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Tim Wallach: An attempt to collect them all (literally, all of them)
March 14, 2013 1:39 AM   Subscribe

One man documents his neverending quest to collect all the Tim Wallach baseball cards. Not one of each card, but every single copy of every single Tim Wallach card ever made in the history of baseball cards. If you have any in your possession, he asks that you mail them to his law office's PO box. Maybe you can work out a deal.

Wallach was a third baseman during the '80s and '90s, playing for the Montreal Expos and LA Dodgers. He wore a flapless helmet until his retirement in '96, one of the last to do so. Many athlete nicknames are nothing more than results of word association, and his was "Eli." He even managed the AAA Albuquerque Isotopes.

Farther up in Farmington, NM, Corey Stackhouse practices law. His first card of Wallach, his favorite player growing up, was the '83 Topps. The current count is 6000 copies of 300 cards. The '87 Topps is on top, at 411 copies.

Baseball Prospectus's Sam Miller (who also wrote a recent ESPN cover story on WAR) interviewed Stackhouse, and muses what lies ahead for him:

There are an insane amount of cards left for him to get. It's impossible to know just how many, but in 1993 Donruss took the rare step of releasing its production run numbers. Donruss that year produced the equivalent of 496,364 sets, meaning there are roughly 496,364 versions of this card, and that set was, according to Donruss, its lowest run since 1985. "I'm sure it's an obscene number that I'm nowhere close to," he said. "When I hit the 10,000 mark for a given card, investigating the total number will take on a higher priority."

Miller also offers his list of personal favorite entries, including the original $75/yr Topps contract signed by Wallach, and the "weird cloth card."

Meanwhile, some kids can't even get a single Joe Shlabotnik bubble gum card...
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing (41 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well, everybody needs a hobby.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:55 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am collecting copies of Corey Stackhouse, a lawyer from Farmington, NM. I understand the print-run was limited to one Corey Stackhouse. If you have or are any Corey Stackhouses, please stuff yourself into an envelope and mail yourself to my law office, "quidnunc kid QC Chambers, 5 Gray's Inn Square, London, WC1R 5AH" and one of the clerks will bundle you up with red string and pop you under my horsehair wig, you cheeky little sod.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 2:44 AM on March 14, 2013 [16 favorites]


So, if I have one, and tell him I won't give it to him, will he stop trying?

Given the numbers cited by Donruss, and given what we know is, in reality, the impossible goal of collecting "all" of the cards, what makes this guy any different than any other crackpot who hoards particular items?

It's early, I haven't had my coffee.
posted by HuronBob at 3:14 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ah HuronBob, but a man's reach should always exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?
posted by the quidnunc kid at 3:23 AM on March 14, 2013 [15 favorites]


Going public will be good for a wave of new cards, but then it will mean holdout problems galore. Bold move.
posted by murfed13 at 3:53 AM on March 14, 2013


This is even more ridiculous than the guy in the movie "Vinyl" by Alan Zweig who claimed to be trying to collect just one copy of "every record ever made" -- a quest that even a casual record collector instantly knows is quixotic in the extreme. One's estimation of his chances of success does not improve when we see that his collection mostly includes a near-random heap of crappy thrift-store records, bad easy-listening, gas-station giveaways, and the like, or when he explains his mania for filing everything by "the complete name" of the artist, meaning that he files The Beatles under T, not B. T for The.

Having a collection of every Wallach card is not in itself an insane pursuit; lots of card collectors do that. I myself have a collection of very close to every Edgar Martinez card ever issued; there are checklist books printed every year for just this sort of thing. I also have an old collection of one card for each of the players who played for the Seattle Mariners in their first quarter century. I'm only missing five or six guys. The difficult ones there are not the guys you've heard of but the guys who played only a game or two in the majors, and thus never had a card made. I think every one of them has at least one minor-league card, though; but damn, those are hard to find. I gave up on this pursuit a decade ago when I got bored trying to find that Rod Allen card with the Appleton Foxes in 1978 that was my only hope.

But when he says "every copy of every card", even though he currently is not within a two-thousandth of even the commonest one -- that's the moment you realize that he doesn't know what the hell he's doing, and the subject of this story becomes "gawking at the mentally ill".

Any comments suggesting that *I* am mentally ill based on the evidence I have presented here will be hotly denied!
posted by Fnarf at 3:55 AM on March 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


Also has he contacted Wallach or his kids to ask for all their Wallach cards? They obviously stand between Stackhouse and the goal.
posted by murfed13 at 4:02 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


My brief baseball card collecting mania coincided with everyone else's in my age group: 1987. Topps. The stack of worthless cards I have is astounding. I've recently begun repurposing them as bookmarks.
posted by .kobayashi. at 4:06 AM on March 14, 2013


It's hard to see how he plans on achieving his goal when on nearly every entry he talks about all the instances he's passed up on Ebay because they were too expensive. "I want literally every single one of these, except that one, and that one, and that one...."
posted by Fnarf at 4:07 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


he doesn't know what the hell he's doing

But, this is his quest! - to collect ALL the cards. No matter how hopeless, no matter how hard. And he knows, if he'll only be true to this glorious quest, that his heart will lie peaceful and calm when he's laid to his rest ...

And the world
bud-a bum bum bud-a bum bum
will be better for this!
bud-a bum bum bud-a bum bum
That one man
bud-a bum bum bud-a bum bum
scorned in this thread by Fnarf
bud-a bum bum bud-a bum bum
Still strove
BUD-A BUM BUM BUD-A BUM BUM
with his last ounce of courage
BUD-A BUM BUM BUD-A BUM BUM
To reach the un-reach-a-ble CARD!
posted by the quidnunc kid at 4:15 AM on March 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


1. Collect all of some obscure card.
2. Burn every card except one from each year / brand / series.
3. Sell them for profit!?!?!?!?!?!

Of course, this relies on several irrationally nice agents.

If you own one, it its most beneficial to you not to sell until his collection is almost complete. You should be able to fetch a higher and higher price from him. If he decides to not buy your card, your card is still worth more in the event that he destroys duplicates.
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:22 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hm. I took this as being a quixotic and amusing quest, not something he takes seriously, but maybe I'm incapable of framing it any other way.
posted by maxwelton at 4:22 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it's evidence of the world's greatest unrequited bromance.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 4:39 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


... what makes this guy any different than any other crackpot who hoards particular items?

Oh, you'll find out when the Apocalypse comes. Then, don't bother hiking to Farmington to beg him for one of his cards, because it'll be far too late for you.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:39 AM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


a quixotic and amusing quest, not something he takes seriously

Oh, sure, it's all fun and games -- until he comes for YOUR Tim Wallach cards. We'll see who's laughing then.
posted by Fnarf at 4:56 AM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


The eldritch tomes of occult lore revealeth that Tim Wallach shall return from his half-dead slumbers when all his baseball cards are assembled by his dark acolyte and nine infants are sacrificed in his name. And then - LO! Tim Wallach shall reign again on the blood-drenched throne of tears, and crush his slaves underfoot, and the Albuquerque Isotopes shall win the Triple-A Championship, and all shall despair.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 5:02 AM on March 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


I am collecting modern day Euro bank notes. I understand these too have a limited run, so I should be able to get them all.

If you have any, contact me, and I will give you the address to send them to.
posted by DreamerFi at 5:03 AM on March 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


Go 'Topes.
posted by Sokka shot first at 5:37 AM on March 14, 2013


I have over 60 autographed Rick Fox rookie cards. In other words, I am World Champion.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:42 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


People are weird.
posted by slogger at 5:52 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, sure, it's all fun and games -- until he comes for YOUR Tim Wallach cards. We'll see who's laughing then.

He'll probably have his mind uploaded to an alternate dimension in a freak temporal accident where the attempts of the kindly mechanical intelligences to help will go horribly awry, and he'll return as a ghastly death robot ready to tear the collection from humanity's cold dead hands. Coming soon direct to DVD. Possibly directed by Miike.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:54 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Laugh while you can. But on the day when a humongous Tim Wallach Card Golem smashes in the doors of Bud Selig's office...

...come to think of it, I'm fine with that. Carry on.
posted by delfin at 5:57 AM on March 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


Now it's worth ten skyrillion dollars!
posted by Curious Artificer at 6:05 AM on March 14, 2013


I'm two cards into my quest to own every Carlton Fisk White Sox baseball card ever made. I started slacking off a bit on that project 25 years ago, so I guess it's time to ramp things up again.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 6:19 AM on March 14, 2013


I am collecting modern day Euro bank notes. I understand these too have a limited run, so I should be able to get them all.

If you have any, contact me, and I will give you the address to send them to.


Hey, great! I'm willing to trade mine for British Pound Sterling bank notes of an equal number. Let's do this.
posted by ersatz at 6:28 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


he explains his mania for filing everything by "the complete name" of the artist, meaning that he files The Beatles under T, not B. T for The.

You can sneer, but where does your filing system go when you try to file 'The The'? It tooks Amazon years to solve this conundrum.
posted by biffa at 6:48 AM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Corey had waited for months, eager, contacting baseball card collectors and news agencies, eager, doing all he could for that final goal of obtaining every last Tim Wallach card. When Corey finally received the last card in the mail, he'd been excited for a moment.

But the next day, he'd been shockingly melancholy. Not because of the card, but because there was no longer anything to strive for. The excitement was gone, and only then had he realized how much more precious he'd found the anticipation than the goal itself.
Further naming myself for the minor WOT fanboy that I've become again, this story made me think of a section from The Gathering Storm.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:38 AM on March 14, 2013


I'm two cards into my quest to own every Carlton Fisk White Sox baseball card ever made. I started slacking off a bit on that project 25 years ago, so I guess it's time to ramp things up again.

My husband is also two cards into collecting every Carlton Fisk card. Fight to the death?
posted by murfed13 at 7:57 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Never mind, his are Red Sox. Carry on.
posted by murfed13 at 7:58 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


My uncle died last year before he could offload even a tenth of my grandfather's obscenely large baseball card collection. I've been trying to tell my grandmother for years that she should just give them away.

Where else can I find hobby collectors missing weird cards? For the first time ever, I feel like delving into those teetering stacks of white cardboard boxes to find a card for someone, anyone, who might value it as much as my grandfather.
posted by Vysharra at 8:27 AM on March 14, 2013


Where else can I find hobby collectors missing weird cards?

Um...the internet? Have you tried eBay?
posted by murfed13 at 8:31 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wonder if the fact that fastidious moms around the world have probably thrown away 90% of the stock makes it easier or harder for him.

And I don't know what would be more cause for concern: being his client and finding out about his hobby, or being Wallach and finding out about his hobby.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 8:49 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Shooting for every GURPS book suddenly seems so reasonable.
posted by Zed at 8:49 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Strangely enough, I just came across a signed '87 Topps Tim Wallach card. I got it signed (along with Ozzie Smith's 1985 Topps and a game program) at an Expos-Cards double-header at Olympic Stadium in 1987 or so. I spent a few days in Montreal with my parents, and the game was a highlight of my trip. I got all misty and nostalgic when I found them....

So I guess what I'm saying is that Corey Stackhouse will never get MY '87 Topps Tim Wallach.
posted by brand-gnu at 8:57 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wonder if the fact that fastidious moms around the world have probably thrown away 90% of the stock makes it easier or harder for him.

Sadly, in the 1980s when people started getting rich because they were the lucky few whose moms hadn't thrown cards away, people started being more diligent about keeping them and keeping them in good shape, thus ruining baseball card-based retirement for us 80s kids. Just like Social Security!
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:03 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Shooting for every GURPS book suddenly seems so reasonable.

Don't go jumping to ridiculous conclusions.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:57 AM on March 14, 2013


Wallachémon, gotta catch 'em all!
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:50 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Eli Wallach would have been more of a challenge...
posted by jim in austin at 12:18 PM on March 14, 2013


Metafilter: repurposing them as bookmarks.
posted by herbplarfegan at 12:23 PM on March 14, 2013


"I'm a fan of off-centered cards."

Reading this was far more pleasing than I figured. It reminds me of how much I loved and followed baseball when I was a kid.

I also like the absurd goal he has and would happily send him likely all Wallach cards I have if they weren't in my parent's house 2000 miles away.
posted by mountmccabe at 1:13 PM on March 14, 2013


As mentioned in the BP comment thread, someone is collecting as many Beatle White Albums as he can.

The variety of defaced covers is particularly interesting.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 9:44 PM on March 14, 2013


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