Hobby Musings: Best Hobby Christmas Gift EverWith the Christmas season upon us, many hobbyists will be receiving sports memorabilia gifts that will become treasured parts of their collections. I’ve been fortunate to have received some nice ones over the years that I’ve kept. However, through all the new additions, one has firmly held its place as my favorite.

Hobby Musings: Best Hobby Christmas Gift EverOver 20 years ago, my dad bought me a box of 1999 Upper Deck Retro Baseball for Christmas. It came in a dual-sided lunch box container, and I remember being excited at the guaranteed autograph per box. With a checklist that included Ken Griffey Jr. and Chipper Jones, I hoped to pull a superstar signature.

Hobby Musings: Best Hobby Christmas Gift EverMy lunch box featured Ken Griffey Jr. on one side and Mark McGwire on the other. I swiftly dove into ripping the packs inside. A few packs in, my heart stopped as I pulled a card I was not expecting. During this time of Upper Deck baseball products, the company had started randomly inserting game-used bat cards from their Piece of History 500 set. The available player varied based on the release. Retro happened to include bat cards of Red Sox Hall of Famer Ted Williams. I would later find out that the Williams had a print run of 350. That Christmas morning, I was lucky enough to pull one of them.

To say I couldn’t contain my excitement would be an incredible understatement. Though I had hit some nice cards before, the Williams was by far the biggest card I had pulled up to that point. 14-year-old me got even more excited when I consulted my Beckett Baseball and saw the card had a value of $1,000. I quickly got the card into a protective sleeve. I was so excited over it that I took it to my grandmother’s house that day for Christmas dinner.

Hobby Musings: Best Hobby Christmas Gift EverOver 20 years later, and I still vividly remember the excitement and pure joy I felt from getting that card. It wasn’t just the value, but rather the thrill of beating the odds for such a big card. In today’s era of trading card hits galore, it’s easy to forget it wasn’t long ago when getting an autograph or memorabilia card in a box was such a huge deal.

The Williams completely overshadowed the Pat Burrell autograph I pulled later in the box. In addition to those cards, I still have the set and inserts I put together from that box. It really is a beautiful set and a testament to the wonderful work Upper Deck did with baseball. As I’ve continued collecting, I’ve always thought about trying to complete the Piece of History 500 set, but never seriously pursued it. This year though, I decided to take the plunge and chase the rest of it. A couple of additions at the National led to securing a few more off eBay. It’s going to take a while, especially for the Ruth, but I’m looking forward to the day I can display them all together. It feels like a fitting end to what’s been a treasured hobby memory for me.

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Kelsey’s ability to bring hobby coverage to the mainstream sports fan has been a true asset. GTS is happy to feature his thoughts on collecting in Hobby Musings. The opinions expressed are his and do not necessarily reflect those of GTS Distribution.
Kelsey Schroyer

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