A Labor of Love

People think I am like Peter Pan, like I have never grown up, because I sell trading cards and sports memorabilia. Maybe that is true. Maybe I haven’t ever stopped being that young boy with the dream of owning every Topps card ever printed. But is that such a bad thing when being that person allows me to make a pretty nice living off of something that I have loved nearly my whole life?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think so.

I am able to meet so many of my sports idols—from way back and from the current era—because of my job. I’m not just some guy taking off work on a Tuesday afternoon to meet some rookies and get autographs. That IS my job. If these athletes wind up hot commodities, I need to be ready with their signatures on something. I have carefully cultivated relationships with players, managers, agents, locker room attendants and whoever else I need to so that I can get access to athletes in the Seattle area. I would be lying if I said I didn’t love meeting players. It is my favorite part of the job, just ahead of sitting around talking about baseball cards all day. I’d also be lying if I didn’t tell you that it was a lot of work to get to this point. All those hours spent establishing a rapport with players to get signatures and to prove I am a legitimate source of signed memorabilia to customers has taken time.  It has been so worth it, though, because it is something I love. I don’t mind putting in the time.

At least once a day some guy will come in and look through the stock under glass near the register and launch into a story about how he’d be rich right now if his mother hadn’t thrown out that shoebox full of baseball cards he’d had as a kid. The guy will usually go on to tell me which rookie cards he had, and all kinds of other tall tales about his collection. I wish I could say to him that I highly doubt those cards would be worth anything at this point because there are only so many cards out there in any given year that don’t have autographs that are actually valuable. But you can’t say that to these people because I buy and sell based on their nostalgia, and his mom actually did me a favor by throwing those cards out—less cards in circulation, plus he might buy some to replace those that he lost.  My collection is only worth something if someone like him decides that it is and is willing to pay for it. Otherwise, all I have is a lot of ink and cardboard, and no money to show for it. So I smile and nod and keep listening to their story. I see the look in their eyes as they remember that shoebox full of Ken Griffey Jr. or Jamie Moyer rookie cards because it’s more fun to pretend what you had was worth something. I know because I am that guy too. The only difference is that the other guy’s mom knew that their son had moved on to other things. Mine recognized the feeling in my heart and didn’t throw my collection away. She recognized the love there back then, the love that is still there now.