Friday, April 27, 2012

Deep Thinkings by Cynicalbuddha

A tip of the hat to Jack Handy.

I was sitting in my man cave with my drawing table loaded with baseball cards.  Sorting out a lot of Brewers cards I had just gotten, going through my team set lists seeing which ones I needed, which ones would be put in piles for possible TTM's, or filing into my Brewers extra box, I started thinking what the hell was I doing?  Don't get me wrong here this isn't I've come to my senses and now I'm giving up a hobby I really enjoy post.  No it just started me wondering again, why do we collect?  And not just baseball cards, but anything.  There have been many many people over time that have sought the answer to this question.  Doctorates have been given out from papers confronting this vary issue.  Some say that it's because we come from hunter/gather roots and collecting is a deep seeded need and compulsion that stems from our very early beginnings.

But I know there are lots of people who don't collect anything.  My wife for one.  And I know, from watching Horders, there are people that take this to the other extreme as well.  I firmly believe I fall squarely in the middle.  I know this because my collecting and collection has goals and parameters.  I don't have a problem selling or trading away cards that don't fit into those goals and parameters.  And from most of the other trading card blogs out there you are right there with me.  But at the same time I know I would have a very hard time selling off certain parts of my collection.

I while back I posted about the different kinds of collectors.  Specifically pertaining to trading cards.  And I'd like to go back over those types again.  And while you might fall into only one category, you most likely fall into a few of these, like myself.

First we have the Player Collector.  This type of collector collects cards of his or her favorite players.  Base, autos, relics, inserts, oddballs, any of those or just some of those. We make up our own rules for our own collections.  Some PC's are just regular issue cards from the player's playing days, some people collect only relics and autos.

Next up is the Team Collector.  This collector collects cards featuring players from their team(s).  Maybe they try to put together complete team sets.  Sometimes this includes other memorabilia as well.  Again the parameters are set by the collector.  They may exclude players or certain types of cards.

Set collectors collect full runs of certain products. So far I've fallen into all three categories.  These collectors like to put sets together. I like to put together the flagship Topps Baseball and Football and have started doing Allen and Ginter annually as well.  Card companies have started offering sets that have manufactured SP cards making completing full runs more difficult.  Some Set Collector's only put the base set together, other's like to put master sets together, some like to put just inserts sets together.  To each there own.

Next up we have the Autograph and Relic Collectors.  These collector's only collect autographs or relic cards.  Most of the time they have a player or team emphasis, but sometimes not.  Over the years reading all the different blogs and websites I've come across a few collector's that are super disciplined. Their collection consists of one or two boxes of cards, highly organized and each card carefully selected for that collection.  I'm actually kinda jealous of those collector's.  Pretty much those guys only buy singles of cards they want.  No filler.  No boxes of extras and doubles clogging up their closet.  I, unfortunately for my wife, am not one of them.

Next up are the Theme Collectors.  These collectors have collections centered around a central idea.  Like HOF Catchers, cards showing plays at the plate, night game cards, sets with different minis, so called "frankensets", ect.  I've never tried one of these collections, but I do see the appeal and the fun in it.

I'm sure there are a few more categories out there and if you fit somewhere else let me know.  I'd love to hear what you think.  I consider myself in the top 3 categories.  I have Player collections of RobinYount, Rollie Fingers, Reggie Jackson, Frank Thomas, Brett Favre, Bo Jackson, Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder, I collect cards of players from the Packers or the Brewers from all years as long as the card labels that player being on my teams.  I also try to put together a few sets every year.

Now with that being said, why do we collect sports cards?   For me now and when I started collecting as a kid it was about having a piece of my team and baseball in general.  I grew up as a military brat.  That meant I was seldom in a place where I got to watch my teams play.  And growing up I was a Brewers and Packers fan because I was from Wisconsin, but being a Packers and Brewers fan in the Mid/Late 80's and early 90's was rough.  And so I was also a fan of lots of players.  Kirby Puckett, Ricky Henderson, Don Mattingly, Will Clark, Frank Thomas, Wade Boggs, Cecil Fielder, and on and on.  And why did I collect cards from these players?  To be closer to the game.  Why do I collect cards now?  To be closer to the game, to have a nice pictorial reminder or my team and the history.

One of my new aims in  my collection was putting together team sets for the Brewers.  After I started doing that and seeing each consecutive year one right after the other, the history of my team came to life for me.  Seeing players added and traded.  Trading cards have beauty all their own.  Each of us has certain sets we find more appealing than others.  Being a lover of history, art, and useless trivia trading cards are a natural fit.
Plus there's something very cathartic about sitting down and sorting out a stack of cards and collating them from chaos to an organized set.

And while some collectors may only collect one thing, many of us, myself included, collect other things as well.  I have a fairly large comic book collect, dating back to before I got into sports cards.  I also have a collection of $1 casino chips and squashed pennies from various places I've traveled to.

So while I asked the question why do we collect?  I can only really answer why I collect.  And now I'm going to ask you.  What kind of collector are you? And why do you think you love this hobby so much?


  1. i collect experiences. stuff is of little value to me. i have a dream of a museum of modern art exhibit that is an empty shelf. when's the last time you saw one of those?

  2. Well I cover just about all of those categories, except for Auto/Relic collector. I definitely think all of us collector's have a certain "gene" in our DNA that compels us to collect. That and I just love baseball in all its forms. :)