Trading Cards, The Community & How I Was Wrong About Nearly Everything

Posted: August 18, 2014 by literalquirk in The Better Half
Tags: , , , , , , ,
Hello dear readers of Crackin’ Wax! It’s Amy again, a.k.a. @literalquirk

First off—thanks very much for the fantastic response to my inaugural piece on Crackin’ Wax. I heard from quite a few of you via comments and tweets and your encouragement means a lot! Writing it made me realize how much I’d missed “writing for assignment.” As a few of you know, I’m a chef by trade (I work on a corporate chef team from 9-5) so a lot of my writing leans toward that topical direction. I write restaurant reviews, “romance copy” for recipes, and take more photos of food than I care to admit. Needless to say, writing about trading cards and collecting…I mean, THE HOBBY, and sports, in general, is pretty far removed from any realm of my expertise; I’m barely a novice, but that’s never stopped me from having an opinion.

The assignment Chris gave me for this go ‘round was to share my perspective as a female on the hobby as a whole. (I’ll bet you ten bucks, that when Chris proofs this, he’ll snicker and read that as “a-hole”.) Editor’s note: I totally did.

As I’m involved in the community only by proxy and the occasional ill-timed, on-camera facial expression, I don’t feel that I can aptly speak for what it means to be a female involved in the hobby, but rather to speak toward what I’ve learned, in general.

One card is just like another. WRONG.
In 2006-ish, Chris decided to get back into card-collecting—specifically baseball cards. My experience with trading cards of any kind came in the form of obsessively purchasing Garbage Pail Kids cards in the 80’s—let me tell you, when I finally scored that elusive “Acne Amy,” I was one happy camper. So, I definitely understood the appeal of collecting sets. To be completely transparent here, I was a bit taken aback by my 30ish year old husband jumping into a hobby that I (wrongly) thought was only reserved for teenage boys.

As Chris showed me the designs and card-types and spoke to layout form and stats, I started to see trading cards as much more than parity to “Acne Amy’s” and the like—I found it pretty fascinating. I learned general terminology like base-card, relic, hit, set, case-break and enjoyed opening the packs with him. I was warned about dinging corners and how to properly insert them into top-loaders. I learned how a SASE* was used to request an autograph and watched him send them off to his favorite players. This semi-direct interaction with ACTUAL pro-athletes was awesome! (Though, I’m still waiting for my Nick Punto auto. ARE YOU READING THIS, NICK?!)

Collecting cards means trips to Target and sending SASEs off in the post. WRONG.
The cards themselves were a lot of fun for Chris to collect, but I think what he enjoys more than the cards are the opportunities to TALK about the cards and interact with the community. I think simple, low-key, recreational card-collecting is a mere gateway drug to the harder, meth-like experience of Card-Breaks. Am I right?? One day, you’re just sitting in your home, staring at your Twins base-sets and, all of a sudden, hear the siren call known as Brent & Becca! Ohhh Ooooo OOOOO! Next thing you know, YOU. MUST. GET. YOUR. TEAM’S. SLOT!!!!!!! Chris participated in a few (eleventy-six) breaks and decided that he’d like to give it a whirl. This is where things got interesting…

All serious card collectors/breakers are dudes like Kevin Smith and Jeff Albertson (Comic Book Guy) and only interact with humans when they come out of their mom’s basement. Holy shit, so WRONG. (Wait, can I say shit on here?)
Through case-breaks on this blog, and consistently being tagged in Chris’ tweets (regardless if I have any idea what he’s talking about), I’ve been able to interact with some seriously awesome people. FUNNY, SMART, ORIGINAL, GENEROUS (with a capital G!) people! Some are super-fans, some are fans-for-fun and others are just in it for the community. I think I fit into the second and latter categories—I love the friendly banter and wisecracks you all toss in one another’s general direction. I appreciate the fact that I can be a part of it with not even knowing enough to be dangerous. The Hobby’s community is good-natured enough to let this girl join the game, even without a glove.

…and I don’t know if it’s old-fashioned to say this or not, but I’m blown away by the strong female presence in Chris’ breaks—I LOVE IT. There’s something pretty fantastic about a smart, articulate female, knowing her way around a sporting hobby. Don’t even get me started on Sooz; that woman is a Phenom! So, please keep up the break-attendance, ladies—I enjoy seeing your names on the post-its during my sort-a-thons. (I’m 99% sure Deb’s name will always be under the Phillies’ stack!)


Card-collecting/breaking is a tough thing to describe to those that aren’t part of the hobby—when I talk about Chris’ charity breaks with friends and co-workers, I almost need to have a preliminary, half-hour long conversation describing what being part of The Hobby really means. Do any of you have a hard time articulating this to others, too?

I definitely intend to learn more about trading cards and am currently being talked into doing an on-camera break of my own (please accept my apologies in advance). Maybe even attend a card-show with Chris?! I’ll be the one standing next to him, trying to tap into my minimal knowledge of trading cards while internally cringing when someone calls him Topher.

*I’d always read that as a “SASE-Y” and thought it was a kind of a stamp. Bonus totally useless side-note: I also thought “facsimile” was pronounced Fassy-smile. (I apparently flunked out of postal-school.)

  1. Kent R. says:

    Great second offering. But I believe you were taken aback.

  2. nighttimeowl says:

    The dark side is calling …

  3. brad says:

    I go with my fiance to a card show 2-3 times a year. It’s great fun!

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