Meet Matt Strahm: The Boston Red Sox free agent signee is a ‘pack rat’ card collector who hasn’t had a ‘legitimate’ haircut since July 1, 2017

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Matt Strahm, a left-handed reliever the Red Sox signed Sunday to a one-year, $3 million deal, calls himself a “pack rat” baseball card collector.

“Everything I buy in the box and open is my collection. I’m not looking for chase cards,” Strahm said here at JetBlue Park on Friday.

He then stopped and added, “Unless… I have a collection that I keep.”

“I get a card from everyone who took me deep into the big leagues,” he explained. “I call it my book.”

He allowed 37 home runs during his major league career.

“A few guys had me twice,” he said. “I don’t have them all. I have a few guys whose cards I can’t find, which kind of rubs me the wrong way. But I will end up chasing them.

Meet the new guy. Strahm, 30, has a career ERA of 3.81 in 260 major league innings (157 outings, 25 starts). He throws a two-seam fastball, a four-seam fastball, a curveball, a slider and a change.

He’s not just a baseball player. He’s a card collector with his own YouTube channel, Strahm’s Stadium Pulls. The long-haired left-hander opens packs of baseball cards at various stadiums he visits.

“I love the thrill of packs,” he said. “It’s kind of what my YouTube is. It’s about opening the cards and showing people the product. I try to keep it as authentic as possible with what I collect.

Strahm started collecting (and trading) cards when he was a kid.

“I would always get the team sets,” Strahm said. “And then I would take out all the Minnesota Twins and the Derek Jeters and the Nomar Garciaparras, all of those, and then I’d try to trade for more Minnesota Twins with all my other friends with the other cards I had (to the left).”

He grew up as a Minnesota Twins fan in West Fargo, North Dakota. Yes, he lives right next to the set of the film and the show “Fargo”.

“We’re right next door,” he said. “We are grouped with Fargo. But we’re proud not to be Fargo. We are West Fargo.

He stopped collecting around the second year of high school. But his brother put him back in the saddle in 2018 when they lived together during the offseason.

“Once I was in pro ball, I was a little scared of being the guy who gets his teammates back,” Strahm said. “Looking back on it, I regret it very much.”

Strahm’s brother, Ben Strahm, 25, was drafted by the Giants in 2018. He now plays Indy Ball for the New York Boulders.

“He would bring these boxes home, open them. And finally, I was like, “Hey, let me open one.” That’s when I hit that Tati,” Strahm said.

He then calls his teammate Fernando Tatis Jr. “Tati”. The Tatis rookie card (with a green border) was inside the pack and one of only 99 made.

“I was hooked from there,” he said. “I was like, ‘OK, that’s great.’ It made me feel like I was 12 again. I get chills just talking about cards. I love it.”

His favorite card he pulled from a deck while doing one of his YouTube shows is a Pete Alonso SuperFractor Card Autograph.

How many baseball cards does he have?

“Oh my God. If I told you I could get a divorce next week,” Strahm joked. “Then I’m not going to do that.”

He said he had a whole guest room full of maps and he could barely fit in there.

“My wife has her Platoon in there and she’s like, ‘Yo. You have to move some of it into the garage or something,'” Strahm said.

He downsized by donating stacks and stacks of cards. He also gives the vast majority of the cards from each box he buys to his brother.

“When I open a box, I’d say 80% of the box I don’t want,” Strahm said. “I just gave it to my brother. I let him do what he wants with it. I just tell him I want a box back. Because I usually open four to six boxes of each product. And then I’ll give 80% of those six boxes to my brother. And I’m like, ‘Once you have enough money for a box, you want the box and you can keep the rest.’ »

Strahm hasn’t had a haircut since July 1, 2017, when he pitched for the Royals.

“I got a haircut, went to the park, blew my knee that night and I’m a superstitious guy,” he said. “I put my sock on my left foot first every day. And once I was traded (to San Diego), I was in a relationship for four months. I couldn’t really sit in a barber chair. So I kind of gave up. I had no obligation during the offseason to look good. So he went through the tricky stage and I’ve been growing him ever since. So July 2017 was my last legit haircut.

He had short hair when he married in 2015.

“My daughter (soon to be 17 months), when we pass our wedding pictures hanging in the hallway, she calls ‘Mom’ all the time. But never ‘Dad’ because Dad has short hair.

Strahm points to himself in the photos but his daughter still only says “Mom”.

“The woman likes long hair,” he said. “I almost cut it with our little one because she was like constantly tugging on it. But I managed to take that step.

He has no intention of cutting it anytime soon.

“I remember Johnny Damon and then all of a sudden, just clean shaven, it didn’t look good,” he said.

Strahm has only played six games in 2021 due to more knee issues.

He underwent surgery in October 2020 to repair his patellar tendon. He expected to return around July. But a bone spur formed on his kneecap. This prevented him from achieving full extension of his knee. He tried to get through.

“It got to a point where I couldn’t straighten my leg anymore,” he said. “I couldn’t walk normally. So it was like, ‘I need this fixed.’ I fixed this in September and just needed time.

Darin Erstad and Joe Mauer were his two favorite players growing up.

“I have a lot of Darin Erstad cards,” he said. “My switch plate in my bedroom at my parents’ house is still Darin Erstad. I collected a lot of Erstad (cards). Lots of Minnesota Twins. Kirby Puckett, Torii Hunter, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau. They were my guys.

Strahm also said he was “a big outdoorsman”.

“I love hunting. I like fishing. In fact, I really like ice fishing. My dad is big into it. Anything outside, I’m always up for it.

He can’t wait to pitch in front of Fenway fans.

“I planted there once as a visitor,” he said. “It was unreal.”

He pitched at Fenway with the Royals in 2016, David Ortiz’s final season.

“I have to face him,” Strahm said. “That’s what I came to face.”

How did it go?

“I asked him to hit a really hard ground ball for a double play,” Strahm said. “But it was very hard.”

Strahm was pumped when the Red Sox showed interest in him after the lockout.

“Especially with how the last year has gone for me, I’ve heard good things about this medical staff here,” Strahm said. “And just watching these guys last year, the camaraderie this team had. They were having fun. And baseball is fun. This team looks like it’s having a lot of fun. So when Boston called and threw his hat in the ring, it was pretty straightforward for me at the time. It’s the Boston Red Sox. That’s the story right there. It’s a great organization to be a part of.

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