I have to give Gellman some credit on this one. The first Bat Around topic was good and it made me have to sit and think, but this one actually caused me to sit and evaluate my collection and I think that is something that we all need to do from time to time. In my opinion, I think we all need to step back at least a couple times a year and take a good long look at the items in our collection and make sure that we’re not acquiring items just for the sake of it and that we’re collecting these things for the right reasons.
So I know what you’re thinking. This is a site that is written by a Justin Morneau collector so the most prized piece in his collection HAS to be a Morneau item. Right? Maybe a great patch card that I was lucky enough to pull from a pack? Or maybe it was at autographed item that I somehow managed to get Justin to sign in person or through the mail. I’ll admit, I have a lot of nice looking Morneau items in my collection. I have some great looking cards and I also have things like baseballs, pictures, a bat, and some game used batting gloves. Sadly, I haven’t had the luxury or the luck to pull any of these cards myself or get any of them signed on my own. Trust me, I’ve tried both more time than I’d like to admit. So because of that, I wouldn’t say that I have an emotional tie to any of my Morneau items. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly really like them or I wouldn’t have them. But there’s no story behind them and to me, it takes a story to make an item in your collection special.
I have a lot of great items in my collection. I have baseballs signed by Willie Mays, Sandy Koufax, Nolan Ryan, Mariano Rivera, and many others. I have a 16×20 picture of A-Rod and Derek Jeter that is signed by both. I have a Peyton Manning jersey that I would be sad to see go. But there aren’t stories behind those items. I do have two items in my possession that do have stories behind them, and those are my most coveted items.
Both of those items were gifts to me from my wife. My wife doesn’t really “get” or understand my hobby and sometimes she probably finds it silly and wishes I would spend my money on other things. But she does recognize that my hobby could be a lot worse and be something that requires way more money and time away from the family. Once in a great while, she’ll try to buy something to add to the collection.
The first item is this 8×10 photo collage of Ryne Sandberg that was produced the year he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. This particular photo was a limited edition produced by a store in our area called Von Maur. It is the type of store that sells $30 pairs of socks so I am pretty sure my wife had to overpay for it. But she knew the item was authentic and it came with an additional perk…each photo purchased came with a ticket so you could meet Ryne Sandberg in person! As you know, I’m a die hard Cubs fan and some of my fondest memories as a kid was the season in 1984 when the Cubs won the N.L. East. That was the first year I can remember following baseball with my dad (who died unexpectedly that winter). He gave me my love for baseball. That season we watched “Ryno” and Jody and I put those two guys on a pedestal. So getting a chance to meet Sandberg was something I never expected. The meeting really wasn’t anything special. You went up there and got a chance to get your picture taken with him and exchange a few quick pleasantries. But it was cool and something I would have never had a chance to do on my own. (By the way, my wife would shit if she knew I put this picture up with her in it! ha ha!)
The other cherished item in my collection was another gift from my wife. This time it was an engagement gift. I suppose she felt as though she needed to get me something nice since I spent a fortune on a ring for her. We were engaged in November of 2003 and that was during the height of Wood/Prior mania in Chicago. Like many other Cub fans, I was certain that the Cubs had two guys that would battle it out for Cy Young awards for the next 10 years. My wife had to jump through a lot of hoops but she managed to get me this signed Mark Prior jersey. At the time, I couldn’t believe it. This was THE crown jewel of my new collection. Mark Prior has since moved on and won’t become the Hall of Fame pitcher that many predicted, but this jersey will never leave my possession. I know all of the thought and love that went into it and I remember the look of excitement on my wife’s face as I opened it. I don’t think she’s ever been prouder of any gift she has ever given me.
Do I have items in my collection that have more value on the secondary market than these two items? Sure I do. But I don’t think market value should dictate whether or not an item (or items) are the “centerpieces” of your collection. I’m not even real sure “centerpiece” is the best term. To me, these two items are my most cherished. Looking at them on my wall brings back great memories. And those are memories I plan to keep with me forever.