On a day when his brother is in the news for the wrong reasons, this article on Dmitri Young is a great read for anyone who ever collected baseball cards as a kid…
For the next 90 minutes, between bites of beef tongue and slugs of diet cola, Young describes his pride and joy. He recalls his first card and his last, how he was ripped off early on and became a savvy buyer by the end. He describes the cards closest to his heart, the cards that kept him sane when his unhealthy lifestyle nearly killed him, and the cards of relatively obscure players who made an imprint on his career.
He details how he learned the quirks of the company that grades cards and establishes their value. He gives thanks for an activity that began as a diversion and became an obsession. And he explains that he plans to sell the collection next month to help launch a baseball school and nonprofit foundation that will serve Camarillo and other towns in Ventura County, Calif.
All these years, hardly anyone knew that a two-time All-Star, a lifetime .292 hitter and the 2007 National League Comeback Player of the Year was painstakingly building a card collection that became the envy of the industry. No other assemblage of rookie cards comes close, according to experts.
...Young, meanwhile, was among the privileged. He was paid about $52 million as a player and spent, by his estimation, about $5 million on baseball cards. A handful of other players have card collections – Tom Candiotti, Brad Lidge, Pat Neshek, Luis Gonzalez, Brad Penny – but none are close to Young’s in depth and value.
Just like that, though, he is willing to sell it. Young says it’s part of a wholesale lifestyle change: He’s selling his house in Florida and moving to Camarillo full time. He’s engaged to former track star Alycia Burnham, who he says “has been my best friend since high school.” And the aim of his foundation will be to teach baseball, softball and life skills to youngsters. One of the top switch-hitters of his era, Young also plans to launch a specialized school for switch-hitting. “It’s Da Meat Hook’s Switch-hitting University, and I’m the Dean of Hitters,” he says, polishing off the first half of his sandwich.
Remarkably, spending $5 million on baseball cards is probably among the better financial decisions made by a professional athlete.