My collection has a personal touch — and special meaning for me – It’s interesting seeing your significant other on a baseball card. Especially one that sells for well over $100.

But that was the case with Sooz (that’s how she’s known in the hobby, dating to her blog days on A Cardboard Problem, and now as Topps’ marketing communications manager) in 2017 Allen & Ginter. The card, one of the Topps Employee Autographs, was limited to 10 framed copies. When a few of her cards popped up on eBay, I had to pounce. I had a collection to maintain!

I won auctions on two of the cards — one for $135, the other for about $175. Another copy which I didn’t win sold for more than $200. I happen to think the buyer got a good deal.

My collection has a personal touch — and special meaning for me

Two of my wife’s 10 framed autograph cards from 2017 Allen & Ginter.

It’s only fitting that I’m now a collector of my wife’s cards — she helped me re-enter the hobby. We were friendly co-workers in 2010, and we started talking after a work meeting about Topps Update.

All these years later, we’re still talking about cards.

Now my collection also contains custom Topps cards of our 2-year-old son Dean. His “take your kid to work day” card shows him unwittingly channeling Bob Hamelin from 1996 Pinnacle, and I couldn’t be prouder.

Someday when Dean is a little older, I’ll show him my collection. He doesn’t quite understand the meaning of cards yet. But he does have his own collection of creased and well-worn cards, mostly commons from Topps Opening Day. He scatters his cards across the ground and steps on them. I feel for the crumpled Jonathan Lucroys and Johnny Cuetos, but Dean finds fun in them, and everyone’s collection is unique. I’m looking forward to seeing him one day choose the types of cards he wants to collect. And we can teach him about sets, and player collections, and inserts, and protecting your cards.

My collection has a personal touch — and special meaning for me

One of Dean Good’s earliest cards.

It’s a joy to share a love of card collecting with my family — it was passed down to me from my parents, and I’ll one day pass it on to Dean. I’m excited, too, to share that passion through my writing for GTS. I’m a longtime journalist and now, a book writer and ghostwriter, who’s spent years writing about the hobby for Beckett and various blogs. It’s special to write about a hobby that’s meant so much to me. I plan to use this space to write about meaningful stories in the hobby and my own perspectives on collecting.

I became hooked as a card collector in 1993. A neighbor had given me a pack of cards — Upper Deck Series 1 jumbo — and inside I found a Nolan Ryan “Then & Now” hologram insert showing Ryan at the beginning of his career with the Mets and the close of his career with the Rangers. The hologram shows the “Ryan Express” in mid-delivery, set against the Dallas skyline.

The card that started it all for me.

That card, along with Juan Gonzalez winning the Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game that year, cemented my Texas Rangers fandom, something that has lingered through the good times (Josh Hamilton’s fleeting brilliance, Hank Blalock’s All-Star Game heroics, Juan Gone’s power display in Game 1 of the 1996 A.L.D.S., two World Series appearances, striking out Alex Rodriguez to win the pennant) and the bad (the Juan Gonzalez trade in 1999, which crushed me, Alex Rodriguez, Chan Ho Park, the early 2000s in general (minus 2004, which was fantastic), one strike away in Game Six … better yet, let’s not talk about that last one).

As my appreciation of baseball intensified, my collection grew with every release of Collector’s Choice and Topps flagship and Upper Deck and MVP and Stadium Club. My mother used to take me to a local card shop when I was a teenager in central Pennsylvania. I loved scanning the shelves, studying the cards, talking to the shop owner. I didn’t care what the cards were worth — I still don’t, to some degree — they each carry a story, reflecting snapshots of a player’s life and career.

My fascination with history drew me to vintage-focused sets, such as 2001 Bowman Heritage and Fleer Greats of the Game, and eventually vintage cards. The beauty and brilliance of 1953 Bowman. The painstaking detail on 1952 Topps. The innovation and artistry of 1933 Goudey. The depth and scope of 1909-11 T206. Cards reflect the era in which they were created — and qualities such as texture, printing processes, colors and size are indicative of cultural factors.

My collection has a personal touch — and special meaning for me

Sooz helped me blend my loves of writing and collecting, and after she was hired by Beckett in 2012, I started writing for the magazines she edited (writing about collectibles was a nice escape to the usual tragedies I covered as a breaking news writer and editor). Covering the hobby and connecting with athletes and dealers made me a better collector. At the National Sports Collector’s Convention, I interviewed Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith and wrote a longform feature about their careers and collectability. I also wrote about Bobby Hull’s complicated legacy and the hobby impact of Martin Brodeur’s father Denis, a longtime hockey photographer whose images are regularly used in Panini releases. I fell in love with entertainment and pop culture products after attending the Philly Non-Sports Card Show, and a conversation with Nate “Tiny” Archibald drew me to vintage basketball cards and the underrated 1981-82 Topps set.

Beyond her autographed cards, my wife’s efforts at Topps have shaped my collecting focuses in other ways. She was the editor for the company’s Stadium Club product in 2016 and 2017, meaning she was tasked with selecting images for the card fronts. I helped her pick a few photos that made it into the set, including Billy Hamilton and Lou Gehrig.

Hamilton’s card shows him as a blur on the basepaths — literally. The image is mostly out of focus, embodying Hamilton’s blinding speed. Gehrig’s card, meanwhile, shows the Yankees icon looking down the barrels of his bats. I loved the image’s perspective.

Two of my favorite cards in my 2017 Stadium Club Rainbow near-set are Lou Gehrig and Billy Hamilton.

I was especially drawn to Stadium Club’s rainbow parallels, which are numbered to 25. The way the light catches them is stunning, especially when paired with the set’s full bleed design and stellar photography. But I noticed many of the rainbow parallels didn’t command much money on the secondary market. This is especially true when compared to the popular chrome (and gold chrome) parallels. They are also more plentiful but only feature the set’s biggest stars.

When Stadium Club was released in 2017, I decided I wanted to try and collect the rainbow parallel for each of the set’s 300 cards. I had no other primary collecting focuses at the time. This challenge would probably take me a few years to complete, if I ever finished.

Using eBay, COMC and Sportlots, as well as card shows, looking for rainbow cards helped. I knocked the key cards — including the biggest rookies, Alex Bregman and Aaron Judge — off the list. My Rangers favorites, Nolan Ryan and Adrian Beltre and Mitch Moreland. Ted Williams and Tim Raines … Dee Gordon and Braden Shipley … I eventually nabbed the Billy Hamilton and Lou Gehrig, too. The mailman was perplexed by all of the bubble mailers. But two years later, I have 292 of the 300 cards. Almost there! I’m still waiting for a Yandy Diaz card to surface.

I look at the cards, and the holographic feel reminds me of 1993, of a jumbo pack of Upper Deck Series 1, of a 9-year-old boy and unlimited possibilities.



My collection has a personal touch — and special meaning for me

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