i won’t go into the history and back story now, but know that i went from a set collector (topps) to a set (topps, fleer, donruss) and team collector (dodgers) and then/now a set (topps and other sets as they caught my eye), team (dodgers), and player collector. my main player target was and is steve garvey, and i had all of the topps, fleer, and donruss issues, along with a kellogg’s or two. life was good.
then came ebay. this was and is the single most significant thing that has happened, for me, in the hobby since i started collecting. in late 1998 i saw (in beckett, i believe) a 1995 upper deck sp championship card featuring kirk gibson commemorating his 1988 world series game 1 homer (i posted about this here). the local card store didn’t have it but suggested something called ebay. i looked and there it was. awesome. what would happen if i typed in ‘steve garvey’? wow. i had no idea there were so many cards made after he retired, and even while he was playing. i went crazy. the first card i bought on ebay was a 1999 upper deck retro incredible auto, which i wrote about here.
so, using ebay, i started buying garvey cards left and right – competing with the 4 or 5 other garvey collectors. book value? meaningless. our mutual desires drove the prices way up, and manufacturers began issuing more cards of former players like garvey, including relics, autos, parallels. i wanted them all and darn near bought them all. i spent $250 on a 2001 leaf certified garvey jersey # 6/6 (his jersey number!).yes, i was one of those collectors. while this card remains one of my jewels – (i think it is perfection on cardboard. i mean, just look at the red wool! it’s from an early 70s jersey, and from the red number on the front of the dodgers jerseys, which has always been my favorite part of their uniform) it is also one of the cards that reminds me of what is bad about the hobby. why do we need parallels? especially ones that are exactly the same as the base except for a serial number and maybe the color of the border? well, the answer is we don’t. but i thought i did.
i also bought other cards i liked, whether they were dodgers or not. the sheer volume of cards that existed, and being able to access so many of them was intoxicating. it got to be ridiculous, though. even just focusing on steve garvey was difficult. there was the base. base parallel. jersey. jersey/bat. jersey/bat auto. patch. patch/auto.and then the signatures were different. some were just ‘steve garvey’. some were ‘steve garvey #6’. some were ‘steve garvey 1974 mvp’ and so on and so on. i even have one he signed 'popeye'.pretty soon, my favorite player was driving me away from the hobby.
after a self imposed hiatus, i returned. wiser. i realized that it wasn’t steve garvey driving me from the hobby, obviously. it wasn’t even the manufacturers who were making all these cards. it was me and my collecting habits. i decided to be more focused. more selective. i have all the topps sets from 1978 on, with the exception of the 2003 and 2007 sets i am still working on. i still collect dodgers – i have all the topps team sets from 1970 on, and many many more from every conceivable manufacturer (i think). i have over 500 different steve garvey cards, and just bought the latest – 2008 donruss threads.i no longer go after all the parallels. i buy a few packs or a blaster here and there, and will collect a set or two if they strike me as being worthwhile (like 2008 allen & ginter). i am trying to streamline my collection to only the cards that i enjoy – all the others are available for someone else to enjoy. so feel free to contact me for a specific team, set, or player and i will see what i can do.
i won’t stop collecting again, because i understand that i can collect on my terms and not those of the manufacturers’. even with ebay - the best and worst thing to happen to the collector in me.