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Re-entering the hobby: My quest to collect as many Braves cards as possible

Baseball card collecting as a hobby is not as omnipresent as it once was, but it is still a vibrant hobby that can be a lot of me, a very not-expert, am going to give it a try.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Miami Marlins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

When I was a kid, I was completely obsessed with collecting baseball cards. Topps, Fleer, Donruss, Leaf, Upper didn’t matter. If it was a baseball card, I was interested. One of my prized possessions was a Ken Griffey Jr. Upper Deck rookie card which I regret selling to this day. I also had a Frank Thomas No Name on Front that I am reasonably certain my brother destroyed and I am still bitter about. I wanted complete sets including all of the inserts and I religiously checked Beckett’s price guide to see if any of my cards had appreciated in value month to month.

For those who are not aware, this was during the 1990’s and that was right around the time where the baseball market took a steep downturn both in terms of price/collectability as well as popularity. I got older and started doing some competitive things that took my attention elsewhere and I eventually got rid of my cards altogether.

Fast forward to this past year where a few things happened. One, my daughter found out that baseball cards existed. She is still very young and doesn’t understand the game super well yet, but she loves going to games, has her list of favorite players which is topped by Tyler Flowers (the guy rakes every time she is in attendance), and when she found out that she could collect cards....well, that was that. I bought her some cards (packs mostly...she likes being surprised) every now and again which brought some of the itch back.

Also, Stacy came on to help out at Talking Chop. If you are not aware, Stacy is VERY immersed in collecting and conversations with her and the work she produced had me fascinated with how the hobby had changed since I collected. I was so curious, I went to the closest card shop to me, The Sports Odyssey in Douglasville, GA, to look around. To say this is exactly my kind of place is an understatement. It is a little hole-in-the-wall shop with old 1990’s games playing on the TV with singles in boxes and display cases throughout. Seriously, if you are in the area....go give this place a visit, buy some cards, chat, and tell them I sent you. I told myself that I would have to make sure I came back there.

Well recently, I was starting to get more interested in potentially coming back to the hobby, so I went back to the shop to chat with the owner. He was great. I asked him if business was better with the Braves being competitive again and his answer was a bit surprising. He agreed that whenever the hometown team is doing well, that absolutely helps. However, he was clear in saying that one of the biggest differences over the last few years has been the infusion of young talent into the majors.....and not just the Braves. Stacy walked all of us through how Ronald Acuna’s ascendance was reflected in the card market back in April (spoiler: his cards have not gotten any cheaper), but he was clear that not only has there been a real demand for the young Braves players you would expect like Acuna and Ozzie Albies, but also for Aaron Judge, Shohei Ohtani, and other young studs throughout the league.

At this point, I am hooked and ready to go...but I have a dilemma. My desire is primarily to collect Braves players because, well, I am a Braves guy. However, I am also a big fan of other young players throughout the league like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Juan Soto, etc. so I don’t want to close the door on collecting non-Braves. Also, there are a LOT of options out there as to what to collect as there are endless sets and versions of cards (inserts, parallels, relics, autographs, etc.) so I am going to be doing more and more work to figure out exactly what I want to do.

Moreover, I would like to start back while also helping to bring visibility to a hobby that I have a ton of affection for. If I just gave periodic updates on Twitter as to the cards I bought on eBay over the course of a few weeks, that wouldn’t do much for me. However, I am also not made of money so I won’t be able to crack cases on the regular or anything like that.

As a result, here is my tentative plan. Starting at the end of January, which coincides with the release of the first big flagship set release of 2019 in Topps Series 1, I am going to be posting updates on things I have learned as I ease back into collecting. Those updates are going to include cards I have acquired as singles as well as the results of my attempts to crack open sealed product and either get cards I want or at least get cards I can trade/sell to get the cards I want. I plan on hitting up a card show or two, participating in group breaks, and buying random sealed product as I am able. While I am sure that diehard collectors out there will cringe at times, I want to highlight all of ways one can collect and at the very least, I will make sure to consult with Stacy to make sure I am not setting my money on fire at the very least. I also hope to be able to highlight trends in card value, players/cards I am looking to target, and help give some visibility to some dealers/shops/etc. along the way. I am in no way an expert here, but it should be fun nonetheless and I plan on bringing in smarter/more experienced people to help me out along the way.

With all of that said, if you are me and have the expressed goals I highlighted above....what should I do and where should I start? Let me know in the comments section and if you want to share anything about your collecting, I would love to see that, too.

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