Monday, July 21, 2014
Here's a scenario that I play over and over again in my head.
I'm sitting at home on an ordinary summer afternoon when my phone rings. It's one of my longtime friends. Common smalltalk follows. That's when he decides to drop the big bomb.
Nick, I've decided to try and start collecting baseball cards. You babbling on and on about them on your blog got me interested.
Yeah. Only problem is that I have no idea what to buy. You think you could help me? I just need a few basic beginner tips.
Sure. It'd be my pleasure. Think you could meet me at Target in like ten minutes?
(We walk into Target, making a beeline for the aisle near the cash register.)
Wow, look at all these! I've been in here a million times and never noticed they carried cards.
Not many people do.
What should I start off with?
Here. Take a pack of 2014 Topps. Even as you start to develop your own collecting tastes, I think it's always good to stay recent. At least dip your toe into the current stuff every now and then. Just watch out for pack searchers.
Yeah, people who put every once of effort into finding a worthless--
--never mind. It's a long story. Hey, grab that discounted blaster of A&G.
Sorry. Allen and Ginter. These things are supposed to look like old cigarette cards from the 1880's. It's a fun set, good for new collectors like you.
(He reads the odds on the back of the box.)
What's with these minis?
Oh, those are just smaller versions of the regular cards. They're cool. You think that's enough to tide you over for now?
(We walk back to my house. I start showing my friend some of the binders strewn across my room.)
What kind of non-current stuff would you recommend?
Glad you asked. Here, check this one out.
What the hell is that?
That's 1995 Fleer. Cards got a little crazy in the nineties. Kinda sums up the whole decade in one design, I think. See if you can grab a pack of those on Ebay or whatever.
I don't know, man. Those things are a bit too crazy for me.
I understand. They're not for everyone.
Hey, check online and see if you can pick up a box of something from the early nineties.
Well, they're cheap, for one thing. I bet you can find a box of 1991 Topps for around five or ten bucks.
Really? That's it?
Yeah. Long story short, companies made too many cards in the late eighties and early nineties because people thought they were going to be worth something in the future. Now they're way overproduced and you can find them cheap.
They're fun to buy if you're new to the hobby. Just don't expect to make any money off them or anything.
Oh, I won't. Maybe I'll even buy two or three boxes if they're that cheap.
Careful. You'll start to get sick of seeing those overproduced cards if you stick around the hobby long enough. They're everywhere. That reminds me, wanna hit a card show up the road this weekend? These things have pretty much everything you can imagine.
(Flash forward to a few days later at the card show.)
Hey, check it out. These are what we call dime boxes.
Dime boxes? As in a dime a card?
Yup. Pretty cheap, huh?
Yeah. I always thought you needed a lot of money to collect cards.
Nah, not at all. Go through a handful of these and see if you find anything you like. You'll almost always find a few gems.
What's this? Ziploc made baseball cards?
Yep, oddly enough. That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to oddballs.
Well, they're--I don't even know where to start. I'll tell you later.
Cool! These cards have pieces of jersey in them!
They must be worth a lot!
Check out the price tag.
Two dollars each or three-for-five. Huh. Guess I was wrong.
I usually stay away from those, but it might not be a bad idea for someone new like you to buy a few. They're nice as a novelty.
Check out this vintage table over here.
Vintage? Sounds expensive.
Sometimes, yeah. This guy's got a fifty-card lot of 1975 Topps for five bucks, though. You can still find them cheap. You don't care if they're in good shape or not, do you?
I don't know. Should I?
I usually don't. It'd be nice for every card to be in good condition, but that's not the case with a lot of vintage. Being able to live with the occasional crease or rounded corner will probably save you a lot of money in the long run.
Makes sense to me.
While we're here, let's find you a fifties Topps card.
They're great building blocks for a new collection. Some of the first cards I fell in love with were early Topps.
Hey, wait. These are bigger than those other cards I bought.
It took them a few years to get to the current dimensions. Here, how about this one?
Roy Face? Who's he?
Guy won seventeen straight games in 1959. It's tough to afford the big names with vintage sometimes, but it's fun finding those little under-the-radar guys who have an interesting tidbit here and there. Guys like Roy Face, I mean.
Well, that's basically my initiation for a new collector like you. Just a few basic things that I think are good jumping off points. There's a lot left for you to discover, trust me. I'll let you take it from here.
Cool. Thanks, Nick.
Don't mention it. It's nice to finally have a friend who collects.