I have thousands of baseball cards, sitting in binders and boxes and bags in my parents’ basement. There’s nearly a whole storage room dedicated to them, the fruits of years of labor by my brother and me in the late 80s.
But what’s funny to me is how much time is spent valuing baseball cards, because I wonder how many baseball-card collectors, when push came to shove, could actually bring themselves to sell their once-prized possessions?
And I wonder if the actual, price-guide value given to the cards has anything to do with how much we, the owners, actually value them?
I have no idea what a Kevin Mitchell 1987 Topps rookie card is supposedly worth. I do know that it’s one of the most awesome cards in history — featuring Mitchell crossing home plate in a cloud of dust — and that when Mitchell’s career took off in 1989, my brother and I spent hours plumbing the depths of our collection to pick out every single one had — and we must have had 30, no joke — and put them in our binder of valuable cards, right next to the Pete Incaviglia and Mike Greenwell rookies from the same year.
But what did we honestly expect to get from that? College tuition? A car? A house? Did we ever really plan on selling the things? I have no idea.
I know that if now, someone came up to me and offered me twice the Beckett price-guide dollar value for all those Mitchell rookies, I’d say, “hell no.” I don’t even think I’d sell him one. And I have no idea why. I haven’t even looked at the things in years.
Collections, and the instinct to collect, are strange to me now. Sure seemed to make a lot of sense to me when I was a kid, though.