09 November 2009


The other day I was sitting in my man-cave(formerly known as "my den", but I was informed that calling it a den went extinct with the final episode of Growing Pains) looking at my baseball cards, and it got me thinking about the act of collecting. What makes us want to collect things? (note: this is not a sports post)

I know for me its a natural inability to throw things away, but I also seek out certain things. I have talked a little bit on various occasions of my baseball card collection. I started collecting cards in Junior high because it seemed like the thing to do. Many of my friends were card collectors, and after a few trips to the "card shop", my interest peaked and I started collecting my own. It was cool to have cards of the players that you saw on TV. As I started collecting it became apparent that there was some serious potential for money making. Or so I thought.
If I owned this card, I could sell it for its book price of 2.35 million dollars. Problem is there are only 40 of them known to be left in existence. It is a 1909 Honus Wagner.

My first love as a young kid was money. I used to sell my unwanted toys in the neighborhood. I would put them in a red wagon, pull them around to friend's houses and sell them off. (Come to find out, if I had just kept some of those original GI Joe and Star Wars figures, I could make a killing off them now!) My Dad used to compare me to Alex Keaton. I tried hard to master the ability of knowing which coins were dropped just by the sound they made. (See
Family Ties Season 2 episode 8- I think). So I started the whole baseball card collecting experience with the idea that I would save them nice and neat in boxes for 25 years and then sell them for huge profits.
And here they sit, in my man cave, and other places. I have probably close to 250,000 cards. I have no idea how much money I have spent on them, but their combined value is probably around 10 grand. Yet I continue to collect them. I missed the boat when Mark McGwire broke the home run record a few years ago. His card value skyrocketed. I have about 20 of his rookie cards that I never paid more than a couple of dollars for. I held out, thinking they would go up and up like a Michael Jordan rookie, then the steroid news broke. His cards plummeted faster than my brothers and me when we tried to jump off our roof using home made parachutes made of bed sheets and blankets.

My favorite player of all time is Will Clark. I used to do whatever I had to do to get every card ever made of him. He was my childhood athlete hero. A tenacious player. Plus he always put the cool black paint under his eyes. I have hundreds of his cards now. My cousin even got me his autograph on a baseball this past year.

So I ask myself, "Why?" Even though I can not think of great reasons to continue collecting, I continue to do so. I am also collecting mini baseball bats from each stadium I visit for a game.
This collection has more of a purpose and meaning to me, so I get it. My daughter Tierra collects the papers that I crumple up and put in the garbage. I only found out about this recently. I am a huge "list maker" person. I make "to-do" lists, "to-buy" lists, "quotes to remember" lists, and on and on. I am frequently updating these lists and rewriting them, or even making new ones. As I do, I throw out the old. Tierra has been secretly keeping these crumpled up lists of mine. This cracked me up. I actually have to be sneaky to throw papers away at my house. I collected my belly button lint while I was a missionary. Had a ziplock bag full after my 24 months. When packing to go home I wondered why I had collected it and threw it in the trash. I kind of wish I had that still.

So my question is, what do you friends and readers and family members collect and why? There has got to be some cool collections out there. My brother Danny collects memories of his stupid 10 dollar purchases. (See a previous post about my New York trip last year.) Another friend collects Pez dispensers. My mom collects Mickey and Minnie mouse plush dolls. My grandma collects mini spoons.

While thinking about this collection topic at work the other day it occurred to me that I think some people collect "911 calls." Or they try to set the record for how many times they can call 911. A lady the other day had called us 3 times in 48 hours, and she didn't even have any emergency needs. The 3rd time she called was only 40 minutes after the 2nd time. When we walked in her house she says to me, "You look familiar, do I know you from somewhere?" I said, "Yes, I was here 45 minutes ago." She acted surprised. Nice try lady, I know I am just part of your collection now.