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IDAHO FALLS, Idaho – An Idaho man’s baseball card collection has surpassed 2.5 million cards, setting a Guinness World Record for the largest private baseball card collection.
Paul Jones is spending this winter the way he spends every winter — counting all of the cards in his collection. It could take the whole winter too, because there are a lot of cards to count — 2.7 million, according to Paul.
It began with the pack that his parents bought for him at a Las Vegas Stars’ — now the Las Vegas Aviators — game.
A 10-year-old Paul had seen kids lining up at the rail near the dugout to get their cards autographed. So his parents bought him a pack.
“We were always looking for something for Paul,” said his father, Barry Jones.
Paul has a learning disability and Asperger’s Syndrome, and his parents were looking for something to engage their son.
Paul didn’t talk much then, however, and he didn’t get any autographs until team manager and former San Diego Padres player Tim Flannery noticed him and invited him down to the locker room to get all of the players’ signatures.
Paul was hooked.
It took a year or two to collect the first 100,000 cards. Now, he has enough to fill a three-car garage and occupy his days.
“Baseball in our house is a big deal because it did save Paulie,” Barry said. “It taught him how to count. It taught him how to read. Well, it definitely helped his reading and spelling and everything. I mean, it was a tool.”
During the spring and summer, the father and son go to ballparks and gather autographs. And during the winter, he corresponds with players asking for more autographs — and he counts.
“The players, the sounds, the smells. I just love the whole entire game of baseball in general,” Paul said.
At the ballpark, he wears hats that say “Foul Ball Paul,” a reference to the time he got hit in the head with a foul ball.
“Yeah, it’s my trademark,” he said.
Now, Paul’s collection has surpassed the 2.7 million mark, and he holds a Guinness World Record for the largest private baseball card collection.
Paul and his cards are featured in the documentary, “Jack of All Trades,” now on Netflix.
Barry figured he’s spent more than $300,000 on the collection and related expenses, and said it’s $300,000 well-spent.
“To me, his happiness means pretty much everything. There’s nothing that I wouldn’t do for Paul or my other children,” Barry said.