Saturday, December 29, 2018

Confessions of a Baseball Card Addict by Tanner Jones | Book Review

What does it feel like to spend $100,000 on baseball cards? Tanner Jones shares the rush of putting what amounts to a sizeable down payment not just into a baseball card collection, but rolling the dice all on one player in his new book, “Confessions of a Baseball Card Addict.”


Jones started his foray into collecting with a story that would even make Gary Vaynerchuk smile, explaining how he fueled his collecting habits in the early 1990s by flipping baseball cards to his elementary school classmates. Students would line up with their lunch money as Jones fed their cardboard desires.

“I was responsible for all of their stomach growls throughout the rest of the afternoon because the boys liked wax packs more than they liked lunch,” Jones said.

He even experimented in the early advent of online sales, firing up services like Prodigy to connect globally with traders and sellers. After a move ended his brief grade school flirtation with online dealing, Jones used his entrepreneurial spirit to make money scouring for deals at baseball card shows.

As with most teenage boys who came of age during the 1990s collecting boom, Jones put aside his baseball card hustle for more social endeavors.

“I slowly drifted away from the hobby that I loved so much,” he said. “I started devoting my time to friends, girls, cars, and church youth group activities.”

For the next decade, Jones focused on getting his life in order, which included a stretch where he was homeless. He quickly pulled himself up to start a burgeoning website development business, get married, and have a child.

Jones thought he put his cardboard obsession behind him, but a trip through his childhood Jose Canseco collection rekindled his itch to collect. Armed with his own finances, Jones made his way back to what he knew best, the art of the flip. However, this time he wasn’t going for the dollar lunchroom deals, he set his eyes on entire collections.

He eventually purchased a van to haul off the remnants of other dealers’ hordes. Often these acquisitions would take up his entire living room and garage. Thanks to an understanding wife and a generous cash flow, Jones was able to spend another decade hustling cardboard.

“Through all of this, I realized I was not just a collector, but also a dealer,” he said. “Not only a dealer but a dealer who was buying out dealers. … Never in the ten years of wheeling and dealing did I never have nothing to sell.”

Exhausted by his last mega-deal in 2015, Jones capped a career that would have satisfied many baseball card collecting addicts, except for himself. Not one to put aside his love for the hustle, Jones moved to create custom memorabilia cards for collectors.

While immersed in this new artistic side of the hobby, his love for one of the “Bash Brothers” reemerged. Jones set his laser focus on a new target, his childhood hero Jose Canseco.

At first, Jones went to recapture the cards of his youth, but quickly he was sucked into the chase of becoming the premier collector of Canseco cards. Fueled by his obsessive interests, the heart of Jones’ story is his quest to earn the Canseco Super Collector title.

The second half of “Confessions of a Cardboard Addict” is dedicated to how he established his truly monumental Canseco collection. From his wild ride to Canseco’s home for his own private signing to his conquests of the rarest of the slugger’s baseball cards, his story opens a door to the compulsions that drive many in the hobby.

Within a few short years and over $100,000 later, Jones stood at the peak of his collecting summit pondering the $85,000 acquisition of one of his collecting rivals. Just as he was about to purchase a ticket to corner the market on the most exclusive Canseco collection, he sat down with his wife to talk through the purchase. Suddenly, he had a moment of clarity.

“Just like that, I had an overwhelming sense that purchasing the collection was not what God wanted me to do,” he said.

With that decision, Jones was at peace with his collection; however, there was just one problem — how was he going to get back the $100,000 he poured into it? The only way he knew how of course, by hustling.

The fact whether Jones did or did not recoup his hefty investment in the “Juiced” author’s baseball cards isn’t central to “Confessions of a Baseball Card Addict”, but rather another step into the long-winding abyss of one wrapped up in the narrow world of hardcore collecting. His journey towards recoupment is filled with tips that even the most savvy of sellers could benefit from reading.

While Jones’ narrative gets blurred at times with the OCD-like tendencies of a collecting hunt that will most likely appeal to only fellow hobbyists, his tale is a cautionary reminder that our value is defined by the impact we have on others, not size of the collections we amass.


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