Updated: Feb 28, 2020
In my adventures on Twitter, I've come across a lot of cool Cubs related stuff. Today I'm going to share with you about one of my favorites, the Million Cubs Project: one man trying to collect a million baseball cards of Chicago Cubs players.
The project is run by a Cubs fan in his 30s living in Madison area, Wisconsin: Beau. I came across his Twitter feed, and it was a quick follow from me. Because I do love baseball cards! One of the things that kept me invested in baseball after the initial interest waned was card collecting. I collected throughout childhood, and still have a decent collection today, which I'll sell to pay for my kid's college tuition someday. So naturally, when I ran into the project on Twitter, I was intrigued.
He posts constant updates, trivia, and collectibles, among other things. Essentially a less common B-side look at Cubs and baseball history. Some odd tidbits, but a side to baseball that gets commonly overlooked. It's worth a like and a follow for sure! Unlike most Cubs tweeters, he's level headed, and doesn't post facepalm worthy opinions that are inflating of his own ego.
After following him for a bit, and commenting on each others posts, I actually ran into him at the Cubs Convention. During one of the Sunday morning sessions, he sat behind me. At one point I looked around, and saw him there. It was easy to tell he was there, because he was wearing a sign advertising who he was and how many cards he was at. I sucked up my inner introvert tendencies, and said hi. Turns out Beau is a super nice guy in person!
After meeting him, I paid closer attention to his feeds and updates. He's constantly working on his project, and unearthing new things. He finds such fascinating bits of information that you couldn't quite find anywhere else. Baseball cards might be a simple and small piece of baseball fandom, but as Beau has taken it to an extreme, he's truly uncovering baseball history as nobody else has done before.
So I reached out to Beau, to have him share a bit about his project. Before we get to my questioning, here's his about section of his website:
"Follow the journey to collect one million Chicago Cubs baseball cards
Beau Spencer Thompson is a super team collector. Chicago Cubs is the team of choice, and he's set out to collect one million Cubs cards. ONE MILLION Cubs cards. He needs your help, and is looking to trade off his current inventory of 1.5 million trading cards to get there.Trades of all amounts are welcome and no Cubs cards will be turned down. Up for trade are baseball, football, basketball, hockey, and a small selection of non-sports cards. Send Beau an email if you would like to trade. Donations are always welcomed."
1. How did you get into card collecting? I don’t recall exactly. My first memory of cards is being given some 1986 Topps football cards, but I was too young to really grasp what they were. My first packs I received was 1988 Topps football and 1988 Donruss baseball. What really hooked me was getting a 1989 Topps Cubs team set in the mail. My mom was big on couponing in the 80’s, and it was one of those deals where you sent in a set amount of UPC codes in exchange for a team set. I still remember the day it arrived in the mail (remember when you had to wait 6-8 weeks for products to arrive?). That was the day I became hooked on baseball cards.
2. Do you have a "day job?" Or is your ebay store essentially your job? Beau: I do have a day job that is not remotely related to baseball cards or sports. I work in business development (sales) for a logistics company in the transportation industry. I have a wide array of clients ranging from popular craft beer companies, a large health and beauty company, automotive parts, and even a client that specializes in mineral enriched soil for farms.
Basically, with how much time and effort he seemingly puts into cards and selling, I was curious if he was able to support himself full time on it, or if it was more of a hobby. To my observation, it could have gone either way, but I'm impressed that he maintains standing in doing both.
3. Your ebay store has over 1,000 listings. How did you go from perhaps starting with a handful of listings and then transitioning it into a major operation today? It’s a little at a time. By now I have acquired so many items that my store doesn’t scratch the surface of what I can list. I try to keep adding items on a regular basis as one of my goals for 2020 is to purge the non-Cubs cards at a faster rate than the past couple years.
A look at his ebay store is almost overwhelming. In the sense of, how did one person list so much. It is very impressive.
4. What led you to begin the million cubs baseball card project? My personal collecting habits have varied over the years, but it always seemed to circle back to collecting Cubs baseball cards. As I kept acquiring small collections my overall card collection surpassed one million cards. Many of the cards are from the “junk era” of the 1980s and 1990s and do not typically move because they were so mass produced. In the past I had conducted some bulk team trades and decided that would be a good way to rid my collection of unwanted cards for cards that I could at least appreciate.
I've got a lot of those junk cards. haha.
5. What is the proverbial day to day like for the project? Typically through the week I work on it a couple hours on average. That can be sorting, posting cards for sale on eBay, and shipping out. Most of my trades are shipped out on Saturdays and Mondays because it can take a little longer to pull cards for trades, so that’s reserved for the weekends.
I would have guessed that it takes a lot more time than this. Again, check out his collection. It's quite a bit. 6. What will you do with the million cards once the project is complete? Once the milestone is reached I’ll get caught up organizing the collection and get it arranged in boxes and binders.
I was guessing he would donate to the hall of fame or a museum, or something like that. Beau, you should start your own museum! 7. Do you just deal in baseball cards, or other things as well? As far as collecting goes, I also collect various Cubs memorabilia. Besides baseball cards I have a collection of autographed Cubs baseballs (around 400 total), bobbleheads (about 30), and various other items.
That's a lot of balls. And a lot of heads.
8. What's the most unique piece of memorabilia you have? Probably a scrapbook of a Cubs minor league player from the 1960s. His name was Robert Eyer, and both he and his brother were child actors. Robert appeared in an episode of Leave It To Beaver as well as the movies, The Dark at the Top of the Stairs and U.S. Marshall. The most unique part of the scrapbook is his letters (mostly on hotel stationary) to his parents he wrote while playing in Cubs rookie league in Idaho.
Like I told you, he's got a real deep pull on Cubs trivia and baseball oddities. 9. What's the coolest Cubs autograph story you have? I have many, but my favorite is probably from David Bote. He was playing for the South Bend Cubs and it was his 2nd year in the Midwest League. He wasn’t even close to being a prospect. I asked him to sign a baseball on the sweet spot, and he looked at me surprised saying: “Sweet spot?!? Really?!” After he signed, he thanked me. He...thanked...ME. Of course I thanked him back. It was a memorable exchange and a lot of fun watching him climb the Cubs organizational ladder and get to Wrigley Field.
I believe this story, 100%. Bote is a great guy, and super humble. 10. What's the most expensive baseball card you've held in your hands? Probably a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle at a card show several years ago.
(Good quality graded of this Mickey Mantle rookie card will go for at least $10,000, some listings on ebay have it for $50k)
So that's a 101 level look at the One Million Cubs Project: one million Chicago Cubs baseball cards. Please note that he does accept donations to his collection, if you'd like to be a part of baseball history!