Back in the late 1990s the baseball card hobby was changing. More sets were coming out with fancier, rarer inserts. Being a completist I had to change my collecting focus. I was a big fan of Albert Belle at the time (he was just too entertaining in a train wreck sort of manner to resist) and realized I'd never be able to track down all of his cards so I retired and searched out a new player to collect. The criteria was this:
1) He had to be a common or very minor star. The big-name guys had too many cards and most were out of my price range. Therefore I had to set my standards a little lower. By collecting a common player I could afford to go after everything.
2) I'm a sucker for the long ball. So I started scouring the leader board. I narrowed it down to a couple of contenders and went from there.
3) Root for the underdog. I don't like being accused of jumping on a bandwagon. So I looked for someone who didn't have much of a chance thus far in their career.
4) Funny names are fun. Yeah, I know. Going after someone because their name rolls off your tongue sounds kind of lame. Maybe it is. But when you've got a handful of choices to go with, you start looking at gimmicks.
With those four criteria I found my player. And with that my collecting habits changed forever. My new guy back in 1996-97 - John Jaha.
I plan on chronicling my Jaha collection over time and will look at how I went about tracking down cards and memorabilia, the joys of the bidding war and the fun of tracking down the last cards needed for a master set (besides those pesky 1/1s).