Tuesday, June 18, 2019

so now i have officially begun to formalize my hall of fame collection

when i was a kid, i could not get enough baseball. i played baseball. i collected baseball cards. i pored over baseball box scores. i watched baseball. i listened to baseball. i talked about baseball. and, i read about baseball.  a lot.

i read a lot of books about players (my fifth grade classroom had quite a few) and the history of the game. it wasn't just dodgers that piqued my interest - i wrote a report about roberto clemente in elementary school - and it wasn't just about current or recent players. steve garvey's consecutive game streak had me learning about lou gehrig, and as older cards somehow entered my collection, i began to learn about players like tris speaker. when 1979 topps cards were released, i was amazed that i owned a card featuring hank aaron and another with ty cobb.  pete rose's record breaker card from that set had me asking my dad about who stan musial was. he wound up giving me lawrence ritter and donald honig's "the image of their greatness", and i spent hours reading it and studying the pictures.  there was always more to learn about the history of the game and the players who played it.

as a young collector, i quickly moved from set collector to team collector and then added player collections as well. i chose to collect my favorite players of the day (including dodger killer reggie jackson), as well as cards of some retired stars and hall of famers. one of the events i looked forward to each year was the announcement of hall of fame inductees. duke snider's induction in 1980 is the first one i recall, probably because i was absorbing all things dodgers at the time. ultimately, i had way too many pc's going for it to be sustainable, and eventually i returned to my focus on sets and dodgers, with just a handful of player collections remaining.  however, my appreciation for those other players didn't disappear.

last year when zippy zappy challenged us to post our all-autograph lineup, i was able to dig through some of the autographed cards of players that i used to collect or that i had kept in my collection even though they weren't dodgers.  then i started to pay closer attention to fuji's autograph collection. and then p-town tom started posting about his hall of famer card collection. i decided to formalize and refine my collection of these players that i enjoyed learning about and following and collecting.  and so here we are.

tl;dr i am a fan of baseball and i have begun a formal hall of famer collection.

this collection consists of certified, on-card autographs and relics of certain hall of famers that i have a connection to through my formative fandom years, or whose careers i enjoyed following.  i really wanted it to include the first class of hall of famers, however, there just don't seem to be any options for walter johnson.  so, my collection will settle for four of the first class:

ty cobb
christy mathewson
babe ruth
honus wagner

it will also include four of the other seven hall of famers who were present at the first hall of fame induction ceremony in 1939:

nap lajoie
tris speaker
eddie collins
george sisler

connie mack, cy young, and grover cleveland alexander were also in attendance that day, but like the big train, they don't have any cards that fit my criteria to chase.  i have a copy of the 1939 photo of the ten of the eleven living hall of famers (christy mathewson had passed and for whatever reason, ty cobb wasn't in the photo) on a shelf in my office. i like to think it inspires me to greatness, but mostly it reminds me to not wear droopy socks like babe ruth did.

the collection also includes some players whose careers ended before i was born, but that i enjoyed learning about as a young fan:

lou gehrig
rogers hornsby
jimmie foxx
mel ott
dizzy dean
joe dimaggio
hank greenberg
bob feller
jackie robinson
ted williams
roy campanella
stan musial
yogi berra
sandy koufax
roberto clemente
warren spahn
mickey mantle

the rest of the players in the collection includes a mix of players that i learned about from either my card collecting or my avid fandom.  this list includes 36 of the 44 hall of famers included in the 1978 topps set (thanks to night owl for counting them for me). the eight i've decided to omit are the managers, including tommy lasorda. players only on this list!  anyway, here's the list of that group of hall of famers:

ernie banks
willie mays
al kaline
duke snider
bob gibson
hank aaron
frank robinson
brooks robinson
don drysdale
harmon killebrew
pee wee reese
lou brock
willie mccovey
catfish hunter
willie stargell
johnny bench
carl yastrzemski
joe morgan
jim palmer
rod carew
ferguson jenkins
gaylord perry
rollie fingers
tom seaver
reggie jackson
steve carlton
mike schmidt
phil niekro
don sutton
george brett
nolan ryan
robin yount
carlton fisk
tony pérez
kirby puckett
dave winfield
ozzie smith
gary carter
eddie murray
dennis eckersley
paul molitor
wade boggs
ryne sandberg
bruce sutter
tony gwynn
cal ripken jr.
rich gossage
rickey henderson
jim rice
andre dawson
roberto alomar
bert blyleven
greg maddux
pedro martinez
ken griffey jr.
mike piazza
tim raines
vladimir guerrero
jim thome
jack morris
alan trammell
roy halladay

the collection also includes some that are banned or otherwise assumedly ostracized from the hall of fame but that i appreciate nonetheless:

pete rose
barry bonds
joe jackson
roger clemens
alex rodriguez

also included are five sure-fire hall of famers that i enjoyed/enjoy following:

adrian beltre
albert pujols
clayton kershaw
mike trout

and it features a player that i considered one of my favorites to watch that i hope will make it to cooperstown one day:

joe mauer

that gets the collection to 98 hall of famers, but i reserve the right to add folks as time goes on.  furthermore, this collection gets tricky with the dodgers (and vladimir guerrero), as i am the type of collector that needs doubles to count cards in more than one collection. oh well, it's my collection and i make the rules.  i won't be able to avoid non-licensed cards, but i will try to keep that to a minimum.

my plan is to have this post build on itself, so that ultimately my entire collection will be shown in one post.  for now, i want to start things off with a positive jam, so here's my 2004 topps originals 1979 topps hank aaron autographed card:
as i mentioned up above, i was thrilled to find this card (and cards like it) in packs of 1979 topps cards. i knew about hank aaron, but not much about hack wilson.  and then there were the names on the back:
i will admit that i have forgotten anything that i learned about hal trosky.

the first baseball game i attended was a dodgers/braves game in 1974 at dodger stadium. i was three, so i don't remember seeing aaron play or really anything about it. however, i do remember seeing aaron play in an old-timer's game at dodger stadium in 1980 or so. we were sitting in the field level seats down the right field line, so i had a good view of him when he was in the field. i was starstruck. i have a photo i took of him that day somewhere. if i find it, i'll add it to this post.

this collection will be a long time in the making, although i do have quite a few cards already. i have felt my collecting focus start to shift away from being a team collector over the past couple of years, so this makes sense to me. wish me luck!


  1. The 98 you have chosen is like a Who's Who of the all-time greats. Sounds like a tremendously fun project, which I'm sure you will enjoy. I can't wait to see what's added to this post!
    FWIW, you could have told me Hal Trosky was a hockey player and I would have believed you. LOL I consider myself to be a pretty big baseball fan, but he wasn't on my radar at all.

    1. i'm sure the trosky family is pretty pleased to see his name with all of these other players!

  2. Sounds fun.. good luck! So I'm assuming the really old-timers will be represented via relic cards, then autos for the guys who were around in the "pack certified autograph" era, yeah?

    1. for the most part. there are a couple of exceptions (at least for now).

    2. With cut signatures and buyback type cards, just about anyone is possible in certified form (with enough money, of course). it is sad that the manufactured, pack inserted autographed card era didn't begin much earlier to capture so many more of the greats who were willing signers, but died before they could be included.

  3. Damn, had a nice personally related response and somehow lost it. Not going to try to recrearte it now, so Good Luck on the endeavor. I will be watching from the sidelines as I continue to build similiar collections myself. I will rewrite that I am jealous of that Scully auto card though!

  4. This is quite the project. I kinda want to go through it and see how far along I am with these. I've never formally announced my attempt to collect hall of famers, but like you... I grew up enjoying the history of baseball and the stars in the spotlight. I'm excited for you. This project should be a lot of fun.

  5. This is going to be quite the endeavor, and I do wish you the best of luck with it! I will very much be looking forward to all of your latest additions :)