I gave a darn about my baseball cards a couple of weeks ago for the first time in almost a year.
Cleaning out some of the junk from my house recently, I pondered over this collection of boxes at the corner of my bedroom closet. This was a collection that I had brought over from my parents house – when I moved out 4 years ago – to try to sell as one bundled collection. That didn’t work, and they just took space in my closet.
Then I thought about breaking this collection into custom sets, and selling them from there. (Pictured above is a “Stars of 1992” baseball card starter set of about 500 cards. This is a mix of cards from that year’s Fleer, Donruss, Stadium Club, and Fleer Ultra sets. All cards in mint condition. Includes players who were stars then, stars before, and stars after this year.)
I have about 8,500 cards that I’m trying to get rid of. I will post these on Facebook and on the Facebook spring cleaning websites to try to get rid of them.
As I was going over it all, I estimated that my final number of cards – rounded to the nearest thousand – was about 43,000. I had about 1,000 more before giving them to Jordan a couple of years ago.
Baseball cards were just toys scattered in out wooden toy box when I was about 3. The oldest card I have held on to – for 26 years now – is a 1986 Topps Jose Rijo, rounded corners and everything – which has been put in a plastic case with my handwriting reading “Card #1”.
One day, not too long after moving to our new house in Rock Falls (back in 1993), I decided to dig up all of the cards I could find in our family’s possession and put them in a separate box. When I brought all of them to school for 1st grade Show and Tell one day, there were about 100 cards.
One of my 1st grade classmates, Jared, also collected cards, but took care of them much better than I did. His cards were in plastic album pages in three-ring binders. He lived across the street from me, and this was kind of our prime similarity toward us becoming best friends in grade school.
In Jared’s possession were these cards of players from the 1950s. He really thought they were from the 1950s. We would take our cards over to each others houses, along with a Beckett baseball card price guide magazine, and look up the prices for our cards. So we looked back at the 1954 Topps listing, and the cards – needless to say – were worth a substantial amount of money.
However, I soon figured out that these cards were a 1994 replica of the 1954 set. The Tommy Lasorda rookie card he had wasn’t worth $100. Stupid me had to break the truth to him and spoil the thrill, but looking back now I probably shouldn’t have said something until we got much older.
There was this baseball card shop across from First Avenue in Rock Falls called Gold Glove. However, I couldn’t visit it because it was across a busy street, and I had been caught going across busy streets many times by various members of my family. Then a new sports store opened next to the RF Post Office called 1st and 10. This place sold cards at the front counter along with other sports merchandise.
I began to raid the “dime box” of cards with what little money I had saved up. It didn’t take too long before I had more than 1,000 baseball cards between the visits to 1st and 10, and the sports card shows at the Sterling mall. My dad bought an old tool box for me to put all these cards in, sorted by the team. Eventually this overflowed the box and I had to put cards into album pages.
Call it my Autism, but I started an even-more complicated way of sorting the cards.
– By team
– By age of the card
— Alpha order by card company name (Donruss, Fleer, Topps, Upper Deck)
— — In order from cheapest to most expensive
Almost every card had it’s particular place in line.
We had a Super Nintendo, and when we got it, the game that came with it was Ken Griffey, Jr. Presents Major League Baseball. This was a game with a season schedule. I played a season as the Blue Jays, who had most recently won the World Series (when I got this in ’95, the Strike cancelled that year’s Series). Then my buddy Aaron wanted to try it. The game has an option where you can retype the names of the players — whose real names are not on there because of a licensing problem.
One day Aaron decided to go through my card box and use my cards to change the names in the game. He kept making a mess and disrupted the ordering of my baseball cards. I got really angry and didn’t want to play with him for a while. Again, this is my Autism talking.
By around this time, I was starting to understand how money works. The cards I was buying were worth more than what I paid for them, and tried to accumulate enough “profit” to sell them at some point. This drove my total card collection up, and thus the value of these cards.
Then the market started to suck, and most cards became worthless. No one wanted to pay the full price for them, or even half-price. I started thinking about them less and less by the time I began high school.
Over time I had accumulated many cards that I decided were my favorite cards. These particular cards, which include a 1956 Ernie Banks – really from 1956, were ones that I planned on keeping forever. While I had this in mind, I thought about the fact about what I was going to do with all of these other cards that are going to just collect dust.
So I decided to make a “posterity” collection of my own baseball cards. Any card worth more than $1 was a keeper. All commons (save exceptions which I will outline in a bit) were not keepers. Of the star cards less than $1 which were left, I decided to keep one for each team the star was on. So, for example, my Lee Smith collection would have one Cubs card, one Red Sox card, one Cardinals card, one Orioles card, one Expos card, one Angels card, one Yankees card (which I don’t have), and one Reds card.
Also included in the posterity collection are those cards which I remembered having from my “original 100” – when I first gathered them from the toy box and set aside separately. Other commons included were unusual error cards, cards of players from the region, and commons of historical, unusual, or trivia significance.
Last year, I began to dig through my entire collection and stopped just short of the last two teams in my even-larger box (White Sox and Yankees). Recently, I picked through those two teams and estimate that I’ll have nearly 3,700 in my posterity collection. That’s about how many cards I had when I was in 5th grade.
Aside from the stash I’m dividing up and selling, the remaining cards are at my parents’ house and likely never to have much use. I once thought about burying them underground to save space, but that eventually ruins them.
Despite not spending money on cards like I used to, and despite not giving 2 cents of darn about them for nearly 10 years, I’m not fully retired from collecting. I’m still searching for particulars.
I will write about this later.