Interview with Tanner Jones
By: Shane Salmonson
If you ever see a very rare Jose Canseco card, chances are that Tanner is the owner of that card. Not only does he have the most impressive and complete Canseco (or any other single player for that matter) collection I have ever, he creates some amazing custom cards! Tanner answered some questions for me about how the Canseco collection started, and showed off some incredible custom creations!
BU: When were you first introduced to the hobby?
TJ: It was a dark and stormy night….wait, wrong story. In 1987, we were visiting a friend out of town. My parent’s friend’s son wanted to go to a baseball card shop, so we went. We both ended up getting a pack of 1987 Topps. It wasn’t until 1989 that I actually started collecting.
BU: How did you decide to focus your collection on Jose Canseco?
TJ: Remember that time when my parent’s friend’s son wanted to go to the baseball card shop and we both got a pack of 1987 Topps baseball cards? We both pulled that year’s ROY card. He pulled Todd Worrell and I pulled Jose Canseco 🙂 He wanted to trade me, and while I knew NOTHING about him, Worrell or baseball, there was just something about it that made me not want to trade. To date, I have his 1987 Topps baseball card in 50 different flavors. From a blank back to the black mask used to create the card itself to buybacks, it is a fun rainbow I enjoy continuing to add on to.
There are even three customs which are included in this run. One that utilizes an original ’87 Topps card which has a wax pack wrapper & Topps bubble gum embedded into the card itself. Another is a version of the card with Jose as a Simpson’s character. Finally, there is one that is made entirely of wood which is an homage to the famous wood border.
5 x 7 Image Screwdowns
When I really got into baseball and baseball card collecting, Jose was the best and most captivating player on the planet. His violent swing was exciting to watch, and if you didn’t get enough Jose during the game, you would always hear about him outside of the game. He was truly larger than life, and while there are many things he has done in his past outside of baseball that have really turned people off, it was pure excitement to watch him play.
Something about how strong he was and how hard he would hit the ball really kind of made time stand still. If anyone else were up to bat, you could almost go about your day with the game on in the background, but when Jose was up, you stopped what you were doing and watched. You never really knew if he would hit the ball to Mars or break his back striking out. Regardless, it was an exciting thing to watch and I still have yet to see anyone handle the bat like he did.
As someone who has bought and sold several million cards over the past several years, I have found myself not caring a lick about keeping a Derek Jeter SP rookie, or a Mickey Mantle autographed baseball. I love so much about the game of baseball, but for some reason, Jose Canseco cards are the only thing that I had an interest in keeping. I don’t know why, but I’d much rather a super rare Canseco card I don’t yet have than a Mickey Mantle. (In case you didn’t think I was crazy before, I am sure I have now removed all doubt!)
BU: What are some impressive facts about your Canseco collection?
TJ: Let’s talk numbers.
– I am closing in on 200 1/1s. These run the gamut from printing plates with a questionable history to unreleased paper proofs to buybacks to jumbo patches to bat barrels & bat knobs.
– Over 900 pack pulled autographs & relic cards. (This does not include in person autographs.)
– 125 cards serial numbered between 2 & 5
– 153 cards serial numbered between 6 & 10
– 239 cards serial numbered between 11 & 25
– Cumulatively, I am have nearly 700 or so cards serial numbered to 25 or less.
All of my collection can be seen at www.CansecoCollector.com – perhaps one of my proudest pieces of my collection is the website itself. It can be easily searched (which is why I’m able to come up with the numbers above without touching a single card) and a large number of Canseco collectors utilize my website as a checklist for their own collections. I love that it helps others! I truly consider my website – the scans of my cards as part of my collection. Here is a video of some of my favorite cards in the style of a movie introduction: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJKAn9_5FcA
BU: Any favorite cards (or other pieces) you’d like to share?
TJ: This is such an incredibly difficult question to answer without writing a novel. My website has a category of my favorite cards, and it has around 160 items. I’ll TRY to be short here, and give a few answers:
– My family and I went to Jose’s house a few years ago. The entire experience was beyond amazing, and it landed me on the cover of the 2015 August Beckett Monthly with Jose doing the bash. Inside the magazine was a full color six page spread – the largest in the entire magazine! During my time with Jose, he traded fielding gloves with me. His was game used and he inscribed it beautifully with a silver pen. That glove means a lot to me.
– Among the MANY things Jose signed for me, was this custom card I made.
– Because of the whole Beckett experience, I’d have to say the August 2015 Beckett magazine is a prized possession of mine as well. In addition to this, Beckett made a special promotional set of 15 cards for the 2015 National. My cover made it as one of the cards. That’s right – I have my own baseball card!
– Here is a smattering of several of my favorite 1/1 cards:
BU: How much hobby media attention have you received because of your massive collection?
TJ: I have received a ton, and I am grateful for every bit of it! My collection has been featured by Topps, Sports Collectors Daily, Beckett, Blowout Forums and more. If I ask someone about Canseco cards for sale, many times they will have heard of me already. That is such a cool feeling! It is ever cooler when people get or find a rare Canseco card and alert me to it. That has got to be my favorite. My collection wouldn’t be nearly what it is today without other fellow collectors reaching out to me to notify me of a rare Canseco. I am truly blessed to have so many people out there looking out for me!
Ok, maybe I did some photoshopping on this one a bit 🙂 This one is for real though:
BU: I know the feeling, people tag from time to time when they see nice Pedro Martinez cards posted. That is always a big help. Now, how did you get into the custom card-making business?
TJ: I would definitely not call it a business. My main desire is to create cool cards for my own collection. In doing so however, there are people that will reach out to me to commission one of a kind pieces for their collection, which I’m happy to do. I have a number of reasons why I create customs for my collection.
– To try out new & innovative things I haven’t seen before, like this card made completely out of a player worn jersey:
Or this one made entirely out of a game used bat:
– To create cards that were never made of Jose, and give it my own flavor, like this TTT Wood card with a “Tanner’s Threads” logo :
or this “Tanner Crusade Plus” card:
– To tweak a company’s offering into what I would have wish they would have done:
(Panini only offered a patch version of this and an autograph version of this. I ended up making this auto/patch version.)
– Or even to have just a number of player worn jumbo patch cards from the teams Jose was on that the card companies have not made. (99% of all patch cards of Canseco are of him on the A’s … the other 1% is of the Devil Rays.) Each card is a letter from a jersey Jose Canseco wore. In addition to this, he signed each piece.
– The list goes on. What can I say? I love making new cards for my collection!
BU: What are some of your favorite custom creations? TJ: I have many, but here are a handful of them. Note: Any shown below with patch or bat material are either player worn or game used by Canseco.
The last one being a video card.
BU: What would your definition of a super collector be?
TJ: Because there is no firm definition, this question can breed more questions than answers. Is there a certain # of cards you need to have of a player to be known as one? How about a specific checklisted percentage? Do you have to spend the majority of your income on it and/or the majority of your time searching? Can a millionaire one day decide to collect someone and spend a tremendous amount of money on one player – does that make him a supercollector? All of these are interesting questions, for sure. Here is my answer.
Acrylic. Holds a 32pt. thick card. 4 screws. Recessed card area. 3-1/8 x 5-3/16 x 1/4″. Holds a card up to 2-1/2 x 3-1/2″.
To me, a super collector is someone who has a laser focus on a specific niche, whether it be player, team, set, etc. Oftentimes, a supercollector will obsessively look for pieces they don’t yet have. Their want list is typically significantly less than what they already have, and they are seen by their peers as a supercollector. You don’t have to have your walls plastered in your favorite player’s posters or sleep in his pajamas or name your firstborn after him in order to be a supercollector. Being a supercollector does take time to accumulate and document a meaningful collection. Generally speaking, a supercollector will be able to show his collection to anyone, and elicit a HOLY COW response – even from the most dedicated of collectors.
BU: Any advice for any other player super collectors out there? (Myself included, with my small, but growing Pedro Martinez super collection).
TJ: Yes, don’t let it consume you! There is more to life than cardboard, and it is easy to get TOO wrapped up into it. Enjoy the hobby, and be patient. There will ALWAYS be new cards out there to get. Don’t make it a competition, either. The odds are that there will ALWAYS be someone with a bigger & better collection in your niche. Collect for yourself only, and not to beat someone else. Finally, be thankful for what you do have.
BU: Well thank you, Tanner, this has been awesome! The pictures alone have made this interview!
TJ: Thank you for interviewing me! It was fun. To any and all readers out there, please check out my website at www.CansecoCollector.com – if you have a rare Canseco that I may not have, I’d be absolutely thrilled to hear from you.