Taking My Hacks

A Collector's Perspective - You Either Have Character or You Don't

Joe Orlando

I am sure you have heard the old adage that "people don't change." There are always exceptions to any general rule, but this is something that I and many other people have found to be true in most cases. All of us are wired a certain way and our actions are often dictated by the character, or lack thereof, that lives inside. Our character is the essence of who we are.

I can remember being a younger man, in high school and in college, when so many students are hyper-focused on being liked or popular. This is especially true in the social media age where people collect "friends" or "followers" like baseball cards. As I got a little older, I started to realize how important character was in friends, in co-workers, and in myself. It's not that I changed on a personal level, it's that I learned to appreciate that part of me more than in the past. The fact of the matter is that while I am a little older and hopefully a little wiser, I am largely the same person I was at 20 as I am today. I have benefitted from things like experience in life and education, but my core is the same.

So, what does any of this have to do with the hobby?

Collectors are faced with character issues all the time, from the character of the subjects they collect to the character of the sellers they buy from. Character does matter. When I was collecting in my teen years, I was really focused on stats, swagger, and style when it came to the athletes I watched growing up. In retrospect, I feel like I didn't appreciate certain players enough during that period. Maybe they didn't possess enough flash? I'm not sure, but the irony is that I respect and have a much greater appreciation for the athletes that do appear to possess good character today than when I was a kid.

Since we live in the information age, the age of the Internet where too much information is the norm, collectors see the stories of athletes making bad choices each day. Some are relatively minor in nature and some are serious. The one thing that seems to be true, at least most of the time, is that many offenders are those of the repeat variety. Of course, they are always "misunderstood" or "in the wrong place at the wrong time." They are rarely accountable for how they act.

After college, one of my closest friends at the time became a police officer. One of the things he told me after a year on the force, one that I will never forget, is how shocked he was by the repetitive nature of his job. He told me that so many of the calls and arrests have to do with the same people, over and over again. The people he dealt with kept making poor decision after poor decision. It was only in rare cases where a person really turned their life around.

When you are collecting some of the modern athletes, whether it's autographs, cards, or game-used memorabilia, keep this in the back of your mind. In fact, scratch that – keep this in the front of your mind ... people often don't change. The signs are usually there early. Don't buy into the age-old argument that they are simply young. Don't buy that poor excuse. I was young too once and I didn't behave that way. There are some very talented athletes out there who squandered their careers over bad choices ... but that is who they are. That is their character.

It is no different within the hobby. It's almost like certain people can't help themselves. If it's not one scam, it's another. If they don't push the envelope here, they stretch the truth there. Remember, it's your hard-earned money that you spend on these collectibles. It's your time that you invest in this hobby. If character becomes an issue when dealing with a seller or a fellow hobbyist, it's time to move on. There are plenty of good people out there to spend your time and money with.

Never get cheated,

Joe Orlando

Joe Orlando
PSA President