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Simply Baseball Notebook: Collector's Corner

Houston, We Have a Collection

"COLLECTOR'S CORNER": June 2004  

Houston, We Have a Collection...

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What started 15 years ago when his ex-brother-in-law gave him a few cards has evolved into an epic-sized Houston Astros collection for Joshua Raisen.
 
With over 17,000 cards, pocket schedules, logo balls, and other memorabilia, the Miami native ranks himself as one of the "top ten" Astros collectors in the world.
 
Unlike most hobbyists, however, his collection wasn't borne out of a childhood love for his favorite team. Raisen didn't start following the Astros until he was 21 when he tuned into Game 6 of the 1986 NLCS, featuring his now-beloved club battling the New York Mets.
 
"I knew I hated the Mets on principle, but who were these guys in the ridiculously bright uniforms?"  he writes on his Web site (www.astroland.net). "The players for the 'Stros seemed like nice guys...but the uniforms, the team, the stadium, they seemed so modern, so techno, if you can stand the word, so American."
 
The Astros would lose the game that day, but they succeeded in winning Raisen's undying allegiance, and the late-blooming fan soon found himself amassing the team's cards and memorabilia. 
 
"I got serious about collecting very quickly -- after about 25 or 30 cards," he says.
 
Using different resources, the inspired hobbyist put together a want list, and he now scours eBay and the Internet regularly to add to his collection.
 
"The Internet has made things a lot easier," he concedes. "Earlier in the '90s, I had to buy from catalogues."

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Fellow collectors have also contacted Raisen through his Web site (www.astroland.net).  His online shrine includes commentaries, trivia, and an inventory of his collection.
 
"It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say I've put thousands of hours into my site," he says. 
 
Because his collection boasts a number of Astros minor league issues, Raisen often receives e-mails asking for his help in locating tough-to-find cards.
 
"I receive a lot of e-mails from relatives of minor league players who never made the major leagues," he says.
 
Raisen tries to catch his favorite team whenever they are in town playing the Marlins.  He has also made the trek to Houston to visit the Astrodome and Minute Maid Park.
 
"Minute Maid is a nice park, but I really liked the Astrodome," he says.
 
Despite his passion for the Astros, the hardcore collector hasn't had the opportunity to meet many of the team's players. 
 
"I've spoken with a few players at the minor league complexes, but waiting in line for an autograph of a big league player is really not my speed," he says.
 
In the short term, the Miami resident has no intentions of slowing down his collecting habits, although his goals have been moderated in recent years.
 
"When I was younger and na´ve, I thought I could get every Astros card ever made.  Then I realized that that just wasn't possible...Every year as cards get more exclusive, I'm further away (from completing his collection). I might be able to complete my collection through 1994 or 1995," he says.
 
-Kevin Glew

www.AstroLand.net

Kevin Glew is a freelance writer based in London, Ontario - he can be reached @  kevin.glew@sympatico.ca