Talking Sheet(s)

I’ve always been a box guy – they stack easily, protect corners, are easy to label and easy to find. With finite space for card storage, boxes are the most efficient way to go; least costly too.

I haven’t been a purist on this. Non-standard sized cards, from the small (1949 Bowman baseball) to the large (the assorted Topps basketball), inevitably had to be housed in sheets and albums. Otherwise they sat in shoeboxes, shifting with each movement of their container, potentially dinging corners. One can’t have that.

Then, as I began completing some older sets, it became clear to me that sheets were the way to go. It became too unwieldly to pull out a box of 1970 baseball, of course positioned in the middle of a stack of 4 or 5 boxes, then pull out all the cards to place, say, #596 Mike Hershberger, in its rightful place. Having the cards in sheets made life a bit easier.

I’ll have to admit I got a  bit  hooked on sheets and albums and thought, “Hmm, maybe I have complete sets that would be better suited for albums and take up the same space as boxes.” A spreadsheet ensued. Conclusion: over time I’d put my 1970’s era Topps Hockey and Basketball in sleeves. (Not football. Most 1970’s sets aren’t very nice.)

This mini-project has provided an enormous amount of fun, maybe 1 ½-2 hours to fill 70 or so sheets. For a cost of $20-25 for a box of 100 Ultra-Pro 9-pockets and an album, I get solid entertainment. That’s good bang for the buck.

Not only to I get to rediscover old sets I haven’t looked at in years, I also get great Twitter content. This 1975 Topps hockey page stirred some emotions.


Still, I’m not completely sold on the idea of shifting to sheets and albums. There are too many cards to move and, since I store albums flat, rather than upright, I run out of room fast. (I’ve never liked storing albums like books. Seems to me the pages would droop below the bottom edge of the binder and dent. Thoughts?)

I’m likely to be all done after a few more albums, unless I buy an old complete set that either comes in sheets or needs to be put in them. I’m a partial convert, partial because there’s still nothing better than to have cards in hand, rather than in vinyl. That can’t be beat.

Author: Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is the former Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.

16 thoughts on “Talking Sheet(s)”

  1. I enjoy having my team sets and year sets in albums. I know where to leave an empty space for a missing card. My PCs are okay for now in sheets, but because I like seeing them in chronological order, I will at some point prefer them to be in boxes.

    I suppose how one stores the binders, depends on the quality of the binder. I have seen ordinary binders bend when stored upright. The two best binders I have in use are actually Scott Specialty binders with dust covers, made for stamp albums. I have no worries about storing those upright.

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  2. I love the binder interface in the same way that I feel like flipping through a photo album is a better experience than digging through a shoebox of prints. As a kid who kept everything in numerical order boxes may have been a better approach. But as my collection has gotten more thematic being able to put pages together so they make sense—by team, by player, by theme, etc.—is something that’s encouraged me to go back and look at the collection more.

    Storing them is indeed a pain. I kept mine upright when I was a kid and things weren’t so good in a few of them. Cards were fine enough but the pages sort of collapsed. I haven’t bought the bullet yet to get any slipcased binders (those are nice but super spendy and I’m already choking on how much more I spend on storage than I do on the cards) but I’m now a convert to the keep them flat school.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, the pages collapsing is what I mean.
      Another good point is finding the balance in cost between storage and cards. I have the same debate with records. I have found peace with how much I spend on storage/supplies.


  3. I get binders basically free, and have always stored them upright. As long as the shelf is deep enough, (I need more deep shelves), I think they’re OK. I wouldn’t like keeping them flat in piles, since you couldn’t necessarily see the labeling on the spines and would have to dig through three or four to get to the bottom of the stack. That’s no better than boxes. It is better when the set or sets fills the binder, but I’ve learned to put a few of them in backwards to fill in the empty wedges between the big ones.

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  4. I am a big fan of binders. Like mentioned above I like to flip through them like a photo album. I found when they were in boxes I never looked at them. So far I have had no damage because of this. The one problem is the expense. I kind of always feel guilty when I plead with my wife on how I could use just one more binder and I will be good for a while (I won’t). Of course I then have to buy the Ultra Pro sheets because the ones that come with a binder are junk.

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  5. I find that the collapsing of the pages happens when the binders aren’t full. As mentioned above, if they’re in boxes I’ll never see them. Access for me is important. I think a binder full of cards is visually stimulating while a box of cards becomes easily forgettable. The cost and especially the space is a little bit of a drawback though.

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  6. A company called M.J. Roop Archives, which made nice special binders for the annual Topps base sets (if not others), seems to have gone out of business about 10 years ago. Roop binders came with real nice laminated-like pages listing all the cards in the set with the rookie cards in red type.
    But I’m good with using plain old three-ring binders with mostly Ultra-Pro sheets. The alternative — putting all your cards in plastic top-loaders would seem to me to be pretty unwieldy and a roadblock to accessibility, which really is the main consideration, I’d say. For devotees of graded cards like me, the real problem is finding four-pocket sheets for them, especially the new slightly thicker PSA ones. No one seems to make them any more.

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  7. Growing up in San Clemente, California in the late eighties and early nineties I was and still remain a huge Ultra Pro plastic sheet aficionado! My brothers and I would literally dispute whose sheets belonged to who! Ultimately, as a life-long collector I have always maintained that sheets present and preserve the trading cards in a way like no other. Also, it gives each collector an opportunity to present his or her collection any way they see fit. My vote: SHEETS OVER BOXES. Figure out storage issues upon completion.

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