30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Enjoy The Ride While It Lasts

This blog serves multiple purposes.  It's a place where I can show off new cards in my collection.  It's a place where I can interact and exchange cards with fellow collectors.  It's a place where I can share stories from my past.  And it's a place where I can document the things going on currently in our society... especially in regards to the hobby many of us enjoy.

The state of our society has seen better days.  On the other hand, the hobby's popularity appears to be on the rise.

New blogs have popped upRetired bloggers have returned to their keyboardsFormer collectors are rekindling their love for cardboard.  Plus... a couple of sports documentaries have inspired people to open up their wallets and buy cards.

I can't wait to sit down this summer and watch both of them.  I've already showed off bits and pieces of my Jordan collection.  Today I figured I'd share five of my favorite Big Mac collectibles in anticipation of Long Gone Summer, an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary covering the race to break the single season home run record.

Let's get the ball rolling with one of the most recognizable baseball cards ever collected...

1985 Topps #401

According to Beckett, there are over 8,000 Mark McGwire cards in their database and none are more iconic (in my humble opinion) than his 1985 Topps rookie card.  The days of selling raw copies for $200 might be in the past, but so are the days of finding this card in a dealer's dollar bin.

I think I own two copies of this card.  One resides in my 1985 Topps set.  The other is this signed copy I picked up two years ago.

1999 Finest Split Screen Dual Refractor #SS1

If you're a regular reader, then you know my deep appreciation for 90's inserts... and this card is hands down my favorite McGwire insert.

1987 Topps #366

This unopened cello pack was a gift I received from Dennis over at Too Many Verlanders five years ago.  I enjoy collecting unopened 80's products featuring key rookie cards on the front.  It might not be considered a rookie card by most collectors (including myself), but it is one of the first cards to feature him as an Oakland Athletic.

2016 Topps Team Logo Pin Autograph #TLP-MM

I'm not usually a fan of gold and gaudy... but this card is an exception to the rule.  It's not just a key piece of my Oakland A's PC, it's also a member of my Prime #'s PC, because it's serial #'d 25/25 (the last card in the run as well as his jersey number).

Steiner Certified Signed Ball

I'll wrap things up with this signed ball, which was the first McGwire signature I ever owned.  Now I just need to acquire a Sammy Sosa autographed baseball to go with it.

What about you?

Do you have a favorite Mark McGwire collectible sitting in your collection?

By the way... I totally understand why some of you think this hype is silly and in some ways I completely agree with you.  However there's a bigger part of me that thinks this is great for our hobby.

I've commented my thoughts on the subject on a few of your blogs... but felt like I had to document it on my own to preserve history.

My philosophy when it comes to collecting is the more (collectors out there)... the merrierWill a lot of these people regret overpaying down the road?  Sure.  Will most of them have their fill of this hobby by the time this pandemic is over?  Probably.  But what if 20% stay?  Or even 10%?  I'd call that a win.

It's only natural to have different interests and opinions.  But there's plenty of room for all of usSet builders, team collectors, prospectors, graded card enthusiasts, autograph hounds, and every other type of collector out there all have one thing in common.  We enjoy collecting cards.

So my suggestion for my friends would be to collect what you want to collect, buy what you want to buy, spend what you want to spend, and enjoy this hobby while there are still other people out there who can enjoy it with you.

Happy Tuesday and sayonara!


  1. My favorite Mark McGwire card is my custom Padres card he signed

  2. I wish they made a card of McGwire when he was a Dodgers coach. That would be my favorite McGwire card. I can't say I have a favorite, not a guy I was into much.

    There is almost nothing that bores me more than "state of the hobby" lamentations, which we seem to go through every couple of years.

  3. I'm not a big McGwire fan, but my favorite card would have to be his 1991 Fleer Pro Visions.

  4. Hard to say what my favorite is, but right now, maybe the custom Padres McGwire Rod sent me. Mine's not signed though!!

  5. That Pro Vision card is a great card, not sure it is my favorite. He has a lot of great cards, no matter how you feel about him. He got some sweet ones out there.

  6. I pulled a Pinnacle Epix of his back in 1998. It's a very nice card and was pulled in the middle of his heyday.

    I also have a TTM autograph of his which ranks up there.

  7. I'm not much of a McGwire fan, but I've always liked that 1985 Team USA card (and the rest of the subset it came from)

  8. The most fascinating part of the McGwire/Sosa story to me will always be the forgery market that was booming that year.

  9. I actually have two favorite McGwire collectibles. A 1988 Starting Lineup figure and his 87 Donruss Rated Rookies card.In that order. Oh, and coming In third is his 1991 Provision card. The one with the American Flag behind him. Oops, I'm two over the limit :(

  10. I never cared for him,but I do like his 91 Provision card.I hope his cards tank after the 30/30 show.

  11. Well said Fuji! I don't collect McGwire much, but I'd list my ProVision and '87 Topps as my favorites. Those plus one I just picked up for under $20 and am waiting to arrive in my mailbox...

  12. He signed a card for me TTM a few years back which was cool. I had a pretty big pc going until he retired. I looked through it the other day and was reminded that I have a dual relic card of him and slamming Sammy.

  13. I'm not particularly a McGwire fan or collector, but the best card I've ever pulled was a McGwire Topps Archetypes auto /25, which I pulled from a clearance hanger box.

    The Project 2020 cards aren't of interest to me, but I agree that it likely will be good for the hobby. I just hope there won't be too big a backlash if the cards end up not holding their value.

  14. I guess you have a point when you say that every type of collector helps the industry. I have always thought in the past that the prospectors and box breakers are bad for the hobby, but I guess that they do open product and get it distributed out there and that they are putting money into it. If I was into selling cards I would ride the train until it stopped. I think it’s good for the hobby as it gets older cards out there and hopefully gives some of these old cards some exposure and new people appreciate them and keep buying them. I’m sure it will come back to normal eventually.
    As for favorite McGwires, I have a jersey card, and a batters box dirt card which are cool, a ‘92 ToppsGold card I pulled from a pack, and my favorite would have to be his ‘85 Olympic rookie which I purchased a year or two ago from COMC.

  15. I'm happy to see more people in the hobby. I don't get why that makes me people mad? I guess some are mad because they themselves can't buy a blaster at Target because "what if some other new collector buys it first?" I don't get that logic I guess...seems like the more collectors we have, the happier card companies will be and hopefully that turns into better products for everyone involved!

  16. I think it's better if people stay in the hobby, but what I think creates a problem are speculators who drive up the prices of cards and then cash out, creating a crash. The crash itself is actually no big deal, but it creates a negative perception of the hobby in the mainstream. I think speculating is actually fine, too, but with a healthy dose of constraint. I'm also fine with cards being either expensive or inexpensive, or valuable or worthless. I do hope people stick around in the hobby and we don't get another 90s crash.

  17. I don't have a favorite McGwire sitting in my collection, but that 1987 Topps is so iconic. That set is what brought me into the hobby. I can't get enough 1987 Topps! Nice cards!

  18. No favorite McGwire from my end. I'm sure I have a couple of that rookie card around here though. I long ago got rib of much of the stuff I'd bought in the late 80s but I kept the Orioles and some star cards.

  19. Not a huge fan of McGwire but, like a lot of superstars, he does have a lot of fine-looking cards.

    Having more card collectors in the hobby is always a good thing, but my main concern is that most of the people entering the card industry aren't really "collectors" at all. They're investors looking to profit off collectors, which is how crashes start.

  20. rod - wow. that's an awesome card and even cooler that he signed it for you.

    night owl - kinda surprised there wasn't a stadium giveaway set or something where coaches were included. maybe one of the awesome custom guys out there will eventually make one

    the angels in order - that is a great looking card with the flag in the background.

    the diamond king - not a bad choice. rod did a great job with that custom

    johnnys trading spot - he sure does. when i returned to the hobby back in 2008, i traded a lot of my decent inserts/parallels away on the forums. kinda regret that. oh well

    the lost collector - nice. i love the epix inserts... although keeping track of the different levels and colors was tough

    shlabotnik report - compared to other a's fans, i'm not a huge mcgwire fan either. but the race was awesome to watch... and i was rooting for him.

    zippy zappy - i can imagine, since neither of them signed a lot of cards until the past few years

    big tone - i'm never going to argue with someone's selection of a kenner slu. i have the card and possibly the figure. maybe one day, i'll pick up a sealed figure in nice condition for my collection

    sg488 - i'm sure they will ;D

    shoeboxlegends - can't wait to see the mcgwire you purchased.

    gcrl - oh wow. that dual relic sounds pretty awesome. gotta imagine that would be a hot card right now

    brett alan - wow. that's an insane pull. i guess we'll see about a backlash. a lot of it will be based on how much they drop in value. if they crash and become dollar bin filler, then i can i can see a lot of people being upset.

    jeremya1um - i totally support guys who sell cards for a living. like you said... we need them. if nobody sold their cards, we'd have to rely on busting packs ourselves. by the way... that dirt relic sounds very cool

    nachos grande - even if there were less collectors... i'd still have a hard time finding cards at my local target. there are a handful of guys who know when the restock, so i rarely see anything i wanna buy on the shelves in my area. that's just another reason i love hitting up target when i visit portland and vegas ;D

    jeremy - i hope so too. personally, don't think it's likely that the hobby will continue to thrive. i think this situation was like the perfect storm. there were these documentaries, lack of sports, people were stuck at home bored, and some had this extra money in their wallets. but hopefully i'm wrong and the majority will stick around

    sumomenkoman - 1987 topps is definitely a nice set. very nice action shots. solid group of rookie cards and a classic design. it's definitely the product i opened the most of.

    commishbob - if you do... right now (or maybe for a few more weeks) would be a great time to flip them or use as trade bait

    nick - the good news about "crashes" is that dime box guys like you and myself are able to capitalize. but yeah, if you're buying cards for investment purposes... than "crashes" suck.

  21. My favorite McGwires are the 2002 40-Man Flashbacks. Probably only because I'm still trying to finish them.

    Is the 30-For-30 on somewhere now? Or is all the excitement generated by the ads on ESPN? The hype machine is starting a month before the show even airs?

    As for prospectors and flippers - it's OK if they open product and then distribute it into the hobby so the rest of us can finish sets etc. But if they are base card snobs and throw cards away, or stick last year's failed phenoms in a box never to see the light of day, then they've taken cards out of circulation because they didn't profit from it. And then others give up on finishing sets or teams because they can't find the overpriced no-name rookies.

  22. I don't think I have a favorite McGwire collectible, but the year of the home run race I was a student working at a sports collectibles store, and it's all anyone wanted to talk about. People would come into the store at night and ask if we had the Cardinals or Cubs game on TV somewhere. Exciting times, for sure.

  23. My favorite card of McGwire is the 88 Donruss card he signed for me when I was a kid hanging on the rails at old Arlington Stadium!

  24. I have some nice low-end McGwire inserts, including a 2018 Stadium Club sepia parallel I pulled out of a blaster.

    Funny thing about Mac and Sammy being the second ESPN-inspired craze after MJ.. my friends and I decided to get a table at a card show once, around 1998-2000. I can't remember if we sold anything but I remember trading for a McGwire Topps RC because it was such a hot card. What did we give up? A 1993-94 Finest Michael Jordan card.

  25. I bought his 1985 rookie card in 1990 or 1991, when it was still hot based mainly on his 1987 rookie record. It was one of the best cards in my collection. It stayed in my collection when his popularity eroded a bit in the early 90s. It was still in my collection in 1997 when he made his first run at the record and 1998 when he broke it. I was away at university at the time and I remember visiting my parent's house in the summer of 98 and fishing it out of their basement where my collection was in storage, just to make sure it was OK since they were selling for insane sums. Then it stayed in my collection as he fell back to earth and its value fell with him.

    I still have it. Its a bit off centre and has a tiny bit of fuzz on one corner, things that didn't matter too much when I bought it but would relegate it to a PSA 7 or so at best, so not something that will be worth much today. But I still like it.

  26. gca - i think the documentary comes out mid-june. i found out about it from a youtuber who talked about the popularity of mcgwire cards right now. base card snobs? lol. i like that term.

    gregory - i started working at the card shop (right across the street from the school i taught at) right after the home run race. mcgwire cards were popular, but pokemon cards were even more popular ;)

    rob - that's awesome. pretty cool that he stopped and signed for you.

    chris - sounds like mcgwire and jordan will forever be linked together on your collecting timeline. actually... they'll be linked together on a lot of our collecting timelines

    sean - stay tuned. i'll be publishing a post on a 1990 beckett and showing off the mcgwire book value in a few days.

  27. Very nice post, especially the last paragraph. Love the title of your blog post, lol. You can steal my blog titles anytime. ;D

    1. bbcardz - What's the saying? Imitation is the highest form of flattery? With the number of card blogs out there, I guess seeing repeat title names was bound to happen at some point ;D