Paying Tribute to Those Who Get Us Started in the Hobby
I've been a baseball fan all my life. I grew up in Houston with my grandparents and was raised to be an Astros fan. Keep in mind that being an Astros fan in the 80s and 90s was a lot easier than it is today.
Believe it or not, it was my grandmother that made me a fan of the game and brought me into the hobby. I have fond memories of her checking me out of school early to catch afternoon games at the Astrodome where we also waited patiently for players to come out and sign autographs afterwards. I remember trips to card shops and card shows in hotel ballrooms where we spent hours pouring through cards and autographed memorabilia, looking for the right additions to our personal collections. The truth is, my grandmother could run circles around many collectors half her age, including me.
As you can imagine, my grandmother, who has now passed away after long battle with Alzheimer's, had quite the collection. She handed it down to me one night in a rare moment of clarity during her struggle with the disease. It included autographed baseballs of Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and many more. I had learned at an early age who the legends of the game were and the value, both monetary and sentimental, of the collection my grandmother had. The passing down of her collection will always be a significant moment in my life.
I imagine that my story is very similar to many collectors. There was someone in our life that was the spark, but at some point, we outgrew the hobby. Even though I've always remained a fan of baseball, there came a point where I was no longer spending my allowance on cards or income from my early jobs on the hobby. Then, years later, my grandmother gives me her collection and the hobby quickly captures my attention once again. It wasn't long before it was capturing my disposable income as well.
As a collector, I've always been willing to spend money on single cards or items that I've wanted to add to my collection. However, last year Topps released a product that really intrigued me and had me ripping open boxes, something I had never done before. 2011 Topps Tribute had everything I was looking for in a card set. Autographs and relics from legends and current stars that were limited to 99 or less, parallels limited to 99 or less, and a beautiful design.
The first box I purchased was priced at $285 and it wasn't long before I was on my fifth box that cost closer to the $400 mark. Of course, it helped that my disposable income had increased significantly from the time that I left the hobby. But spending that kind of money on a box was, and still is, hard to swallow.
With 2012 Topps Tribute nearing its release date, I am highly anticipating its arrival. Since opening that first box in 2011, I've opened many boxes from other baseball products. However, this year will be another first for me as a collector. Much to the dismay of my wife, I have ordered an eight-box case of 2012 Topps Tribute.
It's clear to me that over time I've evolved as a collector. While my taste, spending habits, and personal collection change, the spark has always been the same. Now, as a father to a one-year-old son, I can only hope I can do for him what my grandmother did for me. The hobby was a way to spend time together, to bond, to teach, and to create memories that are far more valuable than the collection itself. I can only hope that when my collection becomes his, he too will think of it as an important moment in his life.