Saturday, November 17, 2012

Fast Forward from 1987 to 2012

     Having completed every Topps + Traded set between 1973-2000 over the past 25 years, I continue to work on completing even older Topps baseball card sets.  The 1987 Topps set is where it all began for me, so it holds the overall greatest sentimental value.  The photo below shows the Topps Traded cards incorporated into the base set.  I do not consider a set complete without the Traded sets and treat them kind of like the Pre-1974 High-Series cards.  Topps Traded sets were issued separately from the base sets during 1974, 1976, and then from 1981 on.  In '74 and '76, the Traded cards were numbered the same as there were in the base set, but with an added "T".  In 1981, the Traded cards were numbered beginning with the last number in the base set.  Beginning in 1982, the Traded cards were numbered from 1T-132T.    
     I store each of my sets in binders organized by teams beginning with the World Series contenders, then Playoff contenders, and then by the team's winning percentage.  Each team is further organized by the players' age preceded by the team card.  For example, the Twins won the '87 series and are the first team shown.  There was no team cards for this year, but the Twins Leaders card serves as that card for 1987 and is shown first.  The manager is usually the oldest person on the team (but not always), and so comes next.  The youngest or rookie players are at the end of the team.  If there are multiple players from the same team on a card, then it is organized by the youngest player on the card.  All of the other cards in the set go in the back of the book in some type of logical order to form a sort of skeleton for the album.  In 1987, there are Record Breakers, Turn Back the Clocks, All-Stars, and Checklist cards in the back of my album.      

1972 Topps.  I am currently sitting at 734 of the 787 cards (over 93%) needed to complete this set.  This was my first experience really dealing with "high-number" cards.  Apparently, from 1973 down, Topps cards became increasingly rare as the card number became higher.  Since I was able to puchase a near complete '73 set some years back, I did not have to deal much with the high numbers.  Let me tell you, obtaining high number cards in the 1972 set is tough.  Commons book for $12 each.  I usually look for cards in the VG range, or worse.  This means that I shouldn't have to pay more than 20% BV, or $2.40 per card.  That's been no problem for most of the cards in this era, except for the '72 highs.  I'd be lucky to find these cards for 30% BV in any grade.  I only need 10 cards from the 5th series (#526-656), and 43 cards from the 6th series (#657-787).  It'll be just a little while before this set is complete.  I plan to blog about completing the last 50 cards soon.

1971 Topps.  I began working on the 1971 Topps set not too long after starting on the '72 set, and have completed over 85% of the 752 total cards (about 170 left to go).  I have all of the listed stars except #550 and 580.  All that's really left to complete from this set are the 5th (#524-643) and 6th (#644-752) series cards.  The high-number cards from the 1971 Topps set don't seem to be as difficult to obtain as they are in '72 set with 6th series commons booking for $8 opposed to $12.  It's not too difficult to find high series commons for under 25% BV, and sometimes even at 20% BV.  I'd like to complete the '72 set first before finishing this one off, but it shouldn't be too difficult once I've committed.  The '71 set is a little smaller, much cheaper, but worth 67% more than the '72 set--something to think about.

1970 Topps.  I used to think this set was ugly--plain and simple.  The first image I remember seeing from the '70 set was the J.Bench 'Turn Back the Clock' card in the 1990 Topps set.  I probably saw 1970 cards at the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet, but I don't really remember looking at any of these cards until a little over 10 years ago.  This set has finally starting to grow on me though, and it does seem to make the perfect transition between cards of the 60's and cards of the 70's.  The front of the cards complement the '71 very well, while the card backs are reminiscent of the mid to late-60's card backs.  I have completed about 78% of the 1970 set to date with only 157 cards to go.  The only noteworthy card I'm missing is the N.Ryan, which doesn't seems to bottom out at 20% BV.  So far, this set appears to be the easiest one to complete between 1970-1972.  If it wasn't for my desire to complete these in reverse order, I'd probably have to start from '70 to '72.  It is the smallest of three, and has a value of 33% greater than the '72 set--another something to thnk about. 

1966 Topps.  Although I usually focus on completing Topps sets in reverse consecutive order, I appear to have been straying from that concept lately, with my sights on the '66 Topps set next.  I already have about 25% of the '69 set, over 15% of the '68 set, and almost 10% of the '67 set, but I'm fast approaching 50% of the 1966 set.  I have acquired all of the listed stars up to the final series except M.Mantle.  I only have 3 high-series cards (#523-598), which are the only ones that seem to be difficult in obtaining for under 20% BV.  Many of the stars are easily accessible for the 5%-10% BV range.  These cards are obviously not the best-looking ones you've ever seen, but many people have never even seen any (except for in a display case).  There will never be a question whether my cards are authentic, as many of them contain lots of character (heard about the fake PSA-graded Mantle '52s?). 

Something about seeing the American flag draped across a baseball diamond after 9-11 brought me back to baseball and collecting cards in 2001.  Perhaps, I was just looking to fill a missing void after leaving the military--who knows?--but this time arounnd I developed a different approach.  Instead of wasting money on packs of cards, I saved up for complete sets.  I continued collecting like this until 2006, but couldn't figure out if that set was considered complete or not without the A.Gordon card, so I eventually sold it--and the rest of my post-2000 sets with it?  I started working on decade sets: 90's, 80's, 70's, etc.  My interest in baseball cards was really about knowing who was playing when and where, and for how long, and how well, and with whom, etc.  I wanted to be able to point out players and managers in a classic game, or recognize the name of present-day office personnel, commentators, and other media who played in the game.  Collecting baseball cards is an interesting and unique way of remembering the sport's history and legends by memorabilia that is recognizable to almost every fan.    

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