Sports cards has played an integral part of my personal life both as a hobby, a side hustle, and as part of my alternative investment strategy. This is an introduction to my sports cards journey including some of my earliest, fondest, and favorite sports cards memories, how I got pulled into this world, what I am doing in the hobby now, and why I am so passionate about sports cards.
My Earliest Sports Cards Memory
My earliest memory was in the early 90’s during the height of the junk wax era. I remember getting a bunch of cards and a huge price guide. I would sit down for hours looking through all the junk wax era cards like 1989 and 1990 Topps baseball cards. I remember getting so excited to see that a card was worth $0.40 or $0.50 that I would write these values on the card itself with a #2 pencil.
My Favorite Sports Cards Memory
I remember receiving a boxed set of a variety of packs. Back then a lot of the wholesale clubs stocked cards and it was a long box maybe 3 ft long and it was filled with loose packs. This was just the start to getting hooked on sports cards.
My Fondest Sports Cards Memory
My fondest memory was memorabilia related. As a kid growing up in Los Angeles, I was naturally a Dodgers fan. Somehow my parents found out that legendary coach, Tommy Lasorda was going to sign at a Carl’s Jr. I went through all my cards digging and hoping for a Lasorda card and low and behold, a Topps Lasorda card was in the mix. Getting that card signed was just the start to getting hooked on free autograph signings. Back then there were lots of free autograph signings at local car dealerships. You had to wait 3-4 hours especially if it was a very well known player, but as kids, these were so fun.
Kobe Bryant Sports Card Hype in the 90’s
Before hitting high school, I started to lose interest in sports cards. When I got to high school, the sports cards bug hit me again. The reason? Because of the late great Kobe Bryant. During high school and as a Lakers town, Kobe was the most hyped player…the buzz around Kobe never died down. This was the time when 1996 Topps Chrome came out. I could never afford something so high end, but the hype around Kobe and Topps Chrome got me hooked. I started going to 7-11, card shops, and card shows as often as my parents would allow. I remember buying a lot of Upper Deck Collector’s Choice and UD3 from 1996 to around 1998.
As I started to get closer to laying out my future post high school, I set sports cards aside and focused on getting into college. I went to an out of state Big 10 school and like many Midwest schools, there was not much to do except go to the local bars. I never had a car or a computer in school so I spent my time taking the bus exploring the city, going to the mall that seemed like an hour plus away after a couple bus stops. On the way to the mall one day, I noticed a sign for a card shop and you guessed it, I got hit with the sports card bug again.
Money Moron Moment Involving Sports Cards
Unfortunately, this is one of the big money moron moments I experienced. As I mentioned in the previous episode, I funded 100% of my school with student loans. My loans always covered my entire tuition, room, board, and food. I even had extra leftover that I could have saved to eventually pay off my loans. Instead what I did with the extra money was buy stuff…including sports cards. This was the first time I could afford a $50 card, but with the extra money, I quickly went way over budget.
As the years went on, I dabbled here and there buying and opening boxes with my favorites being 1992 Bowman baseball and 1987 Donruss baseball. These boxes were extremely expensive back then.
After graduating college, I fell into several money moron moments as detailed in episode 2. I stopped paying off my debt, went into default, lived paycheck to paycheck buying just stuff and sports cards, and just being a money moron.
The Start of My Sports Cards Education
I started to dabble in card shows and buying collections especially during the height of the 2008 recession. I was already in massive debt yet putting myself into even more debt. Just not smart. However looking back this is how I got my education on understanding the sports cards industry.
Today, I am very much involved in sports cards and very passionate about the industry. I set up at local card shows, buy and sell online, and both collect and invest into sports cards as one of my alternative investments.
My Collection Today and My Focus on Sports Cards As An Alternative Investment
What I collect today has really turned into a long term alternative investment strategy that has paid off in bigger ways than I had ever imagined. For long term investments holding for a minimum 3 years, I focused on the goats of each sport such as Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant in basketball, Albert Pujols and Mike Trout in baseball, and Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Aaron Rodgers in football. Of course more players will be added as current players continuing piling stats. My short term investments holding for less than 3 years are mostly comprised of Bowman Chrome prospect autographs. I absolutely love playing the game of studying prospects, investing in these prospects, waiting for the prospects to develop, hoping they do well, and of course selling hopefully at its peak.
Why I Love the Sports Cards Hobby
What I love about sports cards is that I am always learning. I have been surprised so many times talking to many teenagers and having them teach me things about certain aspects of sports cards. I personally like to focus on what I am good at and enjoy, but every person I meet has taught me some new aspect of sports cards that I became more open to whether that is making money aka flipping cards or having a unique collection and understanding the origin.
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