Well, it’s official. After a year of getting my collection whittled down and in order, I’m prepared to launch into a new stage of collecting. As a kid, I was a set collector. Sure, I jumped at trades for any and every Sandberg, Grace, Dawson, Canseco and McGwire cards I could get my hands on, but in my heart, all I really wanted to do was take my box of 1989 Topps and write “COMPLETE” on it in big black Sharpie. Believe it or not, I never did complete that set, but I’ve found a way to move on. In fact, I’m moving up…
When Stadium Club came out in 1991, it seriously blew my 10-year old mind. I didn’t know what full-bleed meant, but I did know one thing: these cards were different. They were glossy. They had foil on them. And the photographs were amazing. Sure, base Topps had some great photos (who can forget the classic 1991 Topps Benito Santiago?) but these were on a different level. High shutter speed, selective focus, few blow-off staged photos… I couldn’t express it at the time because I didn’t have the 12 years of training in the visual arts that I do now, but these photos were legit. They awakened in me a henceforth unspoken desire to be a visual artist. While opening my first Stadium Club cards in the car on the way home from a card show, my mom noticed me poring over the photos one by one and suggested that I might be interested in taking the photos on baseball cards. Well, of course I would… wouldn’t everyone who’s into cards?
The answer, it turns out, is no. Some people are less interested in the photos that I was and didn’t seek out the great photos the way that I did. The 1985 Topps Mark McGwire was the valuable one and the card all my friend wanted, but I liked the picture on the 1987 Donruss better. The detail, the expression… the Dutch angle. That was a cool photo. Even though the 1986 Donruss Canseco was out of my price range at the time, I wasn’t interested. The 1987 Fleer looked bad ass and I’d take that one over the dirt-stached square on mugshot of the ’86.
The point is, photography is my favorite part of a baseball card. So I’m taking this opportunity to officially announce that I am, as of right now, collecting anything and everything Stadium Club baseball. That’s right. Member’s Choice, Toys ‘R Us sets, dome sets, 1st Day Issues and everything I missed when I as out of collecting from 1994-2008. Obviously I’ll be avoiding anything crazy low numbered from the later years and, as always, sticker autographs will not be a part of my collection. But, as Stadium Club had its heyday before all that nonsense, I’ll still have plenty work cut out for me. In my old closet in my mom’s house I have a few boxes of aborted SC sets from the early ’90s. I’ll start there by finishing them up. Boxes are dirt cheap and I’m sure some readers will have loads of base doubles to send my way in exchange for other old junkish doubles.
I’m excited to be a collector again and, specifically, a set collector. I’ve missed it in this era of short printed shenanigans and $140 boxes. Most of all, I’m excited to be in the Club. I’ve got some good company.