I first read about statistics in two places: newsapapers and the back of baseball cards. At one point, when I was 12, I had memorized the batting averages of everyone in the 1989-1991 Topps sets. I spent a lot of time sorting through them, let's just say that.
Baseball cards, to me, are an encapsulation of the previous season with an image of the player, the player's uniform, position, and team, and the previous year's stats (hopefully with career stats). For a large base set (think Topps or Upper Deck), you can see most of the players on a team's roster along with season highlights such as league leaders and postseason highlights. They are also a reflection of the times they were printed. I mean, have you ever seen 1975 Topps, or 1995 Fleer? (if you haven't, someday there will be an updated version of scans of these cards)
I am collector. They offer me a combination of nostalgia, a sense of purpose (limited, in this sense, though it may be), and I like it, so there. I still get a thrill from opening a pack. I still get yet another thrill from getting a favorite player or even getting an insert. I am a product of collecting in the 80s and 90s after all. Inserts are what to live for (well, they are shiny).
My collection began when my mother bribed me some mornings to get ready for pre-school or kindergarten. I was a notoriously slow cereal eater. I still am; it is very easy to get distracted by objects that are not in the bowl. Back then, she was perfectly happy to spend 35 or 40 cents so that she could get to work on time. I soon graduated to getting cards when I didn't expect it....on trips to the grocery store or the mall. Ah, compromise.
Now, I collect for the joy of it. I have a bookshelf dedicated to it and a closet in another state to maintain the other pieces. At some point, I will combine them so I can conduct proper trades with people and not have too many duplicates that I don't know about.
History in your hand, excitement in tearing wax or foil, happiness in a familiar face, always growing in number...baseball cards. With more detail to come.