When looking for story ideas, I ran across a sports card shop in Poulsbo, TJ’s Sports Cards. I was planning to write a story about it being the only sports card shop in Kitsap County. However, when I drove to the shop, the doors were locked and everything was packed into boxes.
Therefore, I began thinking about the sports card industry before and after the COVID-19 pandemic and how I got into the hobby.
My dad’s profession is selling business supplies, janitorial equipment and more. One of his suppliers, Michael Toibin, became a good friend of the family. He grew up a diehard Bay Area sports team lover. His collection included more than sports cards. Besides having cards dating back to the 1960s, he has a signed Wilt Chamberlain basketball and a Willie Mays-signed bat.
As an 8-year-old playing baseball, I began falling in love with certain athletes. So, my dad made a deal with Toibin. Toward the end of the season, Toibin would donate some of his wax pack cards from the 1980s through the 2000s. Then, after a game, my dad, who was the coach, would give each kid about 10 cards.
So, my first cards would be some local favorites like Oakland A’s pitcher Huston Street and San Francisco Giants pitcher Matt Cain.
Since those days, my collection has grown exponentially. I began to take the hobby seriously after a day at a flea market in Concord, Calif.
While there, I noticed a guy selling several card packs. I asked if I could buy a pack or two for $5. He said he was trying to get rid of all his cards for $20.
At first, I was not interested in buying what looked like 10 packs sitting on his folding table. However, I gave in and slipped him a $20. At that moment, my sports card collection began.
The man pulled out two large gray bins and began throwing every card in sight into the bins. Before I knew it, I was walking around the flea market with 52 pounds of sports cards. His collection included young Michael Jordan cards, a rookie Walter Payton and much more.
Since that day, my card collection has at least 5,000 cards worth at least $20,000. I have so many cards, but have not begun to truly sell any yet. I have sold around five and probably gave five away in my lifetime.
However, I have now looked to place cards into two piles — ones I will never sell and ones I will invest and flip for a profit.
Although my sell list is huge, there are some cards I can remember off the top of my head, including a second-year Jim Brown, a high school LeBron James, several rookie Ken Griffey Jr. cards and more.
On the other hand, I have cards I will never look to sell for a variety of reasons. For example, I grew up playing against Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris. So, I have at least 50 of his cards and do not plan to sell any.
In addition, my dad and I have a signed rookie “Mean” Joe Greene card and Clyde Drexler USA basketball card with a jersey patch on it. I like collecting odd cards too.
I have a one-of-a-kind wooden braille card of New York Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera. Lastly, I have a rookie Barry Bonds and rookie Tiger Woods stamp.
When I look at my collection, I am in awe how large it has gotten. Yet, every time I turn around, it seems like the collection gets larger. So, I will begin to sell some cards soon, but I will never give up my collection, even if the industry dies again.