With a collection of over 2,000
Dave Justice cards, Stu Thomas is often mistaken for a passionate fan of the former Braves slugger. But, despite the
size of his collection, the veteran hobbyist has never been a devoted follower.
"I've never been a big Justice fan....There's nothing wrong with rooting
for the player you collect. Many single player collectors do. But it just hasn't happened that way for me," he says.
The impetus for the Oakville, Ontario native's collection was his son's
interest in the all-star outfielder. And while his son has since stopped collecting, Thomas still regularly scours the
Internet and card shows for additional items.
"The lure of an activity like this is partly the excitement of the hunt
and partly the sense of satisfaction I get when I finally find an item I've been looking for," he explains.
Through determination and persistence, the longtime collector has tracked
down some of Justice's rarest cards.
"In the beginning, the focus was on getting every single Justice card,"
he says. "For the last seven years, my focus has been on masterpieces (one-of-a-kind cards)....as well as errors such as wrong
Thomas's Web site
has also garnered him a reputation as a premier collector. His online shrine showcases his collection and is updated
three or four times a week.
"It's a useful site for single player collectors. Sometimes they
will see a rare Justice card, which will alert them to the existence of a similar card of the player they collect," he says.
The Justice enthusiast more or less restricts his collection to cards,
but he has obtained some oddball items over the years.
"I do have some off-the-wall stuff, like a Justice watch and a set of
wooden Russian nesting dolls where Justice is the player on the outside," he says.
One item that has eluded Thomas is a 1996 Pinnacle Aficionado First Pitch
"Most of these cards (Preview cards) were obtained through Pinnacle's
Web site by answering a trivia question," he says. "First Pitch Previews for some players are in plentiful supply, while
for others - like Justice - it seems as though there were very few made."
It's quests like these, however, that make collecting worthwhile, says
Thomas. And he plans to continue to search for rare cards of the retired slugger.
"My goal is to track down more masterpieces and serial-numbered cards
and try to complete the 1998 Topps Tek Diffractor 90-card set," he says.
His commitment is admirable for someone who is not a Justice fan and
has never attempted to contact the object of his collection.
"Many years ago, I watched my son chat with him briefly and get an autograph.
I'm sure it would be interesting if I ever ran into him, but I've never considered trying to get in touch," he says.