I'm fairly content with the amount of money I spend on this hobby.
Given, I don't often have much cash to begin with these days. What I do choose to spend on cards seems to last for a while, though, often netting me a bunch of little gems in the process.
Still, I'd be lying if I said I never wished for a little more budget room to satisfy my cardboard cravings. And so would you.
For kicks, I sometimes think about what I'd do if I somehow came into a million bucks.
Now, putting myself through college would probably be one of the first things. There's no doubt about that.
For the sake of this post, though, let's say that I had to spend the million dollars on baseball cards. Maybe I won some kind of cardboard lottery at Topps. Or maybe a long-lost, card-crazed great uncle left me an inheritance or something.
How the heck would I ration out all that fake money?
Again, I'd be lying to you if I said I wouldn't make a few extravagant purchases. I'd get that tobacco Ty Cobb card I've always wanted. And I'd certainly hunt down a nice copy of Hoyt Wilhelm's 1952 Topps rookie, my so-called "white whale".
Apart from that, though, I'm not altogether sure how much would actually change in my day-to-day collecting life.
Would I suddenly become one of those people who busts case after case of new product?
I doubt it.
Instead of limiting myself to a few retail rack packs here and there, I might simply buy a box of Heritage or Archives as an "introduction" to any given release. Perhaps another if I really enjoyed the set.
But, no, I can't see myself splurging on cases or anything.
Even if I had a million dollars.
Would I suddenly take an interest in the "prospecting" side of our hobby?
Mike Trout and Bryce Harper are indeed "binder guys", but it has little to do with their "money making" status. I simply like how they play the game.
If people want to "flip" a card here and there, that's fine. But I've always felt that the full-time "prospectors" in this hobby should probably take up another profession if they're that desperate to make some quick cash.
Baseball cards shouldn't be the place for that.
But that's just one collector's opinion.
Even if I had the cash to buy an super high-end autographed mega-fractor of Mike Trout, I'd never think of "investing" my funds into something like that.
It just wouldn't fit into my overall collecting scheme.
All that Trout discussion kind of leads me into the real meat of this post.
If I had a million dollars, I'd still stick to the low-end side of baseball cards.
Sure, I'd treat myself to a few pristine-conditioned, "glass case" vintage cards at shows every now and then, but I'd definitely devote a big chunk of time and effort to digging through the discount bins as well.
The same amount of time I do now, in fact, if not more.
While they're certainly an advantage for my current low-end budget, the bargain-basement prices on discount vintage are far from their only redeeming quality.
I've said it time and again around here, but the stories are what count when it comes to my creased, battered, and worn pieces of cardboard history.
There's a certain comfort in thinking about the road my '61 Topps Joe Adcock has traveled. Perhaps a kid of the '60s folded his new acquisition up into his pocket, eager to show it off to all his friends at school.
Dozens and dozens of those stories can be found in each and every bargain bin across the nation. It's the reason they'll always hold a special place in my card show experiences.
A million dollars would never change that.
Now for the million-dollar question.
With such a copious budget, would I still continue to be an avid dime box fanatic?
You bet your ass I would.
Again, the prices of dime cards are only part of the reason I've come to love them so much over the years.
Their charm goes way past the simple "dime" label.
Dime boxes (or any discount boxes, for that matter) are about finding cards that are special to you. We dime box fans may be an eclectic bunch, but I can tell you one thing.
We sure do love this hobby.
I'd bet the 99 out of 100 collectors would pass on this otherwise unspectacular Luis Castillo piece. But, due to my love for Wrigley Field and knowledge of Chicago's early-season weather, I jumped at the chance to add it to my collection.
Perhaps some of you would've bought the cards I passed on at last week's show. The cards I deemed as "outcasts" probably would've found their way into the collections of a few fellow hobbyists out there.
That's the beauty of dime boxes.
Even if I had that kind of money to throw around, my sacred dime box roots would hold firm.
I'm not sure if I could speak for all the "low-end" people out there, but such a large budget wouldn't change my methods much.
While it'd certainly expand my horizons a bit, I can honestly say that a million bucks would have little effect on the simple way I collect.
Do I really expect to come into a million, card-exclusive dollars in the future?
Not at all.
But it's fun to think about.
Especially since I have about eighty cents in my wallet right now.