(Read all of our collector stories here. Want to share your own story? Let me know!)

It’s the idealized picture of the hobby that so many of us hold of dear, a picture we hope to recapture every time we pick up a rectangle of cardboard …

A preteen boy hops on his bike and rides down to the corner store to plunk down whatever change he could scrape together for a pack or two of baseball cards. He rips open the wax wrappers right there in parking lot, one knee propped on his bike, and jams the sharp pink gum into his mouth.

He shuffles through his new treasures with great reverence, hoping against hope for a glimpse of his favorite player, or at least for a card he doesn’t have yet. Maybe this is the day he’ll get a Gary Carter card!1981 Topps Baseball Cards Wax Pack

No matter what bounty he hauls home from his collecting expedition, our hero returns from his adventures with an even greater love for the game, and for the hobby.

For collector David Gourlay of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, this is no hypothetical dream world. It’s part of his hobby DNA and helps explain why he’s been at it for more than 35 years now.

Here is his story …

How long have you been collecting?

Since 1981!

How did you get started collecting?

I was 10 and just loved baseball (still do!) and baseball cards were simply a fun way to enjoy the sport that, at that time, we had limited access to unless it was on TV or a newspaper game box score.

1981 Topps Bob Welch What is the first card you can remember owning or buying?

I remember the 1981 Topps Bob Welch card with the Dodgers – I was with my parents on a holiday at Ogunquit, Maine, and I was collecting people’s used pop cans to collect the nickel deposit – once I had quarters collected, I had a pack!

Which sports do you collect?


What other memorabilia, besides cards, do you collect?

I collect autographed baseballs (my best one is of Willie “Pops” Stargell), old annual season previews, but my main passion is cards.

What is the focus of your collection?

My collection has a focus on my childhood hero Gary Carter (Expos). I also collect Roberto Clemente, Edgar Martinez, and the Pirates and, finally, I collect a series of sets over the past 36 years like 2007/8 Upper Deck Masterpieces, 2012-2017 Topps Archives. I just love the throwback focus!

Who are your favorite players?

Roberto Clemente, Gary Carter and Edgar Martinez.

1955 Topps Roberto Clemente


Which is  your favorite team?

Pittsburgh Pirates

Do you have a favorite card or set?

The 1981 Topps Gary Carter base card.

Do you have a collecting project or goals you’re working on now?

I have too many to list! I am currently working on completing about 20-25 different sets over the past 35 years.

How much time do you spend on the hobby these days?

I am very active – I usually spend a few hours a day on my collection.

1981 Topps Gary Carter


What’s your main source of hobby information?

I don’t really have a dedicated source – I am very active on social media and usually generate information on there.

Where do you buy most of your cards?

Online ; sadly, the hobby does not have strong retail presence anymore outside major markets.

Which card or set have you always wanted to own but has always eluded you?

The 1980 Topps set – some great memories of the game in that day and I’d love to open some packs from that year.

What’s your favorite hobby memory?

As a kid, getting on my bike and cycling over to the local convenience store to buy packs and enjoying the thrill of a new card plus the gum!

Do you have any other funny or memorable hobby moments to share?

I have had some great hits over the past 10 years when the hobby vastly changed with autos, relics, patches, etc. I recall pulling a Bob Gibson autograph patch car1988 Fleer Edgar Martinezd from 2008 UD Heroes and recently won a randomized draw for a Clemente 1955 rookie card – PSA 2, but what an amazing addition to my growing Clemente collection.

Anything else you want other collectors to know about you or the hobby?

I love the trading community – we benefit from communication, open dialogue, and helping each other to trade, collect, complete sets, etc. I always enjoying hearing from collectors and their experiences.

Thanks for sharing your story, David!

It’s hard to shake this great hobby of ours, isn’t it? And, really, who would want to?!

If you’d like to get in touch with David, he’s happy to connect with fellow collectors through any of these channels:

Twitter (collecting/trading): @clementecards21

Twitter (personal): @davidgourlay

Website: https://clementecardsproject.org


(Read all of our collector stories here. Want to share your own story? Let me know!)