Thursday, March 9, 2023

What I've learned from TCDB

I finished uploading all my Angels cards onto TCDB the other day, which means I've at long last cataloged the first full team in my collection.

Obviously, cataloging is a slow process for me - I think I started with my Angels binders a couple months ago. The site seems to be a bit more geared towards set collecting, and being a player collector at heart, it takes me a few more clicks to get things going. And since I still prioritize putting new cards away over cataloging old ones, I'm lucky if I can spend an hour or two a week on TCDB.

But the good thing about TCDB is that I do it as I please - I accept that cataloging is probably going to be a multi-year project here at Dime Box HQ. The time I've spent over there thus far has been a lot of fun. I really enjoy how the site's laid out, and it seems like it attracts a good group of collectors (though I'm still a long ways away from ever trading on there, it'll take me long enough to catalog the cards I have first!). 

I waffled about TCDB for a long time, and whether you're a longtime user, or remain on the fence like I was, I figured I'd share a few things I've learned from my early experiences.

I have a lot more cards than I thought I did

I think the thing I like most about TCDB is that it crunches the numbers of my collection - it's a pure thrill for a statistical nut like myself.

After just one team, my collection is already at a staggering 5,295 cards. That's almost all Angels stuff (with a small exception I'll discuss in a bit), which leaves me what the heck the numbers are gonna show once I get the other 29 teams cataloged.

It's true that I probably collect more Angels dudes than other teams - I've followed there ever since their 2002 World Series run as a young baseball fan - but a number like that still floored me. 

I don't have as many cards than I thought I did

Maybe I didn't have an exact number before TCDB, but don't get me wrong - I know I have a lot of baseball cards.

Part of the pull of TCDB comes from the fact that you can compare your collection to others who use the site. It's a lot of fun, but can also leave you slack-jawed. For example, I have 88 cards of Mo Vaughn with the Angels - couple that with the reams of Red Sox cards of his I own, along with the small handful of Mets Mos, and I'd put my collection at a bit over 200 cards total, which I thought was a good number.

Turns out that'd put me way back in right around 30th place out of all TCDB users, and lightyears behind the #1 user who owns exactly 2,257 different Mo Vaughn cards(!).

I'm #1 (and proud of it!)

The only part of my collection I've cataloged outside of my Angels cards is my Hoyt Wilhelm stuff since they're stored separately from the rest of my team binders (he remains the lone player to have such an honor).

According to TCDB, I own 167 unique Hoyts (showing a rare Angels Hoyt here for the sake of continuity), which puts me in first place by a landslide - the next closest user has 94. To see myself at the top of a list is a weirdly proud moment, given I've spent so much of my collecting life accumulating Hoyt cards.

Of course, I'm only able to compare my collection to others who use TCDB - I know there's a lot of Hoyt collectors out there, and at least a handful of them have a bigger collection than mine, but for now I'll enjoy my time at the top of this mountain.

I'm #1 (but it wasn't a competition...)

I proudly collect a lot of obscure players, but comparing my collection of them to others is a bit like running unopposed in an election - is there really anyone out there trying to scoop up Ben Weber cards?

I own a whopping 10 cards of Weber - a sidearming, goggled middle reliever of my youth - which ties me for first place among TCDB users, and I'll have sole possession of #1 when I catalog my small scattering of him with other teams.

Yay for me, I guess?

My cards are a grain of sand on a beach

People in my life who don't collect are confused as to how I can keep finding stuff I need when I already have so many cards!

Now I finally have the numbers to answer them. The 250 Mike Trout cards I have sure sounds like a lot...until you consider that, according to TCDB, there are currently 21,625 different Trouts on the market. That means I own 1.2 percent of all the Mike Trout cards in existence.

A grain of sand, indeed.

I can make a want list!

I am, admittedly, not great when it comes to making and maintaining want lists.

The want lists I do have probably include a lot of errors, and I know there's troves of cards I need that I've never recorded anywhere. A lot of times I'll be flipping through a binder and think oh, there's a card I need - but I rarely think to write it down, and thus it often becomes an eternal gap in my collection. But with TCDB, all I need to do is click a button, and it goes on a want list.

TCDB showed me that I had several parallels of this 2007 Bowman Gary Matthews Jr. without the simple base card - and all was well when I managed to secure a copy recently.

Some collectors are insane

Collecting often lends itself to strange ways of thinking - yes, I do need those eight different parallels of the same card, thank you - but TCDB has shown me that some "variations" even sound crazy to me.

For example: TCDB lists four different versions of this seemingly standard 1990 Donruss Jim Abbott. One has a "1989 Leaf, Inc" copyright on the back. Another has "1989 Leaf, Inc." on the back (note the period). A third has "Aqueous Proof" stamped on the back. A fourth is listed as having a "Factory Set Border" that differs from the regular base issue - I've stared at the two for a few minutes now and can't tell the difference.

For the record, I have the "1989 Leaf, Inc" version, and no, I don't need the other three - I'm not that crazy.

It's fun!

I've mentioned that I was a longtime TCDB holdout, mostly because I didn't find the site very fun.

Obviously, I've become a convert, and I'm here to report that I think I've been getting the hang of the site. It's allowed me to sit down and enjoy some quality time with my collection, which has been nice since I tend to prioritize buying and filing new cards away over appreciating what I already have. I've even been coming across some great cards I own that I'd kinda forgotten about (like this magnificent Edmonds).

The next team up on the cataloging docket is the A's, and if it's anything like my Angels binders, I'm expecting to have my mind blown all over again.


Laurens said...

Nice Angels themed post - I have an account on TCDB but haven't ever used it, sounds fun.

Jarchiable said...

I am a recent new TCDB user. Just did 8 trades in the first 3 weeks of uploading cards on the “For Sale/Trade” list. Slowing down now. As someone who has followed your Twitter account for a long time, I would be happy to throw a trade your way once I look over your “wants” just to get you comfortable with the transaction process, whenever you’re comfortable with it. You’d be surprised how fast you can fill up your “needs” by this process.

Brett Alan said...

My collection is not on TCDB, but you wouldn't have to worry. I collect Hoyt, but I just picked up my 34th. (It's possible I'm forgetting something that's not in my Hoyt binder for some reason, but at most that would add a couple more.) My oldest of him in 1954T, and I've got one auto. Not bad, but not in your league!

Michael Ott said...

Lots of fond halos card memories.
The next stage of TCDB usage is crossing things off that wantlist by trading. It's looks a bit intimidating, but works fairly well. Baby steps though.

The Angels In Order said...

I'm in the process of cataloging as well, only up to 1999 for my Angels collection. The number of variations on junk wax is staggering, glad I don't collect every variation! Figure it'll take the year to get my collection done. Been thoroughly enjoying trading on there.

Johnnys Trading Spot said...

Yeah entering the data is definitely time consuming and at times can be frustrating for some particular sets. It is however, a great tool to learn about cards or variations you didn't know about. I really like the explanation of the distribution (even though I disagree with where TCDB puts some of them). I'll be entering for years too. Congrats on your #1's.

Mark Zentkovich said...


bbcardz said...

I've been a member of TCDb for five years and even though I'm not exactly a trading machine, trading with other TCDb members has really helped out my collection. And speaking of learning from TCDb, I've learned so much from the TCDb forums. Check them out if you haven't already.

beefman said...

I'm a set builder, so it was easy to catalogue my collection. Select all, add to collection. Repeat. Great site. No need for those giant Beckett Almanacs any more!

Nick Vossbrink said...

I started cataloging on TCDB recently and gave up again. I can't wrap my brain around it.

GCA said...

I joined up years ago primarily so I could contribute to the scans of different sets.
I've been making trades lately by scanning users' want lists and digging through my extra stuff - adding hits to my For Trade list and then posting trades. The trading has been going great, and for the most part I've sent much more than I get in return - which is my main goal.

I've finally decided it will make it better to enter all 20 monster boxes of extra baseball & football on there along with my entire want lists. I have no intention of cataloguing everything I have, but might put up some of my modern player collections (have the newest one on there already), and a few other niche things.

Mike said...

That site sounds right up your alley! You'll have to show it to me..

sandyrusty said...

Good to see you using the site as it should be - a tool to help you enjoy the hobby. Don't get frustrated with trying to upload everything in a week. You will find small tricks to speed things up but as a Team Collector, it will be a bit of a slow process. It does give you a chance to look through your cards which is something most of us don't do often enough. Enjoy it.

Jafronius said...

All these pro-TCDB posts makes me wanna check it out. Fun post, good luck with the A's!

Matt said...

I've been on the TCDB for almost a decade now. Once the long and tedious process of entering your initial collection is over, you really get to appreciate all that it has to offer.

Adam Ryan said...

I've only used TCDB as a reference tool to identify oddball sets, get checklists, etc. Never really thought of cataloging my collection there. Good luck on cataloging the rest of your cards!