Sunday, March 7, 2021

Sunday Edition

Vintage Buying Spree

Today is March 7, and as of this morning I still sit approximately 660 to 792 cards away from completing the 2021 Topps set.  I don't know for sure as I haven't pulled a checklist, or any card for that matter, because I have as of yet to see a single pack of 2021 Topps for sale out in the wild.  Speaking of checklist, when did Topps decide to get rid of those?  I'd go so far as to actually build the update series if it was full of checklist, managers, record breakers, and classic style subsets, instead of fifteen variations of the flavor of the week (how's that stack of Ohtani's working out for you hit chaser guy?).

Since I've been unable to scratch my pack buying itch, I've been splurging on eBay with a ton (at least by my modest spending standards) of "low end" vintage purchases.  To be honest, I had decided long before I knew I wasn't going to be able to buy packs of cards, that 2021 would be another factory set year for me due to it's less than eye appealing design (2016, '17, and '20 were also too ugly to spend money building the traditional way).  Also, when I say "low end," that's not meant as a pejorative.  I'm just saying the "condition" of a vintage card isn't too important to me.  The traditional Near Mint, Excellent, Very Good, Good and Poor scale has always felt too snobby and overly complicated to me.  I have a three tier scale of: 1. "Wow, that's in really nice shape,"  2. "Wow, that's in nice shape," and 3. "Wow, that's a real vintage card."  I know there is a craze right now to take your card, send it a stranger not affiliated with MLB, the Players Union, or any card manufacturer, who has no professional licensing board, has no required training, or required experience of any kind, is accountable to no one, and (for a very large fee) they'll arbitrarily and subjectively tell you what shape your card is in, and give it a score like some East German Figure Skating Judge, then lock the card inside a giant ugly case that can't be opened or put in a 3 ring binder page.  To each their own I guess.  Here's a look at what I now own after a two week binge:

A half dozen 1953 Topps were the oldest of the bunch.  That black book isn't new.  It's my trusty Topps checklist book that I put together years ago and has been far more useful than I ever envisioned.  I spent the better part of a decade slowly piecing together the first 310 cards in the 1952 set.  They now sit wonderfully in 8-pocket pages inside a three ring binder.  I own exactly 2 of the 97 high numbers.  So rather than chase those, I've turned my attention to '53.  I've been slowly working on it for a few years now, and on that note, please indulge a plug for my side-project blog: 

I've long trolled eBay for low grade vintage and about ten years ago lucked into an extremely beat up, but authentic '53 Mantle, for a price that I couldn't touch today.  I started looking for the Willie Mays next and imposed a $100 price cap.  I could of landed a few of them back then for under that, but my own frugalness kept my bids even lower than that cap and they got away.  I didn't worry about it then.  Now I can't envision ever getting into one for under a grand.  Which is to say, I'll probably never complete the set.  I'm about half way done as it stands.  

If I weren't such a "Topps Snob" I would make a run at the 1955 Bowman set, don't adjust your dials, there was no pun intended.  1951 Bowman (sans the two RC's) and '54 Bowman are sets I imagine would be fun to work on as well, but won't be attempting anytime soon.  That said, there are some really great looking Bowman cards from the early 50's.  The umpires in the '55 set are definitely a run I plan to complete.  Hal Dixon here is my third umpire from the set.  The '54 Rizzuto is actually my second copy of that card.  I don't have any deep love of Phil Rizzuto, but when a '54 Bowman Rizzuto is available for less than the price of a beer at Wild Wing's, I'm not one to say no, with or without corners.

None of these cards are from sets I'm currently building.  But when I'm making a purchase from a seller who combines shipping, I look around.  1957 is set I desperately want to build, but I can only have so many efforts going at once.  That said, when the opportunity to snipe a couple on the cheap presents itself, I take it.  Luis Aparicio might be the least expensive Hall of Famer of the era to buy cards of.  I don't know why that is, but I'm all too happy to pick up his cards as a result.  

I am so close to finishing this 1972 set that I can literally taste the stale gum off the back of the cards.  This large group has me to the point that I can name the players remaining by card number as I've become very acquainted with their names.  On a side note, who the hell is paying so much for the Bobby Murcer base card and Tim Foli "In Action?"  Seriously, what gives?  Is this some sort of lesser version of the '64 Curt Flood or '66 Bart Shirley situation that I'm unaware of?  Regardless, here's what I'm still looking for (and I have nice stack of duplicates to offer in trade): 

1972: (5th Ser.) 550, 560, (High #'s) 688, 706, 708, 709, 710, 714, 719, 724, 729, 730, 751, 753

Finally I picked up this quartet of 70's set needs.  I would have bet (and lost) my arm that I already had the '76 Bench.  Maybe I did at one point, and lost it to time, but I have it again now.  The '75 Mini Carter is a big one (sorry), but I still have about 200 cards to go to finish that set.  I'm close enough that I went out and bought the mini 9-pocket pages to sleeve what I have.  The pair of '73 Topps are both set needs, but I think I'll be going after 1971 after I finish '72, but it never hurts to get a head start.

Thanks for reading.


  1. The Murcer is consistently the last card that a lot of '72 set-builders need, so much so that when I told a longtime dealer that I was looking for one card to finish the set, he immediately assumed it was the Murcer. "No," I said. "It's the Tim Foli In Action card."

  2. Who doesn't love Rizzuto? I grew up listening to him and he is one of my favorites. How many of your late-60s/early-70s needs would it take to get him?