Baseball Cards

I’m in the midst of a stretch where both the Pirates and Indians are away for awhile, so I won’t be attending any more games any time soon.  (Possibly one this weekend, but its a small chance).  Since there is this lull, I’ve decided to blog a bit about baseball cards.

My obsession with baseball cards began in the spring of 1989.  I had started to get into baseball in 1988, but baseball cards hadn’t taken ahold of me yet, until that fateful day at K-Mart.  I was with a childhood friend, Nick Yakabishin.  He was already a seasoned collector of cards.  I remember Nick and I both getting a jumbo pack of 1989 Topps Cards.

Nick said that the goal was to find Pittsburgh Pirates cards, but that if I got an Andy Van Slyke, he “would die.”  Andy Van Slyke was the most popular Pirate in the late 1980’s, and his cards were like gold to children.  I watched Nick tear into his pack.  He got a couple crappy Pirates like Dave LaPoint and Mike Dunne, but no Andy Van Slyke.

I then opened mine.  I remember sniffing the gum and then chewing on it while I shuffled through the deck.  Somewhere mid way through, there he was.  A fresh, crisp 1989 Topps Andy Van Slyke card. 
andy.JPG
I started going crazy.  My friend was happy for me, but jealous.  He was shocked that I had found a Van Slyke card.  I was hooked.

My obsession grew.  I was most active in collecting cards up until about 1995.  I continued to collect until college in 1999, when my interest waned. 

Any time my parents would take my brother and I anywhere, picking up a pack of cards was a necessity.  My brother was also obsessed with cards.  We used to look forward to our trips to see our grandma in Connecticut because of a card shop that we considered the Mecca of all sporting good stores, Rock’s Sports Cards.  I’m not sure if its still around anymore, but the place was great.  My dad used to get annoyed because my brother and I would spend upwards of an hour there browsing and looking through all of the bargain bins.

At Christmas time, half of our gifts involved baseball or baseball cards.  The first complete set I received was the 1989 Score set, during the Christmas of ’89.  I would go on to put my first set together from cards pulled from packs in 1993 (Topps).

In late 1992 or thereabouts, the unthinkable happened.  A man by the name of Dick Brown had purchased an old candy store and turned it into a Sports Cards store.  He named it Discount Sports Cards.  It became a daily destination for my brother, Joe, and I.  We were his best customers and fondly called the store “Discount” amongst ourselves.    The shop was located roughly about a mile away, and we would ride there on our bikes, buy grab bags (which he would put a few good singles and the rest filler cards), and look through the latest singles.

We would hold “card shows” in the back yard or in the living room, where we would all set up our cards to display for everyone to see.  Usually, we ended up just buying each other cards, so it was basically trading.

I used to spend almost all of my disposable money on baseball cards.  As a child, I never had much money, but when I could scrape together a buck or two, I was buying cards.  How many cards do I have?  I would estimate about 80,000.  There’s boxes everywhere.

The entire area under our bed is baseball cards.
photo(6).jpgI believe there are still more at my parents house.

My most valuable card?  I don’t have any super valuable ones.  Possibly a 1962 Topps Stan Musial.  It might be worth $100, maybe.  I have a 1972 Hank Aaron.  A 1992 Mariano Rivera Bowman Rookie Card.  I don’t think any of them could sell much these days.  The value of baseball cards plummeted. 

My entire collection?  Its probably not even worth that much.  My cards mostly range from 1987-1995. 

I remember being a Beckett Baseball Monthly subscriber and looking up my top cards each month to see if they’d “gone up” or “gone down.”  The magazines are probably worth more than most of the cards now.

I remember my dad bought a 1990 Donruss set in 1990.  Its still sealed and in the cellophane.  “One day, this will be worth a lot of money,” he told us and my brother.  Unfortunately, the baseball card bubble burst, and its worth less now than what he paid.

I remember my mom telling me about how she used to buy packs of cards in the late 50’s, early 60’s, just for the gum.  I recall listening in horror as she described how one day my grandma threw all of her cards in the trash.

Baseball cards dominated my life in the late 1980’s, early 1990’s, as did my interest in baseball.    I’m still interested in baseball, but no longer cards.  Most companies have folded, like Fleer, Donruss, and Score.  I believe only Topps and Upper Deck are still around.

My wife thinks I’m a weirdo because every time we go to Wal Mart, I have to walk past the Baseball card aisle to stop and stare.  Some habits never die.

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Did you collect cards?  How many did you have?  What got you hooked?  What’s your best card?

6 Comments

Erik,
I just stumbled across this blog, I’m 14. It is very nice. I collect cards, I have absolutely have no idea how it happened. I have a great story about my best cards, it took place when I was about 11. I was at a local mall, and there was a new sports collectibles store, so I my father bought me 6 packs of donruss throwback threads, and the first 5 packs nothing, I open the 6th pack, and I almost fainted, it was a george herman “babe” ruth bat/jersey card #ed 13/25. Best card ever. On the way home, we stopped at the local card shop to get a holder for the babe ruth card, and I bought 2 more packs, in the second pack, it was a Nolan Ryan jersey/autograph #ed 03/10. Great day. Do you collect autos or have any good ones??

HOWIE

EJ,
Yes, I also collect baseball cards. My collection ranges (Complete/Near Complete Sets from 1968-Today (Topps)). My prime collecting years was when I was younger (1976-1980, all (4) sports). I got back into the hobby while I was in the Navy in 1990. Collected hard from 1990 – 1993. Then I was out until 2003 due to frustration with the whole “chase” card mentality and way too many card sets by each manufacturer.
In 2003 I found “The Bench.com” and other online trading sites. Well, I was hooked again. Pulled a signed Arod 500th HR card last year. I usually buy a jumbo box of Topps Ser 1, Ser 2 and Updates. I trade away all inserts and chase cards. If it is a really “valuable’ chase like the Arod Auto card, I will trade it for Vintage Topps (pre-1976 Topps), or I will sell it on Ebay to provide addl funding for more Topps cards. I mainly stick to just trading. I try to purchase only Topps cards from Vending (pre-1976).
My favorite set is the 1976 Topps BB set. That was my first set that I remember collecting as a kid. Kind of like a first girlfriend. (You never forget thaty first kiss, lol..).
My favorte card is my 1968 Topps Mickey Mantle. I traded my cousin in 1977 for that card. He and I went to the corner store to buy packs and I pulled the new 77′ Topps George Brett. He wanted it so bad that he traded me the Mantle for it str up. (I would say that would go down as the best trade in my collecting history.)
Last year I just bought a Topps Fac BB set (to save on costs). Topps Jumbo Series boxes are over $120.00 ea now. That is crazy. I see myself getting another fac Topps Set this yr off Ebay. Then just buying a 2009 Topps Update Jumbo box.
I probably have over 1 million cards. i guess I would classify myself as a good ole “Set Collector”.

Mike in Detroit
(BTW, I also collect Baseball books. I love the history of the game…)

I’ve never been a card collector but I have an uncle in Chicago who is a die-hard antique hound. He’s been sending me every Angels card he’s ever come across for the past 8 years or so. For a while I was buying game-worn jersey cards of Troy Percival on ebay. I think I have a dozen or so…far from the whole jersey! ;-)
Lori
http://luckylori.mlblogs.com

Erik,

When I was about 18, I went to a Cardinals vs Astros spring training game in Kissimmee, FL. After the game, my friend Brian and I were waiting by the fence trying to get autographs. This was about 1985-86. Not sure exactly. Anyway, Andy Van Slyke comes out in his street clothes with his kid. The kid is about 2 years old. He was signing for us through a fence. Then, he remembers that he left something in the locker room and has to go back. HE HANDS HIS KID OVER THE FENCE TO US AND TELLS US TO WATCH HIM FOR A SECOND and he’ll be right back. INCREDIBLE. So, we watched his kid for a couple of minutes then comes out again and comes through a gate to our side and thanks us for watching the kid. Then he walked off to find his wife or whoever. Crazy story huh? I always think about that when I see him on TV. Talk to you later.

Leigh

my father has a 1967 nolan ryan rookie card. Probably worth close to $1,000. throughout my parnets house I have random boxes of cards thrown together. topps have always been my fvaorite. just the classic look and feel of them. from 1980 til now i have the complte box set. last year i made a nice collage of a bunch of pirates cards and its framed. ill take a picture of it and post it up here.

http://pittpeas.mlblogs.com

Erik,
Cool entry on the Minors. I have mostly basketball cards but I also have some Rockies, football and select hockey cards. It’s fun to share these with your kids…D
http://baseballsnatcher.mlblogs.com/

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