Saturday, January 16, 2016

Why Joe?

    I decided to try this blog out to part be a personal journal of my thoughts on collecting and other matters, and to network with others in attempt to find missing cards for my PC collection.  Now back in the day, before the age of Finest, Flair, Stadium Club, and Sp Authentic, and before there were 50 parallels of a single card, and cards came with pieces of jersey, pants, gloves, bats, and who knows what is next, it was easy to have all sorts of collections.  I was able to put together complete sets, and I was able to have a pretty good Red Sox collection.  I also had many players aside from my Red Sox that I collected: Dave Parker, Tony Armas, George Bell, Jesse Barfield, Tony Fernandez, and Joe Carter.  As the hobby grew and grew it did, the cost of the hobby jumped and it was not as easy to maintain as diversified portfolio.  I slowly retired from collecting each of these things and could only maintain one thing and that turned out to be my Joe Carter collection. 
     Now Joe was not necessarily a childhood hero (That went to Carlton Fisk and Luis Tiant) Joe was a clutch player that always seemed to kill my Red Sox.  He was a guy that took his job seriously, but always seemed to have fun doing it.  He seemed to epitomize the saying of "Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life."  Joe was also not a superhero type player that everything came naturally.  He had his failures, and his successes.  He did it naturally, and with genuine hard work. For some reason, that really resonated with me as a young guy in my twenties, and it seemed natural that as more and more of my collecting habits were put to the wayside, I remained loyal and focused to my Carter collection.  Carter seemed a unqiue name considering some of the big names that were out there at the time.  One of my friends was a big Rickey Henderson collector.  Another was a Ken Griffey Jr collector, and I met others that collected all your big name guys, yet here I was, collecting Joe. 
   Certainly, there was a time when Joe was one of the more dominating players in the game and every company had him in their various sub-sets.  Then the World Series walk off propelled him even further until a few years after that when his production started to wane and like many players, his final active years was a journeyman playing for teams like the Baltimore Orioles and San Francisco Giants.  But 1992-1996 were his big years in the card production realm.  Now he randomly appears as a "retired great" for some companies and gets more parallels and certified auto cards than it seems he had cards during his actual playing days.  I always hoped to be able to attend his enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame and even convinced my wife that if we had a child, I wanted to name him Carter Joseph.  ("Twenty Nine" did not roll off the tongue like "Seven.")  But like most idealistic thoughts, they do not always pan out. Joe did not even get the required 5% to remain on the ballot.  I can understand why, he was shy of 400 home runs and was a career .259 hitter, he wasn't the superhero that would take his place among the other legends in the pantheon in Cooperstown.  He was Joe, a solid anchor for the Indians and Blue Jays and his career would be over just 5 years after hitting one of the most memorable home runs in World Series history.   There isn't even a little Carter running around wearing a Blue Jays jersey.  Hell, none of the three cats even honor his name.  But even if things did not end up for Joe like I once thought,  there is still that one constant.  I am still one of his biggest fans, and I am still feverishly trying to add more of his cards to my collection.  I will continue to laud the guy, and maybe the next time I take a trip to Cooperstown, I will make sure I leave one of his cards behind so I can smile knowing that for one day, Joe was in the Hall of Fame.


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