Tuesday, June 2, 2015

How I Got Into Baseball...

During my time in this hobby, I've heard a lot of the stories people have about how they entered the hobby. A lot of the time it tends to have the same theme.

The person used to collect when they were younger, stopped when girls and college entered the picture, reentered the hobby after getting a job and a steady income, struggles to make sense of what the hobby has become today, and you get the idea. I'm pretty sure this applies to a large chunk of this blogosphere and collectors in general.

However, I entered this hobby from a pretty different route and under pretty different circumstances.

I grew up in New York and was a Yankees fan (sort of) but only because being a Mets fan means you're doomed to a life of disappointment, anger, self-loathing and failure. Any Mets fan will confirm that this is true.

I didn't really like or care about baseball until I was a sophomore in high school, in Japan. If you're wondering how I got there, it's an ugly and long story. One day I under the influence and lying on my grandma's couch when I saw a Mariners vs Athletics game (because Ichiro) on TV. Because this was 2010 it meant I had to suffer a pretty bad game played between an awful Mariners team and an even worse Athletics team. And it was a horrible game. I only kept watching because I was too in dispose to reach the remote.


Well okay the game wasn't that bad. Ichiro (of course) was still good in 2010, and King Felix was manhandling the A's. Then after the game ended some MLB highlight show came on. It was usually just some recap on how the Japanese players in the MLB were doing and some notable highlights. Going from mediocre baseball to some of the best baseball had to offer (for that day) was quite something.


I started watching these highlight videos every day and then one day I happened to watch Stephen Strasburg make his MLB debut and see him Strasburg the Pirates. I got my first taste of the exciting youth movement in MLB and it was sweet.

The next year is when I really started getting into baseball and this hobby. I was high again one day and started remembering how baseball cards used to be a thing. I did a little google search and found that there were four card shops in my city. FOUR CARD SHOPS IN A CITY IN JAPAN! WTF?


I went to one store and picked up a bunch of 2011 Topps cards.

I dunno if it's because I was just getting into the hobby but in retrospect 2011 was a great year to be in the hobby.


Topps was celebrating it's 60th anniversary and they did a ton of fun things like the online codes that helped you dig up random Topps cards, exclusive die cuts and virtual rings (those memories are flooding back to some of you aren't they?).


However I was still trying to "find myself." I didn't think I'd become the prospect-guy I am today, and because the thought of returning to America was so far removed from my mind I could've never imagined that I'd turn into the TTM/IP/T206 collector I've become either. So at the time I was just buying loose packs and hoping to pull something cool. Yeah, I wasn't a singles collector back then, to my detriment.


It also helped that in 2011 baseball had what seemed to be the second coming of Jesus Christ Mickey Mantle with Bryce Harper developing in the minors.

Then in 2012 when I was about to get out of high school, I opened my first box. Fittingly it was a box of 2011 Bowman Chrome baseball. I had seen a few box break videos on Youtube and Harper autos seemed to be seeded at 1 per case so I took a shot with one hobby box.


I opened it with a friend of mine at a McDonalds that was a block away from the card shop. I didn't pull a Harper autograph but I did pull a Harper base card, a really cool Jesus Montero gold die cut numbered to 50 (that I've since shipped off to The Lost Collector), a Khris Davis autograph (that I've since shipped off to Tony) and a Ryan Pressly superfractor (traded for something, I can't remember).


I was new to the whole hobby so I didn't know what the heck I pulled at the time but I can safely say that I'll never have a box as great as that one. The Harper Bowman Chrome base cards are still really popular, Jesus Montero was a top prospect (at the time), Khris Davis became an actual hitter on a major league baseball team and Ryan Pressly even made it to the big leagues as a member of the Twins. It was the kind of box investors would've loved to have. One that provided immediate impact and a pleasant surprise later down the road. Beginners luck indeed.



After that I became hooked. I dropped all of the priorities I had at the time like girls, drugs and preparing for life so I could focus more on the hobby. In all honesty it couldn't have come at a worse time since I was just graduating from high school and was about to go to college as a pharmacy major.


In early 2012 I conducted my first trade. It was with Ryan of This Card Is Cool. It initially started out online but by good fortune Ryan was coming to work in Japan. We got to meet on a day when I had to go to Tokyo to take a college entrance exam and my first trade was made. BTW, I overslept and missed that college entrance exam lol.


Later in 2012 I went "all in" on a player for the first time. That player was my boy Dellin Betances. In 2012 Betances was awful. He pitched his way down from triple-A to double-A and his future in the big leagues had seemingly vanished. Because he had just made his MLB debut the year before, he was the token Yankees rookie that appeared in almost every Topps set in 2012. I took advantage of Betances' fall from grace and picked up a bunch of cards that had just come out for pennies on the dollar. In the process I gave up a lot of nice cards like 1/1 cards of Troy Tulowitzki, a 1/1 Will Middlebrooks RC printing plate, a Bryce Harper team USA jersey relic, and various other things but I had accumulated a LOT of Betances cards.

At the time I was just really happy to have these cool Betances cards in my collection. Two years later I became even happier when Betances emerged as the best set up man in all of baseball.

After I flunked out of medical school I decided to come back to the states and after some fumbling around I eventually turned into the Luis Torrens supercollector/TTM requester/IP autograph hound/T206 bargain hunter/Zippy Zapper you all know today.


So as you can see, my story is pretty much as different as they come. I'm not sure where it'll go from here. But this blog is here to record where this road leads me next. I hope it'll continue to be as crazy and hectic as it's been up to this point.

As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).

12 comments:

  1. Awesome story man, got my bud back into baseball in a very similar manner to you.

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    1. You got your bud back into baseball using bud? ;).

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  2. I always love hearing the tales of how people started collecting, and I have to say that this is one of the better ones I've read. Baseball cards are indeed habit-forming.

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    1. Come to think about it, I think I just swapped one drug for another.

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  3. This is incredible. Love hearing the honesty behind it all. Certainly one of the more unique - and better stories I've heard around the hobby.

    And I still have that Montero. When he turns into Edgar Martinez part 2, I'll send it back.

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    1. It had better be autographed by then. ;).

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  4. So.........

    Any more 1/1s you got lying around that I can get you stoned and then discuss a trade about?

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    1. LMAO, nope. Besides, I'd prefer that cards I trade "come from a smoke free house."

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  5. That may be the best "how I started collecting" story I've ever heard.

    You are right about your Chrome box. That was crazy good.

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    1. I'm getting the itch to open boxes again, not good!

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  6. Yeah, your story is a good one for sure. I certainly fall into the first group you described. Collecting is so great... so many different ways to collect and so many different stories.

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    1. I wonder how many different stories people have about how they entered or came back into this hobby.

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