It’s been a little while since I penned one of these columns, so I spent the better part of the week wracking my brain how I would tie together the four talking points that I wanted to hit on in this blog. It’s been said among generations of country western singers that the key to a great song is “three chords and the truth”. That seemed like a pretty good format to work off of, so without delving any further, here are my three chords and a truth.
Chord #1: A Reunion 10 Years in the Making
One of the perks of working for COMC is that I talk to literally hundreds of collectors on a daily basis. One of the reoccurring points in those discussions is always of trading cards that we once owned but are no longer in our collection. Whether it be low numbered or short printed cards that were sentimental to us that we can no longer owned, or cards that are now worth 100x what we sold them for, everyone has at least one sad cardboard stories.
My story revolves around a beautiful red refractor rookie card of Tim Lincecum from the 2007 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects set. Numbered to just 5 copies, it is without question my favorite trading card of one of my favorite athletes of all time. it’s a card that I’ve talked about on this very blog many times in the past. The story goes that in 2009 I was a little tight on money and had to part with the card when I sold off part of my collection. Less than six months later, I was on the hunt to reacquire the card, but was unsuccessful. The collector I had sold the item to had also sold it themselves. Every pathway to a reunion proved a waste of time.
As the years went by and Lincecum’s career flourished and then floundered, I assumed that my opportunity to find one of the five cards was diminishing with each passing year. The push notifications that I had set up on my phone for COMC and eBay for ‘2007 Tim Lincecum Red’ only occasionally yielded false hope notifications that his Topps Turkey Red RC was now in-stock.
Earlier this past Spring, I received a text message from ProjectFiveFive, a fellow Lincecum collector who said that our friend and Lincecum collector TheFreakyFranchise55 was willing to part with his copy of the card I so coveted. Mine was an ungraded and number 3 in the print run, and his was PSA 9 numbered five in the print run, but I didn’t care. A price was quickly negotiated and within a matter of days, my white whale was now safely within the confines of my office at COMC, never to leave my collection again under no circumstances. The cloud that has been hanging over my personal collection has dissipated.
Chord #2: The Fred Hutchinson Award Luncheon
Speaking of emails, last year I received an email from a gentleman named Stan Opdyke, a local collector who is also a very passionate supporter and contributor to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Following an email exchange, he sent over an incredible blog that we published last year highlighting the life and times of Fred Hutchison. In the golden area of Pacific Coast League baseball in 1938, Hutchinson posted a 25-7 record with the Seattle Pilots before moving on to a 10 year career in the big leagues. Hutch would later manage both the Pilots and three major league teams before passing away at the young age 45 from lung cancer.
His legacy lives on to this day thanks in large part to his brother, Bill Hutchinson, a doctor who originally diagnosed him. Bill founded the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle in 1975. The Hutch Award was created a year after his death in 1965 to honor courageous and inspirational baseball players facing similar adversities. This year’s recipient was Stephen Piscotty of the Oakland Athletics, who’s mother passed away from ALS in May 2018.
Mr. Opdyke kindly invited myself and my fiancé to attend the 54th annual Hutch Award luncheon at T-Mobile Park (Formerly Safeco Field) this past July. The experience was as unique as it was emotionally powerful. Speeches from the employees of The Hutch spoke to the goals and the advancements made in medicine. Keynote speaker and 1995 Hutch Award recipient Jim Abbott spoke of the adversity he faced on and off the field as a pitcher born without a right hand. The event was capped off by powerful message from Stephen Piscotty’s father Mike, who has firmly vowed his life’s work towards finding a cure for ALS.
All-in-all the Luncheon raised more than $577,00, which will go towards accelerating research towards new treatments and cures. I’m a firm believer in utilizing the things that you love to make the world around you a better place, and the Hutch Award and Fred Hutchinson bridge that gap for me, uniting the amazing game of baseball with a meaningful and impactful humanitarian effort.
Chord 3: The National isn’t all about the Cards, it’s about the People
The 2019 National Collector’s Convention in Chicago marked the fourth year I’ve been fortunate enough to attend The National as a representative of COMC. While I’ll admit that my first National experience back in 2016 was five days of sensory overload being in the same room as thousands of revered landmark cards of our industry collectively worth hundreds of millions of dollars, my National experience has taken on a different form in recent years.
I won’t lie, my COMC portfolio will prove me guilty of dollar box diving and ripping bad wax many times over. However the true enjoyment of The National for me is celebrating our hobby with the growing number of familiar faces and connections I’ve made over the years. Meeting thousands of COMC buyers and sellers each year offers us perspective on how collectors intertwine COMC with their collecting needs. We hear their successes and their frustrations, and from those conversations we are able to extract ways that we can improve our platform and re-prioritize desired features we would like to implement on COMC based on their needs.
To me, The National isn’t about finding a 2013 Topps Update Emerald Foil Christian Yelich RC in a dollar box (true story for fellow COMC representative James T.), it’s about my yearly selfie with Ivan (@WatchTheBreaks) of GoGTS Live and chatting about the Twitter-verse. It’s about eating deep-dish pizza with my partner in the Pokemon card world Jameel (Meelypops on COMC) and his team. Having recently opened his first shop in Florida, understanding how his position in the hobby has changed helps me gain the perspective of that of a new shop owner.
Speaking of new shop owners, Ryan (@CardCollector2) bought and re-imagined a shop in Grove City, Ohio just months before The National, amidst the planning of the fourth annual Instagram Trade Night. Having attended the prior three events which COMC has sponsored, Ryan took his event to a whole new level this year by renting out a ballroom blocks from the National. This allowed well over 1,000 attendees to comfortably gather, trade, and enjoy the four hour experience. The work Ryan has done breathing life into the Instagram trading card community and introducing young new collectors to the hobby is an effort that will reward the hobby for decades to come.
The Truth: August 17th, 2019
The truth is that I have been blessed with a life that allows me to live surrounded among the trading card hobby and all of it’s wonder. I live in a world occupied by cardboard, stat lines, and sports memes. I’m incredibly grateful for my better half, who has supported every single moment of it for the last four and a half years.
Less than two weeks after I returned home from The National, I married the love of my life along the coast of Washington as 20 of our closest family members and friends watched on. Nothing in my life will ever be as special as the day we said, ‘I Do’. She is my true 1/1 in this world.
Happiness isn’t finding that pristine 52’ Mantle hiding within an old shoe box at a garage sale you’ve searched for all your life. Happiness is meeting and surrounding yourself with the people who will encourage and support you to never stop searching.