Three weeks ago I watched a clip Tanner posted on Twitter shortly after acquiring a 2018 Topps Tier One bat barrel card. As was usually the case, this rare “one of one” piece didn’t even make it to eBay. It was pulled and as most money-hungry collectors know, contacting Tanner before placing a rare Jose card on eBay usually is the best way to go. On that particular day, I had received approximately 10-12 cards from a huge SportsLots order and was in Card Heaven as I opened up one package after another. Nothing I purchased came even remotely close to Tanner’s bat barrel but for this Canseco Super Collector who is nearing Year 30, I could not have been more happy as I added missing cards to my collection.
I made peace with Tanner long ago, maybe as far back as 2014 when the man started making a name for himself in The Hobby. Unlike many of the Canseco Super Collectors before him, this guy was friendly, willing to help anyone who needed it and had a knack for making what will go down as the greatest custom cards of all-time. Besides, I’ve never been huge on high-end Canseco cards, as much as I’d love to have a collection even 1/3 as impressive as Tanner’s. If anything, from 2014-2016 I made more money than I knew what to do with but even then, baseball cards never came to mind. If ever I would spend more than $20 dollars on a single baseball card, that card better have Mike Trout or Bryce Harper on it, not a player who crashed into a dead-end wall at 100 MPH like Jose Canseco did.
Anyway, let me get back to the point at hand. I watched as Tanner added yet another “one of one”, another collection changing piece to most on Twitter when suddenly my Canseco Alarm began going off. There was no joy in his face, his voice, monotone. It seemed to me that something was off. If I jump for joy at finding a $2 dollar ’95 Score parallel I never knew existed in 2018, why is Tanner seemingly barely awake in his video? This was the type of card Canseco collectors dream about owning but to Tanner it was just another day at the office. I immediately called him out on it (in a friendly way) and he told me something to the extent that he “celebrates his victories off camera”. I accepted that response but my Canseco Alarm was never silenced.
Well, turns out my intuition does not fail; Tanner has quit Canseco.
For me, this is a sad day. Tanner’s website, blog, and to some extent, his YouTube channel, are as valuable to me today as Beckett Baseball price guides were in the early 90s. I wrote a few days ago that in 28 years of collecting Jose Canseco, 2018 will go down as my most successful year just 7 months into the calendar year. I could not have accomplished that feat without Tanner’s hard work he has put into his website, which has not only assisted in helping me find cards I never knew existed but also helped me get my collection organized for the first time in my collecting life. Not just that but Tanner’s detailed database was the inspiration to countless stories I’ve been able to write this year, if not nearly all of them.
It takes a special kind of person to collect Jose Canseco. For one, the man is still an enigma 33 years since his debut in 1985. Secondly, his “glory days” came and went in the early 90s and despite a career full of bulging muscles and Steroids, his numbers weren’t all that impressive or even Hall of Fame worthy. To me, the idea of spending big money on his cards seems completely ludicrous. That’s why I continue my journey adding inexpensive but fun cards I missed from the 90s and let the big money spenders waste thousands of dollars every month on pieces that seem to only fuel their addiction of being the best. Don’t get me wrong, in the world of Canseco, Tanner was the greatest of all time in a hobby that unfortunately has a short life expectancy.
Tanner isn’t the first or the last Canseco Super Collector to give it up and the last guy to quit had just as deep pockets. Bryan Fitzgerald had the most impressive collection I had seen to that point and was also featured in Beckett Media. Unfortunately, he was a guy who let his card addiction get the best of him. What did it cost him? Well, for starters … his marriage and family. From reading Tanner’s goodbye post, the person buying up his most valuable cards, “AJ”, is also on his way out. Sure, he can brag about owning some of Tanner’s collection now but just three weeks ago he was planning his own escape. There is just no way to recoup those investments and to collectors spending small fortunes on Jose Canseco cards, eventually that realization has to hit incredibly hard. I don’t need God to tell me that everything must be done in moderation, even buying baseball cards of a washed-up, lovable loser like Jose.
So where does that leave me? Well, truthfully, a little sad at Tanner’s exit from the Hobby and the Canseco fandom but as determined as ever to continue my collection into Year 30 and perhaps even beyond that. To me, baseball cards are not an investment and I have no one to compete with. Despite the high stakes world of cards today, this is still the hobby I got into as a ten-year old kid in 1990 and I will forever treat it that way. Don’t forget, slow and steady wins the race and with my collection slowly pushing 2,000 different cards and my competition dropping like flies, who knows … maybe I will find myself on the cover of Beckett Baseball by 2030? Hey, anything is possible if you believe in yourself and continue picking up Score parallels.