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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Hart

to the moon!

day 7.

one week down, 93 more day to go. it is still too early to tell but have had the feeling my 100 day fitness (peloton class) challenge will prove to be the easier of the two but plenty of time for me to find my groove.

like many currently in the hobby, i dove head first into sports card collecting during the pandemic. but perhaps like only a few, i dove back into the hobby and if instagram is any indication many were not even born during my peak collecting days.

i remember my first pack of cards - 1988 donruss baseball cards that my dad bought for me at the lucky's supermarket down the street from our house. i don't remember the specific players from those packs but do know that was the beginning of what many, including myself, would refer to as an obsession. unfortunately, the bulk of my collecting years is referred to as the 'junk wax era' where cards were massed produced and today hold very little value. i might have been overselling (justifying) to my mom at one point when i told her my cards would pay for me to go to college. thankfully my parents helped with that and my childhood collection was spared.

and while i did a lot of collecting during the 'junk wax era,' i cannot say that all of my cards were junk. i grew up on michael jordan and while i do not have his rookie card, i did trade up with a local card shop to get his 2nd year fleer. shaq was hands down my favorite player when he entered the nba and i was focused to collect as many of his rookie cards as i could. and then there were players like derek jeter and alex rodriguez who had rookie years in 1993 and 1994. and as i spent the better part of a week earlier this year going through old boxes, came across a tony hawk 'rookie card' from the sports illustrated for kids magazine, a general norman schwarzkopf 'rookie card' from a dessert storm series made, and several wwf greats like hulk hogan, andre the giant and my favorite, bret 'the hitman' hart.

i was all in on cards until high school or some time around then but never completely left. on occasion i would pop into a card shop, rip a few packs, and stash them away. unfortunately, i didn't end up with any tom brady or lebron rookie cards. but, about 5 years ago i met up with a lifelong family friend, 'dr. b' at the st. leander's card show in san leandro with the goal of picking up a babe ruth card. i didn't end up leaving with a babe ruth but did leave with a 1956 jackie robinson topps grey back and 1969 mickey mantle topps white letter. i love both cards, but especially the mantle because you can see just how hard the years were to him compared to the earlier years.

when i jumped back in to the hobby at the adult age of 38, it was tough to demonstrate self control and not do what i always dreamed of doing as a kid - buying boxes and ripping packs. the sad part for the future of the hobby is that there is no way i could afford to enter it today without some kind of major funding from a parent. buying boxes and ripping packs is certainly a disguised version of gambling when cards of today's rookies like justin herbert, patrick mahomes, mike trout, zion, ja or lamelo will easily sell for 6 if not 7 figures if the card is rare enough. the hobby today is like a hybrid of finding willy wonka's golden ticket and playing the lottery.

with tom brady's rookie cards hitting healthy 5 figures, some in the 6's and many in the 7 figures, i've tried to collect some of tom's 2nd rookie cards from the 2020 season with the tampa bay buccaneers. my two favorites being a donruss optic downtown and select tie dye snapshot moments. with the value of cards rising to ridiculous levels, a lot the kids like to see 'sports cards to the moon!' and while i hope that some of the cards i've collected in the last year go to the moon, the greatest value has been sports cards taking me back to the nostalgia of being a kid, going to card shops, and chasing my favorite players.

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