Did we forget how to have fun?

Everyone has a different story on what attracted them to this hobby of collecting baseball cards. For me, it was my mother who accidentally bought me a set of 1990 Ames All-Stars thinking it was a deck of playing cards. I still remember going through these foreign cards wondering what sport they were playing. After all, I was fresh off a plane from South America and knew no other sport but soccer.

Out of the entire set it was one specific card that grabbed my attention. The box was full of stars from Nolan Ryan and Cal Ripken Jr., to Kirby Puckett and Darryl Strawberry but it was some guy named Jose Canseco that entranced me. I had no idea who he was or what he did but to a 9-year old looking for a male role model in his life, he was perfect. Jose looked like some kind of a superhero, muscles too large and an expression of a man determined to kill whatever came his way.

Over the years I have been witness to some amazing changes in our hobby. Autographs, pieces of game-used jerseys/bats/balls/dirt, and even the actual printing plates used to make the cards, among many other innovations. Unfortunately, not everyone can and will be satisfied. The fact that companies from my “heyday” like Fleer and Donruss no longer make baseball cards is a clear indication that somewhere along the way the hobby train derailed not too long ago.

Recently, Upper Deck was forced to recall a new and very anticipated product after a lawsuit from Topps, collectors all over the world are up in arms over continued use of “short print” gimmick cards included in 2008 products, and even the “Bible” of baseball cards, Beckett Media is having to cut back on their monthly magazine and is facing more complaints about their new format that one could ever imagine.

So yes, while it does seem like we are in the new dark ages of baseball cards I do think it is simply impossible to not have fun in this hobby today. Personally, I can’t afford paying $200 for a box of baseball cards with 4 cards in it but I know for a fact I can find the cards I want from the set on eBay and for considerably lower market value.

There is no chance for me to afford putting together a set of SPx or even Finest but there are brands like Upper Deck series 1 & 2 that have put out unbelievably-beautiful cards with some of the best photography ever seen and for prices way too good to be true.

That player whose autograph you keep pulling but can’t stand has a fan out there somewhere and more than likely is a member of the Beckett Media Message Boards. I have made many trades for cards of players I collect while unloading cards of guys who would normally sit in my box of commons. Where else but on the Internet could you find a “Super Collector” of Coco Crisp and Bronson Sardinha?

Do you want to continue complaining about things that more than likely will never change or will you try to seek the alternative and come away with a familiar love for the hobby that was sparked the first time you opened a pack of ’89 Upper Deck, or when you pulled your first Autograph and/or Game-Used?

I know every time that I get frustrated about not being able to afford that box of Triple Threads I can just walk up to my collection and find inside an old, beat-up binder a baseball card given to me by my mother almost 20 years ago. It may be a little faded but it provides way more enjoyment than any one of one Superfractor ever could.

I love collecting baseball cards. Do you?



  1. i love collecting. many people let others decide what they should collect. people should collect what they like, not what others tell them.

  2. I don’t think it’s a matter of forgetting how to have fun in this Hobby. I think it’s a matter of forgetting about what the Hobby is about and why we got into this Hobby in the first place. The Hobby is here because of the Games. While the answers may vary from person to person, most should say that the main reason why we collect in the first place is because we are fans of the Games, whether it’s baseball, hockey, football, basketball, soccer, whatever. If we as collectors forget the reasons why we collect, and if the companies lose focus about what this Hobby is about, then all is lost. And we might as well be writing about something else.


    JayBee Anama

  3. I just picked up about 15 pretty much worthless 2005 Topps cards from a church rummage sale at 9am, not even in mint shape, no stars, so why? Cause i love the damn things, they looked so cool, they were translucent with little stats and bios on the back, and childhood swept over me, so i’m out 50 cents, big woop, i’ll probably get more fun for my 1/2 a buck than that guy will who spent $200 for the box of 4 cards.

  4. Interesting article, but I think its funny that you talk about Beckett lowering their circulation like its a bad thing. The people that are saying, “Oooooh, I cant get my month old, nonsense prices every month now, boo hoo, woe is me” are people that have no idea about collecting. Personally, I think the negativity is a good thing. Although things may never change, they at least have contrary voices now. The squeaky clean, wonderful, mom and pop store filled industry that Beckett presents is not the norm any more. Thank God.


    I started typing a comment in this box at around 8 am this morning. After almost 5 hours and about three hundred paragraphs, the scroll bar on the right shrunk to 2/10ths of an inch (seriously, I measured it out of OCD)

    I decided to do my own post instead at


    This isn’t a shameless plug for my site, I promise, I just wanted to post a comment but had much more to say than I thought I would.

    Besides, Mario, I didn’t figure you would want a comment as long as the one that I came up with here anyways…lol…

    Great Post!

  6. Funny you should say that out of all those cards Jose stuck out. I was given my first cards 1980 Topps and it was Dennis Eckersley, was it the name or the actual pose on the cards that stuck? I cannot remember. I was in Australia at the time too.
    But I have collected baseball cards since, with a few dry spells in the 1990’s. If I’m honest I like the memorbilia cards and I am a complete sucker for the Heritage brands.
    Thanks for the blog. I really enjoy it.

  7. I agree with JV. Whining about stuff isn’t productive but complaining about something that just isn’t right with the hobby you care about is a good thing. When something’s wrong it needs to be pointed out. Like the Legendary Cuts “recall”. I just saw a case of the stuff at the card shop yesterday. That stuff’s not going back to Upper Deck. It is a couple bucks more a pack and about $20 more a box though. They recalled Sweet Spot Last year over the * auto card. Same thing. After enough of this stuff happening it becomes obvious that it’s all a scam so I complain. Complaining online is one way to spread a message, voting with your wallet is another.

    I’m still having loads of fun though. I just found an old lost box of cards with some sweet stuff in it last week and I’m having a ball with that. Like Mario said, there’s too many options for collecting with this hobby to not have fun.

  8. What’s good about collecting?
    Going to a card shop and finding the owner wants to get rid of his wax. Early 80’s through mid 90’s. TWO DOLLARS A BOX. Topps, Fleer, Donruss, Score, Pinnacle, etc. I was able to pick up eighty six wax boxes and 12 factory sets. I am gonna have a great few weeks.
    Finding a Reds card you knew nothing about.
    Haggling over fity cent.
    Reading the card backs.
    Watching your eleven, ten, eight and seven year old Godsons tear open packs of 2004/05 Bazooka basketball and think it is the greatest thing ever! EVER! Did you see that Shaq? Oh man Uncle Dog! I got Yao! I want to see him!
    The people who complain the most are the speculators and semi collectors. When you have the bug for your team or player, you don’t let things get in the way of your collecting. You may dip in enjoyment but you always come back.
    Topps, Upper Deck and Donruss continue to put out cards and we continue to buy them and trade them. For the fact that it’s a good feeling to have the entire Reds team of 2005 Topps Chrome Refractors. And you didn’t waste any money on stinkin Cubs.
    And those are some reasons that makes this a great hobby.
    And without this hobby how many homes would not be insulated in New Jersey without all the returned cases of 86 Fleer Basketball sold to an insulation company to be shredded? See. There is a positive to this hobby. 🙂

  9. Simply awesome post Mario! I wholeheartedly agree with you. The key to having fun in this hobby is to find what you like to collect and have fun with it. There will always be some sets that are just too expensive and others that you don’t like for one reason or another. But there are so many cards out there that any collector should be able to find something that they like.

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