The Unlikely Personal Collection – How I came to collect @DRICH_26’s cards

Richard Hardy
September 10, 2016

Anyone who currently follows me on Twitter has probably seen that I collect plenty of card types, such as vintage football and Pittsburgh sports teams. Odds are, you’ve also seen some cards of Daryl Richardson that I own. I own far more than most people would realize though, 130 of the 197 individual cards made of him. Most of what I’m still missing include cards numbered to 5 or less. However, I wasn’t always this dedicated to collecting a single player. Mr. Richardson is the first, and only, single player collection I have. I’ve been asked by multiple people over the years why I collect his cards. I feel it’s time to share the reason to a larger audience.

Back in November of 2011, as a freshman in high school, I suffered a severe head injury. I was unable to go back to school full-time, and eventually had to start Cyber School instead. I had to quit the football team, which was a very big deal to me. I was dealing with many personal issues, along with lasting side effects from the injury. Constant pain and memory issues led me onto a road of self-loathing and self-pity. I slipped into a depression that I couldn’t quite escape. Every day was a struggle to exist like a semi-functional normal person. I began to start collecting football cards again at this time, as a way to still feel close to the game. My mom would buy me a blaster box each time we went to physical therapy, in an attempt to lift my spirits. It worked, but it was only once or twice per week that I had that excitement.

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Fast forward to 2013, right around September. One day I was feeling depressed, so I began scrolling through my Twitter feed. I enjoyed seeing all the cards people were posting, and the happiness people felt about their cards. As I was scrolling, I came across a Through The Mail (TTM) autograph post. I was not familiar with TTM at the time, it was a foreign practice to me. When I looked at the post, I saw someone had sent Daryl Richardson a few cards to sign, and he had sent them back within a week. I decided to click on his Twitter (@DRICH_26) out of curiosity, and saw he interacted with fans all the time! I decided to hit the follow button, and dig through my cards. I found only one, a 2013 Topps Football base card. I snapped a picture and sent a tweet asking Mr. Richardson if he’d sign it. Within an hour, he sent me a direct message with the address I should send it. I was floored and ecstatic! I sent a self-addressed envelope, with postage paid, inside of a mailer so all that needed to be done to ship back to me was sealing the envelope. In less than a week, I received a package back with my card, signed, and a note thanking me for the support. After that, I was a fan.

I began trying to round up any Daryl Richardson cards I could, checking my local card shop and any friends who collected. At the same time, Daryl and I started chatting from time to time, about his playing and overall life in general. This helped fuel my desire to track down his cards, because I truly appreciated his kindness. I continued adding cards, until I decided to declare it a full on collection. That is when the real fun started. My eBay saved searches were loaded, and my watch list was constantly full. I had friends on Twitter who supplied me with plenty of his cards. I built my first parallel rainbow, 2013 Panini Prizm, for my newfound collection. It became a very relaxing endeavor, and a great way to fight off depression. Soon, the amount of DRich cards I owned grew to an unbelievable amount. Couple 1/1s, MANY rookies, and every parallel I could unearth from the depths of online shopping. My collecting goal of owning every individual card of his in existence led others to chip in as well! I even had someone send me a DRich signed pylon that they found on eBay!

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I’ve loved every moment of my player collecting, including all the hunting involved. My two favorite memories, however, are beyond cool to me. Right around Christmas 2015, if I’m not mistaken, I got a package in the mail that I was not aware was on its way. Sure enough, the name on the package is none other than Daryl Richardson! I ran inside to open it, and found a signed Play 60 card I had never seen (part of an event the Rams had), a New York Jets coin with his jersey number and his last name, and a signed Jets photo, inscribed “Thanks for all the support man!” It meant a lot to me that he would take time out of his day to show appreciation to a fan. How can you not like an athlete who does stuff like that?

The other fantastic moment in this journey happened recently. For years, I have tweeted my favorite team, The Pittsburgh Steelers, in hopes that they would add Daryl to the team. Obviously, my tweets weren’t going to do anything, but I was still hoping he’d make his way there one day. Sure enough, Daryl Richardson is now a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers! It was a fabulous feeling that I cannot begin to describe to have my favorite player signed by my favorite team.

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It has been one heck of a grind to build my collection, and I hope it continues to be. I appreciate all the support/help people have given me in my effort to collect DRich cards. Thank you to those of you who have assisted, I couldn’t have made it this far along without you. I hope any of you who have wondered why I collect DRich now have an understanding. I wish everyone luck in finding a similar collecting goal, and hope the hobby gives you all as much joy as it has given me.

 

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