Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Year in Review / State of the Collection

It was a challenging and enjoyable year for the Ryan's Pitch Collection. Challenging because I found myself with very limited time for cardboard appreciation. I had a tremendous flurry of posts in the late spring/early summer time frame, but that quickly ended when the fall semester rolled around. I had some tough classes on the docket and, when combined with my day job, it created an environment of severe time management demands where my hobbies found the proverbial back-burners.

But that's okay. And I know I'm not alone - all of you probably know exactly what I'm talking about! And that's a big reason why I admire my fellow bloggers so much. They find a way to make the time for regularly scheduled posting, despite everything else they have going on in their lives. I salute you all and will try to find my blogging 'sweet spot' in 2015.

Speaking of goals, I established a few in 2014. I even came darn near accomplishing one as well.


But let's keep things linear! First, what did I accomplish in 2014? I managed to acquire a healthy amount of cardboard. For the first time since rejoining the hobby in 2011, these acquisitions were comprised of more single-card purchases than packs and/or sets. In fact, I haven't purchased a blaster/pack since...well, I guess it would have to be Gypsy Queen. Did that diminish the chaos?


As that cute girl from Texas once said, THAT is a Beautiful Disaster. But I digress...

I will always crave the satisfaction of buying packs of cards and ripping them open. But the level of financial commitment I needed to make in order to collect by this method just doesn't work for me right now. I picked up a 2014 Topps Factory Set for my son's collection this Christmas just as I normally do, but that was enough for me after trying out Series 1, some Heritage and GQ.

The flagship is in pretty good form right now, overall. I'm not here to hate! The photography seems to really be on top of its game - a huge bonus in my book. I Just can't get on board with all of the inserts and parallels. I like them - I just can't collect them all.

Heritage was a real treat. The return of substantial card stock made those rack packs a real joy for me to open. I kicked off my set-build in solid form, with minimal duplicates among the packs that I did purchase. That was a lot of fun and a great example of why I probably won't be able to ever fully give up new-releases.

So what did I buy this year? Singles. Vintage singles and small lots. Junk wax singles. Hobby Ice Age singles. Even modern release singles! Some were graded and some were raw. I picked up a bunch of cheap autograph cards, too. I love autographed cards. They look great in cases and display well for non-collector friends and family to reminisce about and enjoy. That makes me happy!

It wasn't just baseball and even better - these cost me some stamps, envelopes and some paper!

What kind of singles did I buy? A lot of them were for my Player Collections. Just to refresh, here is the list as of today (wink) with a quick example for each:

Don Mattingly

Freddie Freeman

Anthony Rizzo

Craig Kimbrel

David Robertson

Dellin Betances

Eric Jagielo

Jagielo and Betances are new additions to the list this year. It's an interesting list, isn't it? I have some questions to answer in 2015 - will I continue to collect David Robertson now that he has left the Yanks? I'm thinking probably. Is it lame that it's even a question for me? I don't think so...collecting players from my favorite teams will always be a major component of my collecting ways. All you have to do is look at the two new additions for evidence of this trait.

But Robertson will always hold a special place for me. I became a huge fan of his during my first season "back" as a big time, loyal baseball fan. I was rooting for him as we were waiting for my son to be born. David was also kind enough to respond back during "Spring TTM 2012" with an autographed ball and several cards. I'll always be grateful and always be a fan. I can see this becoming a long-term relationship, even if he's wearing some different colored pinstripes.

A lot of my collecting friends from the Blogosphere and on Twitter are responsible for the majority of my PC additions this year. I am so grateful to all of you for that. Words can't describe how much fun it is to pull a plain white envelope out of the mailbox with a nice note and a few fabulous cards inside. That experience really encapsulates baseball card collecting in its purest form - a true organic experience that can be really difficult to find these days and (ahem) at this age.

Thank you for that, you guys!

So, the Rizzo and the Freddie and the Kimbrel collection are going strong! Unfortunately, these PCs are un-ceremonioulsy stacked on the Card Cave table. Is it because I don't care? Absolutely not. Whenever I get tasked by Mrs. Ryan's Pitch to retrieve something from the other end of the Card Cave (i.e. the storage room in our basement), I usually dilly-dally and wander over to my table and flip through my beloved PC stacks - just because. Can you really have fun flipping through cards that you've seen a hundred times?

Damn right you can.

But my PCs deserve more, so a major goal for 2015 will be to binder-ize these stacks of goodness. For one thing, safety of the cards is paramount. I like to keep my cards in as good a condition as when I receive them. I consider this an element of my responsibilities as their Collector-Owner. I foresee a sizable order from Ultra Pro in my future - along with a trial order from UniKeep binders. These binders aren't built for beauty - but I think they may be the utilitarian and hobby solution I've been looking for.

What else is going into a binder? My Mattingly PC. I received dozens of glorious Donnie cards from the same collecting friends that I mentioned above - THANK YOU, guys! I also tried to adhere to a goal for 2014 by adding Mattingly to my singles/lots purchases throughout the year. A couple of "lots" later, and my Hit Man collection has now reached amazing new heights! How many unique cards do I have? No idea - but taking the time to organize and binderize them should assist in making my statistical analysis much easier. I can't wait to see where I stand and to share some REALLY cool cards with you guys!

I'd be lying if I said that the majority of my collecting passion hasn't consistently focused on vintage cards. The history of the sport has always been a huge draw for me and collecting older cards is a great way to create my own personal baseball museum. Vintage for me is anything before I was born (1979). While many of you will probably get a chuckle out of that, it seems to be where the demarcation falls for me. I am getting closer and closer to completing all Topps sets between 1979 and the beginning of my Hobby Ice Age. This will be a major milestone for me as a collector and this goal will remain as a focus for my collecting in 2015.


Prior to 1979 is wide open. In a perfect world, I would say that I am actually collecting/building every set - from bubble gum cards... Trammel RCs...

...and everything, EVERYTHING in between. There's some well-loved 52's and a few slabbed T-205's...

I now have dozens of BEAUTIFUL dog-eared 71's...

...stacked right next to my (in progress) N.Y. Highlanders team set...

There are some old-school Bowmans, each of which deserve their very own post for appreciation...

...and a NEARLY complete '78 set. I also have a beloved stack of 1960 "commons" that will one day be presented to my Dad so that he can complete his main childhood set!

There's a bunch of Virgil Trucks that I treasure just as much as my one-and-only Ted Williams and the two Mantle base cards mixed in among the Bowman trove. All kinds of good stuff, right? But the king for me just continues to be vintage.

God, I love vintage.

They need to be organized, though. Enter more binders and cases. I may only have eleven 1959 Topps cards, but they need to be brought together with two pages and plenty of room to grow. Will I ever obtain a Hoot rookie card and complete this glorious set? I sure hope so but the least I can do is make it as easy as possible for me to access the cards, enjoy them, share them, know which ones I need, etc.

Organize, organize, organize.

I also need to get rid of what I just don't want anymore. I don't need to keep them all - I simply can't. There's not enough space and my storage bins are busting at their plastic seams. Let me know if you are interested. There will be team lots and "Set starter kits". Do you love a team and desire any/all cards for that team? Perhaps I can help. I don't need them in my collection anymore but I want them to go to a good home if possible. Don't worry, they would never be thrown away...I'm thinking grab-bag goodies at Little League parks is a great way to go? So much to reduce, but it has to be done.

I really "got into" graded cards this year. My first foray was a two-slab auction victory that netted two "9" copies of my favorite baseball card - 1984 Topps Mattingly. But even with that first graded purchase came my first lesson. Not all slabs are created equal, and it can become just as confusing and cluttered as raw cards if you don't set up some parameters. So I studied and researched and talked a lot about it with a lot of you over the months (thank you again!). I think I cam up with a system that works for me...

There are certain player and teams and sets that I will always welcome in graded form. Iconic rookie cards from my youth and key cards for certain players from today (PC's and maybe a few others) will be the primary focus. The Highlanders. The first Yankees. The 1951 Bowman set. Foolishly ambitious? Definitely! But I can't help it - I'm all in and I have loved every single inbound slab. They store well. They present well to others. They make it easy to know exactly what you have should a time ever come to redistribute....yes, graded cards are here to stay for the Ryan's Pitch Collection!

So, a quick summary of collecting focus and goals for 2015:

ORGANIZE - binderize PC's and favorite sets, both complete and in progress

TRACK - make lists of "have's" and "need's" for PC's and sets

REDUCE - give away or sell cards, etc. that I truly don't need or want

COLLECT - PC's, sets, autographs and key graded cards (rookies, favorites, etc.)

ENJOY - blog when possible, share with friends, pour a beer and flip through

Uh, "RECTO"? "CERTO"? Whatever the subliminal anagram might be, I feel like I have a very general plan for the coming year and I am really looking forward to it. While I didn't blog as much as I wanted to, I was very fortunate to have the time and resources that I did in order to enjoy when I could. Make no mistake, not all of the cards above were obtained in 2014. Most have been scooped up over the past four years and some more than 25 years ago. The key is seeing a pattern emerge and gaining a vision of what I really want my collection to be and mean to me - and I feel like that is really coming into focus, slowly but surely.

There's a whole other component of my collection that I'd like to dive into more in a future post - my memorabilia. Autographed balls, pictures and tickets. I have  managed to add a few of these to my collection as well and many of them factor into my card acquisition decisions. I'll have to save this topic for 2015, though.

If you have stuck with me this long, I am eternally grateful. It brings me a lot of joy to think that at least one other soul out there is gaining some joy from the pieces of cardboard and baseball history that I squirrel away in my own humble collection. Coming up on this blog's 3rd Anniversary, I'm impressed I've hung on this long. I don't know if this website will ever truly reach the lofty ideals of organization & perfection that I originally had in mind, but it works for now and serves as a nice place for me to call home out here in the cyber ether.

It will be a busy year for me next year - The Ryan's Pitch clan will welcome our third child into the world (in time for its first baseball season!) and I should wrap up my MBA! My daughter will start 2nd grade and my son may very well watch his first Star Wars movie (wink) in addition to preparing for kindergarten. My wife will hit the gas pedal on her photography business after the baby break....and off we'll go. If I disappear from time to time on here - at least you'll know why! Just remember that you can always find me on Twitter via @ryanspitch - I foresee some late night tweeting this spring.

Have a very safe New Year's Eve with the people important to you! I hope that 2015 is a wonderful year for us all and I can't wait to join you for a part of that journey - the State of the Collection is STRONG.

As always, thanks for reading!



  1. 2014 was a great year for your collection! Love all the vintage! I have that same exact blue Score Board binder that you have. I've had it since I was a kid.

  2. Dude, love seeing all these. You have some gems!

    Thanks for being such s great friend of the blog!

  3. That was a fun ride! I love cards! Are we all a bit crazy?

  4. Very cool to see. I'm about to embark on my MBA in two weeks, so it's nice to find someone else out there going through that journey.

    I've got similar goals in 2015 (time to post about that!) but I'll just leave here saying I might be able to take some Astros off your hands.