30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

My Plastic Fetish

Ten years ago, I made the decision to start collecting sports cards after spending seven years away from the hobby.

Since then... a lot has changed.

When I first returned to the hobby, I was trying to make up for lost time by buying and busting entire cases of cards.  I became a member on several card collecting forums and was actively trading and trying to build up positive feedback ratings.  And I made a conscious effort to narrow down my collecting focus to prevent myself from trying to buy everything and eventually going insane.

These days, I rarely buy boxes, let alone cases.  I haven't traded on forums in years.  And sadly... I'm still trying to figure out which direction I want my collection to go.

The past year or so, I've been on this graded card kick.  Now before I receive a bunch of hate comments... let me say that I completely understand collectors and their love for raw cards.  There's just something special about being able to hold and even smell our treasured pieces of cardboard.  99.99% of my collection is ungraded and that's not going to change anytime soon.

With that being said... there a part of me that enjoys seeing some of my favorite cards encapsulated in these homogenous cases and about a year ago, I created a list and have slowly been picking off singles one by one.

Here are five of my most recent purchases:

1971 Topps #513 Nolan Ryan

1974 Topps #212 Rollie Fingers

1976 Topps #341 Lou Gehrig

1977 Topps #640 Carlton Fisk

1978 Topps #200 Reggie Jackson

You may have noticed a pattern among all of these cards.  They're all vintage cards... and they all feature beautifully cropped action shots.  You'll also notice that I typically strive to target PSA 8 copies for all of my 1970's cards.  However the 1971 Topps Nolan Ryan typically sells for $400+ in auctions and that doesn't really fit into my hobby budget.

Even though it was cheaper, I still had to dig deep into the pockets to pay for this PSA 4 copy.  It set me back $28.50 (+ $3.50 shipping), which is by far the most I've spent on my Classic Cards PC.  Normally, I try to keep my purchases for this collection at under the price of a blaster.  None of the other cards featured above cost me over $16.

Here's another graded card I purchased for my Classic Card PC:

1973 Topps #430 Vida Blue

I didn't include it above, because half of the batter's body has been cropped off.  However... I knew I wanted to add this beautiful card to the collection as soon as I saw it featured on one of Night Owl's The Greatest 100 Cards Of The '70s posts back in October.  In fact, I used his series to target several cards in this collection.

Last, but not least... I have this Rickey Henderson third year card:

1982 Topps #610 Rickey Henderson

So far this is the only 80's card I've added to this collection.  I absolutely love the photo Topps decided to use for this card.  It's perfectly cropped and features The Man of Steal on the base paths... which is the domain he's known for.

I'm sure I'll be added a few more 80's cards to this collection and when I do... I'll shooting for a PSA 9 grade to keep things consistent.

Although I haven't done it yet... the goal is to one day display these cards in my office.  I haven't nailed down the specifics, but when I do... you all will be one of the first to know.  Hopefully it won't take me ten years to figure things out, because a lot of things can change between now and 2028.

Who knows... maybe I'll end up trading in my baseball cards for cats and guinea pigs.

What are your thoughts on graded cards?

What are some of the changes you've made to your collection or the way you collect over the past decade or so?

Happy Tuesday and sayonara!


  1. I will buy graded if I’m buying on line. In person is a different story. Only certain cards that have a history of counterfeiting. I’ve tried to narrow my collecting down to just the team I collect. And maybe working on one vintage set.

  2. Grading is a necessary evil - it really quite imperfect and subjective - at the same time, I can't imagine picking up a condition sensitive card from the last 30 years or a old-school / vintage card if they are not graded.

  3. I don't believe in graded cards, but with counterfeiting I guess it's necessary for the costliest cards. Otherwise, grading to me is just flat-out weird.

  4. I don't do graded, but I understand people who do so don't mind. Those are some legitimate graded vintage cards and the ones to get.

  5. Not a fan of graded. Would do it for big ticket vintage if buying online. Would also do it for pre-war items which I wanted to get into so I could get a feel of what to look for. My only interest is in the authentic or not grade. Giving cards a condition number is something that will never sit well with me.

    As for changes in the collection I'm definitely in the be-as-specific-as-possible camp now. It's not just embracing that I can't and shouldn't collect everything, it's realizing that I need to consciously define my collecting interests.

  6. I've only gone the graded route willingly for two instances:
    1). To make sure the card was legitimate. This was a T206 Jack Chesbro so yeah, I was going to go the graded route for sure.
    2). Because for some reason it was cheaper than an ungraded one (a Luis Torrens blue wave refractor auto) by a lot.

  7. I consider grading a waste of money, and bad for the cards' health. Ever see a card stick to a screwdown? It's not pretty. And if I don't know enough about what I'm buying, then that's on me. I'm confident in my ability to determine if something is real or not.

    My collection has changed drastically since 2008. In that year I was only doing NASCAR and not even much...I got 14 new cards all year, I've already gotten more than that this week. It was the closest I've comd to being out of the hobby. In 2010 I got back into non-sports cards for the first time since 1996. In 2012 I got back into the NBA, and realized leaving in 2006 is one of the worst mistakes of my life. I also joined the Trading Card Database, one of the best things I've done ever. If I did not do that I would not have been able to do the main projects I do now, I would never have discovered the concept of card blogs or written my own, and I never would have become an NHL fan, now a big part of every day of my life.

  8. I only have a couple of them, but mostly when they’ve been for guys I collect and are affordable.

  9. Graded cards ain't for me. I just see no reason to keep a card behind plastic, never again to be touched or held.

    The biggest change to my collection is easily the lack of interest I now have in game-used/autographed cards. Those used to be all the rage with me back in the day -- they used to make up a big chunk of my card show hauls and I can still recall the excitement I'd feel over finding new ones I needed. Nowadays, they're barely a blip on my radar. I add maybe one or two to my collection each year (if that).

  10. For the most part I don't care about grading. I am making exceptions, though, for my Wally Moon player collection and my 1891 Allen & Ginter chicken set.

  11. The only use for grading is for verifying authenticity and confirming condition when buying online where you can't see or touch it ahead of time. But a GEM mint 10 card shouldn't be worth any more than a mint raw card. Population numbers are irrelevant. It's just the number of cards somebody happened to decide to submit for grading by that moment.

    The only graded cards I have are most of my T205 NY Giants set. Otherwise, I've cracked out the few others I have. I keep one graded Ryne Sandberg ('90 Fleer~!) to show people what a graded card is.

    Years ago I would never have thought I would be able to obtain T205s, complete sets like '59 and '60, and collect all the different stuff I collect cardwise. Not to mention be part of the blogging community.

  12. Great responses. Looks like I'm in the minority this time around, but that's okay. Hobby would be boring if we all collected the same thing.

    Mark Hoyle - I'm hoping to one day follow in your footsteps and narrow down my collection.

    Laurens - Yeah. Certain vintage in my collection has to be graded. Best example are my 1956 Topps HOFers. Outside of the Mantle, it's not about fakes... but more worried that cards have been altered.

    night owl - I felt the same way five years ago. Maybe one day, I'll sway you to the dark side. Btw... I actually have a graded card I specifically purchased for your collection. One of these days I'll send it your way.

    SumoMenkoMan - Lol. I collect graded, but I understand people who don't ;)

    Nick Vossbrink - Even though they're called graded cards... 80% of it for me has to do with authenticity purposes. The exception would be the cards in this post. I'm fascinated by the way they look in these holders.

    Zippy Zappy - Your 2nd example is a great point. I've found some really good deals on PSA 7 and 8's where they're a fraction of the price of an ungraded copy.

    Billy Kingsley - I hear ya. I've definitely seen cards stick to screwdowns, but I've pulled a fair share of cards out of PSA and Beckett holders and none have ever stuck to the case. Regardless... I understand where you're coming from.

    The 2nd NHL season is on its way. Go Sharks!

    The Lost Collector - It's funny how sometimes you can find graded copies less than raw copies... especially when they're in that PSA 7/8 zone.

    Nick - Sounds like you and I would be perfect trading partners (if I actually traded). Three of my favorite things to collect are graded vintage and rookies, autographs, and memorabilia cards.

    RAZ - That Wally Moon collection is sweet!

    GCA - I'm not big on researching population numbers either. I wish more eBay vendors were like you and didn't put a premium on their Gem Mint 10 cards. :)