Monday, January 6, 2020

Sunday Edition - 2020 Goals

Looking Forward

It's been a few years since I've done one of these post.  I know I started one last year, but by the time the calendar turned to April and I still hadn't finished, I figured it was time to let it go.  Hopefully I hit publish on this one and someone is reading this.

Looking back at my previous "Goals for the New Year" posts, they strike me as pretty, or probably more aptly stated, overly, ambitious.  I don't think my desire to collect cards has waned in the slightest, I just think I've become more comfortable with the realities of my time, budget, and space.  I am content with what I'm doing, and still consider card collecting, "The Hobby," to be a positive aspect in my life.  So why mess with a good thing?

That said, it still doesn't hurt to have some outline of what I'm doing and where I'm going.  Here's what I hope to do in 2020:

1. Acquire More Tim Wallach's

This will always be my primary collecting objective.  2019 brought the total number of Wallach cards in my collection to 24,813 cards.  A target number I'd like to reach this year is 26,500 cards.  That would put 29,000 within reach by 2021.  I've had 29,000 set as a milestone in my head for a number of years now.  I don't know what I'll do to commemorate it, but it's starting to sneak up on me and it may be time to start thinking about it.  (Wallach wore #29 for all but 195 of his 2,212 games played)

So aside from sheer numbers, here's a few things I'd like to do with Wallach cards this year:

(1) Bring one card to extinction - This is an idea I've talked about for a few years now, but have never had the discipline to attempt.  The idea 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 maybe even ebay.  I want to make one card an endangered species more or less.  The problem is shipping cost.  I get on Sportlots, and load up a cart with all of the '85 Topps, and realize I could use that money to buy about 6x as many cards if I just of focused on sellers rather than a particular card.

(2) Variations - Anyone who pays attention as likely noticed the post on this blog have become pretty sporadic and less frequent over the last few years.  It's a combination of lack of time, and lack of material.  There just aren't a lot of new Wallach cards to post.  One thing I have wanted to chronicle on this blog are the variations that exists.  While I don't really care all that much about the minor differences that occur on the borders of various 1991 Donruss, the fact is that there are differences, and if this blog is going to be an index of Tim Wallach baseball cards, I should probably start pointing them out.

(3) Custom Cards - I've long wanted to mess around with custom Wallach cards.  There's the obvious option of making cards that were never made, but probably should have been, like '81, '96, and '97 Topps.  But perhaps more appealing to me, is creating sort of "Franken-Cards."  What I mean by this is swapping the photos from cards that were made, and putting them onto other set designs.  For instance, use the 1984 Topps Sticker photo, on all of the other 1984 sets from Fleer, Donruss, Topps, ect..  I don't know that I'll find time to do this (I'm also working on a CBGB's film documentary from footage I have from the time my old band played there), but it's an idea I'm playing with.

2. Continue to Complete Sets

2018 Topps was the only set I completed last year.  I did make significant progress on over a half dozen others, even believing I had purchased the final cards in a few sets, only to discover holes while sleeving them.
While I shouldn't have any issues knocking off a few of the modern sets this year, I would really like to polish off a couple of sets from the 1970's.  While it would be nice to say I'm going to finish off 1972, the reality is that would come at the expense of everything else.  So instead I'm going to focus on knocking off the non-series'd sets from the 70's that I still need complete.  That said, I'm sure I'll be filling out the lower series in '71, '72, and '73.  Here are my tentative Top Set priorities this year:

i. 1974 Topps: I've never made a much of an active effort to complete 1974 Topps, but somehow it sits near completion.  '74 Topps have always seemed to sort of fall into my lap, which is probably why it's never been a focus.  It's time to cross the set off my list.  Winfield, Ryan, Rose, and other would be pocket busters are already in hand, as well as the McCovey "Nat'l League" variant, so it's just a matter of sifting through a website at this point.

1974 Topps: 3, 29, 43, 50, 53, 80, 95, 125, 130, 153, 179, 229, 265, 280, 297, 323, 331, 333, 337, 461, 470, 473, 482, 500, 582, 596, 598, 600, 604, 605, 622, 637

ii. 1977 Topps: I don't anticipate this being too difficult a task, all of these cards are abundant and easy to find, and nothing in the set is going to break the bank.  Dawson and Murphy have long been in hand, and the Ryan isn't going to be the same obstacle it was in the 1970 set.  That said, I still need quite a few of them.  Here's what I'm looking for:

1977 Topps: 6, 8, 10, 34, 74, 100, 111, 113, 130, 167, 183, 208, 210, 230, 231, 232, 234, 265, 270, 276, 277, 285, 286, 287, 299, 320, 327, 355, 256, 387, 390, 412, 414, 418, 428, 430, 433, 434, 435, 437, 439, 445, 450, 467, 473, 476, 484, 494, 495, 498, 504, 516, 518, 522, 541, 546, 547, 560, 564, 571, 580, 597, 615, 621, 630, 632, 632, 634, 638, 647, 650, 655, 656

iii. 1976 Topps:  This would be the final single series Topps set I need to hammer out, and would give me a complete run from 1974 to 1992.  These sets aren't as much fun to build as the earlier set series (the thrill of finding a high number need at a great price is hard to match), but it's still very satisfying to finish them off.

1976: 17, 24, 45, 48, 55, 73, 78, 104, 118, 119, 128, 130, 147, 150, 160, 169, 172, 179, 192, 202, 205, 230, 300, 330, 341, 344, 345, 347, 348, 420, 421, 435, 480, 504, 531, 550, 581, 589, 590, 595, 596, 598, 606, 620, 643, 650

iv. Modern Topps: My need list for 2008, 2009, 2015, and 2019 are all four cards or less.  The only real headache here is the 2015 Kris Byrant card.  I know for a fact that I pulled at least one (I'm pretty sure more) of those from packs in 2015.  Somehow I lost it (or them).  I may have given one away to a friend with a kid who was a Cubs fan, but I really don't remember.  I just know I'm not much of a Cubs fan (that's a diplomatic way of saying it), I think Bryant is wildly overrated, and paying more than a buck or two for any base card printed as recently as 2015 seems like madness to me given the print runs.  Had I known the stupid thing was going demand $10 a few years later, I probably wouldn't have so quickly dismissed it in 2015.

v. 1988-89 Fleer Basketball: I'm working on all three of the Fleer sets from 1986-89, but Michel Jordan is causing problems for me in the first two sets.  So while I search for a Jordan that is in sufficiently terrible condition to put it in my price range for the first two sets, I'd like to go ahead and finish off this one.  Jordan is already in hand too.

1988-89 Fleer Basketball: 9, 16, 21, 25, 43, 57, 64, 85, 115, 123, 124, 125, 129

And the other two sets if you're interested:

1986-87: 9, 57

1987-88: 1, 3, 9, 11, 19, 20, 21, 22, 24, 25, 27, 31, 33, 34, 35, 37, 41, 42, 48, 49, 54, 56, 59, 61, 63, 68, 69, 74, 75, 76, 77, 79, 80, 83, 85, 92, 95, 97, 98, 99, 106, 109, 118, 123

3. Single Cards

Rookie Cards, for many years as a kid, were my only collecting focus outside of Wallach cards.  While I've definitely shifted to a set builder, I still have a soft spot, or compulsive need, to collect the occasional single card.  I'm not sure a single marquee card crossed my desk in 2019.  I believe the 1980-81 Topps Magic Johnson/Larry Bird was my last "big" pickup, but that may have been in 2018.  That doesn't mean there aren't still a few coveted pieces of cardboard I wouldn't love to have in my collection.  Here's what I'm currently craving, albeit, I don't expect to acquire more than one or two of them this year, if any.  I have added self-handicapped "odds" as to the likelihood of picking each of these up.

2020 Most Wanted Cards
(images from random eBay listings)

i. 1953 Topps Willie Mays: While not listed above, I am currently working on a 1953 set build.  With a little progress, there's a good chance it'll sit at number one on my set list if I do this post next year.  Willie would certainly be "a little progress."  Through chance and circumstance, I've already acquired most of the big names in the set, however the Mays remains elusive.  He's also what qualifies as a short-print in the set.  While the '53 short prints, they don't demand anything close in price to what their '52 counterparts.

Odds I own one this time next year: 33%  Finding one of these, no matter how beat up it is, is tough to do for under $200, and I generally don't like paying anything close to that for cards.  Chances are I hold off picking this card up until it's the last, or close to the last, card I need for the set.

ii.  1987-88 Fleer Michael Jordan:  I passed on a chance to own fairly beat up copy of this card for under $25 last year.  I've sort of been kicking myself as a result, as I haven't seen one go for anything close to that since.  This sophomore Fleer set doesn't have the sort of rookie star power that the two sets it's sandwiched between do, and as result is often over looked.

Odds I own one this time next year: 75%  I'm currently tracking this card on an eBay watch list.  If one shows up in one piece for under $30, I'll probably bite. 

iii. 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky:  I more than dabble in hockey cards, and have slowly built up what I consider a half-way respectable collection of NHL cardboard.  This Gretzky would obviously be a crown jewel.  While I have no minimum standards for condition, I am stubborn when it comes to OPC vs Topps.  I want the OPC.  I wouldn't mind owning a Topps, but it wouldn't crack this list if it were 50 cards long.

Odds I own one this time next year: 5%  I have next to zero ambition of owning one of these this year.  I still sneak a peak at eBay listings from time to time, and if one showed up at the right price, I may bite, but I'm not counting on it.  It's a card for another day.

iv. 1962 Topps Joe Pepitone:  This is one of those horizontal multi-payer "Rookie Parade" cards in the last series of '62 Topps.  I met Pepitone once and he made a great impression (contrasted with the other 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.  You could also substitute the '62 Bob Uecker or '62 Jim Bouton into this #4 spot and I'd be every bit as pleased.  I'm not listing all three in the interest of keeping this list diverse.

Odds I own one (or a Uecker or Bouton) this time next year: 20%  The sticker price on these is alarmingly high.  Once I complete the 70's Topps sets, I have my eye on '62 Topps as my next vintage effort.  Once that happens, I'll be more prepared to justify (stomach) the price tag and these cards and will likely pick them up in short order.  I just don't expect it to be in 2020.

v. 1982 Topps Traded Cal Ripken Jr.:  I consider this to be one of the most overrated cards in the history of The Hobby.  It drives me bonkers when anyone call's it a Ripken "rookie."  It's not his "rookie," it's not even his first Topps card.  By the time this card was printed, kids already had three different Cal Ripken cards to choose from.  So does having it on this list make me a hypocrite?  Probably.  But in my quest to complete the Topps set runs, I've started to track down the Traded Sets.  1982 Topps Traded can't be put in the books without this card.

Odds I own one this time next year: 10%  I will almost certainly pick up this card as part of the 1982 Traded Box Set.  Holding me back, beside the price, is I don't know what to do with the Traded Sets I have.  Most are still in the little colored boxes.  I'd like to page them and keep with with the sets in 3 ring binders, but the binders I have the sets in are too small, and I don't want to go to 4'' binders.  I may end up just doing "Traded Binders" with multiple Traded Sets to a binder.  But until I decide, this card isn't likely to find a place in my collection.

vi. 1962 Topps Football Jim Brown:  A couple of years back when I did this post, a 1962 Topps Football Ernie Davis was the #1 card on it.  I've since picked one up, and it's one of the only cards I keep prominently displayed in public view inside my house.  I was lucky enough to find a '58 Jim Brown a few years back, and tried displaying it next to the Ernie Davis.  It just didn't look right.  But I think the matching '62 Brown would look great next to the Ernie Davis, and hope to have the Syracuse legends side by side at some point.

Odds I own one this time next year: 55%  There's a decent chance this will end up being an impulse by some day when I'm feeling sorry for myself for not wanting to pay for a '53 Mays or the card below.

vii. 1963 Topps Pete Rose:  I've wanted this card since I was about five years old, following Rose's assault on Ty Cobb's record.  It should probably be higher on this list, but the reality is that it just isn't a priority right now, even if it's place in my subconscious warrants it.  This is sort of "The" baseball card in my mind.

Odds I own one this time next year: 1%  One day, I will own this card.  But for now it's sort of like the player to be named later.

viii. 1985 Topps WWF Hulk Hogan:  On the other end of the spectrum from the Rose is this Hogan.  I could have it delivered next week for less than the price of a 12-pack of Coors.  I just haven't found the motivation.  I also 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.

Odds I own one this time next year: 15%  The issue with this card is that when it comes time to drop the $3-8 to buy and ship it, I start thinking about all the '77 Topps commons those same few bucks could purchase.

ix. Bill Murray Baseball Card: I don't really care which one, there are several to choose from.  I just know i want one.

Odds I own one this time next year: 10%  Periodically I'll see someone post one of these Murray cards on Twitter or a blog and I'll immediately take to eBay looking for one.  And just as quickly, I get scared away by the price.

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 was my guy in the NHL over the course of his career, and I'd like to own his marquee rookie.  It annoys me to no end to see the writting on that wall when comes to how Zetterberg's legacy is going to be remembered (people who clearly don't know hockey actually have the gall to debate his Hall of Fame merit), but on the flip side that may make it easier to pick up this card.

Odds I own one this time next year: 5%  As much as I'd love to own this card, I don't pay anything close to the price tag it carries for cards that came out much after around 1973. 

4. 2020 Topps Base Set

My first impression of 2020 Topps isn't,...isn't what I'd describe as "good."  It's a little too generic for my liking, with a bit of an internet fake-card type vibe too it.  That said, at least it's distinct.  After a long run of more or less indistinguishable white bordered designs from like 2009-14, at least this is different and unique.  I'd rather Topps try something "different" and create a terrible looking card (looking at you 2016), than pump out bland boring sets year after year.  Some of my favorite vintage sets today, are sets I could not stand 20 years ago.

So with regards to this set, I'll buy a few packs, see how it feels, then decide whether to go the cheaper factory set route, or do a build through packs.  If my first impression doesn't change once I have a few in hand, 2020 is going to be a factory set year.

Thanks for reading, and best of luck to all of you with your 2020 collecting goals.


  1. 1. The 2020 Topps design looks more like Bowman than Bowman. Not a fan.

    2. Shhh on the '82 Traded Ripken being overrated! That has been the most expensive card I've owned up to probably 2018! Still trying to fund that retirement!

    3. The custom card idea sounds interesting.

    4. CBGB documentary ... what?

  2. OK, some stuff:

    1. I have a few more Wallachs for you, but not enough for you to make any of them extinct. I dare you to try to make '88 Topps or Donruss Wallach extinct, though.

    2. I may be able to help with '74, '76 and '77 Topps, and aside from Bryant, I can check the modern stuff, too.

    3. I'm almost positive I have a spare Hogan for you.

    4. If I ever decide to sell or trade my Bill Murrays (I have 5 different, including a PSA 10 of the Brockton Rox one), I'll let you know.