Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Year in Review: The Hobby as Therapy and Other Musings

If there's one thing I've learned this past year concerning the hobby that we share an interest in, it's this: it's a heck of an escape. And I know, through many of the blogs I've read over the past few years, that many of you have experienced that as well. Some have faced job loss; others, health issues. Perhaps it's just the stress one faces on the job from 9-5. But whatever the case might be, there's something therapeutic about going through a box, a set, organizing one's cards, trading and writing.

This summer, we found out that our oldest son (my adopted son, whom I have raised since he was two) had been diagnosed with Huntington's Disease (or, Huntington's Chorea as it used to be known as), a degenerative brain disease with no known cure that has, and will continue to, cause physical, cognitive and psychiatric problems, will require full-time care in the later stages of the disease, and is often accompanied by complications which shorten the person's lifespan even more so than the disease itself. Upon onset, the life expectancy is about twenty years. Juvenile Huntington's often progresses faster. He started showing signs of the disease (which he was originally diagnosed with tourette's syndrome) at the age of nine. He's a little over a month away from his twenty-first birthday. 

And so, in the days and weeks following this revelation, I often found myself in prayer or- when tired of wrestling with God about matters- in my office, typing away at the keyboard and going through my collection. That was certainly helpful, but so were the number of the baseball card blogs by many of you- and for that, I am extremely grateful. The blogs you dedicate a small part of your life to often put a smile on my face at a time I carried a heavy heart as well as a heavy burden, wondering how we were going to break the news to not only our son, but our other two children.


The Collection
The focus of my collection prior to late 2012 had been the Braves Topps' team sets. Boston, Milwaukee or Atlanta- it didn't matter. Somewhere though (I think in the early part of 2012), I realized how difficult it was becoming to add to my collection. A majority of the cards on my wantlist were out of my price range, and I couldn't just sit idly by, saving my card allowance for two, three months before buying something. It was at that point that I decided to expand my collection to other manufacturers (or other Topps' releases). And so, 2013 was really a year of new beginnings for me, with my goals being as follows:

  • Keep up with current releases- base Braves and whatever inserts I can find (and afford!)
  • Braves cards from 1993
Two goals- that was it. Pretty simple, really. The reason for the focus on 1993...I can't remember the genesis of this idea. At 20 years old, an automobile is considered a 'classic,' so I guess my reasoning is that cards should be viewed the same way. Actually, as much as I am in need of non-base Topps products, I thought it would be easier to focus on one year at a time; twenty years is more of an arbitrary number. While '93 was the year that there seemed to be an explosion in the number of releases, it was still fairly cheap and attainable. As far as where I ended up- both the '93 and 2013 want lists are much smaller now, with most of the 'must haves' checked off. The rest will be just gravy. I was also able to pick up a few cards that I have spent years waiting to add to my collection...

Best Cards Added to My Collection This Year:

Two Sweet '53s; one a Topps, the other a Bowman. When it comes to my purchases for my collection, I seriously doubt I'll ever have as good a day as I did at this show back in June.

I don't take part in many trades, but this one will be tough to top. It's a Chippah from north of the border.

Most collectors would probably be thrilled to add a vintage Mickey Mantle card to their collection; however, I was more excited about the other dude on this card that I picked up at a card show in the spring.  Oh, by the way- it was my first vintage Mantle.

Favorite 2013 Cards in My Collection:
No, it's not a 1/1, super refractor, or any other ridiculous rare card. It's a pretty plain Hometown Signatures card of Steve Avery- and it's glorious.

Honorable Mention:

Can You Dig It????!!!!

Can you say, "Future Ace"? Stud. Comp: Adam Wainwright

'93 Finest design; Craig Kimbrel. All that needs to be said.

Sure, it's 'gimmicky,' but it's a great photo of the team's three representatives from the mid-season classic.

The Blog
I tried my hand at a second blog at the beginning of last January- something that wouldn't be Braves-centered. That lasted a couple months, as I found that a) I don't have the time to do such a blog and, b) My hobby identity will always be as a Braves collector. It's what I know, what I enjoy. 

And so I will continue into 2014 focusing on new releases (Braves checklists), purchases, customs and some of the features I've been posting. 

The Hobby
Let's go ahead and say that 2013 was the year that the hobby enjoyed a class reunion of sorts. We saw Topps celebrate the 20th anniversary of its Finest debut with an insert set paying homage to the landmark release, as well as the return of Pinnacle and Select Baseball. It's too bad that box prices aren't what they were back in the day and that Upper Deck isn't producing baseball cards. The reunion will continue into 2014 with a Donruss release from Panini. All in all, it's still a great hobby and I look forward to what's in store for the upcoming year.

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