Last year, I started collecting baseball cards after I was inspired by a total stranger. I had saved my money for two years to buy a ticket to the MLB All-Star Game in Washington, D.C. Having been born in a suburb of D.C. the year the Nationals moved from Montreal, I have always loved the Nats and baseball. Traveling on the Metro to the All-Star week festivities, I met a man from Maryland who was intrigued by my knowledge of baseball. My dad collected George Brett cards when he was little, but John Castner took collecting to a whole new level!
He started collecting cards in 1991 when his nephew gave him ¾ of a complete set of 1970 Topps baseball cards. He began by completing the set, and today he owns two to three million cards! One of his favorite cards is a one-of-a-kind Juan Soto card from 2017. It is also a Superfractor, a term collectors use to describe a card (stamped 1/1) in a set that has a unique surface that refracts light in a special way.
After I returned from D.C., I began collecting baseball cards. I wanted to see my dad’s childhood collection, and I was intrigued by a pack of cards I got at the National Baseball Hall of Fame for my birthday. Castner also sent me cards. My favorites were cards of up-and-coming players like Hunter Green and Fernando Tatis Jr. My mom gave me a collection with Max Scherzer and Daniel Murphy cards, two of my favorite players.
I had found a new hobby that I loved! I enjoy finding new cards that I don’t have yet and looking at cards from decades ago. I’m excited to go through each of my dad’s cards—and look at the baseball history behind each player’s stats.
Topps, which is one of six companies that sells trading cards now, created National Baseball Card Day on August 10 to celebrate a hobby that is more than a century old!
In 1866, one company, Old Judge, sold the first set of 12 baseball cards. Now, companies like Topps, Upper Deck, and Panini have exclusive deals with leagues and pull out all the stops to create cards that will capture kids’ imaginations. Cards might include grass from a professional baseball field, holograms, numbering, or autographs.
“It’s amazing how they have cards with all kinds of inserts in them,” said Tim Sharrow, an avid collector.
Sharrow, who is Lehighton (Pennsylvania) Middle School’s track and field coach and P.E. teacher, has one of the world’s largest collections of Pete Rose memorabilia.
Sharrow loved cards when he was growing up in the 1980s. Rose played for the Phillies then and was a major part in leading them to a World Series championship in 1980. Sharrow has more than 1,000 Pete Rose cards alone; he also has 5,000 pieces of additional memorabilia such as bats, magazines, and autographed pictures.
For professional sports fans, collecting is a way for them to feel connected to one another and to the players they admire. Kids just like you and me can build up collections that mean something to them. Start collecting your favorite cards today and join Sharrow, Castner, my dad, and me in our profound love for baseball card-collecting!