"What do you collect?"
At its base, that question seems like a fairly simple one to answer.
Being the weird kind of collector I am, though, it's one that continues to puzzle me on a daily basis.
I love when people contact me about wanting to strike up a trade. But, when they inevitably ask me what I collect, I've never been able to provide a good answer.
Sure, I have player and "set" needs (which are actually player wants in disguise) listed on my sidebar. But those are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to my collection.
A lot of the time, I simply like to get "fun" cardboard. Understandably, though, the word "fun" is hard to define. So, in an effort to quantify my love for "fun" cards, I've started up a few mini-collections over the past couple years.
I've certainly mentioned my various mini-collections enough throughout the course of this blog's history. Even I was surprised at just how many I'd accumulated thus far.
So, tonight, I'm going to do my best in cramming all my crazy collections into one post. There are eighteen in total.
"The Award Show"
If you've been paying attention lately, you might have heard that I've started a new award-themed mini-collection. As I mentioned in a recent post, though, the idea to hunt for such cards wasn't even mine to begin with.
Even so, it's one I'm excited to chase in my future dime box quests.
Mr. Glavine there certainly makes for a good start.
"Plays at the Plate"
In fact, a few of my new mini-collections are simply ideas I've borrowed from other bloggers.
Of course, most of you probably know about the premier "play at the plate" aficionado in the blogosphere.
He's been doing it for a lot longer than I have.
Again, not my idea.
I jumped onto this mini-collection train after seeing an absolute array of gems from the original double play fanatic around here.
They sure do make for cool cardboard.
No, I haven't decided to start a Bo Jackson or Deion Sanders collection.
This mini-collection is dedicated to cards featuring ballplayers dabbling in other sports. Unfortunately, there aren't a whole lot of these out there.
This magnificent pigskin-themed shot of "The Ryan Express" is one of the few I've found.
"Say the Magic Word"
Another fun, yet scarce, mini-collection of mine.
While I know of at least one other great argument specimen that I haven't yet found, it's apparent that card companies have been fairly hesitant with producing these types of gems over the years.
That's a doggone shame.
"Hey, mister! Can I have your autograph?"
Lot of hobbyists these days are collecting autograph cards.
I'm one of them. My definition of an "autograph card", however, is probably different from the majority of those types of collectors.
Actual, signed pieces of cardboard fell out of favor with me a while ago. The massive overproduction and general laziness of card companies was basically responsible for that. Plus, I can't afford most of them.
These days, my definition of an "autograph card" is simply a shot of a guy in the process of signing autographs, just like what you see on that sweet Shannon Stewart card above.
They're a thousand times more fun to collect than those other "autographs", anyways.
And a lot cheaper, too.
Although I haven't mentioned it as much in my past writings, I love cards that feature a hurler posing with a knuckleball grip.
Once R.A. Dickey retires (hopefully far, far in the future), the game of baseball will probably be without a surefire knuckleballer. I guess this is my little way of recognizing the pitch in my binders.
As you might guess, its basis lies with my treasured Hoyt Wilhelm collection.
This one is pretty self-explanitory.
I can't say I've ever heard of Kyle Phillips. And that ugly "rookie card" logo is in the absolute worst spot possible on this card.
Despite its flaws, though, this remains one of the most bad-ass pieces of cardboard I own.
"Behind the Camera"
I understand that a couple of my mini-collections are fairly limited.
There just aren't a whole lot of "Multi-Sport Heroes" cards out there.
For a while, I thought my "Behind the Camera" collection fell into that category. As many of my terrific trading partners have shown me, though, there are a lot more of these than I'd originally believed.
From what I've seen, these types of shots became a bit of a fad during the overproduction era's death rattle.
Again, the name of this mini-collection pretty much speaks for itself.
I haven't been able to come up with anything catchier.
"Cards with Kids"
These always manage to bring a smile to my face.
I'm sure ballplayers would love to see shots of them breaking up a double play or celebrating a game-winning home run on the fronts of their cards.
All things considered, though, I think they'd be most proud of these father-son shots.
I know I would.
This is a fairly new expedition of mine.
In terms of how much I enjoy collecting each individual one, it'd be hard to rank my many mini-collections.
Yet, even though my bat barrel obsession has only been present for about four months now, I'd have to place these near the top.
Much like those "Behind the Camera" cards, most of my "multiple-exposure" shots come from the overproduction era.
Sadly, it seemed to be another one of those "fads" that pretty much died out after the 1990's. Boy, I sure wish Topps would give these things a revival in today's market.
They're a whole lot cooler than "pies in the face".
"Putting the Band Back Together"
Including this one, all of the mini-collections I've discussed thus far were started during or after December of 2011.
Also known as my post-blogosphere lifespan.
The reason I have all these little interests in the first place goes back to the lessons I've learned as a blogger.
Among those, perhaps the one I've most taken to heart is to appreciate and collect whatever you want in this hobby. There's no rulebook on how to be a card collector.
And, as I've learned, I appreciate and collect quite a bit in the world of baseball cards. Hence, all the mini-collections.
Of all my post-blogosphere interests, though, I think these music-themed pieces are my favorites.
Sadly, there aren't a whole lot of them in existence, although I did recently learn of a new one thanks to a fellow blogger.
As I've mentioned over and over again on this blog, music and baseball are my two real passions in life. Although I'm not planning on it, I could probably start a separate blog about all my musical ramblings as well.
Because of all that, starting this mini-collection was an absolute no-brainer.
While the blogosphere certainly had a tremendous impact on my past trading forum self, I hadn't been completely brainwashed during my pre-blogger days.
Thankfully, I did have a few sacred mini-collections during my days on the forums. (Although another year over there might've rendered me completely hopeless.)
I've been collecting throwback-themed cards for a good four years now.
Absolutely anything featuring old-time jerseys are welcome in my binders. Even these massively ugly (yet somehow fantastic) "Technicolor" Astros uniforms are proud parts of my collection.
Aubrey Huff wears the throwbacks well.
I have always had a profound fascination with error cards.
Whether it be big mistakes like my treasured "player swaps" or rather insignificant statistical details, errors were one of my first interests as a young collector.
This '81 Fleer Steve Carlton most likely falls into the latter. See if you can spot the mistake.
Note the "1066" typo in the year column, instead of "1966".
Full credit goes to Mr. Fuji on opening up my eyes to that mishap.
These were the basis for the first-ever theme on this blog.
In case you're a new reader and haven't been acclimated to my wacky terminology just yet, a "zero-year" card is any that pictures a player with a franchise for which he never played.
Take Greg Zaun, for instance. His 2004 Topps Total card features him as a Montreal Expo, yet he never suited up in a big-league game with the franchise. They cut him during Spring Training that year.
These have been a huge interest of mine for as long as I can remember.
In fact, only one of my mini-collections predate the "zero-year club".
"Pitchers at the Plate"
As far as my quirky collecting habits go, these are pretty much where my roots lie.
I distinctly remember getting wildly excited over these during my first few years in the hobby. As far as I was concerned, they were the coolest things ever.
A lot has changed since those days, both within the hobby and outside of it. But my love for "pitchers at the plate" has remained. In fact, it's stronger than ever.
I've often wondered just how many of these I have. I might have to make that a "project" of mine one of these days.
Of course, the majority I own featured National League hurlers at the dish. Because of their pure rarity though, ones that feature American League pitchers hitting earn a few extra style points in my book.
There are many actual, game-related reasons as to why I'm in favor of interleague play and having the pitcher bat in the NL. Those ideas are probably best left for another post, though.
However, I will say that one of the main reasons is due to the hobby.
Save for the World Series, we'd never see cards like the above Chuck Finley without interleague play. And, would a universal DH be implemented, the hope for ever seeing another "pitcher at the plate" shot would be demolished.
Sadly, Topps hasn't given us many examples of these in recent years. Next to bringing back the Total brand, this is the one thing I'd change in today's hobby.
I want to see a "pitcher at the plate" renaissance.
I hope this post did at least a little to enlighten you about my collection. I'll probably provide a link to this on the sidebar for all my future trade partners.
But don't say I didn't warn you.
Like I said, the question of what I exactly collect has never been an easy one to answer.