“Everything he did was Phillies,” said Corey. “I spent every penny I made (on Phillies memorabilia).”
Corey’s collection is registered with Becket Media registry and at last count, was worth approximately $200,000, which makes him #3 in private collections in the U. S. His collection includes at least one autographed card of every Phillies player to set foot on the field, even for an inning, since 1950. He has over 25,000 autographs, as well as game used bats from Pete Rose and Mike Schmidt and team signed baseballs from each of the World Series the Phillies have won. Corey also has every card Topps ever produced of all five Phillies Hall of Famers since 1951, along with programs, scorecards and press passes.
In addition, he also holds the largest individual player collection for Phillies Center Fielder, Lenny Dykstra. The most expensive card in his collection is Richie Ashburn, estimated at $1500 in value.
“I try to get anything I don’t have,” said Corey of Phillies memorabilia. “If I see it and I don’t have it, I have to have it.”
A side effect of such a hobby means that Corey is typically left with cards and other items leftover from bulk purchases he must make in order to get the few items of Phillies memorabilia he wants. Eventually, he had enough to open Platinum Sports Cards in Edwardsville, a “tiny”, flea market setting shop that Corey said he operates to support his Phillies collection.
“The shop is to sell some of the other 29 teams of stuff I get stuck while collecting for the Phillies. At my shop, if you have anything Phillies, bring it in, I would love to see it,” he explains.
Corey says that although his collection could potentially fund him a nice retirement, he doesn’t collect memorabilia for profit as much as for “personal passion”. He challenges the popular notion that the baseball card industry is dying, and cites the changes that companies like Topps has made in the last ten years, especially since they are now the only company with exclusive rights to print the team logos of MLB clubs. After the glut of the 1990s, companies like Fleer closed up shop and Panini bought out Donruss. A reduction in printing, along with new products such as relic and jersey cards, which contain pieces of player worn jerseys or autographed cards, have kept the industry alive and well. What used to require a trip to a specialty shop can now involve a simple grab of a Topps pack while in the checkout line at WalMart.
“The market is a much more accessible place for kids now,” explained Corey. “It is a very exciting hobby. You can purchase a lottery ticket for five dollars, but when you buy a pack of cards, you’re still getting the cards, even if you don’t find a relic card in the pack. You can always turn a potential profit. It’s a win-win.”
Besides the financial value, Corey relates that his hobby has brought his life value in terms of experiences he otherwise wouldn’t have had. When he was eight years old, he managed to gain himself a stint as an assistant bat boy for the Red Barons and was invited back periodically to hang out with the players and help out. One of these evenings, as chance would have it, a young Columbus Clippers player consoled him with an autographed baseball after an unpleasant run in with veteran player, Darryll Strawberry, who was on a rehab assignment in AAA at the time. It wasn’t until years later that Corey reexamined the baseball and realized the ball had been signed by Yankees legendary shortstop, Derek Jeter.
“He may not have been a Philly, but I’ll never part with that ball,” remarked Corey. “I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my life but one thing I was able to maintain is my sports collection. Everybody should have a hobby, especially if it keeps them going and keeps them passionate.”
Platinum Cards is open on Saturday and Sunday mornings and Corey welcomes anybody who has Phillies memorabilia, even if they do not wish to part with it.
“I would love to see it, appraise it, whatever I can do to pass the hobby along and keep everybody into it,” concluded Corey.