Interview with Joey Shiver
By Shane Salmonson
If you are a regular visitor of this site you already know this week’s interview guest, Joey Shiver. He is a contributor to this website, a freelance writer for Beckett, a blogger, and a collector. Even more than that, though, he is a friend (even though we haven’t met in person yet). He was the one that suggested me for this interview gig, as well. Joey Shiver, everybody!
BU: How were you introduced to the trading card hobby?
JS: I was introduced to the hobby when I was in the 5th grade. I wasn’t actually collecting yet but I had a lot of Transformers and WWF Action Figures that I played with on the playground at school. My mom watched the Braves religiously so I got into them when I was probably 5 years old. I remember photos from when I was probably 5-6 in old Fulton County Stadium and we were front row with Bruce Benedict in the on deck circle. So to circle back to the hobby, I was pretty familiar with baseball and certain players by that time so one day a friend of mine wanted one of my WWF Action Figures and he had an Ozzie Smith RC to trade for it. We made the deal and the rest is history.
BU: Do you remember the first pack you bought, and where?
JS: I’m pretty sure the first pack I ever got was 1989 Donruss at our local Wal-Mart. I was 10 when I traded for that Ozzie but it was another year or two before I got into packs. I had a few cards that I picked up playing marbles or making other odd trades but I wasn’t ripping packs until ‘89. I bought a ton of Donruss, Score and Hoops that year. I still have an affinity for ‘89 Donruss and one of my all time favorite cards is the Jr. I didn’t actually pull an Upper Deck Jr. until I was 40 years old but I probably pulled 100 of the Donruss over my lifetime. I kept that Wal-Mart in business from ‘89 to ‘93 with my card purchases alone.
BU: Can you recall a favorite trade you’ve made in years past?
JS: The Ozzie has to be up there. Another trade that I made as a teen wound up being a total bust but I still have the card because of the memories. A friend of mine had a Ken Griffey Jr. ‘91 Score All-Star Autograph, allegedly. I remember trading him a Kevin Maas ‘91 Upper Deck and Gregg Jefferies ‘89 Topps for that card. I was 14 so didn’t really consider the autograph being fake. Of course, it was but like I said, I still have the card and it’s still in the case it was in when we traded. The funny thing is I still think I won the trade when you consider the whole transaction. My memory of it is probably more valuable than the Jefferies and Maas now. I’ve made a lot of trades on Twitter in the last year with some great dudes there. I’ve doubled my Braves collection over the last 12 months and helped some other collectors beef up their PC in the process.
BU: What do you currently collect?
JS: My passion is still junk wax. I buy a ton of it for blog posts and set building. I have just about every set from ‘85 to ‘93 partially built. When I find a box at the LCS for a reasonable price, I’ll pick it up and work on the set a little more. Anyone who has read my blog knows how nostalgic I am so the relatively cheap price for junk wax helps me accomplish multiple goals; set building, exploring sets I didn’t get to buy when I was a kid and spending a lot of time in my childhood memories. With that, I collect Atlanta Braves, Hawks and Falcons along with any player who’s ever worn a UGA Bulldogs uniform. I do have some single players I collect like Andrew Luck, TY Hilton, and my most recent addition, Dwight Powell. My ultimate PC player is Ron Gant and I have almost 600 cards of his. I collect football, baseball, basketball, some hockey, Star Wars, Walking Dead, and many other oddball non-sport sets. I have a problem but it’s one I don’t mind having.
BU: Any favorite pieces you’d like to share?
JS: I have a handful of cards that I keep in a fireproof in a secret spot in my house. Some are because of monetary value and some are because of meaningful value. The meaningful cards are easily my favorites. I have a Leaf Buyback Bo Jackson autograph, a Larry Bird/Michael Jordan dual autograph, Champ Bailey autograph, Fred McGriff/Freddie Freeman dual autograph, Cal Ripken ‘85 Topps autograph and Graded Ken Griffey Jr. ‘92 Elite that are some of my very favorites. There are 2 cards that I consider at the top of my list though. One is a 1955 Mickey Mantle that I picked up at a flea market for $30. It’s in very poor condition but it was worth it to me. The other is a 1/1 sketch card of Ron Gant that Mike James drew for me specifically. There really is no other card like it and it’s probably my favorite.
BU: If you had to make a Top 5 wish list, which cards would be on it?
JS: I would like a vintage Jackie Robinson in my collection. It doesn’t have to be a rookie but at least an original vintage card in fair condition. I would also like to have a Josh Gibson card in my collection. An autograph would probably be impossible but would be the ultimate. I’d like a well graded Walter Payton RC more than any other football card. He would be in my top 3 favorite athletes of all time. Of course, a Mickey Mantle RC is an easy answer and may even be a cop out but I’d love to have one. My #1 want is a Michael Jordan High Grade RC. It wouldn’t have to be a 10 but I’d say and 8 or better.
BU: You recently attended the industry summit in Texas, could you tell us a little bit about that experience?
JS: It was a great experience! It’s really a dream come true to be able to write for Beckett as it is the magazine that defines my youth. At the Summit, I actually got to listen to Dr. Jim Beckett speak to the crowd. It was pretty surreal. I also got to watch The Fat Packs (Eric Norton and Paul Wirth) work up close for several days. They interviewed Charles Haley and Drew Pearson and I got photos with those legends as well. I got to meet a lot of heavy hitters in the industry like Mike Fruitman, Rob Bertrand, Ryan Cracknell, Brian Gray and others. I learned a lot about the business side of the industry that many people never get to experience. We heard first hand accounts from Panini on product development and also from Steve Grad on autograph authentication. My favorite speaker was easily Brian Gray of Leaf. If you’ve never heard him speak before, you have to do it. He’s brutally honest about his company’s efforts to provide the very best product they can to collectors and he doesn’t hold anything back.
BU: Your blog has really taken off the last couple of years, why do you think people connect so well with your posts?
JS: It has been a whirlwind experience to say the least. I can’t tell you with certainty but I can try to tell you what I HOPE the reasons are. I’m really a regular guy that has a real passion for cards. I like valuable cards just like the next guy but I find just as much enjoyment sorting through Tony Gwynn Diamond Kings and Jose Canseco Pro-Vision cards. Those cards are the reason I am in the hobby today. Those cards are meaningful to me because they were a big part of growing up and experiencing the world as a teenager. That’s what I like to write about; life and cards. That Jose Canseco is more than a .40 card to me. It reminds me of working at the Video Superstore and trading cards when it was slow. It reminds me of camping trips with friends and reading card backs. It reminds me of sitting on my cousin’s floor at 3 o’clock in the morning as we tried to stay up until sunrise. Cards are more than monetary value to me and that’s what I try to convey in my writing. I think that takes others back to those same memories and helps us all forget about the bills that are due and the job we have to get up and go to the next day. It’s a few minutes of peace and freedom. Like I said, that’s what I hope people get from it.
BU: Connecting with other collectors on Twitter (and meeting many in person later on) has been an absolute blast the last few years. What would you say is your favorite part of the hobby?
JS: I really love the interaction with others on social media. The best part of collecting when we were kids were trades and showing off cards with our friends. Now, we may not have a lot of collectors that live on the same street as we do but we certainly have access to collectors all over the world. We can still trade, show off our favorite cards, seek advice and find cards that we’d otherwise not have access to. And now, we can even narrow down our closest friends to collectors that like the same thing that we do. While social media has its pitfalls, it certainly provides hobbyists with access to a network of other collectors that is unprecedented.
BU: Any advice for other collectors out there?
JS: My advice is pretty consistent; collect what you want to collect. If you like National Treasures, by all means, collect it. But also, if you like ‘89 Topps, collect that too. There is no wrong way to collect, outside of shady behavior like searching and scamming. You can collect anything that pleases you and nobody should be able to take that away from you. You don’t have to be trendy and try and keep up with everyone around you. This hobby is best enjoyed when you are true to yourself. A hobby is supposed to be fun so make it fun and enjoy it. Any budget, any sport, any card condition can be enjoyed if you are honest with yourself.
Holds 200 cards 3-1/2 x 3-3/4 x 2-3/4″ (I.D.) Cards store sideways. Made from 200# test corrugated cardboard. Just fold together; needs no tape or glue.