Cincinnati Reds Star Talks Collecting
Joey Votto, MLB leader in most games played by a Canadian, six-time All-Star, and collector. While he’s best known for nabbing the NL’s MVP in 2010, flashing some leather with a Gold Glove in 2011, and embodying the spirit of the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award in 2017, Joey has other interests. Dive in as we talk to the Reds’ star first baseman about collecting and more for the latest installment of Collector Stories.
How did you get into collecting?
As a kid, I used to collect Magic: The Gathering cards. I love that you could actually play the game. So we’d be on the bus playing games, and then at some point, you realize that there’s real value to what you have in your hands. You start protecting them, putting them in plastic sleeves, and then going out and attempting to buy more, and you know, trading and selling. So I did that for a little bit when I was younger.
Do you remember any Magic card trades?
My worst trade wasn’t like Magic cards related. It was video game-related. I had a Sega Genesis, and I got three games for Christmas. I remember swapping all three of these games for Street Fighter. The three that I traded were my favorite, my father’s favorite, games. When he wasn’t very happy. That’s the worst trade I’ve made in terms of anything worth collecting.
What does collecting mean to you?
I have a collecting streak in me. I’ll pick something up and begin collecting. It’s a satisfying feeling when you get what you want, and tuck it away and care for it. I build an emotional bond with what I’m collecting – whether it’s a card or video game or whatever. Then it’s difficult for me to let go of it – there won’t be a price or anything that I would be willing to trade for that particular item.
What was it like seeing yourself on a baseball card for the first time?
I occasionally cross paths with my first card – I’ve been told it’s really difficult to get your hands on it. Especially the Bowman Chrome® version of my Gulf Coast League Rookie Card. I was 18 years old at the time. I remember finally seeing it at one of our games. At the lowest level, when games are going on, very few fans – mostly diehards, girlfriends, and family – will show up and occasionally ask you to sign things. I would typically sign baseballs, but one day someone pulled out a card. It was me holding my bat in a Reds uniform. I was very proud because this is the sort of thing you tell your family or brag to your friends about. But I remember thinking that I’ve made it, I’m on a baseball card. Being on a sports card means you made it – it was very special.
How did your family react to seeing you on a baseball card?
My late father collected or attempted to collect every single card that was available. And I think I have them all, or my mother has them all. And he loved them. He loved the cards. I think that’s where I get being a collector because I want to be like my father in some ways. I remember he’d occasionally ask me to sign a few so he could share with friends. I remember vividly that he had a very strong collection, and he’d ask more from time to time, “If somebody sends you a card, can you forward or keep one for me?” He wanted to collect as many as possible. That’s a good memory.
If you had one of your cards in your hand, who would you give it to?
I would give it to the hardest worker or best player at a Reds Youth Academy practice. I coach the softball and baseball groups, ranging in age from seven years old all the way to 18. Some of them are lucky enough to travel the country and compete in RBI programs, and RBI tournaments. They work so very hard, and if I had a special card I would give them that card.