30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Friday, July 18, 2014

A Trip Down Memory Lane

I'm slowly discovering that I have a love/hate relationship with my cardboard.  Over the past few months, I've had several ever-growing stacks of cards residing on my office desk.  The stacks include a bunch of cool cards I've picked up for myself as well as numerous care packages that fellow bloggers have sent.

Some of these stacks are so old that I don't even know what's in them, so it's kind of cool to pick one up and flip through it.  On the other hand, I'm one of those people who are obsessed with being organized.  And the unorganized stacks are slowly driving me nuts.

Part of the problem is that I've been really busy and haven't had a lot of free time to sort cards.  Plus as the stacks get bigger, I get less motivated.

But on Sunday, instead of my usual trip to the flea market, I sat down and picked up a pile.  They happened to be cards I purchased out of a dime box a few weeks ago.  One card in particular instantly sent me back twenty years...

If you collected in the early 90's, then you probably recognize this card.  Back in the day, 1991 Stadium Club was one of the hottest sets in the hobby and Frank Thomas was one of the hottest players.  In other words, this card was hot!  At the time, it was one of the most expensive cards in my collection and had the luxury of being stored in one of those 1/2" lucite holders.  I can't remember when or what I paid for my copy, but it was a lot more than 10¢.

The card inspired me to walk over to my bookshelf and flip through some of my vintage issues of Beckett Baseball.  I decided to grab the January 1993 issue featuring The Big Hurt and Chuck Knoblauch:

Now I've said it before... and I'll say it again.  If you enjoy reminiscing about the good old days, than you'll love sitting on your porcelain throne with a twenty year old Beckett.

It's filled with all sorts of goodies, but before I share some of them... let's go ahead and look at the values they had listed for my newly acquired 1991 Stadium Club Frank Thomas:

Crazy, right?  $20 to $30 for a second year base card that at the time was less than two years old.  And $250 for the set?  Thomas was easily the highest priced card in the set, while Juan Gonzalez settled for 2nd at $16.  These days you can pick up the pair for under a buck, while a complete 600 card set will set you back under $20 delivered on eBay.  It just proves that premium products don't necessarily equate to rock solid investments.

On the other hand certain vintage cards have done quite well over the past two decades.  One example is my 1965 Topps #282 Masanori Murakami rookie card:

Back then, a near-mint copy of this card listed between $4.50 and $7.00.

Today similar condition Murakami rookies sell in the $10 to $15 range and currently have a book value of $40 on Beckett.

But book values are only the beginning.  My favorite thing to look at in older Becketts is the Hot/Cold list:

The Big Hurt appeared on both lists.  At the time of this printing, Thomas had held the #1 position for sixteen consecutive months and was just about to collect consecutive American League MVP Awards. I wonder how long his streak lasted.

Another featured I loved was the Readers Write...

That's where Beckett published people's letters and typically left feedback.  You've gotta wonder if Beckett's online price guide started with Jim from Pennsylvania.

At this point on Beckett's timeline, their magazines were still chock-full of product reviews and interesting articles like this...

Almost half of their magazine was printed on colored paper and included cool graphs and awesome photography.

Finally, I'll wrap things up with their show calendar...

Once upon a time, a collector living in my neck of the woods could attend a card show four to five times a week.  Out of the first ten days of January 1993, there were four different card shows spanning seven days.  These days I'm lucky if there are seven card shows in one calendar year.

Like most things in life, the early 90's had their hits and misses.  Sure most of the card products from this era were overproduced and tend to be worth much less than it was twenty-something years ago.

But there were good things too.  Collectors were introduced to premium trading cards like Stadium Club, Pinnacle, and Fleer Ultra.  There were more collectors in our hobby, which meant more card shows.  And at the time Beckett still produced a quality magazine with interesting articles and cool monthly features like Readers Write and their Hot/Cold list.

The past few days, I've enjoyed flipping through the issue and taking a stroll down memory lane.  But the party is over and it's time to get back to working on those dang stacks of cards that keep piling up in my office.

Happy Friday and sayonara!


  1. I miss those heady days of card shows being held every weekend. I usually went once a month to some sort of show.

    Of course nowadays I can think of a card or see it on a blog, wish I had a copy and find one for sale on the net all inside one minute. So I guess there are trade offs!

  2. Great nostalgia. I'm lucky -- there is a card show three weekends a month in my part of Atlanta at three different locations, plus we have the brick & mortar version of Freedom Cardboard here located about 5 miles from my house.

    And yet, I spend more on cards that include shipping than I really should.

  3. I can go back and look at the prices in the very first Beckett price guide, issued in 1979, as I ordered it back then and still have it. I think I've posted some of the pages on my blog. The most coveted cards in from the '50s for only 5 or 10 bucks. Oh if I only had a time machine, I'd have the greatest collection in the world.

  4. One of my biggest regrets is trashing all my old Becketts (and also Gamepros) years ago. I wish I still had them to look back at such a great time in my childhood.

  5. I often go back and look at a few of the old Becketts I saved. If only?

  6. "...Today's computer age..." Hee hee hee hee!