Young is king among player collectors
Nationals first baseman challenging Candiotti's supremacy
Brad Lidge of the Astros may have some of the oldest cards of any big-leaguer -- early 20th Century images of Ty Cobb and Walter Johnson -- but Dmitri Young of the Nationals could surpass Lidge as the most serious card collector among all big leaguers. Young's byword is quality, not quantity. The collection numbers just 200.
The outfielder-first baseman-designated hitter collects cards based on an industry rating system.
A "10" is defined as: "a PSA Gem mint card is a virtually perfect card. Attributes include four perfectly sharp corners, sharp focus and full original gloss ... free of staining of any kind, but an allowance may be made for a slight printing imperfection if it doesn't impair the overall appeal of the card."
For a "9," the requirements are: "a superb condition card that exhibits only one of the following minor flaws -- a very slight wax stain on reverse, a minor printing imperfection or slightly off-white borders."
Is Young looking for a needle in a haystack? Sometimes. To be sure, he specializes in hard-to-obtain cards in his exclusive collection:
MLBPLAYERS.com: How did you get involved in this high level of collecting?
Young: I've been collecting for a long time. After the 2000 season, I got into 'graded' cards. I always liked rookie cards. I have cards from the 1950s and 1960s. Al Kaline's rookie card, only one in existence, a PSA 10. Also Hoyt Wilhelm, Ernie Banks, Harmon Killebrew, Robert Clemente.
MLBPLAYERS.com: To what lengths do you go to obtain such cards?
Young: In the bracket I collect, there are very few people up in that bracket. To get a PSA or Global 10, that's almost impossible to get. For instance, I had a Reggie Jackson card. Maybe 3,000 cards have been submitted, but only one 10. First it was trading, then getting them through different dealers. I have a friend named Dave Bailey I call the 'architect' who goes out there and finds these cards.
The biggest collector of cards in baseball (other than himself) was Tom Candiotti (now a Diamondbacks announcer). He has a couple of cards that I want, but I need to talk to him privately.
MLBPLAYERS.com: How did these cards become rare in the first place?
Young: The condition they're in. If there's one 10, there's probably 20 9's and then there's about 200 8's. The cards that I have, like Roy Campanella, are 10s. All I collect are 10s.
MLBPLAYERS.com: What's your motivation in this exclusive collecting process?
Young: It's passion. There are very few cards that I don't have that I want in the collection: Mickey Mantle, Sandy Koufax, Hank Aaron, Willie Stargell. I haven't seen that one (Stargell) yet. Mickey Mantle is owned by Tom Candiotti. That one's going to be a tough one to get. That's probably going to be the last card to get because it's so valuable. That's the 1951 Bowman. I don't care about the 1952 Topps -- that's not a true rookie (Mantle) card.
MLBPLAYERS.com: What will you do with this collection years down the line?
Young: Maybe one day I'll display it. Eventually they'll go to my kids.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.