Blog Bat-Around, Round 2: The Centerpiece of My Collection
Posted by houstoncollector on December 17, 2008
I originally collected cards back in the mid-to-late 1980s, through about 1991, when I quit due to price. I came back in 2006 with a vengeance, deciding that I only wanted to collect Houston Astros and Texans, and only long-term players. So the collection has taken a few twists and turns through the years, such as when Brad Lidge left the Astros, or when Dominick Davis, David Carr and Wali Lundy left the Texans.
My first ‘centerpiece’ item, after all, was a 2002 Leaf Certified David Carr Mirror Red GU. It was nice, it was pretty, but once he left the team, it went in the trade pile. There were a number of others that fit that role, but then there were the cards that actually meant something to me.
First of these was the first (and still the only) Nolan Ryan game-used card I’ve got. Acquired in a trade, I got a 2003 (I think) Fleer Classic Clippings Cut of History GU of Nolan Ryan. It was un-numbered and a single white swatch, but dammit, it was NOLAN RYAN. That’s all I cared about. More recently, I’ve been collecting his vintage cards, and have managed to lay my hands on (not always in great condition) 1973, 1974 and 1975 Topps cards of Nolan Ryan, and currently have a 1975 Topps mini incoming. My White Whale is two-fold where it comes to this man. First, I want a 1968 Topps Nolan Ryan / Jerry Koosman. It is the ultimate rookie card for me, and I can’t wait until I can manage to trade for or purchase one of these. Second, I would like an autograph. It’d be nice if it was something low-numbered, with a multi-colored Astros patch to go along with it, but I’m honestly not picky. However, currently, these are not the centerpieces of my collection.
For a while, it was my first 1/1, which was a 2007 Topps Draft Picks & Prospects blank back of Mario Williams that I purchased direct from Topps for about $10. It came in a sealed case and a COA from Beckett, and I still have it. It’s not a stunning card, and isn’t shiny or anything. It’s merely the base card with a blank back. However, it’s still a 1/1 (technically) and goes in my small set of cards which Beckett apparently has no clue about, including a 2004 Fleer Hot Prospects Ruby of Andre Johnson (which isn’t numbered, as it’s from the Fleer Bankruptcy auction), an oddball Nolan Ryan card that says Sports/Education, a 2007 Donruss Classics of Andre Johnson which has Michael Huff’s name on the front and a number of others. However, these are not the centerpieces of my collection, either.
In 2006, I worked out a trade with someone where I had a 2006 Leaf Certified Materials Mirror Blue autograph of Rudi Johnson. I traded it for a baseball from a game between the Astros and Reds, where he had managed to get 13 Astros to autograph it, including Brad Lidge, Willy Tavares, Brandon Backe, Luke Scott, and a large number of the pitchers, but no really big names. It’s been in a case, but after a number of the guys left after the 2007 season….the ball went untouched. It’s a very nice ball, with a lot of signatures, but it just doesn’t mean as much to me anymore after the players left the team. So it, also, is not the centerpiece.
So what is? I was at a show in San Antonio a few months ago, and saw plenty of pretty cards that I really couldn’t afford, including two 2006 Upper Deck Exquisite Patch Autos of Mario Williams. And then I saw the card which would become the (current) centerpiece of my collection. I looked at it while the dealer looked over the cards I had brought as trade bait, and we talked for a while. I saw the price tag on it, and knew it was out of my reach, but couldn’t pull back from the card. I hadn’t even touched it, but knew that I had to have it. I knew what year it was, the player, and the set…but nothing else.
After some more talking, the dealer said that I had three cards he wanted, only one of which I recall (a 2008 Upper Deck Star Signings redemption auto of Frank Gore), and he said that if I wanted the card, he’d take those three cards plus $20, and it was mine. I couldn’t get the money out of my pocket fast enough, and the card was mine. It wasn’t until I got home and was looking over everything that I looked on the back of the card and noticed the numbering.
First, here’s the card: 2006 Topps Turkey Red Gold Mario Williams
On the back was something beautiful: 1/5
This is the centerpiece of my collection. While we’re at it? Congratulations, Mario Williams, on your selection to the 2009 NFL Pro Bowl.