Sunday, January 9, 2022

Looking Ahead to 2022


2022 Collecting Goals

Despite adding fewer Wallach cards in 2021 than in any year since I started this blog a decade ago, I actually did a pretty good job of sticking to the "goals" I set out for my collection in last year's "Look Ahead" post.  The big non-"aquire more" Wallach card goal I had for the year was to complete the Ten Year Anniversary post.  While I perhaps did not breakdown the stats as much as I would have liked to, I actually got it posted on time and did a pretty deep dive into the numbers and trends of my Wallach collection.  If you missed it, here's a link to it, it may not be for everyone, but I enjoyed putting it together.  So despite "only" adding 645 Wallach cards in 2021, I don't feel like the year was a bad one.  645 may also be the new norm.  At some point, I might actually start making a dent in the population of Wallach cards left in the wild.

Of the non-Wallach related collection goals (or probably more aptly described as "focus") I set for myself in 2021, I did about as well as I ever have.  I completed seven sets this year (well six, depending if you count buying the 2021 factory set as "completing a set.")  I knocked off the 2009 and 2010 base sets, as well as the 1977, 1976, 1974 and 1972 Topps sets.  The 1972 Topps set is probably the biggest sense of "accomplishment" I've ever felt with regards to card collecting.  I also knocked off a couple of cards from "Ten Most Wanted List," picking up the '72 Ron Cey, '71 Nolan Ryan, and a 1971 Topps Basketball Lew Alcindor.  It's not Kareem's rookie, but it is his first standard sized Topps card.  As you can see below, it has a slightly dinged corner, but I still love it.

I don't really know what my expectations for 2022 are as far as the goals I'm laying out below are.  To be honest, if I can manage to keep up with this blog and post the cards people send me in something resembling a timely manner, that's good enough for me.  On the other hand, maybe I'll get the itch and the atmosphere around the hobby will improve and I'll dive head first back into cards.  It's been an unpredictable two years, and continued unpredictability is the only thing I feel confident in.

1. Acquire More Tim Wallach's

Once again this will be my primary collecting objective.  I currently sit at just under 28,000 cards in my collection.  I'm not sure I'll get there this year, but 29,000 cards is a milestone that sort of demands attention (Wallach wore #29).  It'd be nice to reach it and maybe come up with some sort of gimmick to mark the occasion.

Aside from sheer numbers, here's a few things I'd like to do related to the blog this year.  I'm calling them "ideas" rather than "goals":

(1) Bring one card to extinction - I probably sound like a broken record with this idea, as I post it every year, and have never made a serious effort to pursue it.  Maybe this will be the year I pick a card and make it disappear from Sportlots, eBay, and every other major online retailer, you better complete your '83 Topps sets now before this decades '66 Bart Shirley emerges.

(2) Variations - This is another repeat from last year, but I didn't get around to it, and I'd still like to do it. I want to post all the variations, however slight, that exists on Wallach cards.  Be it paint splatter patterns on '90 Donruss, or glow in the dark '91 Topps, I want to create a reference page for all them, as most of them apply to every card in the sets and I feel like people may be able to use it for their own collecting needs.

(A custom I found online)

(3) Custom Cards - I suspect that at some point I'm going to take a deep dive into this.  The first cards I'd like to create are cards that I feel like should have been made but weren't, such as 1981 Topps/Donruss/Fleer cards of Wallach, a 1985 Topps All-Star card, and 1996 and '97 Topps cards.  Beyond that, I really like the idea of swapping photos.  For instance taking the photo from 1986 Fleer and sticking it on the border of a 1986 Topps.  I don't know that this is the year I refresh my photoshop skills (they've gone dormant since my punk band disbanded 20 years ago and I stopped doing album art and posters), but it's on my radar.

2. Continue to Complete Sets

(Bob Veale was the final card in my '72 Set)

As I mentioned above, I made huge progress in my set building this year, completing seven different sets.  I'll probably "cheat" and buy a factory set again this year for 2022 as I don't see the frenzy around packs dying down at all (and who wants to deal with that?).  If cards are available again, it'd be nice to do it by way of a few packs at a time this year, as the design isn't bad and I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss buying packs.  Either way, it'll work itself out.  My vintage set builds however will require a little more focus.

i. 1973 Topps: I'm currently a mere 16 cards away from knocking off this set, and most of the high dollar cards are in hand.  Dwight Evans figures to be the biggest hit to the wallet of the remaining cards. This is in line to be the third "series'd" Topps set I complete and the thrill hasn't become any less. Here's a link to what I need in '73 Topps (and every other set I'm working on). 

ii. 1971 Topps: I'm roughly a 100 cards short of finishing this set, needing almost exclusively high and semi-high numbers.  I picked up a Nolan Ryan this year, leaving Roberto Clemente as the biggest hurdle remaining.  I anticipate finishing this set before the end of the year, which will leave me with a run of complete Topps sets from 1970 through 1994.  The biggest issue I'll have after that is whether to focus on filling in 1995 to 2007 (which to be honest doesn't excite me), or picking another set from the 60's to focus on (which excites me but will really push my definition of what constitutes a "reasonable" collecting budget).

iii. 1953 Topps: Somehow I find my self only 26 cards short of completing this set.  Willie Mays looms large as a need, but the Mantle, Paige, and Robinson are all already in hand.  Ten years ago I started buying a ton of low grade (often extremely low grade) vintage on eBay.  Turns out I was hitting the market at the right time and ended up with most of the Hall of Famers from this set for pennies on the dollar for what it's costing me to close it out.  I'm in no hurry to pay for the Mays, but it's conceivable that I'll be one card short of completing in the near future.

iv. 1975 Topps Mini: This isn't a huge priority for me at this point, but as the sets above get crossed off, by way of attrition it could move up the list, unless I become distracted by something else, like say 1962 Topps, or a vintage O-Pee-Chee hockey build.

v. 1986-87, 1987-88 and 1988-89 Fleer Basketball: Sure, technically this is three sets, but they're small and I keep them all in the same three-ring binder.  I'm also only two cards short of finishing the '86-87 set and one card short of completing the '88-89 set, so it seemed silly to list on them on their own.  The '87-88 set is missing 15 cards, including the wildly overpriced Jordan.  Absent finding one of those in the worst condition ever, I don't see myself finishing it this year.

3. Single Cards

I bought more singles this year than I have in years.  Most of them weren't on last years list, but probably should have been given how much I enjoyed them.  Here's what I'm going with this year as my Top Ten.

2022 Most Wanted Cards
(images from random eBay listings)

i. 1953 Topps Willie Mays: For the third year in a row this card is number one on this list.  Five or six years ago, I thought, not entirely unrealistically either, that I may be able to get a well worn copy for under a $100.  Currently, anything less than $1000 would have to be considered a steal.  For that reason, this card may be number 1 on this list again next year.

ii.  1987-88 Fleer Michael Jordan:  Like the Mays, this card remains #2 on this list for a third year in a row.  I have watched it go up in price exponentially over that time, but like the Mays, figure this market is due for a crash sooner or later.  Less than mint copies routinely sold in the $35-50 range a few years ago.  It's about 5x that figure now.  

iii.  1961 Fleer Dolph Schayes "Shoots":  If you've read this blog enough, you're probably aware that I bleed orange when it comes to Syracuse Basketball.  That fandom doesn't extend to the now non-existent Syracuse Nationals, but I would like to have a card of Schayes, who led the Nationals to the NBA Championship in 1955.  There aren't a lot of Dolph Schayes cards to choose from, but I really like this one, and I don't mind that it's not even his actual base card from the set, it just looks cool.  Dolph's son Danny was also one of the first big stars to play for Jim Boeheim in the early 80's before enjoying a long NBA career of his own.   

iv. 1962 Topps Jim Bouton:  For a few years running, the 1962 Topps Rookie Parade featuring Joe Pepitone appeared on this list.  I finally acquired one about 18 months ago.  I like it so much that I've decided I need the Jim Bouton as well.  I'd probably be equally happy with a Bob Uecker, but The Ueck is currently going for prices that I can't justify.  Also, the Pepitone has been prominently displayed on my bookshelf, near a copy of "Ball Four," so it sort of makes sense to me to swap it out with one of these.

v.  1986-87 Fleer Larry Bird:  I don't like the Boston Celtics.  I don't particularly like Larry Bird (as someone to root for, by all accounts he seems to be a fine person off the court).  But this card has moved all the way up to #5 on this list, as I currently sit two cards away from completing this set (plus some stickers that I'm not too concerned with).  You can probably guess the other card I need, but I'm not dropping a grand (plus?) on a single mass produced junk wax card from the 1980's.  I currently have a very nice looking counterfeit copy of the sneaker king in my set binder, and once I add this Bird I'll more or less consider the set "complete" for now. 

vi.  1957 Topps Johnny Podres:  Occasionally I'll see a random card on eBay or Twitter that I didn't previously know existed, and get the immediate urge to own one.  At the moment, this is "that" card.  The 1961 Topps Felipe Alou is also on my radar at the moment, but I'll worry about that after I have this Podres with the magnificent scoreboard in the background in hand.

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 and I suspect the minds of a lot of other collector's my age.  If I were pressed on a Mt. Rushmore of baseball cards for my demographic, I'd probably point to this card, the '68 Ryan, the '84 Donruss Matttingly, and probably '86 Donruss Canseco.  Feel free to disagree, it won't hurt my feelings.

viii. 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky:  Like the Rose above, my desire for this card probably outweighs it's ranking on this list, but the money tree I planted hasn't been producing yet (I may have been hustled on those magic seeds).  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.  

ix. 2003-04 Topps Carmelo Anthony: As mentioned above in the Dolph Schayes paragraph, I'm a Syracuse fan.  Over the years I've hoarded Lawrence Moten and John Wallace cards the way I do Wallach cards (I just don't blog about it and on a much smaller scale).  I have a binder of nothing but former Orangemen, from Dave Bing, to Rony Seikaly to Jonny Flynn and everyone in between and after.  Yet somehow I've never bothered to pick up Carmelo's rookie card.  It's an oversight I need to correct.

x. 2002-03 Upper Deck Henrik Zetterberg: This card is #10 on this list for at least the 3rd year in a row.  Hank's been out of the league quite awhile now, his Hall of Fame chances don't look too strong, and yet this card continues to demand crazy amounts of money on the rare occasion one shows up for sale.  Who is out there dropping a grand on this borderline obscure card of a quickly being forgotten retired Swedish hockey player?

So that's a wrap for my goals "focus" this year.  Thanks for reading, and best of luck to all of you with your 2021 collecting.


  1. Worthy pursuits, although I don't understand the basketball.

    The price of Jordans and the Uecker shows how out of whack the hobby is now. You're wise to wait them out.

    If I had custom-card skills, I'd be doing that a lot (and featuring them on my blog). I have ideas I've never seen on other custom cards. But I'd probably want to print them and in high quality and I can't see wasting money on that.

    1. I 100% intend to print the customs if I ever make them. I think it'll be more an issue of find the right stationary to use. I'll definitely post about it if I get around to it.

  2. Awesome that you're only a few cards away from 1953 Topps. And it would be a great accomplishment to finish the '86-'87 Fleer basketball set.

    Hopefully you can get the Melo RC for a decent price. I got it for a few bucks probably 10 years ago just to have it. Right around the start of the pandemic I wanted a Carmelo autograph, but was scoffing at the $40-$50 price tag. Now they are a lot more and I'm kicking myself.