Whenever I look at my card collection, I am usually reminded of thermodynamics class my senior year of college. Thermodynamics was a dreaded course that I put off until the very end because of the reputation it had earned in my department. Once I enrolled in the course, I learned very quickly that the entire concept is based solely on three (or four) laws. Everything about thermodynamics follows these laws, so if you master these laws, you master the class.
One of the underlying principles of these laws is Entropy, which is a measure of unavailable energy in a closed thermodynamic system. So, how does that relate to baseball cards? Well, the layman’s understanding of entropy is that it means chaos; a lack of predictability; or simply, disorder.
For most of us, I’d be wise to bet that our collections have a massive amount of entropy associated with them. I’ve been collecting for over 30 years, and I could recount endless tales of great organization ideas that have stalled. Now, for long time readers of this blog, you’ll know that I have made grand steps in the organization of my collection. On a macro scale, I was able to organize all of my cards neatly in the eponymous, Uncle Doc’s Card Closet. The problem is the pure chaos that reigns underneath those cardboard lids.
Once I was able to organize my cards on a large scale, it created the problem of how to organize the cards within. Again, I have started, stalled and stopped more times than I’d like to admit when it comes to the “final” organizational push.
As I’ve mentioned before, I did begin digitizing my collection (for which I received a lot of unexpected flack). This exercise is what brought the “how” to organize question to the forefront. I have a card encyclopedia that I use a lot (not for prices, but for reference). I also will go to the Trading Card Database for help, too. As I see it, cards can be organized as follows:
1. Make then Year (e.g., Donruss 1981-2005)
2. Year then Make (e.g., 1981 – Donruss, Fleer, Topps)
3. By Team
4. By Player
5. Other – Comment Below!
Currently, I use #1. I have all my cards by make going from A through Z with the years sequential by letter. Getting to this point, I realized that the collecting community has/had a schizophrenic way of doing the organizational structure. Here are a few examples: Collector’s Choice, SP and Stadium Club are all listed individually in books and online. However, Allen & Ginter, Heritage and Sweet Spot are not. They are all listed as Topps Allen & Ginter, Topps Heritage and Upper Deck Sweet Spot. Alright, alright, I’ll stop because I’m getting into the weeds, but this has always bothered me.
Back on track, so I’m considering going with Option #2, and that is to do the large structure by year, and then break down each year with cards in alphabetical order by make/brand. One of the reasons why I am considering this is that I will be moving sometime in the near future. When that time comes, it is likely that cards are going to have to be pared down quite a bit. Either out of the collection entirely, or out of the house into a non-climate controlled environment. If the latter is the case, I think it’d be much easier to grab the boxes labeled 1986 to 1994 and put those in the barn. Also, the phobic in me thinks it’d be a lot easier to grab the boxes labeled 1952 to 1969 in case of an emergency…but, it would make a burglar’s job a lot easier, too. AARRRRGGHH!
What do you think?