Organizing Your Team Sets

Let me first say this…

When analyzed in a vacuum, there is no right or wrong way to organize your collection. It’s yours. You can organize them by year, set or player. You can organize them in alphabetical or numerical order. Heck, you can put every other one upside down, or organize them by position, or by their MLB service time, if you wish.

We all collect differently, so there is no unilateral way to organize your collection.


But there is…

When compiling a checklist (CL) for an upcoming product release, of course you will list the CL in numerical order. It’s the easiest and most efficient way for one to reference which cards they have vs which ones they still need to complete their set. Even when a team collector comes along, it’s still the easiest way to notate which cards are missing. When scouring a website, such as Sportlots, for missing cards, numerical is the only way to go in order to ensure you are not overlooking a card that you are after.

If you store a complete set, or chose to place them in a binder, numerical, once again is the most efficient way.

However, what about team-only collectors? How would they organize their team sets, when placed in a binder? What about when your team only consists of 8 cards, within a 300 card CL? Surely placing them in an arbitrary order wouldn’t make much sense, now would it?

The first thing you have to understand, and I am sure that you do, is that a numerical numbering system is completely arbitrary. Outside of card #1, in some sets, there is no direct rhyme or reason for where a player’s card gets slotted numerically. So why should a team-set collector be concerned with placing their respective cards in that arbitrary order?

The quick answer is… They shouldn’t.

Ask yourself this…

When enjoying your PC (personal collection), is it fun to look at the randomness of any given team-set based on how Topps (or Panini/Upper Deck) randomly inserted them in to a 1-300 card set? Some might be OCD about this, but for me, I don’t see any reasonably articulated argument to suggest that this is the best way to organize your bindered cards. When turning from page-to-page, there is a randomness about the PC that just doesn’t allow one’s collection to flow. So, in turn, why not have a collection that flows from page-to-page, but more importantly, set-to-set?

I have a very extensive and near-complete CL of every A’s base and insert card made from 1909-2019. I use separate tabs to keep track of these team-sets. First I use a basic CL of every set, identifying how many cards were made, how many I have and what % I am to completion of that team-set:

2019DonrussBase680.75Independence Day
2019ToppsOpening Day881
2019ToppsOpening Day881Blue
2019ToppsSeries 112121150th Anniversary
2019ToppsSeries 112121Gold /2019
2019ToppsSeries 112121Purple
2019ToppsSeries 112121Rainbow Foil

I then have a separate tab which outlines every card from each respective CL:

2019ToppsSeries 136Paul Blackburn
2019ToppsSeries 164Ramon Laureano
2019ToppsSeries 166Stephen Piscotty
2019ToppsSeries 183Lou Trivino
2019ToppsSeries 1103Sean Manaea
2019ToppsSeries 1126Oakland Coliseum
2019ToppsSeries 1147Blake Treinen
2019ToppsSeries 1149Khris Davis
2019ToppsSeries 1166Matt Chapman
2019ToppsSeries 1189Khris Davis (L.L.)
2019ToppsSeries 1201Marcus Semien
2019ToppsSeries 1289Matt Olson
2019ToppsSeries 136Paul BlackburnPurple
2019ToppsSeries 164Ramon LaureanoPurple
2019ToppsSeries 166Stephen PiscottyPurple
2019ToppsSeries 183Lou TrivinoPurple
2019ToppsSeries 1103Sean ManaeaPurple
2019ToppsSeries 1126Oakland ColiseumPurple
2019ToppsSeries 1147Blake TreinenPurple
2019ToppsSeries 1149Khris DavisPurple
2019ToppsSeries 1166Matt ChapmanPurple
2019ToppsSeries 1189Khris Davis (L.L.)Purple
2019ToppsSeries 1201Marcus SemienPurple
2019ToppsSeries 1289Matt OlsonPurple

And, although I have other tabs in my database, for this topic, I will only mention the 3rd relevant tab, which breaks down my PC by player and card details (the tab has other detail columns, but due to spacing issues, I will only show the first part of the column):

Cespedes, Yoenis
2012BowmanBase19322/25Red Ice

As you can see, I am very detailed in how I catalog my cards, to ensure that I know every card I have, as well as every card I still need. The idea behind it is to not duplicate any cards in my PC, unless intentional (as with my 1985/1987 Mark McGwire super collection)

Now we come to the portion of this post that explains what to do once you’ve cataloged your cards and it’s time to put them in a binder. When it comes to this, in my opinion, there is only one way. You alphabetize them, by player. From set-to-set, this is the cleanest and easiest way to see the progression of your team-sets from product-to-product. If I were to binder a team-set right now, this is the order in which I would place them in pages:

  • Team card (as found in vintage team-sets)
  • Manager card (once again, found in vintage/junk wax sets)
  • Players A-Z (by last name)
  • Mutli-Player RC’s
  • League Leaders (Although you could place these after the team card as well, if you wish to illustrate the highlights from the previous season)
  • Inserts, Parallels, Auto/Relics (if you choose to include these with their respective release, in lieu of having individual player binders for these cards

In closing, this is just my opinion on how one might chose to organize their team-sets. This is a guide for those that are still unsure of what organizational system you should use. If you chose to organize yours differently, by all means, it is your collection. To me, however this is the most fun and efficient way to display a team-set, and it works best for me! And if there was to be only one universal way to display a team-set, this would be the correct way!!!

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