Back in October of 2022 I hit, what I consider, to be a monumental milestone in my player collecting journey. Back then I reached the 3,000 unique card count for my Scott Rolen baseball card collection. It wasn't long after achieving that goal that I quickly set a new goal: 3,500 unique cards!
It has taken me a little over a year to achieve that new goal, and while card number 3,500 doesn't have the same flair as card number 3,000, it is quite apropos. You see, while I can't say definitively which card was number 3,500, what I do know is that it was one of the nine missing 1998 Topps Tek cards I needed to complete that run of cards - a feat that is quite amazing in and of itself! A "two birds with one stone" scenario that played out quite nicely. As silly as it may seem, achieving both of these goals simultaneously comes with a huge sense of accomplishment. A feather in my collecting cap, if you will.
I've learned a lot about the hobby over my many years of collecting. As with most things in life, I've had to learn some of this by making mistakes. Overpaying for certain cards, chasing that FOMO (fear of missing out), and letting cards slip through my fingers that I thought I could obtain later - which lead to some of the FOMO later on.
But I've also learned that this hobby is more than just about the cardboard (or acetate) we're all drawn to. The hobby, at large, is all about the community. I used to be the collector that never shared anything. I rarely engaged with other collectors unless it was a couple of the regulars at the local card shop or my close friends. That kind of behavior lead to some lulls in my collecting journey. There were several times where I wouldn't add any new cards to my collection for months at a time. Sometimes it just wasn't fun. Sure, I enjoyed the cards I had. I liked looking through them and reading the little blurbs on the back. But I didn't really have anyone to share the enjoyment with; at least nobody that would quite understand the excitement like a fellow collector would.
And here I am now, all of these years later, sharing my collection with everyone who stumbles across my website. I've been a member of forums for many years as well. I used to be far more active in forum discussions, but life has consumed a lot of my free time in recent years. That's where social media has kind of bridged that gap. While I don't have a lot of free time to visit forums like I used to, it is quick and easy to hop on Facebook or Instagram and see what everyone is up to. Or snap a few pictures of my most recent pickups and share them on Instagram before sitting down and writing an entire blog post about my monthly acquisitions.
Another thing that card number 3,500 comes with is a renewed sense of direction for my collection. I don't know about you, but to me, cards are more than a monetary investment. I wouldn't care if tomorrow my entire collection was completely worthless. I think most player collectors can agree with that sentiment.
For me, cards come with stories attached. While some stories are kind of boring and simple, some come with a certain sentimental value that you just cannot put a dollar value on. It could be something like pulling a specific card while opening packs with a loved one or a good friend. Chasing a very specific card for an obscenely long time and finally being able to add it to your collection. Or it could be a card that has been passed down from generation to generation. It could even be something like when I bought Ron's collection. A collection that had been curated since Rolen began his career. Ron shared several stories with me about him and his son-in-law going to card shows and buying certain cards that I was holding in my hand while looking over his collection.
While several of the cards in my collection come without any heartwarming stories, I hope that one day the collection can be passed along to someone else to enjoy them. I hope that when my story is shared, even though I just bought some of my cards from some strangers off of ebay, I did so because I thoroughly enjoyed those cards and building this collection. I hope the passion I have for the hunt is felt when someone thumbs through my meticulously curated collection.
The people we meet along the way, the friends we make while collecting cards, the lessons we learn, and the memories we make, all while collecting cardboard, is where the real enjoyment is behind the hobby we all know and love.