I'll raise my hand.
I used to buy Beckett.
It's not something I'm proud to admit, but it's true. I, the guy who calls his blog Dime Boxes, used to buy a magazine that essentially ignores low-end card collectors.
I was digging around an old box of miscellany in my closet last night and found what had to have been one of my first Becketts, issued all the way back in January of 2001. I was in third grade at the time, and, while I had fun collecting then, I had probably just caught wind of the whole "book value" phenomenon.
As you can see in that scan, the Jeets front cover is completely detached from the rest of the magazine. I read this issue religiously, wanting to know the next "hot prospects" and obsessing over the book value of my latest pulls.
I spent a good hour flipping through this thing last night. I still enjoyed reading it, but for an entirely different reason.
It was fun to see how wrong Beckett was about, well...almost everything. Oh, and there were some interesting articles, too.
But mostly that first part.
Though virtually flipping through a magazine is nowhere near a new idea, I thought it'd be a blast to share the contents of this January 2001 Beckett with all of you.
Like everything else, we start with the Table of Contents.
Let's see. Short Prints, Page 2.
That could be fun.
What I found there was mostly a series of shorter articles detailing various happenings in the hobby.
One of the more interesting pieces was the discovery of corked Manny Ramirez bat pieces in 2000 Pacific Invincible. I'm not old enough to remember Pacific being on the shelves.
I've read about this sort of thing from time to time. I think a telling quote comes at the beginning of the fourth paragraph by a manager for trading cards and memorabilia for the MLBPA.
At this point, there's no evidence that it's his bat.
That's from the guy who's in charge of authenticating these things.
I should've known the whole memorabilia industry bubble would pop eventually.
Here's what I thought when I saw the snippet about gum in 2001 Heritage.
What's the big deal? Topps has been doing that for years. It's not like Heritage is brand new or anything.
And then it hit me.
Heritage was brand new in 2001.
More card talk.
Something about collectors missing card #50 in their sets of 2000 Fleer Tradition Update.
Upon closer examination...
Hmmm, this needs closer examination.
I remember this from the Becketts of my youth. They'd invite readers to submit lists detailing how they'd spend a hundred bucks. (Based off of high book value, of course.)
The winners would get their lists published and be entered in a drawing to win a real $100 bill. Because I guess Beckett just couldn't afford to give away a hundred bucks every month.
This might've been the most fascinating part of this entire magazine.
Lisa from Illinois offered to drop $30 on a Ben Grieve rookie card. That same $30 would also get her a 1993 Bowman Jeter rookie.
I don't know which part is more mind-boggling. The fact that Ben Grieve rookies were once valued at thirty bucks or that he and Jeter were on equal ground in 2001.
If your offer is still open, Lisa, I can get you that Grieve rookie for $30.
There's one on Sportlots for 18 cents right now, but don't tell her that.
Topps (and a lot of other people) may have gotten the Ben Grieve thing wrong, but at least they recognized The Captain would be a force in the hobby for years to come.
I still want a copy of that 2000 Fleer Tradition card on the left for my "award show" mini-collection.
These, I don't care about as much.
Not that I could ever afford any of them or anything.
We've hit the black-and-white portion of Beckett.
Only so much money in the printing budget, you know.
I drooled over the "Hot Lists" when I was a kid. I knew I could never own any of the cards on there, but I was obsessed over staying up-to-date with all the hotshot prospects at the time.
Hey, come on. I was nine. I didn't know any better.
I'd imagine names like Glaus, Zito, and Sheets are all over Becketts from around this time frame. They had some big years after 2001, but none of them really maintained the consistent long-term success that Beckett and others probably thought they would.
I love the last two names on that Singles Hot List. Willie Bloomquist and Benny Agbayani.
Okay, okay. Hindsight is 20/20.
The bulk of the magazine, of course, is reserved for book values, bro.
Yes, I admit I pored over those tiny little numbers with the up and down arrows a lot when I was younger. Book value was all the rage.
Again, I was nine. Please keep that in mind.
Among the highlights on this page alone are 2000 Topps Chrome Traded rookies of J.R. House(?) and Cristian Guerrero(?) rookie cards being valued at ten bucks a pop.
Those breeze past the prices of rookies like Adrian Gonzalez (book value of $8), Adam Wainwright ($4), and Miguel Cabrera ($2.50).
Book value is the devil.
This just depresses me.
Even in 2001, when the hobby wasn't on its strongest legs, there were about twice as many card shows in my home state of Illinois then there are now.
Only a couple of the gatherings held in 2001 are still around these days. That Orland Park one is where I took my birthday money this year. (And where I'm planning to go again next week, actually.)
The show listed in Chicago near the middle of the page in the second column is a hotel not far from where I live. The space where I imagine the card show was held is a bar now.
More supposedly hot prospects.
Okay, Beckett got a few of these right. I'll give 'em Roy Oswalt and Brandon Phillips.
I'm just glad I didn't take Beckett's advice and start buying up Tony Torcato rookies.
Looking at this article makes my inner thoughts do battle.
The optimist me sits back and admires the guy's George Brett collection. (I'll bet I have one thing he doesn't, though.)
The pessimist in me wonders if the guy has kept it going over the years. Or if something arose and he chose to/had to, gasp, sell it or something. It's a common tale that I can't help but think about.
Oh, and note to self.
If Beckett ever features me in a magazine, don't wear jean shorts.
This is for my benefit.
I just wanted to prove that the words "Legends", "Major-League Talent", and "Corey Patterson" were once on the same page.
I remember flipping eagerly to the Readers Write section of every Beckett almost immediately.
True, a lot of it was people commenting snarkily and/or angrily about something regarding book value. This issue features a collector complaining about how he has had to pay book value for almost all of his Will Clark cards. Woe is me.
Thankfully, there was a light at the tunnel. Even back in 2001. One eagle-eyed collector noted that Eric Byrnes isn't actually featured on his 2000 Bowman rookie card. This was back before I'm sure a lot of people even knew who Eric Byrnes was.
That's the kind of dime box-esque stuff I like to see, Beckett.
Every article featured some sick hits that people had pulled at their local paycheck filters...er, card shops that month in a section called Little Shop of Honors. Most of the people Beckett showed seemed to always be pre-teen kids or guys pushing fifty.
Oh, and hey, is that an MLB Showdown sighting I see? In a Beckett?
See, other people besides me cared about MLB Showdown.
This issue ends with an article that features Wall Street-like graphs and sports cards on the same page.
I think we can all agree that that's never a good combo.
Baseball cards are not investments, people!
That kind of mindset is why I haven't touched a new Beckett in almost a decade. I'll be the first to admit that it was sure fun digging through one of my old copies, though.
Thirteen years feel like a lifetime in the hobby.
I found this right below the 2001 Beckett you just saw in my closet last night.
What we have here is a reprint of the very first Beckett, issued in November of 1984.
I'm not sure whether this came as a giveaway in the Beckett I discussed in this post or a different issue, but it somehow found its way into my hands.
It was astounding to see how much the value of cards has changed in the last thirty years.
But that's another post all together.