Until I created this website and decided to include pictures of my autographed baseball card collection I had not gone through it in a few years. Around 2008-2009 was the last time I collected anything so the box they are in remained dormant.
I have only very little interest in adding to the collection. I think once you are a collector you always are. There’s a certain challenge, similar to a creative drive, which people who get obsessive about a collection have within them. Looking through my autographed baseball cards gives me a slight interest in sending out letters again. I only stop because I know how I get with anything. It will become a new obsession and I really should focus on more important things than asking people younger than me to sign miniature pictures of themselves.
Like looking through the high school yearbook, scanning over my collection of autographed baseball cards brings back a lot of memories. And like that cute girl a page across from you in the yearbook that no matter how hard you try you cannot remember, I continue to find cards in my collection I don’t remember getting.
I let out an expletive when I saw two autographed cards from Mike Napoli staring at me. I understand he’s not great, but I had no clue it was in there. At the time he was going by Michael Napoli. I had apparently obtained him through a letter to the Arizona Fall League long before he was bearded and winning the World Series.
I had a similar reaction when I saw a Bert Campaneris autographed card stacked among ones I remembered having a little better. Likely, I added this from a purchase at a card show. At the time I was unfamiliar with Campaneris. My dad probably bought it and felt the same way about him as I will in 20 years about Napoli.
Even authentic autographs in my collection that I received in packs now have a great sentimental value you to me because of how much more I know about the history of baseball. When I pulled a Johnny Callison autographed card years ago I didn’t think much of it. After a few years of listening to Philadelphia Sports Radio, I understand how meaningful the autograph actually is.
Lesser names like Jayson Nix even get me a little excited because forgetting about them makes me wonder who else could be mixed in there. I obtained Nix at the 2002 South Atlantic League All-Star Game in Lakewood, New Jersey along with others, most notably David Wright. Unlike Nix, I very much remember Wright.
I consider this far different from simple nostalgia. A big rush from autograph collecting was the feeling that you accomplished something. You gather up your baseball cards, you head to the stadium, and then go back home to see how many have ink on them. It was a challenge and seeing all of these successes years later reminds me I was not wasting my time. Going to a baseball game was always about more than who won or lost the game. It was also about who was willing to sign before and after.
My collection doesn’t compare to the greatest on the planet, but I do think overall it’s pretty impressive. Everything from Derek Jeter down to any player I have in my collection to never get beyond Single A, it all adds up to something unique and different from the rest.
Each autographed card I own has some history. Some were as simple as handing over a few bucks while others involved chasing a player down in the rain. They are a time capsule to a simpler time in life before taxes, bills, and women. They remind me how much one little hobby can give you: the adventure, the feeling of success, the bragging rights, etc.
An autographed baseball card tells a history. For some of us though, it’s a lot deeper than anyone can ever see.