Sunday, June 2, 2013
We are not alone
As baseball fans, I think we have a tendency to put our heroes on a pedestal at times.
I know I've been guilty of doing so on many occasions. After seeing guys like Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro on national TV on a day-to-day basis, it's easy to forget that they're just regular people.
And they're not even that much older than me.
I think the tendency is even more emphasized when it comes to collecting. Part of the joy I get from this hobby is that, in a way, I get to live vicariously through these players' careers. Seeing a shot from a particular game makes me feel like I was actually there.
So, because of that, I get caught up thinking that there's no possible way these heroes could collect cardboard. They live the game. Why collect when baseball is your career?
There's that pedestal thing again. I sometimes forget that ballplayers are everyday people. And, as a result, they have hobbies.
Plus, from what I've read over the years, quite a few ballplayers have taken to collecting cardboard. In fact, former big-leaguer Dmitri Young assembled one of the best collections you'll ever see during his playing career.
In fact, he recently sold it for a cool $2.5 million last year. I did a post about it a while back. (One that also expressed the hypocrisy involved in the card-grading business, but you've heard that rant before.)
"Meat Hook" most likely has (or had) the greatest collection ever amongst ballplayers.
But he's far from the only collector in our ranks.
Indians closer Chris Perez is a devoted member of this hobby.
In fact, Perez owns every single one of his own non-1/1 cards, which, if you think about it, is quite an impressive feat.
And, in early 2011, he bought one of the more jaw-dropping pieces of cardboard ever made. The card featured signatures of nine members from the famous '27 Yankees "Murderer's Row" club, including the "biggies" with Ruth and Gehrig.
A mere $20,000.
In the long run, it's a speeding ticket considering the millions he makes.
Former first-round pick Phil Hughes is a fellow hobbyist as well.
Apparently, Hughes posts on the Beckett message boards from time to time. One of the articles I found tells the tale of a great act of generosity on his part.
Hughes sent a devoted fan a great deal of his own memorabilia after the two ran into each other on the forums.
I can't imagine what running into one of my heroes on the Internet would be like.
Maybe Vlad Guerrero is a part of some message board somewhere.
The sidewinding Brad Ziegler is a highly active collector, at least from what I've read.
According to one article, he busts wax "by the case" and has "about 600 autographed baseballs" in his collection.
He even participates in box break videos on Youtube every now and again. From what I've seen, they're on the higher end of the hobby.
I can only imagine what collecting would be like with a big-league budget.
Eh, I'd still stick to dime cards.
Pat Neshek, one of my newer "binder inductees", has a profound love for this hobby as well.
It's one of the major reasons I decided to start collecting his cardboard.
The guy has an entire site devoted to his card-collecting habits. From the testimonials I've heard, he's one of the better TTM signers in the game.
And, in one of the more thoughtful quests I've seen, Neshek is currently trying to build a 1985 Topps "signed set". His hope is to acquire an autographed copy of every single card from the '85 checklist.
From his most recent update, he's a little over 94 percent done with the "signed set".
It's refreshing to know that Neshek and other big-leaguers are such passionate collectors. Obviously, baseball cards don't receive too much fanfare nowadays, at least as far as the mainstream media is concerned.
It's nice to see that a few of our cardboard heroes are just like us.
When it comes to this hobby, we're not alone.