Why I Collect

Vintage baseball cards mean different things to different people. To some, vintage baseball cards is a business that creates their livelihood. To others, they are an alternative investment used to diversify their portfolio. To many, it is a fun hobby where people of different generations come together to buy, sell, and trade cards. I fall into the latter category.

To me, vintage baseball cards memorialize history and forge a connection to the past. I have very fond memories playing ball in that glorious time known as the 90s and I also spent many seasons organizing and coaching a youth travel baseball program, which was incredibly rewarding. And my love of baseball was something I shared with my Dad, grandfather, and many other family members, and now something I share with my son.

Favorites: Yogi, Spahn, Hank, and Willie

I’d like to walk through some of my favorite cards within my collection.

To begin, there are 4 players that I like to collect:

  • Yogi Berra
  • Warren Spahn
  • Hank Aaron
  • Willie Mays

Yogi was such awesome player and person. He served in the Navy during WWII and fought in the Normandy landings. He was of course known for his colorful personality and well-known Yogi-isms. But sometimes, it feels that his baseball skills are overlooked. He was an 18 time all star, won 10 world series as a player, and won 3 MVP awards. He was one of a kind and a true legend.

Yogi cards

Spahn was also a war hero and became the only major league player to earn a battlefield commission and he was discharged as a first lieutenant. He was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for the bravery he displayed at the Battle of the Bulge. Spahn had an impressive baseball resume – 363 wins, 17 time all star, 2 no hitters, a Cy Young and World Series championship.

Spahn cards

Hank was one the most consistent home run hitters of all time with 755 across his career. He was a 25 time all star! He also won a World Series and an MVP and remains the all time RBI king.

Aaron cards

Willie Mays is arguably the greatest player of all time. He had all 5 tools – he had speed, could field, could throw, and could hit for both average and power.

I have always been a Yankees fan and my grandfather was a big Red Sox fan (he was a great man, but no one is perfect). In busting chops, when I was very young, I told him that Roberto Kelly was the next Willie Mays. It appears I may have missed on that prediction. My grandfather never let me live that down, lol.

Collecting Focus: Yanks, Oddball Sets, and Players with Stories

In addition to these 4 players, I also collect Yankees, certain sets, and players with interesting stories.

Here is a sampling:

  • Johnny Nee, T205: First, what an amazing design and colors on this card. Nee later began a long stint as a Yankees scout and he is credited with discovering Hall of Famer and Yankee legend, Bill Dickey.
  • Bill Dickey, Diamond Stars: Dickey mentored Yogi Berra. Yogi once said “I always say I owe everything I did in baseball to Bill Dickey. He was a great man.”
  • Yogi Berra, Bond Bread: a pre rookie card for one of baseball’s most beloved players. Love this history on the Bond Bread cards. They are in scarce supply. It is cool how Yogi was mentored by Dickey who in turn was discovered by Nee. This link is an interesting storyline for Yankee fans.

Nee Dickey Berra

A few more Yankee cards:

  • Babe Ruth Sanella: my Dad’s favorite player of all time so had to get at least 1 playing days Ruth and the Sanella is a beautiful card.
  • Joe DiMaggio Berk Ross: in 5th grade, we had to do a dress up autobiography report in front of the class and I selected to do my report on Joltin Joe. Still remember it after decades.
  • Mickey ‘54 Bowman: one of my favorite Mantle cards. When I had disciplinary issues on my travel team, I explained to the boys the type of teammate that Mickey Mantle was and that they should strive to be as inclusive as he was.

Yankees cards

I find food issues particularly interesting and cool to collect. A few examples:

  • Miller Huggins, Cracker Jack
  • Roy Campanella, Wilson Franks
  • Phil Rizzuto, Rizzuto, Dan Dee
  • Hank Aaron, Lake to Lake
  • Hank Aaron, Johnston Cookies
  • Monte Irvin, Stahl-Meyer Franks
  • Stan Musial and Warren Spahn, Red Heart

Food issues

I also began collecting Negro league era players. It is important to remember history, even the difficult parts. I particularly like to collect Monte Irvin who played for the Newark Eagles for a long time. I went to college very close to Newark.

I like Jackie Robinson cards and the Old Gold card has become a favorite particularly due to the message on the back:

A few other cards I really like:

  • Spahn 48 Leaf RC: my all time favorite card! This is a museum piece of art with those bold colors.
  • Hank rookie ’54 Topps: classic card with beautiful color. My example is missing a corner but I am not a ‘corner guy’ so to me, this card is fantastic.
  • Bob Gibson ‘59 Topps: one of baseball’s fiercest competitors with a big smile and bubble gum pink background.
  • Willie Keeler, T206: Willie played for the Plainfield Crescent Cities which was based in Plainfield, NJ. My family has a history with Plainfield. My paternal grandparents grew up in Plainfield and I worked as a landscaper for many years and spent hours cutting grass in that city.
  • John Tener Old Judge: This is an Old Judge card, which is amazing in of itself. But additionally, Tener went on to become the governor of Pennsylvania which is some neat history.

I like how something as simple as little pieces of cardboard can stir up great memories and make you feel like a kid again.