Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Shawn Gallagher on baseball cards

First baseman Shawn Gallagher played professional baseball from 1995 to 2001, mostly in the Rangers organization. His best season was 1998, when he hit .308 with 26 HR and 121 RBI at Charlotte. He hit exactly 100 home runs in his minor league career. After his playing career ended he got two degrees in nuclear engineering at MIT and worked his way up the government ranks. From 2010 to 2012 he served as Director for Nuclear Threat Reduction at the National Security Council, where he is credited with conceiving and proposing the concept of Gift Basket Diplomacy. Now the head coach of the Ashburn Shooting Stars softball team in Ashburn, VA, he kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.

"I was an avid baseball card collector from the first box of 1985 Topps until I appeared in the 1996 Bowman set.  Even after then I continued to passively collect but at that point it was mostly to get cards of friends and teammates. As a 9 year old when 1985 Topps packs first started appearing in the local grocery store, I could pretty much recite every player on every team that season.  My collection continued to expand in 1986 with the Topps set and then really took off the next year when a baseball card shop opened in our small town in the Colorado mountains that also carried 1987 Donruss and Fleer.  By that time, my group of friends spent most of our time off the field collecting and trading cards. I can remember checking the mailbox every day starting the third week of the month when the new Beckett would arrive.  I had practically memorized the value of every card.  My big presents for birthdays and Christmas were always baseball or baseball card related. I continued at that pace until the industry started printing too many sets and insert/special cards to keep up with. Like many at that time, I was frustrated that I could never get all the cards of my favorite players without spending all my money on 20 different special cards.

My interests started shifting along with my style of play on the field.  By the early 1990s, I was known as a throwback player more like the old timers than the new flashy players. By that point I identified more with 1950s era and older players than I did with the then-current players and my collection reflected that.  I stopped buying as many packs and started scouring card shows and shops for older cards of my favorite players. I still have several 1930s era Hall of Famer cards and some tobacco cards in my collection, although none that would be considered very valuable because of their poor condition.  I was collecting more for the player and season than the resale value so I didn't mind wrinkled or badly worn cards.

By the time I got into pro ball, my collection stopped growing but my best baseball card memory came then.  Topps had pulled a few of us aside during Spring Training in 1996 to take some pictures and had us sign a contract. I didn't think they would actually make a card of me as an A-ball player but a few weeks later I received notice that they had and that it would be in the 1996 Bowman set.  As soon as the set was released, I bought a box to see if I was really in there.  No kidding but literally the first pack I opened had my card in it - a great memory coming full circle from that avid 9 year old collector to getting one of my own. These days the only additions to my baseball card collection is the box of cards I get under the Christmas tree - a tradition my wife keeps alive. It takes me back to my youth - to sit down by the tree on Christmas morning and open up packs of cards! 
I would like to see the baseball card industry begin to recognize female athletes on the same scale as male athletes by printing a full-scale, national-level set of softball cards.  I coach an elite youth softball team and can promise that these young ladies--and the older softball role models they follow--work every bit as hard and in many ways are more talented than their baseball counterparts.  The softball world needs a stage like this and some enterprising company may be shocked at the number of youth softball players and their families who would buy packs of softball cards."

Thanks! I don't have that card, but here is one I do have from 1999 SP.


  1. Really nice when a player gives you a detailed description on how they feel about baseball cards. This was a good read.