Phillies Pitcher Talks The Hobby
During rain delays, MLB players are known to go into their clubhouse and play card games or hang out and chat with teammates.
Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Matt Strahm uses this downtime a little differently. He will open a box of his favorite Topps or Bowman products. Strahm — who has been ripping wax in team clubhouses since 2020 — is a big baseball card collector. He enjoys getting his teammates involved in the hobby as well. “I’ll order some boxes, and they’ll show up. When I have a spare minute, I’ll start opening them,” Strahm told Topps RIPPED. “Guys will walk by and be interested and ask me what I’m doing, and I’ll explain it to them. They’ll ask to open one.”
During his eight years in the majors, Strahm has played with four different clubs and has witnessed an increased popularity amongst MLB players collecting cards.
Growing up in Fargo, North Dakota, Strahm became a big Minnesota Twins fan since it was the nearest MLB franchise. He caught Twins fever and was big into collecting Twins greats Kirby Puckett, Joe Mauer, and Justin Morneau.
Strahm was a set collector as a youngster, putting together Topps sets from 1994 to 2002. “I would always remember getting the Topps sets for Christmas or birthdays, going through it, and taking out all the Twins cards,” said the 32-year-old. “I would go around trying to trade with buddies for other cards or their other Twins cards.”
A self-proclaimed pack rat, Strahm figures he has 10,000-20,000 baseball cards in his mom’s attic in North Dakota.
Getting Back into The Hobby
It wasn’t until 2018 that Strahm got back into collecting. His brother, Ben, who played in the minor leagues with the San Francisco Giants organization, got into flipping cards.
Strahm stopped at Target one day and bought some packs. That sparked his inner 10-year-old self. From that point on, he’s been hooked on the hobby. Now, Strahm doesn’t go a week without ripping a pack.
When fans couldn’t attend MLB games in 2020 during COVID-19, Strahm wanted to have interaction with collectors. He started the YouTube channel Stadium Pull, where he would record himself ripping packs in various ballparks he was playing in while with the San Diego Padres.
“I always open up cards in the clubhouse throughout the season. As I’m opening them, I’ll set aside my teammates’ cards,” Strahm said.””I always have a box in my locker for players’ kids to grab some if they want guys to sign them. I’ll even ask guys to sign them. I have Bryce Harper‘s 2023 Series 1 card because I pulled it in the clubhouse, and he signed it for me.”
Strahm is big into ripping modern and ultra-modern products — specifically Bowman Chrome and Topps Chrome releases. He also loves Sapphire, recently opening four boxes of 2023 Topps Chrome Update Sapphire with his brother.
Pulling his own Cards
When Strahm is taping episodes of his TV show, The Card Life, he’s opening packs and hunting for specific players. One guy he is always looking to pull is himself.
It’s quite the feeling for Strahm when he hits a card with his name on it.
“It’s surreal, to be honest,” Strahm said. “To think I used to go to the local, independent pro shop and buy the team cards of the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks and get them signed and thought they were the coolest things ever. To see yourself on a baseball card — let alone a Topps baseball card — there are no words to describe it. It’s really cool.”
The best card Strahm has pulled of himself was a 2017 Topps Chrome rookie auto. It was actually during a taping of Season 1 of The Card Life.
Strahm had a special card come out this past season. After he earned a save in the Phillies’ Game 4 victory over the Atlanta Braves in the 2023 National League Division Series that sent Philadelphia to the next round, TOPPS NOW® produced a pair of cards with Strahm on them.
The first, a card of Strahm pitching the ninth inning of the series-clinching game, had a print run of 1,880. Strahm purchased 120 cards himself. The second TOPPS NOW® card was a team shot with Strahm and catcher J.T. Realmuto celebrating with teammates after the final out. Strahm picked up 100 cards.
2023 MLB TOPPS NOW® #1001 Matt Strahm
It still doesn’t feel real to Strahm that he’s featured on baseball cards.
“Still being on that high of closing out the game and then opening up Topps NOW the next day, and being like, ‘Dang. Got a baseball card of this already,'” he said.
Besides pulling cards of himself, Strahm has registered some monster hits.
“My all-time favorite, just because I got it on video in the first year I did Stadium Pulls, was a 1-of-1 Pete Alonso auto out of Topps Finest,” Strahm said.
Strahm feels lucky he has pulled several 1-of-1s over the years. He landed a Topps Chrome Update Superfractor of Chris Archer and a Topps Pristine 1-of-1 Gunnar Henderson during an online break.
Never knowing what players he will pull makes The Hobby exciting for Strahm.
“The chase is just so fun,” he said.