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The card collector

By Michael Butler

At Neptune, John David Lambert is the "I.T. guy." If there is a computer issue, it's likely J. D. is the go to guy. The people who know him may not realize that he has one of the most extensive baseball card collections around.

Lambert is a collector. That's putting it mildly. He has over 70,000 baseball cards.

It started when he bought his first pack of cards as a youngster. "I think I was about nine-years-old, because I remember one of the first packs I bought was at the old Harco (Drugs). It was the 1986 Topps. Packs were 35 or 40 cents back then," he recalled. "I really didn't have an extensive collection as a kid. I may have had a couple of thousand cards until I got back into it about five years ago."

To break it down, Lambert has averaged picking up about 15,000 cards per year in recent years. That's a lot of sticks of gum.

"I haven't done a lot in the last year as far as purchasing," he said. "I've kind of gotten more heavily involved in getting them organized."

Lambert has catalogued more than 40,000 of his cards. Of those logged, he said the book value is in the $25,000 range.

Of all the cards in the collection, there are more Ozzie Smith cards than any other - about 4,300 in fact. Many are duplicates. 631 are unique.

"I've got 29 memorabilia cards of him. Those are cards that have pieces of his jersey or pants in them. I've got 36 cards that are serialized and five autographed cards. I have all three of the Sports Illustrated covers signed with certificates of authenticity. I've got nine original action figures and some duplicates. I've got two or three signed baseballs. I've got some 8x10 pictures that I had signed. I've got a Lego man of Ozzie Smith and a comic book about him. I've got some patches that he wore in All-Star games. I've got his autobiography. I've got some Beckett price cards that he was on the cover, some buttons, some coins."

Yes, Smith is Lambert's favorite player. A chance to meet the "Wizard" came while Lambert was a young teenager.

"Coach (Woody) Weaver had taken me to some Braves games in high school. I used to help him manage the football team. I wanted to have my picture taken with (Smith). Coach Weaver found out that they were staying at the Ritz Carlton in downtown Atlanta. Terry Pendleton pulls up and Ozzie Smith gets out. He had his daughter with him, who couldn't have been but two or three-years-old at the time. He was real nice and let me have my picture taken with him."

The most valuable of Lambert's cards he believes is a 2011 Topps Heritage Clubhouse Collection Relic Autograph of Frank Robinson. "It's number two of 25," he said. "Beckett appraised it about $150. I don't have any extremely valuable cards."

So, there is no Honus Wagner from the early 1900s, one of which that sold for about $2.8 million in 2007. Lambert has more than just baseball cards though. "One particular card I have has a piece of Superman's cape from the 1983 movie."

The value of Lambert's collection has risen over the years, but that's not why he collects cards.

"The older your stuff gets, the more valuable it will become. Whether I'd ever sell it or could get a lot of money for it, I'm not doing it that reason. I'm doing it because it's my hobby."

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