30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Monday, June 20, 2022

Immortal Help from a Legend

When it comes to adding new cards to the collection, I don't really discriminate.  Sure... I might not go out of my way to purchase Panini baseball cards, but that doesn't prevent me from adding singles to my collection when the price is right.  Heck... I even collect damaged cards, Broders, and draft busts.

But when I first started collecting baseball cards back in the early 80's, my collection lacked diversity for several years.  It primarily consisted of flagship Topps, Fleer, and Donruss... with the occasional oddball issue like Fleer Star Stickers or Donruss HOF HeroesWhy?  It had to do with what I had access to.

If the local pharmacy, 7-11, or Long's didn't have it on their shelves... then it wasn't part of my collection.  That's why I completely missed out on cool sets like the Baseball Immortals in the 80's.  Based on my limited research, I'm pretty sure these colorful cards that resemble the 1975 Topps set were sold and distributed as complete sets.  I remember seeing them offered for sale in older trading card price guides like Tuff Stuff and Baseball Cards and even sports magazines like Baseball Digest.

Unfortunately... my parents never allowed me to order anything from a magazine ad... which meant I didn't have access to these cards as a kid.

Fast forward several decades... and a CCW buddy of mine sent me a generous package of these cards consisting of over 80% of the set... leaving me with 39 cards on my wantlist.  In 2020, Jon over at A Penny Sleeve For Your Thoughts sent me four cards for my set build.

Back in April, Night Owl wrote a post on his blog celebrating the completion of his set.  In the comment section, I mentioned my set build and gave him a link to my wantlistTwo weeks later a PWE arrived in my mailbox.  It sat in my office for almost six weeks, but I finally got a chance to open it up last week and inside were five more cards for my set:

1980-87 SSPC Baseball Immortals #44

1980-87 SSPC Baseball Immortals #54

1980-87 SSPC Baseball Immortals #70

1980-87 SSPC Baseball Immortals #128

1980-87 SSPC Baseball Immortals #139

I'm now thirty cards away from completing this set myself:

Four years ago, I talked about placing a Sportlots order to get me closer.  It never happened.  But Night Owl's PWE motivated me to get off my butt.  I was able to find one dealer with reasonable prices and enough cards to make it worth the price of shippingFive dollars ($2.50 + $2.50 shipping) later, I'm eleven steps closer to completing the set:

While we're on the subject of set builds, my most recent purchase from the Online Dime Box added twenty-one cards to my 1991 Starline Hollywood Walk of Fame set build:

It's a shame non-sport cards aren't available on Sportlots.  Anyways... getting back to Night Owl's care package... he also tossed in these two 2021 Big League cards:

I debated on buying a box of this product.  I like the simplicity of the design, but ultimately saved my money for some upcoming card shows, flea markets, and set builds.  Heck.  Maybe I'll even flip through the Fritsch Cards catalog and place a good old fashioned mail order.

What about you?

Did you ever buy cards through magazines ads or catalogs back in the 80's and 90's?

My first catalog/mail order purchases were made after I got my hands on a credit card.  I bought a bunch of Signature Rookies boxes from a company called Mail Order Concepts.  I also bought cards from another mail order company that carried discounted wax boxes.  Can't remember their name though. 

Thank you Greg for helping me out with this set build.  And thanks to everyone who took the time to read and comment on this post.

Happy Monday and sayonara!


Johnnys Trading Spot said...

In the 90's I bought from every Kit Young catalog that came in. Inn fact, 3 weeks before Mantle died, I had ordered 13 of his playing day cards. Usually had them in two weeks after I placed the order, not this time. I was getting worried, even called them after his passing, said they mailed them and another week goes by an still nothing, but then they came in shortly after that.

John Sharp said...

I never bought any cards through those magazines, but I always read every issue that I could, hoping that I would eventually find certain Tigers players.

sg488 said...

As a kid in the 70s ,I sent away for cards many times from the Card Collectors Company ,Renata Gallaso,and of course Sports Collectors Digest.

Jeremya1um said...

No, never really got any collector magazines other than a few sporadic copies of Beckett. I probably wouldn’t have pulled the trigger on them anyways.
I have a Babe Ruth tin trading card set as well as a Cal Ripken, Jr. one that I got for Christmas and I have a feeling whomever got them for me found them in a magazine.

Nick said...

I probably would have bought at least a few things from magazines/catalogues if I was around back then. I don't see how I would've been able to resist them!

I love those Baseball Immortals cards too, but I never really thought about how they were distributed before this post. Makes sense that it was sold as a complete set since I've never seen/heard of it coming in packs.

runfore!kelloggs baseball cards said...

I bought from dealers in SCD and Wholesale cards in the 1970s and 1980s. I still have most of those including an Old Judge card.

night owl said...

Yup, I ordered through the mail as a youngster, started with Kellogg's cards off the side of the cereal box and then I began receiving catalogs from TCMA and others. My '75 George Brett came through mail order, and those catalogs were where I first saw the Baseball Immortals. Let's face it, all that was available in the neighborhood at the time were Topps packs and whatever Kellogg's and Hostess were doing. You had to figure out how to branch out.

Brett Alan said...

I don't think I ever bought from catalogs, but once I started getting Baseball Hobby News I certainly bought from the ads in there. Got some things which are very important to me, especially my 1977 OPC complete set.

I don't usually buy non-sport cards, but an Ernie Kovacs would be very tempting! He had such a fantastic comic mind. His show was great and he was terrific on What's My Line as well.

Sean said...

That is a beautiful set for sure!

I do remember making one purchase over the phone in response to a magazine ad. I can't remember which dealer (one of the big ones) but it was in Baseball Cards Magazine and probably in 1997 or 1998.

I had stepped away from the hobby for a few years and just happened to see a copy of the magazine in a store and bought it out of curiosity to see what I had missed since 1993. The price of 1980s sets had gone way down from where the had been when I was collecting and I remember being shocked to see that I could get complete sets of 1984 Fleer and 1986 Donruss for just 30$ each - they had both been over 100$ each in Beckett in the early 90s when I collected.

It was enough to entice me even though I wasn't collecting at that point. I had just gotten my first credit card, so I picked up the phone and placed an order for them. I think the shipping cost (to Canada) was almost the same as the cost of the sets, but it was so awesome when they arrived. I still have them somewhere in storage at my parent's place. That was a one and done deal though, I didn't get back into the hobby for real until more than a decade later, by which time magazine ads were a thing of the past and Ebay was king.

bbcardz said...

I've never purchased cards via catalogs or magazines. Pre-internet, the only cards I ever ordered was the 1972 Kellogg's football set via mail-in offer. (I still have it, too.)

The Lost Collector said...

I remember Mail Order Concepts! I got a lot of stuff through them in the mid-90s. Their catalogues were a blast to look through. A few tomes I got the big grab box too that was always packed with cards, sets, and autographs.

defgav said...

I remember circa '90/91 picking out card offerings from the Sears catalog for my mom to get me as Christmas presents. Stuff I got from there included a complete set of 1989 Topps (which turned out not to be fully complete) and some "baseball card starter kit" things where you got a little binder and some random cards.

Anonymous said...

I don't recall buying any cards via catalog or magazine.

Thought that Josh Gibson was one of those hideous Project cards.

Jon said...

I can't remember where I saw it, but someone said awhile back that the guy who runs Sportlots was thinking about adding a non-sports category to the site. They just added a gaming category within the last few days, so fingers crossed that a non-sports section won't be far behind.

Jafronius said...

Nope never ordered cards through the mail. It was like you, whatever was available in the stores, but we never even thought cards through magazines were a possibility, if you know what I mean.

Fuji said...

johnnys trading spot - glad those mantles arrived safe and sound. your collection sounds amazing. it's like you could open up a museum.

john sharp - me too. although if my parents would have let me, i totally would have ordered a bunch of stuff.

sg488 - i'd love to get my hands on some issues of sports collectors digest from the 70's. it'd be fun to see how much those companies were selling complete topps and kelloggs sets for

jeremya1um - i'm pretty sure i know the babe ruth set you're referring to. seen them at the flea market before

nick - feel like most of those tcma, sspc, and renata gallaso sets were sold as sets. i'm actually wondering if any were distributed in packs.

runforekelloggs - nice. very cool that you kept most of your collection from that era. most of my cards from the 80's were sold off. but i have managed to go back and buy a lot of those cards

night owl - wish my parents would allow me to buy stuff from those catalogs. had i been born a decade or so earlier, i would have been old enough to buy some pretty cool stuff on my own.

brett alan - that 1977 opc set is a fantastic purchase. i'm jealous of that. wasn't familiar with mr. kovacs. just looked him up and discovered he passed away a decade before i was born. i should ask my dad to see if he's familiar with him.

sean - very nice phone order purchase. two very nice sets from the 80's. about ten years ago, i was able to pick up a 1984 fleer set for $25. met a guy who had a storage unit with a bunch of sets. ended up buying a few other early to mid 80's sets for my collection for that price.

bbcardz - wowza. super jealous of that 72K set. very cool.

the lost collector - how fun would it be to discover some unopened grab boxes and open them up right now?

defgav - now that you mention sears catalog... i guess i did get some card related stuff from the 80's that way. i remember ordering a baseball card collecting kit from when i was younger that came with one of those card holders with 20 trays.

anonymous - didn't really get into the project 70, so i had to look up his cards. i think the only one i'd buy (if it were really cheap) is the 1972 design.

jon - oh man... that would be awesome. i'm building a few non-sport sets.

jafronius - i think my parents always figured they'd send money and the cards would never arrive.