So where exactly did this collecting idea come from? Let's jump in the WABAC machine to the magical time of 1998 - Bill Clinton was president for life, the stock market would never ever fail again thanks to tech stocks, and The Simpsons was winding down its run, but still pretty funny. I was living in Boston, and I had two jobs: I worked in a baseball card store by day and was an assistant manager of a record store by night. It was my childhood dream jobs come true. I got to talk baseball and buy and sell cards all day. Then, I got to change into my cool clothes, talk music, flirt with cute customers, and bang cute clerks all night. I worked 18-20 hours a day, but not a minute of it was remotely what I would call "work". Alas, both of those stores are gone (though the card store exists in a different incarnation) and I no longer have the energy to run such a vocational gauntlet. Oh, to be 23 again. Anyway, working in the card shop allowed me to augment my collection exponentially. I built vintage sets, scored choice hall of famers, and bought a fuckton of new product (it's an industry term).
Back then, most of my collection ended up in boxes but working in the card shop allowed me access to binders and pages at wholesale prices. I started putting shiny inserts into pages. At first, a lot of my pages looked like this:
Inserts all willy-nilly. I mean, I have since moved these around a bit, but this page is almost exactly how I put together in 1998.
The first conscious effort I made to have nine cards on a page that had a unifying theme was this one:
I loved the '98 Finest, with the busy - but not ugly - ribbon design and the little icons for positions, a conceptual homage to the 1973 Topps set. It was those icons that I wanted to showcase so I made sure they were all represented; I especially liked the batting helmet for the DH. I even used the rarer shiny no-protector parallels. This is it. This is the genesis. It became a harbinger. I started to go back and see if I had nine of other inserts. So more pages were made:
If I recall, this 1997 UD Great Futures page was second:
I loved these Topps Etch-a-Sketch inserts. There were 9 of them in the set. Perfect.
And so instead of this...
You got this:
Instead of this:
You got this:
Once I discovered eBay, it made doing pages like this much easier:
and much much more colorful:
Sometimes much much MUCH more colorful:
Pound for pound, that UD Decade page might be my favorite page, like, ever.
So, from doing this with inserts came the natural progression to do it with all of my cards and collections. That way I could narrow down some of the bulkier sets and player collections into manageable bites and focus on grander things that I actually wanted in quantity. I liked the idea so much, I decided to share it with the world, or at least the 50 or so nerds like me who read dozens of card blogs everyday.