I haven’t had much to brag about lately as far as my collecting fun is concerned, other than posting my #BaseballCardOfTheDay on social media.
The trips to the card shows took a halt this summer due to rising gas prices. Simply going on chances to find cards I’m looking for wasn’t worth the gas money. So I did something I didn’t want to do: Shop online.
Going through eBay hasn’t been as bad as I originally thought. Some cards I found cheaper than I expected. Some cards I got suckered into overpaying. Found several Interest List items and others. Eventually you wind up hitting a certain point when I realized the cards I want, at the prices I want, weren’t popping up.
My best find so far is the 1958 Topps card of Luis Aparicio pictured above. There are two versions of this card: One with “Chicago White Sox” in white lettering, and one in yellow lettering. The latter is scarcer than the other, and I wound up winning this one at a price that was below my maximum comfort level. This also is my first Aparicio from his first White Sox stint.
Other interesting finds included rookie cards of Jimmy Wynn and Frank Howard, as well as my first cards from the 1940s: The Bowman No. 1 of Bob Elliott from 1948, and one of the worst airbrush art jobs of all time in the 1949 Leaf Stuffy Stirnweiss.
I still have about 20 cards I’m in the running for as of this post, and when I get that number narrowed down to zero, I’ll have a post detailing my eBay finds, and what my future is regarding online purchasing.
I do miss browsing through card show boxes, but the cost of gas is just too much for me to be out card hunting. In fact, the price of gas is affecting me personally more than the COVID shelter-in-place stuff is. More on that later.
When it’s finally time to enjoy the car rides again, I’ve been thinking about going on a Chicagoland tour of baseball card shops. That’s as easy to map as finding all of these different places and connecting the dots, right? Sort of. My biggest obstacle is – again, being price-of-gas conscious – wasting time finding places that don’t have what I’m looking for.
I realize that I am a niche collector: One who collects cards that are interesting or elicit an interesting tale. What I have left on the Interest List has been whittled down to those kinds of cards found in a vintage dollar box, or a modern quarter or dime box. Then there are those non-mainstream cards that typically are overpriced.
Most card places cater to the modern collector: slabs, colors of the rainbow, serial numbers, autographs, etc. #TheHobby has become so money-oriented that those who collect to collect, like myself, are foreign to others. So trying to find places that cater to my desires, even in a metro area as large as Chicago, involves lots of research to prevent wasting a trip. You would think that would be as easy as messaging all of them to ask if they have boxes to dig through. Here’s where my social timidness comes in: I’ve called places in larger rural cities such as Springfield, Dubuque and Madison with such, and I keep getting the lecture about how there’s no money to be made selling such vintage cards. That lecture is just going to intensify in tone while calling these Chicagoland places.
Sure, I could find more cards on my list on eBay, but I have a certain limit as to how much I want to spend. The cost of postage alone pretty much negates finding some of the cheapest commons I’m trying to find. I’m not paying $1 for a $0.30 Fernando Valenzuela card from his Cardinals days in 1998 – you may have it, I may want it, but I’m not overpaying.
Shopping on eBay has been good for 1950s and 1960s cards, and even some 1970s oddball, but most of the rest of the cards on my Interest List are going to have to be found in quarter and dime boxes that don’t see the light of day. Such boxes take up storefront volume that shops could easily replace with cards that move.
So I don’t know what to do about it. Do I plop down $20 for 20 pounds of cards in a mystery box, only to find one low common card on my List; and THEN do what with the rest? Assorted bulk junk isn’t selling (trust me, I tried) and I’ll be left with a problem and $19.75 in the red.
We’ll see what happens.