As most of us in the hobby, I got back into collecting after many years away. I will tell my story as best as I can remember. When I was sitting in the dugout of a rec-league baseball game in 2012?, my good friend and teammate Josh asked me if I collected baseball cards. I told him I did occasionally buy cards but wasn't too serious about it. I told him I collected Don Mattingly, Jerry Rice, Sterling Sharpe, Dominque WIlkins and others. Sometime after that he mentioned PSA. I don't think I knew anything about card grading services at the time. He told me about it and I decided to get back into collecting more seriosuly. And who did I decide to collect? Don Mattingly.
Yes, I was already collecting him but I decided I was going to go full-steam into buying his cards. I'm not sure why but team collecting has never piqued my interest. It has always been about the player. When I started up again, I think for almost all of my Mattingly purchases I was using eBay because I didnt know about COMC or Sportlots. I eventually started using COMC for the Mattingly PC. I would end up buying everything I could find. Star sets, Broder cards, random oddballs, food issues, all the discs, coins. You name it and I had it. At least it felt that way. As I was acquiring his cards and remembering what Josh told me, I decided at some point in late 2012 or early 2013, I started sending my cards to PSA. At this time, I think subs were about $4.50 per card! And you'd get your cards back in ~60 days! I would send in whatever amount of cards I could afford. I think I eventually got up to #2 or #3 on the Mattingly PSA Master Set registry. Doing this registry set, I met legendary Mattingly collector Chris Sakers and we've been online friends for a while now.
In January 2014, I moved to South Korea to teach conversational English. Since that point, I have lost interest in pursuing the registry for Mattingly and have not bought many of his cards. I have even sold off some of my Mattingly PSA slabs I have with me here in Korea as well as Mattingly slabs and memorabila (ceramic cards, plates, magazines, etc..) when I have been home for vacation. Josh has been letting me keep in storage at his house and I would go there to sell stuff off. Why have I stopped? I think the main reason was interest followed closely by cost. I didn't want to keep spending money on grading cards I no longer had a deep interest in. The fact I moved across the world also helped that happen. I still have a large collection of Mattingly PSA slabs/memorabilia at Josh's house. I still have Star sets already organized in vault boxes in card savers ready to be subbed to PSA. They've been there for several years now.
Here are some Mattingly oddballs:
In the past few years I have been going full steam with collecting Mark Buehrle and even had started subbing cards to PSA for his Master Set Registry but that didn't last long. It came back to cost. I've decided that I would keep a Buehrle Topps Basic Registry set and everything else will stay raw in card savers in white, cardboard vault boxes. I was grading all his autos which I have stopped doing. I even cracked slabs of Buehrle autos that were PSA 8 or less to save some space/weight.
Here are a few of my favorite Buehrle cards:
I haven't mentioned why I grade them. As a player collector, I grade cards because I like the uniformity, protection and most importantly, the cataloguing and building of the PSA Registry from scratch of a player no other American collects, retired Korean baseball star, Seung-yuop Lee. I have my 200+ Lee PSA slabs in a black, vault case. That story will come sometime this month.
I also like the PSA slab the best. I like the red flip, the all caps and font, and it's eay to read. Worst thing of course is that they do not provide sub-grades. I don't like the thickness of the BGS slab, the font size or its gold flip. I am also not a fan of the new SGC flip, its font and size. Of course none of that mattered anyway because I trusted Josh's suggestion of PSA and never looked back.
Do I believe third-party grading companies can/have worked unethically? Yes. Do I think the companies and customers can scratch each others backs in different ways? Yes. I do not concern myself with any of that because it doesn't impact me as I know they aren't giving my card subs 10s due to me subbing thousands every time. I continue to grade with PSA because I don't want to change the uniformity of my collection and I want to continue expanding my Lee registry.