Major League Baseball may have wrapped up the last games of the 2010 regular season, but local baseball fan Richard Barrett will continue to tune in through the World Series, even if his favorite teams, the New York Mets and the Kansas City Royals didn’t make the playoffs.
Barrett, 33, you might say, is more than just a fan, he’s a MLB junkie; it’s in his blood. Having amassed a collection of more than 28,000 baseball cards and watching, by his conservative estimate, at least five games per week, you might call him an expert on the subject.
“It is kinda like an addiction to me – it’s better to be addicted to baseball cards than drugs,” Barrett said with a chuckle.
He still fondly remembers being bitten by the bug after attending his first Royals game in 1982 with his father and grandfather, reminiscing that he had the opportunity to see Royals legends Frank White and George Brett play on that day. After that game he started collecting cards with his dad, who maintained a collection of his own. At the time a pack of cards cost about 79 cents. Today he pays $1.90 a pack to satiate his addiction. When Barrett’s father passed away 12 years ago, it reignited his interest in collecting cards.
“Baseball is the sport my dad, my grandfather and I were raised on,” former Little Leaguer Barrett explained, “and baseball cards are more valuable (than collectable cards from other sports) because they were made since the (1800s). A lot of people collect baseball cards.”
Nothing excites Barrett like opening a package and finding a rookie card, those can become quite valuable if a player’s career takes off. Currently he holds about 800 of those including baseball legends like Bo Jackson, Barry Bonds and Cal Ripken, Jr., a card he found in the very first pack he bought. Recently he picked up the rookie card for Washington Nationals pitching superstar Stephen Strasburg.
Owning a massive collection requires organization and Barrett has a system for keeping his cards in order; often spending hours pouring over his compilation, organizing the players into teams and cataloging them into binders. He tries to memorize the cards that he has that so he can trade or sell any doubles, a lofty goal considering the thousands in his possession.
Former Little League player Barrett doesn’t get out to the ballpark like he once did, but he keeps active by buying and trading cards, recently acquiring 1,000 online. He said that he can’t imagine discontinuing his hobby, and doesn’t know when his collection will feel complete, even if he comes to own the one that has eluded him, a Nolan Ryan Texas Rangers card.
“I have the other four team’s cards that he was on, the Angels, the Mets, the Astros, I even have a 1989 memorabilia card from when he made the most strikeouts in a year,” Barrett stated, “but I just don’t see myself stopping, even if I find that card, I think I’m going to keep on going.”