Anyone collecting baseball cards for a quarter century most likely has quite a stash of cardboard treasures.
But most collectors aren’t to the extreme like Paul Jones.
The 35-year-old has nearly four million baseball cards in his possession, and he’s not slowing down anytime soon.
Because of his massive collection, Jones was selected to be inducted into the newly-established Sports Collectors Digest Collectors Hall of Fame as a card collector.
SCD first told Jones’ story in March 2020 (The King of Cards, March 13 issue), when his collection stood at 2.8 million cards. Back then, he said he adds about 300,000 cards each year.
Jones — who has Asperger’s syndrome, a neurodevelopment disorder that affects the ability to effectively interact and communicate with people — started his collection as a 10-year-old attending a Las Vegas Stars minor league baseball game.
Jones’ card collecting passion just grew from there. He doesn’t collect for money — not at all. It’s about enjoying each card and what it represents in his life.
In 2008, Jones became the Guinness World Record holder for having the largest private baseball card collection. MLB.com featured Jones on April 22, citing SCD’s story and calling Paul the “man with the most baseball cards on Earth” and “the greatest baseball card collector in the world.”
“I’ve tripled it since 2008,” said Jones, who is now 35 years old.
Jones also has over 98,000 autographs, which were mostly personally obtained.
“One day it just clicked,” said Paul’s dad, Barry, about his son’s collecting. “It helped him with reading, it helped him with math, it helped him with spelling. He was just emerged in it.”
Paul, who lives with his parents in Idaho Falls, Idaho, used to store his entire collection in his family’s three-stall garage. However, Barry is building a 60-by-40-foot shed in the yard for Paul to be able to move all his cards and souvenirs.
STORING HIS COLLECTION
Paul stores all his cards in 3,200- or 5,000-count boxes that are filed alphabetically by each players’ last name.
He loves to go through his collection and look at each card.
“It’s fun to go back and reminisce some of the old memories that I have of some of the guys that I used to bat boy for,” Paul said.
Paul doesn’t collect any certain players. The most cards he has of one player is over 2,000 of Jose Canseco. The two have a special connection since Paul was a bat boy for one of Canseco’s minor league teams.
Paul’s favorite card in his collection is a Mark McGwire 1986 Huntsville Stars.
“I only paid a nickel for it at a card show, now it’s worth $150,” Paul said in early 2020.
Other notable players Paul likes to collect are Harmon Killebrew and Rollie Fingers. According to Barry, Paul has met 53 MLB Hall of Famers, been to Cooperstown eight times and attended a number of World Series and All-Star games.
Paul isn’t particular when it comes to collecting a favorite team, either.
“He’ll say San Francisco is his favorite because he knew Bruce Bochy of the Giants when Bruce was on the Padres,” Barry said. “But he loves every team. There’s no real favoritism. Every team is a good team. Every card is a good card.
“He collects everything. He’s got cards going back to ’52.”
HITTING THE ROAD
One of Paul’s favorite things to do each year is attend spring training. He picks up plenty of cards while on vacation and attends games, getting autographs of any players who are willing to sign.
Paul has become synonymous with a certain attire he wears to games to attract the attention of players. He was once hit by a foul ball, so he goes by the catchy nickname, “Foul Ball Paul.”
Paul had hats made in a variety of different colors. So, as his dad puts it, if Paul is attending an Oakland A’s game, he wears his green hat. If it’s a Los Angeles Angels game, he has on a red hat.
“Players see that hat and they’ll say, ‘You’re that kid. I’ve heard of you,’” Barry said.
As Paul’s collection continues to grow, he still has that same passion from Day 1 when he opened his first pack and got his first autograph.
“It’s great collecting,” Paul said. “I suggest anybody out there that has kids that want to do it, they should do it.”