Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The ins and outs of organizing

For the most part, I'm not someone who particularly enjoys organizing things.

My room can be a bit of a pigsty at times. My homework assignments are scattered all over the place in my backpack. I've never once used one of those "planner" books.

In that regard, I guess it's ironic that my baseball card collection is so neat and well-sorted.

My usage of binders is the main reason for that.

As I've mentioned many times before on this blog, I'm a "binder guy". Aside from a few exceptions, every single one of my "keeper" cards is stored in one of my trusty binders.

It's been that way for as long as I can remember.

During my time in this hobby, I like to think I've learned a thing or two when it comes to binders, or just organizing in general.

A few days ago, I took a look through a few of my binders to see what all these years of sorting and organizing have taught me.

In doing so, I came up with a few general "tips", ones that I'd like to impart onto my fellow bloggers and readers.

I understand that not everyone has the time or effort it takes to keep one's collection in binders. I don't have anything against people who simply have their cards in boxes. From first-hand experience, I know that maintaining a binder can be quite the task.

However, my first "tip" is one that can be applied to any collecting method.

Whichever way you decide to organize your cards, make it something unique. Something you can enjoy going through over and over again.

I've begun to dub my way of organizing as the "hierarchy" method, something I explained on my very first post on this blog. (Or at least something I did my best to explain.)

Perhaps my favorite thing about my way of sorting are the "one-card wonders". Since my collection is based on individual teams, I get a huge kick out of seeing players who have only one issue sitting in one of my nine-pocket pages.

Tommy John's 1986 Topps issue is the only card I have that features him as an Oakland Athletic. As far my cards of A's pitchers go, he sits in between fellow "one-card wonders" Virgil Trucks and Al Downing.

Something as small as that might not sound like anything special to a lot of other collectors. But, then again, that's the great thing about organizing.

It's all about what you want.

Having your collection be "unique" in some way, shape, or form is definitely important.

At the same time, I'd recommend a method that makes it easy to track down a card in your collection at any given time.

Make it something you'll remember.

That's one of the main reasons I could never keep my cards in boxes. If I did, I'd be digging for a while if I wanted to see a specific card.

With binders, I'm able track down any card I want in mere seconds.

All I have to do to find this '79 Lenny Randle is go to the end of the "Third Basemen" section of my Mets binder, since this is one of just two cards I own of Randle as a Met. There it sits, right next to my meager four-card Mets collection of Joe Torre.

Given how awesome it is, I have the feeling it won't be the last time I'll want to see this card in-person.

As far as binders go, different sized cards are a tough call.

After all, they seem to come in all shapes and sizes these days.

I just keep my minis in my binders with the rest of my normal-sized cards. One day, though, I hope to find a few of those mini-specific pages I keep hearing about in the blogosphere.

I don't see a time where I could stop loving minis, but I'll admit that they don't look all that great in a normal page.

For oversized cards, all I can say is do not try to stuff them into a regular nine-pocket page. I'm sure I tried to do so a few times in my youth.

Sets like 1989 Bowman are fine because the widths are the same size as normal cards. They end up sticking out of the top of my pages in a rather unsightly manner. It's just one of the reasons I've dubbed it as my least favorite set of all-time.

While I'm sure they make pages geared towards organizing old Topps issues, I have yet to find any.

As a result, many of my older cards sit in individual toploaders across my bookshelf, an almost "museum-like" display.

Still, I can't help but wonder how neat my '55 Stan Hack would look in a binder.

I have a feeling it would be quite the sight.

When it comes to organizing, I had to learn the hard way a couple times.

My binders are all stored within a couple bookshelves, which elegantly sit near the side of my room.

While I've heard some say that having your binders stand straight up can potentially damage the cards, I've rarely had that problem.

You just have to be careful.

Unfortunately, "careful" wasn't exactly a good word to describe my way of doing things when I first entered the hobby.

I'd shove and push my binders into their respective places on my shelf, with little regard for anything that sat inside of them. (Hey, give me a break. Weren't you the same way as a kid?)

Luckily, after witnessing a couple "casualties" like this Zambrano, it didn't take me long to realize what an idiot I was being.

Nowadays, whenever I have some new cards to sort, I always remove and replace my binders with the utmost care and patience.

It really pays off.

Another of the "outs" for binders involves the tactic of "overfilling".

Simply put, don't do it.

I had a problem with this one for a while.

Nowadays, I have two, even three different binders for a lot of my teams. After all, my smattering of Yankees cards couldn't possibly fit in a single binder.

Yet, for a long time, I just didn't want to split up my cards. As a result, a lot of my binders had pages nearly spilling out the top and bottom, filled way beyond capacity.

My glorious Lou Gehrig collection was nearly being suffocated from all the other pages that sat on top of it.

Thankfully, I've recently come to embrace change with my collection. That thought process finally led me to splitting up a few of my binders, something I'd absolutely refused to do beforehand.

As I've found, change is definitely a good thing when it comes to collecting.

Now, Lou Gehrig sits comfortably in the second of my trio of Yankee binders.

I'm sure he's happy about it.

As I said before, I understand that not everyone is a "binder person".

However, if you're looking for something to spice up your collection a bit, I'd definitely recommend at least experimenting with a binder or two.

Aesthetically speaking, nothing can match it. Certainly not a 3200-count box.

Whether it's for a set, a player collection, or a team collection, binders are a great way to display your cardboard.

Just take a look at this "All Brooks, All the Time" page from my O's binder for proof.

If this can't convey the greatness of binders, I don't know what will.

Through everything I've mentioned in this post, just remember this.

Organizing should be fun.


Anonymous said...

they do have 8 pocket pages for the pre-1957 topps cards. the horizontal ones, look pretty awesome in those pages.

Adam Kaningher said...

I can attest that the 8-pocket pages do exist. In addition to pre '57, if I might be allowed to utter this statement in the same sentence, they also hold 1989 Bowman and Topps Big.

Zayden said...

I'm having a problem with one of my binders being "overstuffed"

It's the one with current players and I'm afraid to make that jump into doing some changes. I may have to soon shift into a team themed binder set, the method of madness is seeming to be a pretty good way to go about things.

Another problem I keep running into, is when set building, I come across cards from my player collection...Now my question is where shall I put it? With the rest of the set or with my players? LOL I guess only I can field that one.

I figured out fast that I needed a separate binder for my Mets guys, which would also entail separating some of them from their player pages. For example, my Reyes collection would be split now that he is a Marlin.

Great insight, I love your posts like these, keep em comin!

CaptKirk42 said...

Excellent Post!

Whoa Deja Deja Vu. Long ago I was strictly a binder guy. Then my semi hiatus from the hobby happened, then when I returned I still did the binder thing for a while and then since I had been getting more and more stuff in the mail in toploaders I tried switching over to boxes. Bad move. Then I had to move. since that move my collection has been mostly unorganized in boxes boxes boxes and a few binders. I started to re-do my baseball which had been in binders but it was strictly alphabetical by player so I could see the dozen or 15-20 or so Johnny Bench cards I had and that I only had a hand full of Gary Carter which I though I had tons and tons of and so on with other players.

My goal is to get things back to being organized by sets and maybe my PC teams. I've got a Zistle account to help me keep track and "checklist" everything but I still need to get off of my butt and get the rest of the stuff recorded in there.

There are sometimes where I think there should be some sort of Professional sorting company, but the problem with that would be shipping precious PC cards for someone else to organize, then you'd have to specify exactly how you want your cards organized and how you want them stored and by the time all that is done you should have saved money and done it yourself.

CaptKirk42 said...

Oh yeah and the "Overstuffed" problem really really sucks. Also there is the issue of stiffening binder pages. It isn't a big a problem now as it was back in the 80s because of the better plastics being used for the pages, but the older pages get stiff and crack and eventually have to be replaced. There were also some pages that were so thin they really shouldn't have been used at all. Well I've got to get back to one of my own blog posts.

GCA said...

Micheal, I had that same question back in the 80's when I'd pull out all of my 40+ player collection guys from factory or handmade sets.
But I was finally convinced a few years ago that the inevitable solution is:

Get Two.

Ana Lu said...

Hi there.
In Portugal the stickers is the thing so it's quite difficult to get anything else to collect. Collecting cards is that way very difficult and even more getting a place to store them. We have DeckBoxes and that's mainly what I use to keep my cards. I also have some individual sleeves but even those are difficult to find because they must be transparent so we can see the front and back of the card. And I don't know why but I can only find those in Pokemon size, that is to say those cards are smaller than sports cards and it's almost impossible finding sleeves in old size style.
Never mind about binders. I have around 20 binders perhaps but they only have 8 places to store cards. I have to store cards in horizontal and not in vertical way, like the binders you all have. The few places where I can find binders they sell it for calendars collectors. That's way they're in horizontal.
So I try to keep my cards safest as possible in individual sleeves, put them inside DeckBoxes and put them inside the boxes I get in the mail with my cards purchase. Tough tough. What we don't do for the hobby.

Mark Kaz said...

I'd really like to make the jump to binders, BUT my biggest bone of contention is having a partially-filled page. For instance, if I have a Frank Thomas player collection consisting of 84 cards, that means the final page has just three cards. Yucky! Or, if I have a Lucas Duda collection that is only five cards. OR, if it's a base set that is 200 cards, the final page will have, what, two cards on it? My OCD would kick into overdrive at that point.

Am I just being crazy or what?