It has been a while since I’ve written, so I figured I’d write a little bit about what I’ve been up to! First, here are some customs I created:
This Back to the Future jumbo was created using a signed index card from Lea Thompson. Here is a video showing it (along with Footloose and Roberto Clemente customs).
A Braves fan reached out to me with a number of signed baseballs from his collection that he wanted cards made out of.
A UFC fan reached out to me with a fight glove from Chris “Lights Out” Lytle. Here is a custom booklet I created!
A friend of Lenny Harris reached out and requested a custom that included an embedded micro card and a ticket. Lenny signed it at the bottom.
“Can you do a custom that doesn’t have anything to do with baseball?” The answer is YES! I love the weird things. Here is an authentic “Day used tie” from chief meteorologist Joe Crain. Google “Joe Crain Red Alert” for a very interesting read.
Charles sent me some game used cleats of his to create this set out of. There is a spot under each jumbo relic for him to sign. Here is a video of them as well!
A Roberto Clemente cut signature! No, that wasn’t nerve wracking at all! LOL
This custom was created of someone’s daughter. He sent me a number of pieces to create this jumbo quad relic. I also did a video tutorial here:
Jason reached out to me asking me to do a custom that features both him and his favorite player, Johnny Damon. The plan is to have both of them sign. In the middle is a manufactured World Series patch!
Someone reached out to me with a number of wrestling cards, along with the contracts that each wrestler signed from 1982. They wanted me to create a set that utilize each piece. Here they are together, in custom holders!
Here is one of my favorites. It is a custom booklet of the best pitcher in baseball history, Walter Johnson. Embedded in this card is an authentic T206 and cut signature of WaJo. Don’t worry – no T206’s were harmed in the creation of this custom!
With as much as I love creating these, I think I love the feedback even more! Here is what someone said once they received theirs in the mail today:
Here is a custom nameplate set I created a few years back that I’ve only just now started displaying permanently on my game used home run bat. Each letter is from a jersey of each team Jose played on. He wore each jersey, and signed each letter. Thanks to diversifying, my room looks a LOT less Canseco stalkerish. I can vividly remember having a friend over, and having to toss a game worn Canseco sock off to the side (LOL!)
As you can see, I’ve been quite busy creating customs, but that isn’t the only thing I’ve been creating. I have also written a parable called “A Boy and His Collection”. The boy’s path in the story closely parallels many of us in the sports card world, and many other hobbies.
I have a link to it here: https://tanmanbaseballfan.com/2021/04/a-boy-and-his-collection-a-parable.html
and an audio version of it on my podcast here: https://anchor.fm/tan-man-baseball-fan/episodes/A-Boy-and-His-Collection—A-Parable-eujp7u
A quick summary is this: The boy’s affections are captured by exploring a stream, and discovering some beautiful stones. He grabs the stones and brings them home to display. The boy grows up and his childhood passion for these stones is rekindled. Armed with “real” money, the now-grown man searches for stones that once excited him as a child, but only stones that were worthy of the hunt (i.e. expensive stones). (Perhaps this is how we as collectors are not satisfied by merely having raw copies of cards we owned as kids, but rather desire perfect examples, and are willing to pony up BIG TIME for them! As for myself, I’m building a raw binder of all the cards I loved as a kid instead of going for the PSA 10 stuff.)
The man becomes obsessed, and builds an extensive collection that would make his 10 year old self jaw drop.
The man battles with his obsession and finds it difficult to quit, but ultimately realizes his hobby went from becoming a joy to a duty. He finds that his collection is more burdensome to upkeep than it is satisfying. He no longer has excitement over any single piece, but rather feels obligated to keep growing his collection. He ultimately parts with his collection, aside from a handful of stones that he loves.
In doing so, the man makes a very important discovery: less is more. His joy is restored, and with it, his excitement and contentment for what he has. Ultimately the man realizes that many of the pieces he used to own can be appreciated without actually owning them, and if he wanted, he could always find and buy them later – or at least stones that were just as impressive. Coming to this realization broke him of his compulsion to own it all, and ultimately was able to break the chains that FOMO (fear of missing out) had on him.
Again, if you want to read it, you can go here: https://tanmanbaseballfan.com/2021/04/a-boy-and-his-collection-a-parable.html
or listen to me read it to you here: https://anchor.fm/tan-man-baseball-fan/episodes/A-Boy-and-His-Collection—A-Parable-eujp7u1
Writing this was therapeutic for me, because I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few months “unlearning” several collecting myths, and coming to the realization that there were various cards in my collection that I owned simply because others labeled them as important/necessary/impressive. I also learned that collecting with an “open hand” (that is, willing to sell key pieces if someone is willing to pay enough) is okay. I liken these actions to trimming our tree in our front yard. Last month, the tree looked quite ugly, with bare limbs that were stricken by “snovid-21” here in Texas. We trimmed back several branches, and now you can see amazing growth happening again! Here are some of our Sago palms that we thought were toast, but check out a before and after within a month! Just because something is bigger doesn’t mean it is better.
It is counter intuitive to be sure, but each time I’ve taken the leap of faith by “trimming my collection” – selling some borderline (or even key) pieces, it has always come back better! If I were to have kept all of my Jose Canseco cards in the past, I would have missed out on so much. Now that I’ve seen both sides of the fence, I can see how very clearly that when I pigeon holed myself into *only* collecting one player, I could *make* things special in my head that may not have been particularly special otherwise.
Staying on the path of chasing countless rainbows of a single player would have meant missing out on appreciating so much else that is out there that our hobby (and other hobbies) have to offer! Like 19th century cards. Check out these awesome wooden display pieces that I picked up! They match the cards in my collection beautifully. I don’t think I would have given things like this a second thought otherwise. Shout out to the creator, Mark Hartsfield – I love them!
Here are a few other wood signs I picked up to complement my 1888 N28 Allen & Ginter and 1888 N162 Goodwin sets. They were created by Vinny Buzzella of Shabby Shore Signs, and are incredible!
I know this set is already shown above, but Vinny sneaked an old project in as well – it was a upsized version of my lithographic album where I amped up the colors, and changed out the 2 cards on the cover. LOVE IT!
Seriously, guys. Check out Mark Hartsfield on facebook and Vinny Buzzella of Shabby Shore Signs. Their work adds an entirely new dimension to our already rich hobby!
Switching gears into Canseco cards, here is where I’m at. In the past several months, I’ve gone from 8 boxes of “keepers” to 4 … to 2 … to nearly 1 now. I have exactly 173 Canseco cards by choice. It took hours and hours of being in the “diamond cutting” stage, and I don’t know if I’ll ever truly be done, but I took a seriously deep look at my collection, and asked myself if each card truly excited me … if it didn’t truly bring me joy, I sold or traded it. I want each card in my collection to excite me, have a compelling story, or both! To me, anything I’m not excited about that’s in my collection is just stopping me from having something else that wows me.
It may be a good idea for you to think about this as well!
It is obviously easier said than done, but I have funded a number of “showstopping” pieces in various collections I own that have been funded largely by pieces that didn’t excite me: from vintage cards to transformers to comic books. There are very few “mail days” that I’m complacent about. Here is one way I used money from cards I didn’t care about to jump universes and pick up some comics that I can’t stop staring it! X-Men #1, Avengers #1, and finally, Fantastic Four #1. (PSST: If you know of anyone selling an Amazing Fantasy #15 or Hulk #1, hit me up!)
Here are a few transformers I get to stare at during the day…(have I told you how much my wife LOVES when I buy MASSIVE transformers? LOL – she hates them!) Custom painted Fortress Maximus, Haslab Unicron (To give an idea of sizing, the bulk of the planet is quite a bit larger than a basketball), and custom painted Metroplex. I hit the nerd trifecta with cards, comics, and transformers!
While a few of these were purchased quite a while ago, I’m much happier owning and displaying these showstoppers than boxes filled with Canseco cards in my closet I don’t care about. But with that said, nothing really gets me more excited than Canseco cards I do care about!
I have set up a showcase in my office to display a few dozen of my favorites. Just like the man in my parable learned, less truly is more. I am more excited about my Canseco collection that I have now than I have ever been. The handful I own have never shone more brightly to me! And yes, I am always on the lookout to add new Canseco cards that wow me.
Speaking of which, last Saturday morning, I woke up to a message online:
That woke me up!
I don’t normally care about sketch cards…at all. But this one is different. It is from a case of $30,000. Yup – the case it came from costs more than a new Camaro and Mustang! 2020 Topps Transcendent. But that isn’t what makes it special to me.
When I sold out of the majority of my Canseco supercollection, one card I sold was my old 2017 Transcendent sketch 1/1 of Canseco. I didn’t regret it at the time, but over the past couple of years, I came to the realization it was one that I wished I could get back. I’ve seen a ton of Canseco sketch cards, and literally none of them were interesting enough for me to add to my collection, until the 2017 Topps Transcendent Canseco sketch came along.
When Steve reached out to me, I promptly replied, and (im)patiently waited. While waiting, I looked up what the card looked like, and found Houdini having pulled it:
GASP!!!!! I don’t know if this card sings to anyone else on the planet quite like it does to me, but this is perfection. It is everything a baseball card aspires to be. Card companies work hard using photoshop filters to morph photographs into pictures that look like paintings, blurring the line between baseball cards and art. This Transcendent Sketch, though … it is undeniably art in every sense of the meaning. When I think 1/1 these days, I think of it as being produced in exactly the same way as all others in the run, only with a different colored border and serial number. This 1/1 is actually the piece that was used to create the others in the run!
Framed in wood, it is by far the finest sketch card I have ever laid my eyes on, and has earned a seat at the table of the best Canseco cards ever produced! It is free of gimmicks, and manufactured scarcity – it is truly a work of art that has truly “transcended” the very definition of a baseball card.
Needless to say, I was completely sold on this card before Steve and I had even spoken. Later that morning, he reached out. After we talked for a bit, he asked
“So, do you want it?”
“I do!” I answered.
“It is yours.”
I laughed and asked him how much he needed for it, and he said he needed nothing – it was all mine. After insisting I pay three times, he insisted it just be sent to me. Not only that, but in the break, he won the entire set of reproduction sketch cards. I told him that I knew the artist (Dan Bergren). Steve said he was wondering if Dan would be willing to sign each card in the set, so they could be sold for charity. I reached out to Dan, and he enthusiastically accepted!
I am blown away by Steve’s kindness and generosity.
Here is the card by itself …
… and here it is in its rightful place – with my other favorites in my collection.
If baseball cards were the precious stones in my parable, these would be my keepers. I love how each one found their way into my collection! I asked my wife to take a look at my Canseco shelf, and she said it is quite possible the sketch card is her favorite – that holds a lot of weight with me!
From the bottom of my heart, I sincerely thank you, Steve, for the latest addition to my collection, and thank you, Houdini, for directing him to me. I have only added a few cards to my collection this year, and this one is going to be incredibly difficult to beat!