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The Minimalist Collector

Minimalist and One Million Cubs Project do not go together. The mindset of minimalization is the polar opposite to a hoarder (there, I said it) like myself.

Why am I, the antithesis of a minimalist, writing about it? At this past weekend’s Chicago Sports Spectacular I met a vendor who shared his story. And I found it fascinating. Maybe because it was such a vast different line of thinking than my own.

After sorting through a quarter box at a nearby table I wandered past Phil’s booth. It’s not hard to miss a guy walking around with a sandwich board reading, “CUBS CARD-O-METER.” The sign has more than paid for itself by bringing awareness to my project and gaining recognition for those that have heard of the project, but would never know who I was without the sign.

Phil waved me over and asked if I was the guy he read out in Sports Collectors Digest at the National. Thanks to Mark Del Franco for writing about the One Million Cubs Project and the timing of the article being published was magnificent.

One story Phil shared was about a card he had been chasing over the course of a decade. After some failed attempts at a best offer on eBay, he won it for half the price of his rejected offer. It was shipped and he owned the card, only to flip it for more than twice what he paid. Later, he regretted the decision and wanted to buy it back. Eventually, he was able to secure the card much further down the road and it’s currently a center piece in his collection.

That was a great hobby story in itself, but what I really came away with is how he followed it up. A story about how he purged his collection.

His collection had numbered in the millions of cards. He probably didn’t even know what was in some boxes, and I can certainly relate. Phil said his personal collection now numbers just 150 cards and four signed baseballs.

For some collectors that may be familiar to your own PC. Others, like myself, just cannot relate. What he said after announcing his collection numbers really struck a chord with me.

“Every card and each of the signed baseballs has a story.”

Now that, I can relate. Not so much with my baseball card collection, but with my autographed baseball collection. Some of my signed baseballs don’t have an exciting story: for example the Lennie Merullo, Ken Frailing, and Paul Popovich autographs that I purchased at this very same Chicago Sports Spectacular were at the right price and the right time.

But many of my autographed baseballs have great stories attached, and I like sharing them when friends and family come over to visit and scan the “ball wall.”

Phil stated that when visitors come over to the house he can break out one piece of his collection and tell a story. Each and every one of the 150 cards and four baseballs has a story attached. Before he told me about his new way of collecting I would have never understood the minimalist approach to collecting. After hearing Phil’s story…about his stories, I gained a new appreciation for this type of collecting.

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