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IDAHO FALLS (EastIdahoNews.com) — Paul Jones has a decked out baseball-themed basement, but it’s almost nothing compared to the millions of baseball cards he has stashed throughout his home.
Paul made his way into the Guinness World Records Book in 2008 for owning the largest private baseball card collection with 528,000. But that was 12 years ago and now the autistic 34-year-old says he has 2.8 million cards.
“I love to collect for the love of the game and the passion of the game,” Paul tells EastIdahoNews.com. “Not for the money.”
The baseball card collecting hobby started when a quiet 10-year-old Paul attended his first baseball game. His parents were trying to find something that he might enjoy, so they took him to a Triple-A Las Vegas Stars game at Cashman Field.
“My wife saw that he had interest in the game and that he was watching kids get autographs,” says his dad, Barry Jones.
Barry bought a pen and pack of baseball cards for Paul so he could stand at the fence with the other fans and ask for signatures. The father told his son all he had to say was, “Can I get your autograph?”
Player after player passed in front of Paul but he didn’t say a word. It wasn’t until the Las Vegas Stars Manager, Tim Flannery, came over and asked, “Do you want my autograph?”
Flannery signed the card and then took Paul into the locker room for the team to autograph the remaining cards.
“He came back and he was so happy,” Barry recalls. “That opened the door.”
Over the years, Paul has attended card shows, countless ballgames and he has even mailed cards to retired and active baseball athletes asking for their signatures.
He’s getting ready to hit the road in February for the start of spring training, where he is hoping to add more names to his growing card collection.
“Baseball is the best thing out there,” Paul says with a smile.
Most of his cards are stored in the Jones’ three-car garage – at least for now. Barry says they are hoping to build a shed for Paul’s memorabilia.
Until then, Paul will continue doing what he loves with his sights set on accomplishing even more.
“I hope that my card collection will be put in the baseball hall of fame,” Paul says. “And that TOPPS (baseball card manufacturer) will make a baseball card on me one day.”
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