Friday, December 29, 2023

The best budget is no budget (a COMC order)

I've really never had a budget when it comes to baseball cards.

Part of this is because I don't collect the seismic kind of stuff that requires a budget in fear of having to sell a kidney. But that's not to say I can't overspend on cards - lately I've been worried that I'm plopping a bit too much of my paychecks down on cardboard, in fact.

It's easy to trick myself into thinking I'm a light spender since a lot of what I buy tends to fall into the "loose change" category. But a few Sportlots orders here, a couple infusions of cash into my COMC account there, and before you know it, there goes 50 bucks. It's not a good or bad thing, but sometimes I'm left looking at my bank account and wondering why there's not more money in there.

I think it's telling that I seem to post a COMC order every other month or so on here - and, you guessed it, here comes another one!

There's very little rhyme or reason to my COMC hauls - lots of times I'm as surprised as anyone else to see what I ended up finding.

Can't really tell you how I stumbled upon these three Star Mattingly panels, and they're not anything I've specifically targeted in the past - but hey, for $1.50 a piece (50 cents a card!) you know I'm buying 'em.

(Also, yes, I have since split these up into nine individual cards.)

COMC is a good place to find weird regional oddballs there's a 99 percent chance you won't see anywhere, ever.

Those Spanish Kellogg's have been taunting me for a while - the cheapest ones always seem to be like $10 - but thankfully that Carew was around $4 and fit snugly into my (non-?)budget.

Oddballs, as always, were the name of the game with this COMC order.

I don't remember ever buying equipment during my Little League days (I know at least a couple of my gloves were hand-me-downs) but I've been more inclined to beg my parents to get me a Louisville Slugger if a baseball card came with it!

Lately I've taken a page from the Sportlots handbook and started combing specific sellers' inventories for deals.

I came across one person who was having a nice little blowout of their minor league inventory and, as a result, scored some cool pre-fame issues of a few guys you might recognize.

But I get just as much fun out of finding minor league treasures of Obscure Guys I Collect For Some Reason - only in a card collection can Mike Fontenot and Junior Spivey have as much pull as Shohei Ohtani or Mike Trout.

A lot of minor league stuff is just plain cool - I didn't even know there was a card of Mark Prior's brief stay in the Red Sox system until this order.

Couple that with a group of batboys who posed for a photo exactly how you'd expect a group of 12-year-olds to pose for a photo, and A CARD WITH A CAT CAMEO(!) - and you have a whole lot of fun on the farm.

A few of my bigger player collections got a nice little boost with this order as well.

I finally convinced myself to splurge on one of those "Gallery of Heroes" inserts I've been eyeing for far too long - spending $6 on a modern card is nearly unheard of here, but I'd say Vlad was worth it.

I supposed my budget would be in further shambles if I spent as much on packs as I used to. 

But why do that when you can snag tough photo-variation SPs and other online exclusives on COMC for the price of one of those packs with five Marlins in it?

I'm on a quest to own every Hank Aaron Brewers card in existence, and I got one tiny step closer with that Heritage insert from a few years back - and speaking of guys on weird teams, how about a rare Jim Kaat Yankees sighting?

(It's also funny that exclusives I heard everyone raving about from this year's National are already showing up on COMC for almost nothing.)

A particularly fun helping of minis this time around - including Jim Bunning's only Dodger card, a Felipe Alou Venezuelan sticker, and a neat Bazooka!

Also, yes, that's a real 1950 Bowman Ralph Branca - vintage Bowman doesn't really do a whole lot for me, but when you throw one of a Dime Box favorite for a hair over $4, I'm helpless.

Japanese cards are one of my most frequent searches on COMC, and I had the good fortune to stumble across a couple weirdly affordable BBM Nomos this time.

COMC is mostly a place for combing and scouring and clicking BUY NOW!, but it can also be a rabbit hole for discoveries. 

There's a good chance I would've gone the rest of my life not knowing this brilliant Father's Day Nationals set existed (stadium giveaway, I assume?) - but thanks to COMC, my collection is all the better for it.

A handful of not-your-standard-size baseball cards here, including a couple Permagraphics oddballs that I've never thought got nearly as much love as they should.

This was the COMC order when I decided enough was enough and finally sprung for a '76 SSPC George Brett that's been a thorn in my side for quite a while now.

Plus, Mr. Brett had a little company on the way to Dime Box HQ, including The Mick and a couple '78 SSPCs I still needed (not many White Sox Don Kessinger cards out there). 

Full disclosure: I was excited to snag a cheap '55 Bowman Sal Maglie, only to later run to my binders and discover, wait, WHAT - I already have it?! (Side note: anyone wanna give it a good home?)

That Musial, on the other hand, was most assuredly not a dupe - those "Baseball Thrills" cards are excellent and cost less than Stan the Man's regular Topps cards will run you.

Still, the king of this COMC order was never in question: it's this scary '67 high-number of Rocky Colavito that looks like it went under a truck at some point.

I may be more inclined to drop heavier amounts of money on cards nowadays, but my goal of finding an affordable '67 Colavito was fixed on a hope and a prayer. I regularly see copies priced for hundreds at card shows, and the cheapest one I'd ever come across before this was around $80. (You better believe '67 high-numbers are feared for a reason.)

A copy like this - creased, mangled, and even with an updated "Dodgers" scrawled along the front by a young collector - was exactly what I'd always hoped to find. And for a mere $15, there it was waiting for me on COMC one miraculous evening. A prayer answered.

All in all, it's hard to have a budget in this hobby when I'm bombarded with so many things I DEFINITELY, TOTALLY NEED RIGHT NOW!


Laurens said...

I bought the same Dave Kingman card earlier in the year on COMC - though I've sat on my purchases for now, maybe I should just ship already.

Mike said...

The father's day cards are way cool... but any card with a cat is automatically my fave!!

Crocodile said...

'67 High numbers is one the reasons I haven't started on that set yet. But that SSPC Brett will be mine one day.

Mark Zentkovich said...

I just finished 76 sspc set and comc was a good help when I got near the end

Bo said...

I share your philosophy about budgets. Get the good deals when you can.

Lots of cards in this post that I'd never seen before but love the photos, like the batboys and fathers day cards. I'll be adding some to my TCDB want lists.

And I just sent you an email but thanks again for the giveaway cards which arrived today!

beefman said...

Prior with the Red Sox?

Kaat with the Yankees??

Thanks, Nick, they've been added to my 'Hopefully I Will Own This Card Someday' list. I just love me some 'Short-Term Stops' cards!

Shlabotnik Report said...

Shame on me for never thinking to look for Sportscaster cards featuring the Mets! That Kingman is sweet!

That UD Nationals Fathers Day set design would get reused the next year in a Holiday Inn Cal Ripken set

Chris said...

How do you find such eclectic cardboard? Ted Williams Ranger cards are always nice finds and that Guerrero Gallery is gorgeous. I didn't know Prior had a Pawtucket card, and now I want one. And a cute little kitty on a baseball card??

Fuji said...

That Wheaties card of Gwynn is awesome! I've kept my hobby spending down since the pandemic boom... but recently I went nuts at the last card show I attended and spent six to eight months worth of my hobby budget on two cards.

Johnnys Trading Spot said...

You always find the best oddballs. I've tried, and have no idea how you do it. I'm going to have to hire a fly to hide in the corner and watch you search for those things :)

Nick Vossbrink said...

That's an amazing mix. Kingman Sportcaster is wonderful. Love the Knight hangtag (no idea how to even search for those). Then a Bazooka and a Venezualan sticker? Hot dog!

Jafronius said...

Great pickups! If card buying is your only activity and you are financially secure with your job otherwise, no problem! And Happy New Year!

BaseSetCalling said...

A black armband year for the Yankees, looks like, while they had Kaat.

The Diamond King said...

Great stuff! I really love those Gallery cards, and I happen to have that Vlad!