had the 50 cent base card or the $50 “Gold Super Flapped Printed Slant Purple Mint Exofractor”?

Every time that I came back to the hobby that I loved I felt that I was struggling to understand a hobby that wasn’t the way that I left it… I felt as if I were trying to find something that was never really there…

Hence the title, Treasure never buried…

There is more to me than this blog entails but I feel it paints a picture of how I’ve always approached my collection. I know it kind of ends on a dead note but it will lead into my next post.

I didn’t actively attempt to begin a blog. One year ago I got back into the hobby “one last time”. I told myself that this is it. This is the last shot at Baseball Cards. If I didn’t doesn’t work out for me…well, that’s also another future post. If the frustrations of being a collector can’t outweigh the frustrations I occasionally need to escape from elsewhere then it’s a losing battle, right?

I feel like I stand alongside many of you who feel the same way. That’s why I’m here. I have heard and read so many gripes over the last few months about the state of card collecting. Yet we’re still here. There are legitimate concerns from collectors. It’s not all just incessant whining. There are problems with the hobby and I believe that if the voice becomes loud enough from us that we can help to change these things.

Thanks for reading and, once again, I promise this is the last all-nighter I’ll pull anytime soon.



jv said...

jv Says:
May 26, 2008 at 11:43 pm e

I’ve been working with getting the photos to work all day!! Please, if anyone finds that something is out of whack, please email me and let me know…

I’ve been working constantly to make this an interesting blog. I hope that everyone enjoys it.

Dave said...

May 27, 2008 at 1:13 pm e

I found your blog from the link in Wax Heaven. I think you’re off to a good start! I am someone who collected heavily in my childhood (roughly 1985-1994) and then stopped, and have gotten back into it a little bit a few times over the years. Now, in 2008, I’m starting to get back into it more than I have since my childhood. I’ve decided that I don’t want to collect a lot of the high-end products, but there are many more collectible, less frustrating sets out there that I really like. This includes Topps Heritage, Goudey, Allen & Ginter, and the regular Upper Deck set. What have you been collecting since you got back into the hobby?

jv said...

May 27, 2008 at 1:48 pm e

Man, you’re story sounds exactly like mine! When I first got back in, I didn’t know where to start. After a few weeks I bought a box of ‘07 Allen & Ginter. I wasn’t too happy with the price but I don’t think you can beat the design. I haven’t liked the Topps Heritage until this year’s set came out. I’ll probably build a base set of the ‘08 stuff. I bought tons of the Goudey last year. I even pulled a Babe Ruth Immortals Jersey out of a Wal-Mart Retail box!

I use to agree with your comment about low end sets being less frustrating. But, honestly, unless you’re buying bulk listed singles on the internet, they’re almost more frustrating. They sound like a Dr. Seuss book with all of the variations in the low end stuff…Gold Label, Green Back, Gold Foil, Red Back…

dave said...

May 27, 2008 at 3:22 pm e

Yeah, I don’t like the base set variations either, like the Goudey “red backs” and the Topps Heritage “black backs”. To me, they are useless filler in the packs, and I just try to build sets of the “regular” cards (green backs) and some of the inserts.

Congrats on the Babe Ruth jersey card. It must have been a thrill of a lifetime to pull that! My best pull has been a Carl Yastrzemski signed glove card #/15 in UD Sweet Spot. But when you buy Sweet Spot, you expect to get a great hit.

My first box (since ‘94) was a 2007 Goudey hobby box and I loved it. I’m disappointed that they’re switching to full size cards for the 2008 Goudey set. I think they’re trying to make it more like A&G. I like A&G, but I had mixed feelings when I opened my first box of it. Getting cards of the Eiffel Tower and Gandhi is kinda strange when you open a pack of baseball cards. I’d prefer cards of old baseball players instead of dead famous people and buildings.

Anyway, good luck with the blog. I’m enjoying it so far!

Geo said...

May 28, 2008 at 2:51 am e

I’m also in the same boat. I collected baseball cards for years as a kid, stopped, then came back to collecting football cards as an adult and found myself in an alien landscape of a hobby. I’m still trying to get my bearings but I’m not liking what I’m seeing.