February 10, 2023
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
Rob Trickey likely owns the most extensive collection of Jesse Barfield cards, tickets and photos in the world.
Just how exhaustive is it?
Well, he has items that Barfield, a collector himself (if you’ve seen images of his impressive man cave on Twitter), doesn’t have.
In fact, the Blue Jays legend and newly elected Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer has even contacted Trickey through Twitter to obtain a photo from him. The picture Barfield coveted was a 1987 shot of him in his powder blue uniform that Trickey had purchased from the Topps Vault.
“Jesse has talked [on social media] about how his wife loved him in that powder blue uniform,” said Trickey. “So he saw the picture in my collection and he said it was a picture that he had never seen before.”
Trickey had only owned the photo for five months when Barfield contacted him but he agreed to send it to the former slugger.
“So he actually has something in his collection that came out of mine, which is kind of cool,” said Trickey. “If anyone else had asked for it, I would’ve said no.”
“The fact that I can talk with Jesse through a Twitter DM message would’ve blown my 12-year-old mind,” said Trickey. “It kind of blows my 40-year-old mind, too.”
Trickey, who works in advertising in St. Catharines, Ont., has been a fan of Barfield since 1985, the year the Blue Jays captured their first American League East title. He was raised in Brantford, Ont., but he can recall his dad, Bruce, purchasing discounted tickets from Dominion (a Canadian supermarket chain) for seats in the left field bleachers at Exhibition Stadium.
“We’d get the tickets and mom would pack a lunch and we would go and watch games,” recalled Trickey.
As a child, Trickey was mesmerized by Barfield’s tremendous throwing arm and power at the plate.
Barfield hit 179 home runs as a Blue Jay and 40 in 1986 alone to lead the American League. He also topped the American League in outfield assists five times.
“Barfield was the Blue Jays’ best player at the time,” said Trickey.
For many years during his childhood, Trickey also went to spring training in Dunedin, Fla., with his family. His dad was a baseball card collector and this inspired Trickey to start amassing Barfield cards in 1987.
“I remember there were a lot of card stores in Florida when we would go down,” said Trickey. “And they would have boxes with the player’s tab sticking up and I’d just go to the Barfield tab and I’d pull out a bunch of his cards.”
Trickey assembled his collection in nine-card sheets in a binder and savored each card of his favourite player. So when the Blue Jays traded Barfield to the New York Yankees on April 30, 1989, it broke his young heart.
“I was in a car on a Sunday morning and I heard on the radio that he got traded and I remember crying,” said Trickey. “I still hate Al Leiter.”
Trickey said he tried to become a Yankees fan and continued to collect Barfield cards until 1992, but after he started high school, he put that binder away.
Fast forward to nearly 30 years later and Trickey found himself locked down at home during the COVID-19 pandemic and he decided to dig out that binder.
“I was curious to know how close I was to having all of Barfield’s cards and I found out I wasn’t even close,” said Trickey.
So he decided to revive his collection and attempt to get all of Barfield’s cards. He began searching eBay and created the aforementioned Instagram and Twitter accounts.
Trickey did some research and established that just over 400 different Barfield cards have been issued. And thanks largely to his tireless efforts over the past few years, he owns 380 of them.
When adding in his doubles, he estimates that he has almost 1,000 Barfield cards, including 308 of the slugger’s 1982 Topps rookie.
“I’ve got a binder of just his rookie cards,” said Trickey.
Trickey also couldn’t resist buying a lot of 250 of Barfield’s 1984 Topps cards (see above).
“I’ve always kind of liked the look of that card. I remember having it as a kid, so, of course, I bought a box of 250, 1984 Topps cards. I’m not sure why, but I did,” he said with a chuckle.
But it even surprised Trickey that it’s a 1988 Panini Barfield sticker (photo above) that holds the most sentimental value for him. He ordered one of these online about two years, and when he got it, he was hit with an overwhelming wave of nostalgia.
“As soon as I saw it, there were so many memories,” said Trickey. “It was the sticker that went into one of those albums and I hadn’t seen it for like 30 years, but I could remember it as soon as it saw it. And that sticker when I go through the albums is still the sticker that, for some reason, has so many memories attached to it.”
Trickey says two of the advantages of collecting Barfield cards is that there are not a huge number of them and most of them are affordable.
“As a completist – as someone who starts something who likes to finish it – I’m lucky, because if it was a Ken Griffey Jr. collection: A, it would be a billion dollars and B, it would also be impossible to get all of the cards,” said Trickey. “With Barfield, at least I have a chance of getting all of his cards.”
He admits, however, that the rest of the Barfield cards he needs will be difficult to find.
“A lot of the cards I’m missing are one of ones. There were a lot of cards issued in the 2000s that came out and they’re really limited,” explained Trickey.
Now that his card want list is down to the extremely rare ones, he has started collecting other Barfield items, like photos, cups, magazines and tickets. Among the prize tickets in his collection are those from Barfield’s 40th home run game in 1986 (Oct. 3, 1986) and the slugger’s final major league contest (June 17, 1992).
Trickey also owns a pair of pants Barfield wore while with the Yankees in 1991.
The item he’d most like to add to his collection is one of the wrist bands Barfield wore as a Blue Jay.
“I’ve always wanted one of his Mims wristbands,” said Trickey. “In the 80s, a lot of players had them.”
Those wristbands feature a head shot of Barfield on them and a stitched in autograph.
“I remember him always wearing them. You can see him wearing them on his cards,” said Trickey.
The devoted collector also has newspaper articles about Barfield from the 1980s. When he was a kid, he’d cut out the Blue Jays box scores when Barfield when in the lineup and paste them in the back of his binder.
“Some of the older stuff in my collection, I’m drawn to a little bit more than some of the stuff I’ve picked up over the past couple of years,” said Trickey.
Trickey doesn’t have his collection displayed, but rather in binders that he can leaf through.
“The thrill, to me, is in the hunt for the cards,” he said.
And though he has communicated with Barfield on social media, he has never met the former outfielder in person.
Trickey might make the two-hour trek from St. Catharines to St. Marys on June 17 to see Barfield inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.
“It would be a fun little trip to St. Marys,” said Trickey. “I’m glad to see that he’s finally being inducted.”
Despite it getting harder and harder to find items he doesn’t already have for his collection, Trickey still checks eBay every morning for Barfield items.
“One day, I’d like to be able to say that I have every card that he has, if that’s possible, but I don’t think that’s possible,” said Trickey. “But every once in a while, something pops up that I don’t have.”