“Where the f- are my cards?”

I went to a card show at, I think, the Roosevelt Hotel in NYC, in, I think, 1985. I was a year out of college, single, working, and unembarrassed to be back into collecting. I had a 1967 Topps set to finish and nothing was going to stop me now!

At that show I bought a nice Clemente, probably near-mint. I have no idea what something like that cost back then. Anyway, Clemente and other cards in hand, I hopped from dealer to dealer, putting my purchases down as I looked some more. When I got home, the Clemente was gone.



There was no foul play; I just didn’t have a good system for storing what I had already bought while I searched for more to buy. As distraught as I was to lose that card, and a few others, it was my fault and it made me develop a system of how to carry stuff at a show. Boxes, top loaders, lists, etc., would now be placed in a bag that never left my side. It’s worked ever since.

In the last two years I’ve bought a lot of cards online and thank the Lord for the tracking number. It feels foolproof and gives a security that lets me sleep soundly at night. I have paid for cheaper postage, and even shipped that way, but at least in those instances there’s a sense of shared risk – the buyer knows he’s paying a buck for an envelope and a stamp and I’m able to sell lower value cards. None of those non-tracking numbered mailings have been lost.

So it’s crazy to know that 29 1969 Topps I ordered from someone on Sportlots.com has vanished. Weirder still is that it got to the Cooperstown Post Office, was scanned as “Out for Delivery” and disappeared. I think it’ll turn up. One of the nice things of living in Cooperstown is that there’s a real connection to the people at the local Post Office, so they’re on it. If it doesn’t show, I’ll file a claim. After all, it did arrive!


I learned one thing from this – don’t mark your checklists before the cards are in hand. I’ve been crossing things out as I order or trade so I know what I still need, but, man, now I have to go back and undo that, which is going to look ugly.

I guess I learned another thing – with all the postal advances there remains vulnerability. Psychologically, there’s an adrenaline rush to see that there are cards “Out for Delivery.” Really, it’s pretty exciting, at least for me (and, I’m guessing, you, considering you’re reading this). I’d hate to see this hiccup spoil a (formerly) predictably good feeling. That would suck.

Author: Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is the former Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.

10 thoughts on ““Where the f- are my cards?””

  1. The Post Office does an overall great job. There are still occasional glitches. But yeah with tracking you know what happens. Couldn’t agree w you more.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m in the habit of using online checklists for my collection. When I buy a card but it has not yet been delivered, I will occasionally change the color of the listing for that card in my online checklist to remind myself that I have *probably* purchased it and will receive it soon.

    For the most part, it’s pretty good. I’ve only failed to receive one card for which I’ve done that, and I later was able to get that card.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Interesting. I do some color coding, but it’s to show what’s been bought from an original want list. I think I’m both jumping the gun and buying/trading at a pace to fast to digest.


  3. Mailbox security is pretty lax in Cooperstown. Someone should report this to the Mayor’s office immediately.
    A few years back there was a rash of mail theft in my neighborhood. The mailman suggested getting a locking box, which I did, but only after my 1970, Chiquita banana, New York Giants sticker didn’t arrive. It eventually arrived, but the idea that a thief stole my inch in circumference sticker forced a 50 something man to spend $85 on a new mailbox. I got the Boston Patriots for Christmas from my son, thus completing the Chiquita set. Yes!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t mix jurisdictions! I have no say in Post Office security. I’ll file a claim this week. What bums me out is that I got a good deal on these 29 cards and now I have to buy them again. And you know then the original package will show up in two weeks!


  4. I was a little freaked out because I thought Jeff was reading my mind … I have two cards I am waiting on (the 1959 Williams Shift card, which I bought on Monday based on phungo’s post, already arrived today). One I know I’m not going to get (based on feedback the seller has recently received), so my search for a 2010 Topps National Chicle Chrome Refractor Ryan Zimmerman will have to continue (I would explain my collecting habits but … that would take an entire blog in and of itself). There was no tracking – new seller, cheap (under $4.00). The other is a 2000 Skybox Autographics Frank Thomas autograph, which apparently has been on its way to my house since 10/5 according to the tracking.

    My two favorite stories. I won a 2010 National Chicle (hmmm … maybe that’s the issue) Ichiro Artist’s Proof (#ed to 10) really cheap. It really was a great deal. Apparently there was some issue when the package (or multiple packages) went through the machine at the post office so I received a newly packaged item (with the original torn envelope inside the new package) with a note that “things sometimes happen at the post office.” Apparently they didn’t know what item went to what package and somehow made decisions so instead of Ichiro I got … heartworm pills for a dog. That was an interesting email to send to the seller (and I feel bad for the dog).

    The other was a seller who sent me two packages at the same time. I got one, it had about half the cards I had ordered, and I contacted him. He said because it was on two separate invoices (it was a multiple individual card purchase – probably 50-60 singles) he needed to ship them separately. We watched for two weeks as the second package, which was sent at the exact same time as the original (they literally showed up as scanned one minute apart), wound up going back to the original post office before finally making its way to me.

    I can’t be too upset at the post office because I’ve probably won/bought a few thousand items on eBay. Pretty much everything has gotten to me (I think I have had less than 10 items not reach me, and if not less than 10 certainly less than 20). But those are my favorite delivery stories.

    Patience … perhaps your cards are hanging out with my Frank Thomas autograph. If I was my Frank Thomas autograph I might not leave San Diego either …


  5. I was burned using the ‘cross em off as I buy em’ method with my ’59 set. I thought I was down to two cards but as I put them in a binder I found that I was five short. An order of three cards had never reached me. It was probably a year since I’d ordered it so making a claim was pointless. I decided to go to the color method with my next set builds. Cards on the way were changed to green text and then to red when they were in hand.

    If that lost order was the post office’s fault it may be the only one I’ve experienced. I’ve had a broken bobble-head arrive as well as a crushed hard case but overall they’ve been remarkably efficient and careful with my deliveries.


  6. I remember when I won an auction on ebay and the cards were sent to me in a package with a tracking number. I tracked the package. When it was reported to me that the package was out for delivery, I checked the mail that day and the cards weren’t there. I went back and checked on the tracking of the package and it said that it was delivered.

    I then checked with the post office and they said there wasn’t anything they could do because the package had been delivered. I was really bummed as I was excited about getting these cards.
    I had pretty much given up on ever getting the cards. But about a week later I found the package of cards at my front door. My guess is that the cards had been delivered to the wrong address and whoever had received them left the package at my front porch unopened. I wish I could have thanked that person but I never did find out who actually returned the cards to me.

    So hang in there as I hope that your cards arrived to their final destination soon.


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