The name of this blog is dedicated to my mother. Back in little league, my mother used to stand back behind home plate and give me that one, simple batting instruction: "get the bat off of your shoulder!"

Friday, March 2, 2012

How do you organize your cards?

A few years ago, Hurricane Ike dropped a tree on my garage roof, letting water down all over my prized possessions. In reality, though, very little of importance was ruined, a bunch of paperbacks we'd already read, a lot of shoes that no one even wore, toys and dollhouses that no one had played with in years... crap mostly.

Except the baseball cards. 

I keep my baseball cards in Rubbermaid containers, originally to prevent bugs, coons, possums and other vermin from nesting in there. None of them had water damage except one... Only one container was damaged, and some water leaked in. A few football and hockey, and part of a '76 Topps baseball set were ruined, but in reality, I was pretty lucky.

At the time, I realized how really sad I would have been if all those baseball cards I'd been collecting over the course of my life had been destroyed. It was not the money value of these cards, it was my emotional connection with them. I decided I'd try to insure them, and was happy to find out that my homeowner's policy would cover them, though I needed to be able to provide precise list of all the cards.

I searched and searched for any software that could do what I wanted to do, and could not find anything useful. I knew I would have to write my own. I decided I'd use Microsoft Access as it is very easy to use, has forms for the UI and a capable report writer, if I wanted one. While I was a programmer at one point in my career, I really didn't want the project to be "work".

The top left is where you select a set to work with, after selecting the set, the lower left fills with each card in the set. If you click a card in the, the image of it loads as does the inventory for that card. If I wanted to add a card to inventory, I double-click the card list in lower left. Pretty straightforward.

It isn't pretty, but it does everything I need it to do, and I don't really have anyone to please but myself! Before you ask, no, I didn't type every single card in by myself. Some wonderful person behind Trading Card Database has done the work for me. I just copy his lists, paste to text file, import the text in to Excel, manipulate the rows as I need adding set ID numbers, sub set ID numbers, display order, etc, then I copy all those rows right in to the database table. I'm mostly finished adding in the set definitions, but a long long way from entering my inventory of cards in to the tables. But it's a labor of love, and it can be very relaxing. So, really, I do not mind.

I gave each card record a link to an image file, should I be crazy enough to want to actually scan every card I own some day. Very doubtful... Also, the database is linked with Sean Lahman's database, so should I get free time some day, I can link each card's represented player to his stats, personal data and so on. If you're not familiar with Lahman's, it's essentially the backend to the baseball-reference website. For now, though, it's a work in process, a pasttime that combines my love of cards with my love of programming.

I was curious how do all of you keep track of your collections?


  1. Your database looks pretty nice !

    I am using Zistle ( which works pretty well for me. It's free and the work is shared with the community. Also you can easily link to your collection on your blog to share want lists or trade lists

  2. Zistle is the single greatest thing on the internet, I have all my Rockies cards scanned and in my collection and am slowly doing the rest of my collection. The abilty to update and view my wantlist from anywhere is really handy.

  3. I am so unorganized. No idea what I have and don't have. Sigh.

  4. That database is one the sexiest things ive ever seen....nicely done!

  5. Albums, boxes, plastic totes. They are all over my room. Trying to get somewhat organized, but about the time I get started, I decide to do something else. I try to keep as much information on my blog, but I put my individual player collections in a spreadsheet. Nice to have all of it available from my phone when I am out looking around.

  6. Physical cards are in binders and boxes (it looks like boxes from here on out for any further additions as the card room can't take anymore binders).

    I track my cards in a spreadsheet. But it's not even halfway complete. I update it maybe once every two months, so I'll probably never finish.

  7. That is awesome. Is that something you'd be willing to share? While I am not a programmer, I do use Access fairly regularly. I'd be willing to trade cards for that database.

  8. I'm going to pile on in asking if this is something that you'd be willing to share. I've tried setting something up in both Access and Filemaker, but the piles continue to grow as I hack away and then I end up getting too frustrated with things. I'd definitely send some cards off your way in return at the very least.

  9. I have a spreadsheet, but it only tracks sets that are actively being worked on. Things I finished years ago are simply in the old noggin. Anything in the spreadsheet is marked as either missing, in need of upgrading or OK. The dupes are a disaster. No idea what is where.

  10. The bulk of my collection is loaded in Card Collector, but I haven't picked up an update in a couple of years so my new stuff is on Zistle.