Monday, August 3, 2015

The Collector In Me

Last week I received an email from a reader asking me about my collecting history. Things like “How long?”, “What do I look for?”, “Do I have a center piece?’ and “What does collecting mean to me?” I did answer his questions but I decided that maybe I would get something on my blog to kind of open up a bit. 


This got me thinking because I have been collecting for decades and why I collect now is very different from why I started buying cards when I was 7 years old

 I started picking up cards in 1979 when I was 7 years old, I wouldn’t say that I was a collector at the time but more just being a kid. My family had just moved to Arizona and I would go up to the local Circle K with friends and we would pick up packs of basketball cards that were at the register. I didn’t have a favorite team or player at the time so we just traded cards for cards we thought looked cool. I still remember pulling a 1979 Topps Jack Sikma so I guess you could say that was the card that started the collector in me.
Over the next few years I would pick up packs here and there. Around this time I started liking the Phoenix Suns and the Seattle Mariners and Seattle Seahawks so I would trade for those teams.

In 1987 the NY Giants won the Super Bowl and they were my dad’s favorite football team so I started picking up 1987 Topps Football rack packs to put together a Giants team set for my dad. I ended up building the entire 1987 Topps football set, my first completed set, and when I presented my dad with the Giants team set he threw the cards in the trash and told me I wasted my money and time and he forbid me from buying sports cards ever again. Needless to say I stopped collecting that day.

In late 1992 when I was 20 years old and living in Seattle a couple of friends got caught up in Shaq mania after he was drafted by the Orlando Magic. They found out that his 1992-93 Stadium Club rookie was the card to get so I went with them to a card shop and ended up purchasing a few packs where I pulled an Alonzo Mourning rookie card. We went back in and I bought a couple of boxes and finally pulled some Shaq rookies which is why I selected that card as my Wallet card.

When the 1993 baseball season rolled around I started working on my Griffey collection when I pulled his card from the 1993 Stadium Club Series 2 before long I made my first major Griffey purchase when I bought a 1989 Upper Deck #1 from my LCS for $40. I lost the 1993 Stadium Club Griffey in "The Purge"  (See the next paragraph) and still have not replaced it.
The next couple of years I went on a major buying spree, running up my credit cards, but by 1997 my marriage was failing and my (now ex) wife took a large portion of my collection and threw it in the trash while I was at work, I call this "The Purge". Afterwards I had no interest in collecting, not to mention my collection was drastically reduced (I figured that she tossed roughly 75% of my Griffey collection away) and I didn’t want to re-purchase cards that I had previously owned, thus was born my collection of Ghost cards.

Between 1997 and 2000 I picked up the occasional pack here or there, at the time my collection was so small that I could easily fit it in to a 5,000-ct box with room to spare. After my son was born in 2000 I began collecting again, this was a fun time because relics and autographs were coming along and with so many different companies the designs were always so unique.
Now I focus mainly on my player collections of Ken Griffey Jr., Steve Kerr, Steve Largent and Ryan Bader. I have a secondary player/team collection consisting of Jay Buhner, Randy Couture, Seattle and Phoenix teams plus vintage cards and sketch cards.
What do I look for?
I look for cards and memorabilia that will fit within my collection, I do not buy anything simply to have it. There were times where I did purchase anything and everything related to Griffey or a favorite team but I like to keep my collection reasonable now so I have to fight the urge to add every action figure of a favorite player or a magazine with Steve Kerr on the cover.

Do I have a center piece?
I have added a number of items to my collection that could easily be considered a centerpiece but the one that has sentimental value to me is my autographed Ken Griffey Jr. bat that my wife gave me for Christmas about 12 years ago. It is a beautiful black Louisville Slugger C271 bat with a strong Griffey signature in silver pen ink.

What does collecting mean to me?
The reason I collect is because I love sports, growing up I played soccer, football, basketball and ran track. I felt that sports cards and memorabilia was a natural transition for me, I see the athletes on the television and I can hold their cards in my hand while watching. Now that I am a parent I have taught my kids to love sports too, even coaching their soccer teams, so when my son found a fondness for collecting it has bonded us together over something that goes back to my childhood.


  1. Nice read, Corky. Always good to hear the stories of the other collectors. And much sadness over the purge.....

  2. I can help you with that Buhner PC.

    Now let's never mention the Purge again.

  3. I recently got a similar email from an online auction company might be the same source. She had the same questions. I was a bit skeptical at first thinking it was a phishing email to get me to join something or buy or sell something. So I asked if I had to sign something, sell, buy, join something yadda yadda yadda. Nope just have to write up a story, blog it, and twit tweet to them about the post. Apparently I don't even have to tweet if I don't wanna. I'm in the drafting process for my story.

    Ugh Purge. Once when I was a kid I did a "purge". Most of the cards I got rid of I think were dupes, some hand cut type hostess cards and some cards I had marked up/defaced.