Updated: Jun 25
No matter how much you love baseball cards—vintage or modern—there is just no way to “Collect them all!” This is not only true when “all” really does mean “all,” but it remains true even when your focus is on a single team or player. While this wasn’t always the case, it certainly is today.
Back around 1985 or so, I felt like I had every card there was of one of my favorite players, George Brett. I don’t remember the precise count of my Brett collection but let’s say it filled 10 or so plastic sheets. Today, Trading Card Database lists more than 9,000 different George Brett cards, many of them extremely difficult to find due to their manufactured scarcity. The result is that even the top Brett collector in TCDB has fewer than one-fourth of these cards.
On one hand, this is an aspect of the Hobby I don’t love—the impossibility of collecting a favorite player fully. On the other hand, our inability to have everything has prompted most of us, largely in healthy ways, to focus our collecting pursuits. Common examples might be “every Topps flagship set since my birth year” (excluding parallels, serial numbered items, inserts, etc.) or all playing era “base cards” of Ernie Banks.
While working toward the various collecting targets in my sights, I found myself this past month accidentally crossing a finish line I’d never even considered. For lack of better terminology, I’ll simply call it a “decade collection.”
When a friend of mine very generously dropped a “1927” (probably really 1929) W560 Babe Herman card in my mailbox, it hit me that this was my very first Dodger card from the 1920s.
This caused me to consider whether I already had Dodger cards from each of the other decades. In combing through my cards, I realized I indeed had a “Dodger Decade” collection dating all the way back to the 1900s (the decade, not the century).
Sharing this collection online led several others to post their own decade collections of their favorite teams and in some cases set goals to fill in whatever decades they were missing. With so many different ways to collect cards, I confess that somehow this particular approach had never before occurred to me, but I’m finding there is a lot to like about it.
Particularly for franchises that have been around a while, the decade collection offers a wonderful walk through not only the team’s history but the history of the Hobby as well. Changes in uniforms, equipment, ballparks, and demographics will likely be automatic but alternatively can be explicit goals in the hunt. Similarly, there is the opportunity to feature tobacco cards, candy/caramel cards, gum cards, regional/food issues, and just about any other type of card you like. And finally, decade collecting need not cost a fortune. The Yankees collector with deep pockets is free to choose Babe Ruth as their 1930s exemplar while the budget collector can nab a Monte Pearson, either declaring “good enough” or with plans to upgrade later.
If you have a decade collection you’d like to share, tag me @heavyj28 on Twitter, and I’ll give it a retweet. Consider tagging @hobbynewsdaily as well to share your collection with our broader readership. And for those of you just starting a decade collection, best of luck and happy collecting!