Chicago Cubs: Rediscovering the joy of collecting baseball cards

Chicago Cubs, Mark Grace (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Chicago Cubs, Mark Grace (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /

Being quarantined has prompted many to start a new hobby or to learn a new skill. For me, I picked up my old Chicago Cubs baseball card collection.

When I was a kid, I had a newspaper route. Every time I got paid, I would go to the local sports card shop and buy some baseball cards. Being a Chicago Cubs fan, I hoped they would have some Sammy Sosa cards for me (though I’ve since soured on collecting him, for a few different reasons). If not, I’d still buy some packs and hope I got something good.

When I was in college, I put my collection aside and picked it up again for a couple of years after I graduated. Then, my interest faded again with lots of other stuff happening in my life. I have boxes of cards still sitting in my basement, and almost every day I walk by them at some point. Many times, I had thought about getting back into it.

Being stuck at home for the past two months prompted me to get out of my collection and take another look at what I had. I had so much fun collecting as a kid, and I learned a lot about the game, too, by studying stats on the backs of the cards. It was also a great way to bond with friends.

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I’m in my 30s now, so my perspective on collecting has changed. Yet the hobby has as well; it’s become much more of a big business. With game-used memorabilia cards, certified autographs, and a huge saturation of the market with so many new products coming out every year, a lot of the fun has gone out of it.

Card shops have gone away as well; I visited one for the first time in a long time when I was in Phoenix for spring training earlier this year. There just aren’t any close to where I live. It’s harder for them to survive these days, with so many people turned away from the hobby because of all the changes, plus the ease of being able to find what you want online.

I have bought some new cards recently and plan to buy some more to try to build up my collection again. It still can be a lot of fun to collect, if you can come to terms with how things have changed. With so many high-dollar cards being printed, it can be easy to spend a fortune on cards quickly, so I’ve had to learn to budget carefully and accept that I can’t buy everything that’s out there. I’m just not going to spend tons of money on one card.

I’ve also learned to focus my collection more. I still have a massive collection of Mark Grace and Kerry Wood cards, and besides that, I like to collect other players such as Ernie Banks, even though he played long before I was born, along with Cubs team sets.

Even though I’m an adult and so much is different now, I believe collecting baseball cards can still be a fun hobby, and I hope to continue pursuing it after the quarantine is over. It’s an activity that provides me some stress relief, and through this whole situation, I’ve learned how important it is to do things like that for myself.

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It sounds like a lot of other people have gotten back into baseball card collecting while being stuck at home. If you’re one of them, don’t forget that, above all else, it’s supposed to be fun. I’d be curious to hear from other Chicago Cubs fans who like to collect and learn about their collections too.