Interview with Mario Alejandro: by Shane Salmonson
These days many collectors have their own card blogs, myself included. Back in the late 2000’s, however, one card blog reigned supreme. Wax Heaven was getting thousands of page views every single day back then. The man behind Wax Heaven, Mario Alejandro, chatted with me about the blog’s start, the glory days, and Wax Heaven’s demise.
BU: How were you introduced to the baseball card hobby?
MA: I was a hardcore, Classic WWF collector first. At 9 years of age, my mother and I stopped into an Ames store and they had no wrestling cards or Transformers. I was a brat so I talked my mom into buying me a pack of playing cards which turned out to actually be Topps’ All-Star set from 1990. In one of those cards, I found my first Jose Canseco and began my collection.
BU: What do you currently collect (cards or otherwise)?
MA: Nothing. I stopped collecting in 2014 but still have my Jose Canseco collection which is something like 1,200+ different cards. I have been stalking eBay and COMC lately so it’s only a matter of time before I re-start my collection but if I don’t, I still love writing about cards.
BU: Any favorite pieces from your collection you’d like to share?
MA: I used to have a pretty impressive Andrew Miller collection which began when I was a Marlins fan in 2008. He was so friendly and always recognized me and my then GF in the crowd and would come over to talk. Sweetest player ever. My collection was full of 1/1s, low-numbered parallels, and over 100 autographs. During a move, I forgot to take the box with me and wasn’t able to retrieve it.
BU: Where did the idea to start your blog, Wax Heaven, come from?
MA: I had stopped collecting in 1997 and by chance Googled “baseball cards” and found Ben Henry’s Baseball Card Blog, which is probably the greatest card blog ever. From there, I started going on eBay and eventually I went to a card shop and bought a $120 dollar box of 2007 Topps Co-Signers and a Beckett magazine and started kicking around the idea of creating a card blog.
BU: From what I read, Wax Heaven was the most popular card blog for a few years. How would you describe the glory days of Wax Heaven?
MA: In one word, awesome. I had rival card companies calling me weekly feeding me stories and rumors about the other trying to get me to write about it. I had weekly boxes coming in from Topps, Upper Deck, Tristar, and Panini America. I opened so much product I actually got bored of it, believe it or not. Wax Heaven was mentioned in the Topps vs. Upper Deck lawsuit, Beckett Media wrote and complained about me getting exclusives, it was all nuts. I was just a small-time collector/blogger but things really took off.
BU: What happened to Wax Heaven? Why did it disappear?
MA: Two years into the blog’s history I had completely become obsessed with the online “fame” I was receiving and cards in general. On family vacations, I would stay in my hotel to write and open boxes of cards and I completely ignored my then GF’s needs, all of them. Eventually, things got so bad I moved out and left everything behind including my computer, so I ended up selling my blog. It wasn’t much but it paid for my soon to be daughter’s first year of diapers, toys, snacks, etc.
BU: It seems you have been making a blogging comeback, why the change of heart?
MA: Man, it eats me up inside that I was forced to shut down the blog literally in its peak. I was one step away from joining the card industry not as a blogger but as an official employee. My dream was to one day work for Topps or Upper Deck and I built this huge momentum on my own and it sucked to have it all go away. So there have been three or four start and stops in my writing since then but I’ve never been able to re-capture the magic. In December of last year, I had some time off so I began writing again without all the pressure and deadlines and it kind of starting taking off again.
Holds 500 cards 9-3/4 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.
BU: How would you describe the current hobby landscape?
MA: Boring. I love Topps’ Finest and Chrome brands and was secretly happy when UD lost its license because there was so much negative publicity at the time but without Upper Deck pushing Topps to put out great products, a lot of their stuff comes off looking lazy. Look at 1989 Topps and 1989 Upper Deck. Out of the blue, this new company completely blew away what Topps had been doing for 30+ years. I think Leaf Trading Cards could be the new Upper Deck if they got the opportunity to produce licensed baseball cards.
BU: I really wish exclusive licenses would go away. What would you change about the current hobby?
MA: In my fantasy scenario, there would be several companies producing licensed baseball cards right next to Topps. I believe Panini America, Leaf, and Upper Deck should all be granted licenses. The important thing would be to set limitations. It’s not 1990 anymore. To me, cards are like magazines and are now a niche product. I think if each company were to produce 5 products a piece, each with different price points, things would be a lot better. Less burnout from one company making all the cards. I mean, just look at Twitter and card forums and you will see MANY collectors are unhappy with only one official choice.
BU: What do you find most enjoyable about the hobby?
MA: For me, nothing beats opening two or three boxes of Topps Chrome and Finest and then organizing the cards pulled. Also, as a player collector for over 30 years, I absolutely love eBay and Check Out My Cards because it saves me tons of money. I am not huge on card shows, last time I attended one I ended up in a hospital because I decided to spend 4 hours hunched over going through boxes of singles. It was awful!
BU: A big thank you to Mario for taking the time to answer some questions! Be sure to check out Wax Heaven’s resurrection!
2-5/8 x 3-3/4″ 2 mil POLYETHYLENE NO flap.