This is an entry I’ve been meaning to write since the beginning of The Shlabotnik Report… But the 500th post will do just fine.
I’m sure that there are a number of you who keep a binder just for the players currently on your favorite team’s roster. I know I’ve seen a couple of you comment on doing something like that.
Well, I do that too… but I do it for every Major League team.
Jemile Weeks and the Beatles
Yoenis Cespedes, a Simpsons Wacky Pack parody and a Fleer sticker
…and I’ve been doing it since the mid-1970’s.
Like most kids, I was always arranging and re-arranging my cards in different ways… by team, by card number, by the state where they were born, by the team that drafted them… At some point I arranged my cards not by the team they were shown with, but the teams they were currently with… and they pretty much stayed that way.
My collection’s first permanent home was a drawer in my dresser, set up so that I could sit on the end of the bed, slide out the drawer and have easy access to my cards. Each team had its own stack, with American League teams on the left, National League teams on the right. Each day I’d look at the transactions listed in the paper and dutifully move cards around as players moved up and down from the minors, or from team to team.
Somewhere along the line this arrangement was changed by a new technological advancement: The 9-pocket sheet. The drawer morphed into a set of binders, still organized by current rosters. I decided to take advantage of the 9-pocket format and gave each player a three-card row in a sheet.
Of course, I didn’t have three cards of every player, and that left empty pockets, which in turn resulted in a weird sort of auxiliary collection: filler cards.
I began to acquire non-sport cards, interesting cards from other sports, whatever was available to fill in the empty spaces.
Along with accumulating these filler cards, I also started to keep an eye out for cards of players who weren’t yet in my collection.
2011 Bowman Duane Below… a recent example of what I’m talkin’ ’bout
It was during the 1990’s that this unwittingly became a long-term problem… Just to pick up cards of guys I didn’t have in some form, or to get a card that showed a guy in a more current uniform, I’d buy cards from sets that I normally wouldn’t bother with… Leaf, Bowman, Ultra, Stadium Club, Pinnacle, Upper Deck and an assortment of fringe-y sets.
Adding to my joy at the time (and my dismay now) was the advent of the nationally-distributed minor league sets from Classic Best and Upper Deck and CMC… The predecessors of Topps Pro Debut.
No real reason for this particular card, other than I’ve always liked the Denver Zephyrs’ uniforms…
I really liked those sets because they filled in a lot of gaps in my binders, and when a guy got called up to the majors for the first time, the chances were decent that I already have a card of him.
The end result of all these accumulating is that my collection grew tremendously in the 1990’s, and since I never really purged anything, things got waaaaaaaaaaay out of hand.
So, if it’s so much work and results in so much clutter, why have I been doing it for 35+ years?
I’ve never been content to just collect cards, put them in a binder and leaving them there… or, heavens forbid, graded and sealed away forever in a case. I enjoy going through my cards, looking at them, pulling them out of the sheets and doing stuff with them.
Jackie Bradley, Jr., Kate from “Lost” & Spider-Man 2099
As a visual thinker, keeping my cards organized this way helps me remember which player is on what team. It’s easy enough to keep track of guys like Zack Greinke and Jose Reyes, but I can also remember that Stephen Drew is in Boston because I remember seeing his cards in the Red Sox section of my AL East binder.
One other thing it really helps me with is remembering which cards I have. If I’m constantly in and out of binders, moving cards around, replacing a 2010 Marco Scutaro with a 2013, then I’m interacting with my cards and having fun with my cards and, in the process, remembering my cards.
One final affect it’s had on my life, and one which you will hopefully appreciate, is that maintaining these binders got me started making custom cards. Back in 2008 I got tired of the handwritten placeholders I was using for cardless players, and I started making 1974 customs to fill out some binder pages. I realized that I enjoyed the process and the end result so much that even when my color printer died, I kept making customs just for the fun of it. (FWIW, the death of my printer is the reason why you don’t see any of my customs in these binder pages)
Mike Adams & a Fleer team sticker
Michael Stutes & Paul McCartney
Joe Savery, the Phillie Phanatic & a 2004 Phillies Team card.
So that’s a quick view into my team binders…. I think that the particular way I have fun with my cards has made my collection become more unwieldy than most, and since the underlying theme of this blog involves bringing order to an out-of-control accumulation of cards, I always meant to explain what got me here in the first place.