It took a while, but it finally dawned on me why I collect.
Simply put, I like bringing order out of chaos. I like having the freedom to create my own systems completely from scratch and put them into effect on a whim. I like spotting needs for improvement no matter how slight and immediately making appropriate adjustments on my own terms and at my own pace, and I like getting measurable results from those changes. All the rules and regulations are mine, and every one is mutable, even breakable when appropriate.
Really, without a system, these thousands upon thousands of little paper rectangles would be an utterly untamable cardboard clusterbonk. It is the dedication and organizational skill of the collector that makes this hobby practically feasible.
Now don’t get me wrong, it’s also the fan-dom and the coolness of the cards themselves - the historical significance and personal connections, too. But at the root, I like being the master of a complex, somewhat inexplicable, and very personal system that is ever-moving towards perfection.
I like how my system is always improving.
I like the ebb and flow from simple to complex and back to simple.
Every new card is a dare.
Every new unsorted or unsearched box is a challenge.
I like conducting my own experiments in efficiency (such as where my money is bestspent for optimal real growth or how one storage system may be easier to usethan another) and building a list of best practices to share with other collectors.
I like answering to no one - well, except my wife; but besides her, no one.
I like how working on a problem involves playing around with baseball cards.
When I come home from the card shop with a new mystery long box, I imagine a fierce, white-capped river raging towards a bank of concrete ridges that stifle and shape the flow into even lines, sifting out the rapids and creating a smooth, silent artery of water. Yeah, that’s the ticket.
Is it a power trip? Maybe. At least it keeps me off the streets.