Over the course of the past 20+ years I have been collecting Scott Rolen cards. I have met many collectors over the years that I now consider friends simply because we share an affinity for little pieces of cardboard with pictures of our favorite player(s) on them.
At some point during my collecting journey, I decided that I wanted to obtain as many different Scott Rolen cards as time and money would allow. Certain periods in my days of collecting were slower than others due to funds (or lack thereof). But there have also been times where I've added many different cards over the course of the year.
I have finally reached a huge milestone: 3,000 unique Rolen cards in The Rolen Collection! I have been keeping tabs of my collection via a checklist I have created on Google Sheets. I've seen the tally slowly creep closer and closer to that milestone number and some days it seemed like I would never reach it. But here we are!
I wanted to make card #3,000 a big one. I mean, a big milestone deserves some fanfare, right? One of my friends, Michael, decided that he was going to start selling off some of his Rolen collection recently. I know Michael has some absolute monsters in his collection and one evening while talking to him about card #3,000, I told him about my desire to make it a huge card.
There are multiple cards in his collection that would fit nicely into my collection, but there was always one that stood out to me. A card so rare, that I didn't even know it existed until he obtained the card and shared a picture of it. It was at that moment that I knew I needed to have that card in my collection one day.
So as we were talking one evening he told me to think about the cards in his collection and to let him know which one I would like to add to my collection as card #3,000. It didn't take me long at all to think about, so I sent him a message that went something like this, "You know I have to ask..." and I sent him a screenshot of one of his binders with that card circled. He didn't reply immediately, so I braced myself for him telling me that one was off the table. A short time later he messaged me back with pictures of the front and the back of the card and another message that included a short video clip of the card. Again, I thought for sure he was going to tell me that this was one of the cards he planned on keeping for his collection because he told me before that he was going to only keep the best of the best and get rid of the rest.
Then another message came through: "I bet we can swing something...".
A few days went by after that message and we talked about other cards of his that I wanted to add to my collection. The whole time I keep thinking about card #3,000, especially since we had never discussed a price on it or anything. Then he asked me how close I was getting to my goal, and at that time, I told him I was at 2,972. After a short discussion on value and determining what was fair for both of us, a price was agreed upon. Knowing that I wanted card #3,000 to be this card, he told me to let him know when I was ready for it and that it would give him a little bit more time with the card.
All of that went down at the end of August.
A short time went by and I was getting even closer to my goal. Michael and I had been talking about several cards that he was going to list on ebay and I asked him about a few other cards that I knew he had that would fit into my collection and would get me even closer to 3,000. While talking about those cards, I asked him if he would be interested in helping me get to that goal with one epic mail day. He shot me a few pictures and asked if I was interested in any of them. I told him that I was currently sitting at 2,983 cards and I inquired about buying 17 cards from him, with the 17th card being #3,000. After some quick discussion about which cards I wanted we agreed on a price and he packaged up my newly acquired cards to send them out to me the very next day!
Without any further adieu, here is the epic mail day that got me to 3,000!
1998 Topps Tek - Diffractors Pattern 30 #88
1998 Topps Tek - Diffractors Pattern 39 #88
1998 Topps Tek - Diffractors Pattern 43 #88
1998 Topps Tek - Diffractors Pattern 75 #88
1998 Topps Tek - Diffractors Pattern 86 #88
1998 Topps Tek - Pattern 36 #88
1998 Topps Tek - Pattern 45 #88
1998 Topps Tek - Pattern 86 #88
1998 Topps Tek - Pattern 89 #88
1998 Ultra - Platinum Medallion #70, SN100
2001 Bowman Chrome - Gold Refractors #20, SN99
2001 Ultra - Platinum Medallion #114P, SN50
2002 Topps Traded & Rookies - Chrome Black Refractors #T72, SN100
2004 Bowman Heritage - Mahogany #61, SN25
2004 Topps Chrome - Red X-Fractors #325
2005 Topps Chrome - Red X-Fractors #454, SN25
With those 16 cards, my total unique Rolen cards landed firmly at 2,999. Card #3,000 had to be a monster of a card. A card of mythical proportions. A card so rare, I didn't even know it existed until a couple of years ago! A card that nobody else has in their collection...
1998 Donruss - Crusade Purple Call To Arms #190 (Unreleased)
Just look at how incredibly beautiful this card is! Here is a little more information on the card, courtesy of BaseballCardPedia:
A number of additional Crusade cards (sequentially numbered #131 - #200 in the set) were produced by Donruss for future 1998 and 1999 baseball products, but were never officially released due to the bankruptcy of Pinnacle Brands. However, all 70 of these known, unreleased Crusades emerged on the secondary market shortly after Pinnacle's bankruptcy. None of these unreleased Crusades are serial-numbered. While Major League Baseball Properties (MLBP) instructed Pinnacle Brands - which included the Donruss and Leaf products - to destroy its baseball card inventory after the bankruptcy filing, some Donruss employees collated and kept these unreleased Crusades and sold them to Dave and Adam's Card World, a sports card and collectibles store. In turn, they sold the entire lot to a private collector, which then traded hands again to another private collector. Had these Crusades not been backdoored, collectors may have never seen these.
While many collectors believe that one copy of the Red and Purple and two copies of the Green of each player from this unreleased portion of the set exist, this is more of an exception than the norm. The large majority of players only have one of each color, with some players not having one or two colors confirmed to exist.
Most players in the initial Crusade set (#1 - #100) were to have a "base" and "Call to Arms" (CTA) card, for all three colors. The first Crusade "type" for each of these players were released in packs of 1998 Donruss, Leaf, and Donruss Update; however, the second Crusade "type" for many players were part of this unreleased set. For example, the Ken Griffey, Jr. CTA Crusade was one of these unreleased cards that emerged on the secondary market after the bankruptcy - Griffey, Jr. had a "base" Crusade that was officially released in packs but his CTA subset was to be featured in sets that were never officially released.
Unlike the CTA Crusades that were inserted into packs, all unreleased CTA cards are sequentially-numbered.
Because of the popularity of the Crusade set in general and potential rarity of the unreleased Crusades specifically, these command also strong premiums in the secondary sales market over the pack-issued Crusades.
Of course this milestone doesn't signal an end of anything. It's merely a mark in time and a personal collection goal achieved. I still plan on adding new cards to The Rolen Collection as often as I can. According to Trading Card Database, Rolen currently has 7,060 cards. On my checklist, I currently have 7,097 cards listed. Many of the extra ones I have listed are either variations that they don't list on their site or 1/1 cards (especially from the last couple Topps Archives sets) that they have yet to catalog. Either way, by my calculations, there are approximately 1,682 Rolen cards (and growing all the time) that are numbered to five or less, which I don't count as "have to have" for the purposes of my collection. So if we remove those, we are left with 5,415 cards that I would like to have in my collection. With me finally reaching 3,000, that leaves me with another 2,415 cards to chase!