I've become much more active on twitter. With a little bit of shame, I can admit I'm actually starting to kind of like it. One of the people I follow is a guy named Andy Broome. He grades cards for Beckett. He routinely post pictures of counterfeit cards that people submit. It's fascinating to me, but also kind of scary. I've bought a good number of vintage cards since I got back into collecting about ten years ago. I've always been very much against the idea of "slabbing" cards and have always "freed" any graded cards that I've purchased. But I've decided to change my position on graded cards primarily due to two things that happened this past year.
The first is following Andy Broome and all his post of fake card submissions. I'd like to authenticate my cards. I think I'm pretty good at it, but some additional peace of mind wouldn't hurt. Of course I could always "free" the cards once I get them back, but that brings me to the second thing that happened this year. Someone reached out to my father with a baseball card issue. They had come into some cards. They knew nothing of them, other than one was a Ruth (and they had heard of him) so they took them to a few local card shops in their area. The best offer for the lot was $200. They were pretty sure baseball cards weren't very popular anymore, these weren't even "real" cards in shape and size, and they were told they "weren't mint" and "not that uncommon" (by more than one P.O.S. dealer who I may take the time to post about later when I get more details). Then they remembered hearing that my father had a kid who collected cards (me), so they thought they'd double check with him. It was a collection of 1921 American Caramel cards, and from the photo's I was sent, they were in very nice shape (probably 5-7 range, but sure, "not mint"). They were all set to be sold for $200 because the owners didn't know what they had. I know what I have, but my wife and daughter don't. My collection isn't going to buy a house, but it could probably buy a Ford Focus or Honda Civic. And if my daughter or wife would rather have a Civic than my cards when they eventually pass into their possession, that's fine by me, I just need to let them know what they have in a way they can understand and not get taken. I feel like having my more "valuable" cards graded is a way that will make that easier for them down the road.
With that in mind, here's a run down of my collecting goals for 2017:
1. Acquire More Tim Wallach's
This will always be my primary collecting objective. If recent numbers and patterns hold, I should easily pass 20,000 Wallach cards this year. But within the blind scatter shot hoarding there are a few specifics I'd like to focus on.
(1) Audit my Collection - I try to keep track of the cards as they come in, but I'm sure I've made mistakes. I plan on doing a hand count, and making sure my spreadsheet is accurate, as well as the numbers on the individual card pages. It sounds more daunting than it is, as I keep groups of 25 of the same card in team bags within the white boxes I store the duplicates in.
(2) Bring one card to extinction - What I mean by this, is I want to pick a card (say '83 Fleer?), and buy it out online. I'll purchase all the copies available on the major sites, Sportlots, COMC, JustCommons, etc, and try to keep up on ebay. I want to make one card an endangered species more or less. Usually on those sites, I buy all the Wallach's available from a particular seller to save on shipping. Focusing on a card rather than a seller will cost more, but I find the idea of it amusing, so I'm going to try to make it happen.
(3) Coffee Table Book - I'd like to put together a coffee table book that is at it's core a chronological catalog of Wallach's various cards, but also serves as a biography. I plan aiming at about a 12 year old reader audience. A childrens book. I remember reading a series of sports biographies that were in my elementary school library as a kid. They were all from the 60's, but I couldn't get enough of them. I feel like there's a market for something similar today. I'll probably end up sticking just to Topps cards, so I can try pitching it to Topps when it's complete. I feel like the potential is there to do something similar with a guy from every team. A series of children's book biographies of ball players supplemented with all their baseball cards through their career (and a few extra photos here and there).
2. Continue to Complete Sets
i. 1970 Topps: I currently sit 13 cards away from completing this set. I won't be doing any other set building until it's complete. Here's what I'm missing: 635, 689, 692, 696, 698, 699, 702, 703, 705, 710, 714, 715, 716
ii. 1952 Topps: I've come to peace with the reality that I'm not going to go after any hi numbers. I'm strictly looking to complete the first five series #1-310. I'm about 65% of the way there. You can follow the progress on my side project blog for 1952 Topps. I made some good progress in 2016, I don't necessarily expect to match it in 2017, but I would like to pick up at least two Hall of Famers this year. The Richie Ashburn card is a really nice one, and Yogi Berrera, Warren Spahn, and Phil Rizzuto can all be found for well under $100 apiece in well loved condition.
iii. 1976 Topps: I've grown to very much appreciate 1976 Topps as a set. It's surprisingly colorful when you start sleeving it in 9-pocket pages, and has better than average photography. The idea of completing it doesn't excite me anywhere near as much as say, taking on 1972 Topps does, but I've decided I need to focus on completing my run of single series sets from 1974-91. Once 1970 is in the books, '76 is up next.
Here's what I'm looking for: 5, 17, 24, 30, 45, 46, 48, 52, 55, 65, 69, 70, 71, 73, 74, 78, 80, 81, 84, 87, 88, 90, 91, 95, 109, 112, 118, 119, 123, 125, 128, 130, 140, 141, 146, 147, 150, 160, 169, 172, 179, 180, 185, 187, 191, 192, 196, 198, 199, 202, 203, 205, 208, 213, 215, 220, 225, 230, 241, 245, 248, 251, 255, 257, 270, 271, 272, 298, 300, 303, 304, 307, 315, 317, 318, 330, 337, 341, 342, 344, 345, 346, 347, 348, 349, 355, 361, 365, 374, 375, 392, 399, 400, 405, 416, 420, 421, 422, 424, 426, 433, 435, 445, 452, 453, 477, 479, 480, 497, 502, 508, 518, 521, 525, 531, 550, 554, 556, 561, 576, 574, 575, 578, 580, 581, 585, 587, 589, 590, 591, 594, 595, 596, 598, 600, 601, 605, 606, 608, 610, 615, 617, 620, 633, 643, 650, 652, 653, 657, 660
iv. 1977 Topps: Same idea as '76. I want to complete the singles series sets before taking on the older, multi-series/hi-numbered monsters. I have a long ways to go with '77, but at least these are easy enough to come by. I'm not posting a need list due to it's size, but if it's a set you're flush with doubles with and want to trade, email me. That goes for any of the other sets below as well that don't have individual needs listed.
v. 1974 Topps: This, if things go according to plan, should be the last of the single series sets from '74-'91 that I take on and will complete the run for me. I've got a decent start, and don't think completing '76, '77, and '74 is an impossible task this year, though I'll forgive myself if '74 sits atop this list at this time next year.
vi. 1972 Topps: I am going to try to exercise some self-control and not dive too deep into any other sets such as '72 this year. But I'm sure I'll stray a few times. Filling out a shipping limit on Sportlots is an acceptable deviation as far as I'm concerned. In a way, I can argue to myself that it's irresponsible not to.
vi. 1986-87 Fleer Basketball (sans Jordan): I love this set. I'm extremely close to finishing it, with the exception of the Jordan. I actually went so far as to buy a fake Jordan to put in the binder as a place holder. It feels dirty. I'd like to knock out all the other needs. Once I do, I'll probably move on to the '87-88 and '88-89 Fleer basketball sets as well. All three will easily fit in one binder given the tiny set sizes.
My need list: 1, 4, 9, 26, 53, 57 Jordan
vii. 2015 Topps: I haven't finished 2015 Topps. And I really liked 2015 Topps. It's just not as exciting as tracking down 1970's set needs. My typical purchase goes something like this, I give myself a $20 budget to spend on a particular set. I fill a Sportlots cart with $80 in cards from a dozen sellers, then I start trimming sellers and all the cards from them. Once it's under $20, I go and fill out the max shipping numbers for the remaining seller(s) with 18¢ cards from other sets. 2015 just never comes to mind as one to search for. I find myself picking up random 18¢ 1968 needs and the like, from other sets I have no intention of completing any time soon. This year, I'm going to make more of an effort to work backwards from 2015.
3. Single Cards
I have definitely shifted from a focus on singles to sets over the last three years, which is a complete 180 degree turn from my collecting habits for the first thirty five years of my life. But I still love my singles. Here's a list of my 10 "most" wanted. I say "most," because it's not a true ranking. If I hit the powerball tomorrow, a '52 Mantle jumps to the top of this list. As it is, I factor price into the equation. So the list represents a balance between my desire for the card, and the possibility of me actually owning the card. If I pick up two of these this year, I'd consider that a huge success.
2017 Most Wanted Cards
(images from random eBay listings)
(images from random eBay listings)
ii. 1953 Topps Satchel Paige: I love this card. I'm not the only who seems to like it, as it always seems to sell for $60+ no matter how beat up a copy is for sale. It's Paige's only Topps card, and he's featured in a St. Louis Browns uniform. As popular as this card is, I think it's one of the more over-looked pieces of cardboard that exists, and merits a much higher price point than it has.
iii. 1982 Topps Traded Cal Ripken Jr.: I was, and still remain, a rookie card collector. For the first thirty years of my collecting life, outside of Wallach cards, rookie cards were my primary focus. But I've reached a point where I more or less have all the iconic Topps rookies from '70-'91. And what remains, are crazy expensive vintage relics that I can't afford. This Ripken is the last modern Topps rookie card that I feel remiss for not owning. I'm not a huge Ripken guy, and never wanted to pay for this, but I can't justify ignoring it any longer. 1982 is also the only Topps Traded set I'm missing for the factory traded set period.
iv. 1980-81 Topps Basketball Larry Bird/Magic Johnson: I'm not a huge Bird or Magic fan, but this is one of the more iconic cards of my lifetime, and I feel like it's one I'd like to own. I picked up a very low grade Joe Montana rookie this year, and would really like to find a low grade (read "cheap") copy of this card in 2017.
v. 1952 Topps Andy Pafko: This card serves the double purpose of being one of my '52 set needs. It's priced the way it is for no other reason than it's card #1 in the first Topps set. I'm not judging, as I have it on my list for that same reason, and would want the likes of Hank Thompson or Johnny Bucha just as much had they been #1, but it's Pafko, now and forever.
vi. 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky: This card is on the fringe of the most that I've ever paid for a card, and I could probably find a Topps copy for a decent amount less. But when it comes to my hockey, I'm kind of picky, I want the OPC.
vii. 2011 Topps Update Mike Trout: I bought a lot of update in 2011. I didn't complete it, and I didn't pull a Trout. I didn't think much of it at the time, or the years after. Then I decided to start hammering out the recent update sets and about choked on my coffee. Who is driving the price on these things? There must be literally close to half a million copies of it floating around. I just need one for the set. I figure the longer I wait on this card, the lower the price will go, no matter how great Trout ends up being. I just have a theory that any mass produced base card from after, say 1973, will always end up being found for under $10.
viii. 1962 Topps Joe Pepitone: This is one of those horizontal multi-payer rookie cards in the last series of '62 Topps. I met Pepitone once and he made a great impression (contrasted with the ex-Yankee I spent all summer working with who didn't). I've been a retro-active Pepitone fan ever since and would really like to own his rookie.
ix. 1985 Topps WWF Hulk Hogan: I haven't watched WWF since Wrestlemania VII (and even then I was only checking in for the Wrestlemania, and not watching regularly anymore). But I still have positive memories of the colorful late 1980's wrestlers. Hogan wasn't my favorite by a long shot (I preferred Big Boss Man, Macho Man, and Andre the Giant), and I know he has older cards, but this is his first licensed by the WWF and it's made by Topps (and isn't stupid expensive). I feel like my collection would be better with one of these in it. The 1987 Macho Man is pretty awesome too.
x. 2002-03 Upper Deck Henrik Zetterberg: I have zero intention of paying the price this card currently demands, but I feel like it's due to drop. Zetterberg has been my guy in the NHL the last decade or so, and I'd like to own his marquee rookie. I feel like I may stumble into a trade one day or the find it for a better price, so I'm putting it on this list. I don't talk about it much on this blog, but I have good amount of Hockey cards from about 2007-12 that I could part with, without shedding much of a tear. Maybe I'll try to unload them on eBay and try to turn them into one of these.
4. 2017 Topps Base Set
I bought four packs of 2016 Topps, two of series one, two of series two. I really disliked the design. I felt personally offended by how bad it was. So decided to go the factory set route in 2016. I think I'll do it again this year. While what I've seen of 2017 isn't so bad it offends me, I'm pretty sure I don't like it. It makes me kind of dizzy to look at. Which is a bad thing. So I'll get my pack fix with Update, and maybe a stray pack of Heritage or Archives, and go factory set again. It's a drag walking by the card aisle in Target and not grabbing a a few packs every week, but it saves me money in the long run.