There was a time, many years ago, when jersey cards were the prime focus of my collection.
I'd go to card shows and raid the $1-2 jersey card bins and virtually ignore all the dime/quarter boxes. Vintage? Forget it. Given my priorities these days, my onetime passion for memorabilia seems like many lifetimes in the past. But still I have to stop myself from scoffing when I see kids at shows nowadays with their boxes of jerseys and autos because I have to remember that I once carried around boxes of jerseys and autos at card shows. Pieces of baseball jerseys are easy to fall in love with when you're thirteen.
It's not so much that I avoid jersey cards these days, it's more that I just have no real interest in chasing them -- but I'll certainly take one if it falls into my lap, like this Willson Contreras relic that Mr. Shlabotnik of "The Shlabotnik Report" fame was good enough to pass on to me recently.
I wouldn't necessarily say I regret my jersey-card years, nor do I view the cards themselves as especially good or bad anymore -- I just treat them like I would any other insert.
Problem is, a lot of your standard inserts, like this batch from Mr. Shlabotnik (including the final Big League box-topper I needed with the Soto!) just look a whole lot better than most jersey cards.
That's not to say they all do, though.
Part of the reason I lost interest in jerseys is that I realized I couldn't afford them -- or, perhaps more specifically, that my modest budget could be much, much better spent elsewhere.
Even an overpriced copy (as most Cubs inserts tend to be in my area) of that brilliant "El Mago" would cost me less than even the cheapest jersey card -- and that Hendricks was one of the few 2019 Heritage singles I didn't manage to pull out of dime boxes earlier this year.
I'm starting to get oddly giddy when people like Mr. Shlabotnik send me 2019 Big League stuff because a) I absolutely love everything about this set, and b) no one at my local shows seems to have them.
I feel like dumping the pursuit of jersey cards has opened up so many new doors in the years since.
I used to hesitate starting new player collections because I'd want jerseys/autos for them, most of which I didn't have the money for. This was especially true for bigger names of the past like Tim Raines, a legend I basically ignored for decades until I recently decided to start chasing his cards.
He's since quickly shot up into my top-tier of player collections -- and thankfully, Mr. Shlabotnik helped erase a Dime Box Dozen need with this '83 Donruss Raines, a common I missed while I was too busy chasing pieces of fabric.
The cards in this post covered a few different envelopes I've received from Mr. Shlabotnik, who has proven elite at taking down recent insert needs (and even a treasured Heritage SP with the Baez!).
One of the problems with jersey cards is that there are no oddball jersey cards.
There are, however, oddball cards issued by Church's Chicken, and oddball cards of a dude golfing with a baseball (though Paul Noce has at least one other memorable minor league card I have yet to track down).
More Cubs stuff, including a card of a jersey card(?).
Mr. Shlabotnik ended things by sending me another card my younger self would've salivated over with this Ian Happ autograph.
I still happily added it to my binders -- despite his recent struggles, Happ's still a Cub I collect -- but my days of staring starry-eyed at scribbles or chunks of fabric are long gone. I collect cards for the pleasure I get out of collecting cards, and simply too many other parts of this hobby give me more pleasure than jerseys and autographs. It's one of the biggest realizations I've made in my card life.
But I can already hear eighth-grade Nick trying to argue with me.