I've been making a (somewhat halfhearted) effort to clear out some excess space in my room, mainly because I live every day in fear of becoming a hoarder.
Among the items I deemed worthy of a purge were my stack of old Becketts, which date from as far back to 2001 (I was nine years old) to around 2011 or so. I've long since stopped buying the magazine -- I honestly don't even know if they still print it anymore -- and my distaste for the Book Value phenomenon Beckett helped popularize has been well-documented on this blog.
But although my Beckett fandom remains a thing of the past, I still felt a pang of something when I moved those old magazines into the trash pile.
I couldn't help but flip through a couple of my treasured old Becketts this afternoon.
There was a time when I intently reviewed every page of every magazine, reading that tiny text, looking for those up and down arrows to see what was hot and cold. Not because I had any of the hot cards themselves, of course -- it was mainly for pleasure more than anything.
At the very least, flipping through old Becketts is often good for a laugh -- Chris Coghlan's Bowman Chrome rookie autograph was on the rise as of this issue...from June 2009.
When I was a kid, "big" cards like these seemed to exist in a different universe, and seeing them all in one place made reading through Beckett's Hot List a monthly pleasure.
These days, I own exactly one of the Hot List cards from June 2009 -- Johan Santana's Fleer Tradition rookie at #20, which I found in a dime box a couple years ago -- but again, it's fun now to relive the absurdity of some of the names here (Jake Fox? Fernando Martinez?).
While my fascination with Book Value died somewhere around 2010 or so, there was a brief period of time in which I still bought Beckett for the articles alone.
Most issues were good for at least a couple fun reads, like this one, which documents the luck of a collector in Kentucky who, thanks to a massive printing error at Topps, pulled dozens and dozens of extremely scarce SPs from a 2009 Heritage blaster. They're valued here at more than $20,000 all together.
While this was almost ten years ago now, I have to say I'm still a bit jealous.
Even though the magazines are gone, remnants of Beckett will always exist in my card collection.
This Jim Beckett came special with one of my Becketts long ago, and you can attribute the giant crease running down the middle of it to my futile efforts to pry this card from that icky booger-like material magazines often use to affix free items (note to Beckett: not a great idea for usage with baseball cards).
I could be wrong, but I seem to remember that a few of my first Becketts came with sample cards like these.
In hindsight, I'm surprised Beckett didn't include cards with more of their publications, because what better way to get someone to buy a baseball card magazine than with FREE BASEBALL CARDS?
This is a reprint of Beckett's first-ever (mimeographed!) publication back in 1984 -- it came special with a 15th anniversary issue in 2001, and yes, I'm keeping this.
I've flipped through this historic reprint many times just to see the inflation of vintage card prices over the years.
Oh, and if anyone has a '52 Mantle they'd be willing to let go for the '84 Beckett value of $1,400, please hang tight while I secure a personal loan.
And while I'm finally due for an update and/or replacement by now, I'll also be keeping my Beckett pride and joy: the volume I refer to as only The Big Book, which contains listings for every known card set as of its 2008 publication.
As you can see by the sorry shape of the tome itself, I've consulted this thing endlessly throughout my collecting career. Not so much for the values, but for the reference: finding SPs, hunting for oddball sets, discerning checklist sizes, etc., etc. And while I may not like what Beckett has done to the hobby in terms of perceived "value," I do thank them with all my heart for this catalog, as it's made my collecting life immensely easier on so many occasions.
But for now, I must part with the Beckett magazines of my youth, a seemingly innocent purge which produced more nostalgia than I ever thought possible.