Panini America Collector Aaron Mitchell & His Freshman Orientation Project
In this edition of the Panini America Personal Collection Spotlight, Florida resident and Michigan native Aaron Mitchell describes, in his own words, how he came to complete the 2010 Rookies & Stars Freshman Orientation Prime set.
“I am a diehard Detroit Lions fan. I found myself at the local card shop in Raleigh, N.C., soon after the release of 2010 Rookie & Stars Football. Of course, I bought a few packs and pulled a jersey card. The following weekend I found myself again at the LCS buying 2010 Rookie & Stars packs. I took the last five packs in the box that day. Unfortunately, only one pack had a hit in it but it was a Freshman Orientation jersey card of a player from my favorite team, Ndamukong Suh.
“The card was great and I was thrilled. I recently got back into collecting after taking about eight years off so a lot of the designs intrigued me so much I decided to do the Freshman Orientation Jersey set numbered to 249. This was a big decision for me since I was kind of new the hobby. When I was collecting in the 1990s there weren’t too many jersey autos out there. The owner of the shop was out of packs but as we started to talk more, he told me to try eBay or card forums. Since I hadn’t been around for a while I had no idea about card forums and the use of the Internet to get specific cards.
“That weekend, once I got home I was online searching for Freshman Orientation cards. I really did not see much on the few forums I found so I tried eBay. I typed in the set name and found several cards I was pretty happy with, but when I scrolled down I found a Suh card like mine but this one had three colors instead of one. At the time I had no idea about patch cards and it was numbered to only 50. I had to have that card! Once I bought the card I was looking for the other Detroit Lions’ draft pick from that class in the set, Jahvid Best. I found that card a few days later. After I received both cards in the mail, I was absolutely in love with the set.
“I went online and printed off the checklist and the journey was on. I searched all over online and at card shows looking for the 2010 Rookies & Stars Freshman Orientation Prime Set. I bought about five cards over the next few weeks, making that seven cards of the 35 in the set, with most of the players being middle-of-the-road players. Over the months I gathered more and more cards for the set and probably had completed about 55-65 percent of the set at that time.
“I noticed the cards were getting harder and harder to find. The set was taking a lot longer to complete than I thought it would so I was thinking about stopping because I was getting frustrated. In March of 2011 I was in the middle of moving back and forth between North Carolina and Michigan and then down to Florida. So I was not looking for cards for the set at the time. Once I got settled in Florida, I started my search again. Like I said, the cards were getting harder and harder to find so I was traveling to all the local card shops here in south Florida looking for packs and boxes of 2010 Rookie & Stars looking to nab my specific needs.
“It took a lot of money and time. As it came down to the last five cards I needed, I would go on searches online for hours and hours looking at different player and team collectors’ collections. I have seen many cards for this set but a lot of the cards were one-color patches and I did not want that for my set. I wanted the card to pop out in color so I was picky on which cards I bought for the set. I actually received the last card for the set in November of 2011. After I got the package, I was so happy and so excited to have completed my first ever patch set. I felt so accomplished because it took so long and so many hours of my time and lots of money.
“My favorite card in this set would be my Suh card just because that’s what got this all started. But I also like the Tim Tebow card, although it’s a two-color patch, the card is numbered 15 of 50, his jersey number. Some of the cards I have bought are the only cards I have seen online, so that means a lot of the cards for the set are out
there. I would love to upgrade all of my patches, but since I have the set finished, I haven’t been looking that much. I am trying to figure which set to do next. I really like the 2011 Totally Certified Certified Future Prime out of 49, so I’m leaning toward that one right now.”