The Stella Project
Surely I am not the only one that goes through ups and downs when collecting. Whether it's boredom from the hobby or financials reasons, people go and come back quite frequently. Then the itch will usually come back. For me, what made me want to start collecting again was a project that I thought of that would change collecting for me. A few days before Opening Day 2015, my daughter was born (my first child). I thought it would be really cool to put together a binder of each years Topps flagship product for her. Then when she's old instead of reading books together, I can teach her about the game in a lot of ways. Topps does a great job of incorporating the history of the game into their inserts. Plus with the retro designs it'll be a good way to show her the cards I remember as a kid. It's just a fun and inexpensive way to build up a collection for her, in hopes of getting her hooked on collecting cards, like her dad.
Since having a daughter, my perception of everything is different. Including collecting baseball cards. She gives everything in my life more purpose, and I apply it every aspect of my life. This is a project that I hope helps us share a connection when she's older. Baseball has always been a big part of my life, and now being able to share some of this stuff with her makes it more fun than it ever has been before.
Each new set of Topps, I try to include the same types of cards from season to season. First page is always Manny Machado. Followed by the rest of the Orioles. Then I include the top stars, some of the all star starters, Future Stars, then Rookies. Each season the rookie page is really fun to keep track of. I include a page about the World Series Champions from that season as well. I then get into any inserts. I always try to do at least a page or two of each insert. Depending on the look and quality of players. Then I do a page of any numbered cards, relics, or variations.
Some highlights from her books so far include:
Page of Aaron Judge Rookies (pictured)
Clayton Kershaw All Star Relic
Kris Bryant SP RC
Yu Darvish All Star Relic
Giancarlo Stanton Players Weekend Relic
2 - Different Khris Davis Relics
Page of Corey Seager Rookies
Chris Davis Snow Camo /99
Darren O'Day Pink /50
Legend Variations from 2017 (Rickey, Ozzie, Brooks, Mattingly)
3 Francisco Lindor RC's
3 Cody Bellinger RC's
Yuli Gurriel Rainbow Foil RC
Ian Happ Rainbow Foil RC
Qty 3 Rookies of (Mancini, Moncada, Benintendi, Seager)
Cole Hamels All Star Relic
Corey Kluber Holiday Relic
Ryan Zimmerman Red /50
Nice Inserts Sets - Five Tool, Archetypes, Fire
Carlos Correa Rainbow Foil
Freddie Freeman Manufactured Relic
and every Manny Insert, of course.
One card that I got in some packs for her binders that I didn't put in there was a Job Pederson Debut Rookie RC Platinum 1/1. That card sold on ebay for about 120 dollars I think. So that money went towards the next series to fill her binder. Who am I kidding, I probably bought some Manny's with some of the money!
Putting the binders together is really fun for me. I picture in my head what I would say to her about the cards and go through everything in my head. Really I am just thinking to myself "I just hope she cares". She is almost 3 now. She loves books, She likes to play baseball. She knows that I made these books for her and when she asked me to bring them in and "read them to her" - I melted. She made it through one book and it was awesome. Then she realized she was almost 3 years old and started to focus on something else. It was surely a step in the right direction!
There is one quick funny conversation with my daughter that cracks me up everytime I think of it...
Me - "What do you wanna watch"?
Stella - "Ummmm Baseball"
Me - "REALLY!?!?!"
Stella - "Noooooooo, me kidding, me watch Doc"
These binders are very important to me and I take them way too serious. But they aren't my favorite thing in my collection that represents my daughter. For my first fathers day, my wife surprised with custom Topps cards of my daughter and I when we posed on opening day in our Orioles gear. This has become my favorite yearly tradition. Here are the four cards so far that makes up the Aaron and Stella Set.
The quality of printing isn't that great on the customs, so the pics didn't come out as clear as I would have liked.
1 - 2015 Topps - Notice the RC Tag. Will always be my favorite.
2 - 2016 Topps - Featuring her Pink Orioles jersey that can't be seen very well. I am wearing my pullover Cal Ripken Jersey.
3 - 2017 Topps - Featuring her first Manny Machado jersey. I am wearing my gray pullover Manny Machado jersey.
4 - 2017 Topps Photo Variation SP - Had to get the jersey backs.
Stay tuned for the 2018 version of this pic. I have a new jersey to debut for the photo. Not too far away.
The third special connection I have with my daughter and baseball I didn't want to fail to mention is our time in Cooperstown. For our tenth wedding anniversary, we went to Cooperstown and let Stella wear her Halloween costume for the year. The costume is first picture you see in this blog, Rockford Peach from A League of Their Own. So as we walked around Cooperstown, Stella received so much attention and it really became a special day. The picture to the left happened as soon as we got there. There was a game at Doubleday field, which is where we parked. We walked over to the game and in between innings, the ump and players came over to Stella to fuss over her outfit. It was really cool to see. This will always be my favorite picture of Stella.
After we left there, we walked the main street and visited the shops. One shop owner could not get enough of her outfit, and asked where we got it. We didn't think too much about it. During our next yearly trip to Cooperstown, right outside of that same shop, was a baby mannequin wearing the same costume! Sadly, we didn't have Stella wear the outfit that time.
When we were in the actual Hall of Fame that day in her costume, and there happened to be A League of Their Own display set up by the theatre. Unfortunately, we were not able to get a memorable picture in front of it.
Thanks for reading about my Stella Collection and the things that I love about her and the connection with baseball. I could go on and on about her and baseball, but I'll save that for a follow up post down the road. Would love to hear if you have similar collections for your families.