Monday, March 12, 2012

Dime Box Heroes: Coming up short

2006 Topps Heritage #293 Chris Young SP

I've had this idea rattling around for a while. 

I figured now is a good a time as any since 2012 Topps Heritage has hit the retail shelves, from what I've seen. I've got the budget to get a blaster and a couple loose packs right now. I took a walk to Target today to see if they had any (of course), but alas, no luck.

I'll try again tomorrow.

Ah, short prints.

The dismay of many a set builder.

I know there's been short prints since the beginnings of baseball cards, but I'm not sure what the first time card companies intentionally inserted them into packs was, as many of the older SPs were simply production mistakes.

The worst part is that the short-prints nowadays are almost impossible to tell apart from the regular base cards, and can sometimes be obnoxiously hard to find. (I've often wondered how many SPs card companies actually make.)

However, short-prints are a positive when it comes to dime boxes.

It's all in the numbers. Over the years, I've developed a pit of useless knowledge when it comes to baseball cards. One of those things being the numbers of short prints in sets like Topps Heritage or A&G.

In most cases with those sets, the last fifty or so cards are the SPs. Heritage is a bit trickier, as some of the SPs are scattered amongst the regular cards. (I've bought a few Heritage cards that I thought were SPs and turned out to not be, and vice versa.)

Ted over at "Crinkly Wrappers" told me that he once came across a 2010 Topps Whitey Ford short-print in a dime box once. I've never found any SP as great as that, but I can definitely see it happening. The SPs in the base Topps sets have the same design as the regular cards. Dealers who don't keep a sharp eye out might wind up inserting them into their dime boxes.

All the better for me.

Whenever I go through a dime box that has A&G base cards inside, I instantly turn them over to check and see the card number. If I see they're higher numbers, I throw them into the pile I want to buy. 

Over the years, I've found that SPs make for great tradebait. I picked up a stack of about a dozen 2011 A&G short-prints from a dime box at the flea market this past summer. 

I've only got one left.

Heritage SPs are even better. I don't put much faith in "book value", but most Heritage short-prints are worth at least six bucks a pop, which can net you quite a lot when it comes to trading.

I found a stack of about ten 2006 Topps Heritage SPs at a card show last year. I kept a couple for myself and managed to trade all the others within about a month.

This Chris Young card was one of the couple I kept. I still rate it as the greatest SP I've ever found in a dime box. (That might change if I ever come across a Whitey Ford short-print or something one of these days.)

I've always collected Chris Young (or, as he's become known, "The Other Chris Young"). He's one of those guys that's a great pitcher, but can just never seem to stay healthy for whatever reason. He hasn't cracked 100 innings in a season since '08.

As a result, I got about 60 bucks worth of cards for a single dollar, all thanks to that dime box.

It just goes to show what you can find in this hobby if you look close enough.


Spiegel83 said...

Short prints are a must buy when found in a dime box. Set collectors drool over trading for short prints.

Ryan said...

Great post, you're exactly right. One collector's "meh" (or oversight) is another collector's treasure.

As a set-builder, the SP's are very frustrating. Particularly the high number of them in Heritage (GQ, for examplem is more tolerable at 50). Instead of fighting the brick wall, I have kind of adopted your approach - get 'em when you can (dime boxes or packs), keep the ones I want (like A-Rod in last year's Heritage) and then trade the rest away for other cards I need.

I lucked out with my local WallyMart this morning and picked up my first batch of Heritage. Probably my last batch since I have a pre-order set coming (more on that in my latest post). I definitely pulled some SPs and they will be up for trade with the exception of ones I like, such as the Jonny Venters.

And the beat goes on!