Knoxville, TN, may be known as the “Marble City,” but for long-time collector and Knoxville resident Sam McMillan, it’s cardboard that rules the day.

With a variety of baseball card projects underway at any given time, Sam dedicates a couple of hours each day to the hobby.

Recently, Sam took carved out some time to share his Collector Story with us. Enjoy!


How long have you been collecting?
37 years1983 Topps Baseball Sticker Album - Reggie Jackson

How did you get started collecting?
I remember looking through the Sears catalog and asking for those lots of football cards they had for sale. Nothing but commons I’m sure but they were like gold to me. I also remember finding random packs of basketball cards at several convenience stores. I was also hooked on those stickers from the early 80’s.

What is the first card you can remember owning or buying?
1981 Topps Joe MontanaAlthough I’m now a baseball-only collector, the first big card I can remember owning was the Joe Montana rookie.

Which sports do you collect?

What other memorabilia, besides cards, do you collect?

What is the focus of your collection?
Every collector goes for something different. I have a two pronged collection. First, I collect sets (base cards only:I’1972 Topps Hank Aaronm not into the insert and special sets). I have every set from the major brands since 1972. Second, I collect star cards – mostly Hall of Famers, players that should/will be there someday, or just favorites from my childhood that I know won’t make it but that I like anyway (Dale Murphy…). In addition to the sets, I try to get one of every one of the star cards on my list and place in an album.

Who is your favorite player(s)?
Rickey Henderson.

Which is (are) 1980 Topps Rickey Henderson Rookie Cardyour favorite team(s)?
Oakland Athletics

Do you have a favorite card or set?
I don’t have the set, but I’ve always like the 1962 Topps design.

Do you have a collecting project or goals you’re working on now?
I recently started working backwards again. I’m currently working on a 1970 Topps set.1983 Topps Dale Murphy

How much time do you spend on the hobby these days?
After stepping back from cards in the early to mid 90’s, I got back into it again with the emergence of ebay/online sales in the late 90’s. I run a website and have ebay auctions so I usually spend a couple of hours a day on the hobby.

What’s your main source of hobby information?
ebay and twitter

Where do you buy most of your cards?

Which card o1960 Topps Carl Yastrzemskir set have you always wanted to own but has always eluded you?
1960 Topps Carl Yastrzemski rookie card. I don’t actively pursue it but when I have, I just haven’t found the sweet spot of card condition and price I’m willing to pay.

What’s your favorite hobby memory?
Searching through Beckett magazines to find card shows in my area. Getting all my want lists together in the days before and then spe1962 topps lou brocknding hours going from table to table finding what cards I needed.

Do you have any other funny or memorable hobby moments to share?
When I was in college I opened a card shop above my father’s business. I could only do it a couple of hours a day but it was great fun.


Great memories that resonate with me and I’m sure many other collectors who were there for The Boom (and The Bust).

Thanks for sharing, Sam!

If you’d like to get in touch with Sam, you can follow him on Twitter (@McMillanSam) or visit hes website,

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