As I've alluded to a couple of times before, graded or "slabbed" cards are becoming a larger part of my collecting habits. It's something that I continue to wrestle with as a collector - what exactly do I collect? Who do I collect? How do I collect? Why?
It's a different answer on different days - and that's okay. It's one of the glorious things about our hobby, the fact that we have so very much to choose from. Well, maybe a blessing and a curse...but as long as I continue to narrow my focus on what I enjoy the most, the plethora of options can only be a good way to start.
And right now, I really enjoy several aspects of graded cards. As a collector, I appreciate the beauty of a card that is in good condition. Whether it's a 1940's Bowman that has survived in "Excellent" condition or a 2001 Bowman that is an indisputable "Mint" - there is much to be admired and appreciated from a collector's standpoint. Do I still love old, beat-up and well-loved cards? Do I still love the way the smell of a 1960 Topps card can take me straight back to my grandparents' house? You bet. ALL of the above.
But for me, there's also the aspect of value and investment when it comes to my collection. I know, this is a hot topic for many of us and one that I have found myself to be on both sides of.
"You should collect for fun, not value!"
"Greed and money is ruining the hobby!"
"Kids can't afford it anymore!"
These are all valid concerns and discussions that should take place to ensure the hobby stays vibrant, relevant, fun, viable and accessible. For me, personally, I have come to realize that I value my money and want to preserve as much of it as I can while using it to provide for my family - whether that preservation takes place when buying clothes, buying medicine, going on vacation, grabbing lunch, paying the phone bill or card-shopping on the Bay of E. As we all know, it's all about the things we need in combination with some of the things we want. Heaven knows, there isn't enough of it [money] for everything.
I also know that I really, really, really love baseball cards. They are something I will always want but will never need. Well....truly need. They're a luxury; a hobby. So sometimes, the two ideas of money and my baseball card hobby conflict with one another. It is very easy to exchange a lot of money for a lot of baseball cards but sometimes it is a challenge to do so and maintain the same value - though "value" in a hobby is very subjective! My 1986 Topps Doug Corbett is priceless to me, for example.
SO what kind of value am I talking about? Whether we like it or not, there is a definite market for our hobby that dictates and assigns a relatively well-known and, though sometimes INSANE, agreed upon value to the cards we all love and collect. Some are a lot and some are.....junk. But they all matter as bricks in the foundation of our cardboard heritage.
I'm slowly discovering a method by which I can pursue and collect cards that I value from a collecting standpoint and that can also have a chance to maintain value from the hobby's market perspective. Or, more simply put - cards that could be sold in the future by myself or my family, should our financial needs outweigh the collecting needs. I hope it never does.....but you never know.
Does this stream of conscience make sense?
I'm going to stop there for now, but this is certainly a topic that I mull over frequently as my hobby and collecting evolution continues. Don't worry, this topic doesn't stress me out. In fact, I rather enjoy it and would love to know what you guys think!
Right now, let's enjoy this particular card.....which also happens to be a card graded by PSA:
I picked up this Pujols rookie card a couple of months ago. I had been considering players of today who seemed destined for permanent status in the game as being "great" players, perhaps even destined for enshrinement in Cooperstown. Hall of Fame players are a cornerstone of my collection, a portion of the sport's history that I enjoy reading about, learning about and researching. This enjoyment manifests itself in my collection in the form of pictures, books, cards, autographs and more. While the majority of my HOF-related focus has been on players already enshrined, I've begun to consider taking a closer look at prospective inductees who are still trotting the base paths after mammoth home runs or taking the mound for additional strikeouts.
Enter Albert Pujols.
I am not a Cardinals fan and I do not collect Albert Pujols in particular, but the guy has had an amazing career. A powerful slugger, he collected many titles and trophies in St. Louis before acquiring the spite of Cardinal Nation for heading to Anaheim in free agency.
And while the titles and trophies have continued for the Cards, Albert has seen a decline in his production as a Halo. He's had some worrisome injuries, as most players eventually encounter....but he was still working towards the 500 HR milestone that he eclipsed about a week ago. It was a major feat and one which I was lucky enough to be watching live on TV with a good friend.
I believe Albert Pujols will one day be in the Hall of Fame and I believe he belongs in that group of "best sluggers" of the game. Some have their doubts and suspicions....but I can appreciate the guy's talent. Heck, I still admire the prowess of Bonds and McGwire - but I respect the fact that not everybody feels this way.
Back to the card!
I love this card of Pujols! It comes from that hobby ice age for me, between my collecting years. It is a gold version of his 2001 Bowman rookie card. The design is simple and symmetric which I really love. he facsimile autograph is centered right there beneath the photograph and it even says "rookie card" in gold foil in the top corner. I love that! Best of all, though, I love the picture of a younger Pujols in a majestic follow-through....perhaps a home run swing, perhaps not......but the swing captured is THE swing that has now clubbed at least 500 home runs and almost assured that one day I will be able to add this card to my HOF collection. Here's home run swing #500 for comparison:
I think that's pretty cool. Yes, the card is "Mint" and I did obtain a copy of the card in that condition on purpose....but it in my hand, as I appreciate it as a card and a piece of history, it feels like a collection treasure and a historic memento of the game more than a simple investment.
And if that memento happens to have the potential to preserve its value? Just in case?
That's something I can enjoy, too.
Congratulations, Albert! Thanks for the memory and welcome to my collection.
Thanks for reading and keep collecting!