I would like to thank those who provided feedback in my quasi-nervous breakdown post about card collecting the other day. It was reassuring to read that some of you have at one point felt the same way, and refreshing to see words of encouragement. Words like happiness, simplifying, clarity, surprise, and enjoy, spoke to me. What exactly I heard, I cannot say yet. I am still processing where I want to go with this hobby, but I see light.
As an aside, while I have been searching for direction, I realized what triggered my episode. As JediJeff inquired, yes, I am a completionist, and I am fighting that tendency because it is hopeless when it comes to card collecting. Unless I define what I deem complete, there will be no end. Never.
While this is as plain as the nose on many of your faces, I didn’t quite realize it until I received this in the mail last week…
1,848 pages of pure, wondrous resourcefulness. 1,848 pages of crippling, debilitating incompletion. This catalog is by far the most detailed reference guide I have ever seen for baseball cards. I know, the internet has it all, too, but why pass up a real card for eTopps?
In addition, I was able to land this behemoth for free with free shipping. A few weeks ago, I took a survey for my auto/home insurer and they sent me a gift certificate to Amazon. That certificate coupled with my Amazon Prime membership got me this catalog the very next day for free. Who could pass that up?
While browsing this catalog, I noticed that several of the sets I want to complete in my Big 5 Quest have shortprints. I believe this is what started my panic. How can I reasonably complete a set when there are only 1,500 copies of the card in existence? This was quickly followed by “There’s no way in Hell I am paying over $50 for a Donruss card!”
I was also amazed/dejected at how many different types of baseball cards there are in existence. It was overwhelming and riddled me with anxiety. I can't possibly build those sets, but what else is there?
I’ve always looked at other collectors and wondered, “How can you just collect Barry Larkin? How can you mix and match cards to create your ‘own’ sets? How can you collect plays at the plate?” It always seemed confining, and I always was a traditionalist. Build sets. Period. I think if the boom of the 80s, the antics of the 90s and the insert/short print mania of the 2000s hadn’t occurred, I could safely and easily complete sets the traditional way, the truly confining way.
But it did happen, and the hobby has changed, and I have not adapted. I think this catalog and my latest trip to the card show is defining a seismic shift in my collecting goals. I think I may still chase sets from the Big 5, but I think I have something more personal up my sleeve…