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Signed Memorabilia, Card Collecting Themes

When you have so many baseball cards and autographs that you can’t seem to separate them into any kind of coherent fashion, maybe it’s time to create a theme or two.


-by Chris Houston

It’s easy to let your sports collection become a hodgepodge of everything–and some like it that way. But soon it’s easy to have it become meaningless and worse yet, forgotten.

One way to maintain a focus, showcase your collection and get more out of your hobby is to sell off the fluff and break it down into themes.

Here are some tips and ideas to put a little something extra into breaking down and showcasing your signed memorabilia and/or baseball card collection.

1) 500 Home Run Hitters-A select group of guys have reached this plateau. Not only that, some of the autographs are extremely hard to come by. As of this year, only 25 players had reached the mark. A collection of 500 home run club members certainly would make for an interesting theme for your baseball card and autograph 1952 Topps Willie Mayscollection. It’s a group that includes Ruth, Aaron, Mays and other favorites. The rise and fall of recent players over performance enhancers only serves to help such a collection tell an even more historically relevant story.Trying to attain some of the cards and/or autographs might be tough because some of the greatest home run hitters of all time have passed away. Babe Ruth autographs are not extremely hard to find. In fact, you can regularly find them on eBay but you’ll need some serious funds to get them. For the autograph seeker, creating a theme like “500 Home Run Hitters” could represent a devoted, timely and yet rewarding challenge.

2) 300 Wins-There are fewer players who have hit this magic baseball number on the mound..only 24 through 2009. Cy Young is atop the list and that’s where the award for baseball’s best pitchers comes from (in fact, collecting Cy Young award winners might be an option for those who don’t want to delve into the pre-War era).T206 Walter JohnsonYoung won 511 games in his career. That’s nearly 100 more than second place Walter Johnson. The 300-game winner theme might be even tougher because most players at the top of the list competed in an era where pitchers got more starts. In terms of autographs, again there are challenges. Finding memorabilia for all– 24 signed or unsigned– would certainly be a worthy endeavor. But you can only imagine what it would be like to showcase such a collector’s dream in your sports memorabilia room.

3) Hall of Fame Members-It might also be fun to see how many autographs you can get from Hall of Famers. Out of the nearly 300 members, finding over 100 autographs might be a test for any baseball card collector. Mustering over 200 would be another plateau. It would almost be like hitting a home run for every one you collected or gaining a win to make it to the top of the Sports Card Collector list if you will. Few dealers can boast over 200 different Hall of Famer autographs. This theme would be fun because it involves several attainable contemporary players that could get your collection off to a great start. Of course, the 19th century players’ baseball cards and autographs would offer a supreme challenge, but one could also limit the collection to the World Series era.
4) Team Themes-Of course, this is one of the most obvious themes baseball card autograph collectors have used for years. If you like the Yankees then it makes perfect sense to get all the Yankee autographs or cards you can handle. Perhaps you would like to get all the 1969 Mets autographs. In some case, acquiring signatures for a particular team for a given year might be as tough as some of the themes listed above thanks to the short careers of some players, many of whom disappear from sight after their playing days. Chasing baseball cards of a certain team is a never-ending task, but a pursuit that has plenty of collectors dialed in for years for the sheer fun of it.
5) Era Themes-So you were a fan of the 80’s? My favorite years were the 80’s because I was in my teens. Coming up with the 80’s best players or rookie Hall of Famers wouldn’t be too hard. Now if you drop back to the 60’s then it suddenly becomes very very tough. You could even further break it down into AL and NL MVP’s or Rookies of Lou Brock signed baseballthe Year.
6) Stolen Base Leaders-Think about it. It’s become so much of a lost art that only a few players this decade reached 50 stolen bases in a season. Rickey Henderson is the leader in this group by a wide margin. But he might be one of the easier on the list to attain. Guys like Ty Cobb(4th) and Honus Wagner(10th) won’t be easy either but trying to grab half of the top 100 or single-season leaders would represent a unique task for your memorabilia or card collecting theme. There are plenty of others–limited only by your own creativity.

About Rich Mueller

Rich is the editor and founder of Sports Collectors Daily. A broadcaster and writer for more than 30 years and a collector for even longer than that, he's usually typing something somewhere. Type him back at [email protected].

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