Back in 1987, I could only dream of owning the entire collection of Topps-Bowman baseball cards. Today, this dream now almost seems like a reality as I complete one vintage set after another. My secret has been to build these sets as efficiently as possible by focusing primarily on low grade. My goal has simply been to just own the cards first; then upgrade and sell later. This blog shares my journey through collecting, organizing, and enjoying my collection of Topps-Bowman baseball cards.
Does Beckett Even Review Their Vintage Card Pricing Anymore? An Example from 1967 Topps Series 1
I still use the Beckett Guide--It's the best there is--but that doesn't make it perfect. Beckett doesn't really have any competition, and so probably doesn't feel the need meticulously comb through their older pricing to make sure pricing is reasonably accurate. Are they too concerned with tweaking Mike Trout and Aaron Judge card values to go back and re-look at some of their pricing from the early 1990's back? With the way commons, minor stars, semi-stars, and unlisted stars are broken out, it sure seems like Beckett is just reprinting more of the same paper for sale every month. Maybe the task is too overwhelming for their staff to tackle. Maybe they don't have anyone with the real expertise to evaluate bubblegum card values anymore.
Vintage baseball card pricing in Beckett has remained pretty much the same over the past decade. I'm not concerned about the stability of the overall vintage market over the past decade. I'm talking about the pricing of individual cards within their respective vintage markets--who's considered a common, minor star, semi-star, or unlisted star? Their mid-to-late '80s through early '90s card pricing is an absolute mess, but their '50s, '60s, and '70s card pricing is like a dusty book off the shelf.
Since I'm primarily focused on the 1967 Topps set right now, let's evaluate Beckett pricing from the 1st Series of this set. To help, I've used Hall of Fame ballot voting to delineate Stars (HOF'ers), Semi-Stars (>1% HOF ballot), Minor Stars (1 vote to 1% HOF ballot), and Commons (no HOF votes). I'm not saying that this should be the definitive method for distinguishing players, but it does serve as a good starting point. I highlighted some of my pricing discrepancies in red.
Let's start with the Hall of Famers--for which I found 2 pricing discrepancies. The most notable one is #70 Ron Santo, a player that Beckett continues to list at the Semi-Star price of $6 (no HOFer should book under the unlisted star pricer ever). This means that you should be able to find VG Santos for about $1.20-$1.50 (20%-25% BV), which is definitely not true. The next discrepancy is #20 Orlando Cepeda, which Beckett continues to list at the Unlisted Star price of $8. This means that you should be able to find a VG Cepeda for about $1.60-$2.00 (20%-25% BV). Just about every other 1st Series HOF'er is listed in the $15-$20 range by Beckett, which more accurately correlates to about $3-$5 (20%-25% BV) for a VG card. Despite being double-printed, Hall of Famers Al Kaline and Frank Robinson are still valued at $20 and $15, respectively.
Now, let's look at the Semi-Stars. Matty Alou, Curt Simmons, and Manny Mota all received less than 5% of the HOF vote during their best year, so there's no real heartburn there for me. Elston Howard, Roy Face, and Mickey Lolich remained on the HOF ballot for 15 years each, and received between 18-25% of the vote during their best years. These are bonafide Semi-Stars and should be getting the Semi-Star treatment in Beckett's price guides.
Next, come the Minor Stars discrepancies. Although I do consider Hal Lanier and Sonny Siebert to be Minor Stars, they only received 1 HOF vote during their best year on the ballot with careers that barely went over the 10 year mark, so I don't have too much heartburn over these two not being listed as such by Beckett. Don McMahon and Jim Brewer, however, did receive multiple votes and should not be listed common cards. They were prominent closers during an era where being a closer wasn't respected. Since I believe that Beckett no longer reviews their vintage pricing, I think that these 2 Minors Stars were overlooked in the same way that Ron Santo and Orlando Cepeda were overlooked as being Hall of Fame stars.
Don McMahon won a World Series ring with the Braves against the Yankees in 1957, and again with the Tigers against the Cardinals in 1968. McMahon also appeared in the 1958 World Series and the 1971 NLCS. He was known as a reliable closer before being a closer was considered a respectable thing. He often led the league Top 10 in Games Played, Games Finished, and Saves numerous times throughout his 18-year career. McMahon was definitely a Minor Star.
Jim Brewer won a World Series ring with the Dodgers against the Twins in 1965. He also appeared in the World Series with the Dodgers in 1966 against the Orioles, and again in 1974 against the Athletics. He was also known as a reliable closer before being a closer was really a respectable thing during a 17-year career. He was often in the League Top 10 for Games Played, Games Finished, and Saves. Jim Brewer was definitely a Minor Star.
Although Rick Wise never received a HOF vote, and Ralph Terry never appeared on the HOF ballot, I had to ultimate agree with leaving them on the Minor Star list. They are examples to remind me that my HOF voting lists aren't perfect either--just look at Shoeless Joe Jackson, Pete Rose, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, and Sammy Sosa.
Beckett also has a few players listed as Minor Stars that could probably be downgraded to commons like: Phil Linz, Bob Priddy, Joe Nuxhall, Jose Tartabull, Tom Haller, Bob Buhl, Dooley Womack, Jim Maloney, Mike McCormick, and Alex Johnson. Remember, Dr. James Beckett took a backseat at his company in 2006.