Who were your childhood favorites (players)? Do you collect their cards & memorabilia? If so, what's your favorite item (of your favorite childhood player) in your collection?
My first favorite player was Jose Canseco. I started collecting in 1989, and I lived in the SF-Oakland Bay Area, so like Fuji I was an A's fan - though my first game was a Giants game. I collecting Canseco news clippings and cards of course. I even had a record/trading card set that I think was made by CMC. I don't know what happened to that record or the cards. I probably still have the cards in a box...
Canseco had problems as early as the 1989 season. I remember him being pulled over for going over 100 mph in his car, and having a weapon in his back seat. Plus, there were injuries and lackluster seasons. I eventually lost interest in him. But my love of reading and baseball brought me two other new favorite players: Tony Gwynn and Nolan Ryan.
Nolan Ryan was a legend by the time I started collecting, and having the same last name as my first name certainly didn't hurt. I never cared for the Padres, but I read about Tony Gwynn's approach to hitting in a book and had instant respect for him.
When I was a child, I didn't really collect players - I collected everything new. I loved pack busting. I had a Nolan Ryan memorabilia collection, because it was easy to find his stuff. But when I returned to the hobby, two of my first collections were Nolan Ryan and Tony Gwynn player collections. I wanted one of everything, but as you know, that's impossible.
I ignored those player collections and actually gutted them when I started my type collection, but I kept a few choice cards for a "favorite cards" collection. And I think they're pretty cool.
Tony Gwynn is easier to collect, because he's just not as popular as Nolan Ryan. I have an autographed ball commemorating his 3000th hit, plus plenty of other trinkets and souvenirs I found. I visited the Hall of Fame in his induction year so I have some Hall of Fame souvenirs. But my favorite is this card:
And this one:
But as I said before, I started collecting in 1989, the same year a certain other player made his debut:
I don't know why I focus on autographs so much for the highlights of my collection. I enjoy all my cards for each of my favorite players, but I guess autographs and relics now just have that extra added touch.