Christmas Cards

The week before Christmas has been a good one for cards. That’s too bold; the week before Christmas has been a good one for me getting cards. I have no idea how cards in general are doing. A few random stories:

Though a long time collector, my re-immersion into the hobby the past year and a half has come with some re-education. I am consistently surprised by the variations in pricing and how, with patience, there’s always an opportunity to get what I need at a price I can bear.

My pursuit of a 1956 Topps set has been slow in comparison to the pedal to the metal pace of my 1960, 1968 and 1969 set building. I’ve gotten lots on eBay of cards in EX or better for less than $3 a card, low numbers and high, but there are usually too many cards in those lots that I already have. I never end up selling my doubles for more than $2 per card.

On Monday an eBay seller, justcollectcards, had a big 40% off sale. I was almost late for a lunch appointment because I went through all their EX listings. It was worth it though. I got 60 cards, including Minnie Minoso and a couple of teams, for $2.75 each. That put a huge dent in my checklist. Now I know I’m not going to get the big dollar cards for any discount from book, but if I keep getting the rest of the set for about 1/3 of stated value, I should have enough savings to make the Mantle and Ted Williams somewhat easier to swallow.

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Cooperstown definitely needs more general interest stores, but that’s a difficult hurdle to jump with a year round population of around 1,800, slightly more if you add the surrounding area. Are there too many baseball stores? Sure. Do I want there to be no baseball stores? Absolutely not.

I’m not a binder and sheets person by nature but it has definitely been easier to put sets together when I can add a few cards into pages, rather than pull out boxes and sort through all the cards to put the new ones in their proper numerical place every time I get two new cards.

Yesterday Joey met me at Yastrzemski Sports on Main St., where I usually buy my supplies. I decided I’d put my 1967 set in sheets, since all my pre-1970 sets seem to have ended up stored that way. Joey needed sheets for his hoped for misprinted, psychedelic card collection.  

We got what we needed plus I found a 1988 Pacific Eight Men Out set for $5! Any set with four Studs Terkel cards is worth having.


From there we headed to Baseball Nostalgia by Doubleday Field. I’m sure I’ve written how BN is my favorite store, filled with cards, cheap autographs, yearbooks and more. It’s been in Cooperstown, in a few different forms, since the mid-1970’s. Pete at the store had read the post I wrote about Joey’s quest for cards with messed up printing and he emailed me to say that he had a bunch of 1976 SSPC misprints. (Baseball Nostalgia began as a TCMA flagship.)

Boy, did he have misprints! Joey bit the bullet and bought all 140 of them, each a trippy nightmare of color mistakes. The Bruce Bochte card (left) looks like a still from a Peter Fonda movie and our buddy John D’Acquisto (right) seems to have two sets of eyes. Freaky stuff.


A signed Jose Cardenal baseball Legends card caught my eye. You can’t beat the price!


And so, that’s how my card year is ending. The 1956s are on their way, as are 4 more 1936 Goudey Wide Pens.

I’ll wrap things up as I did last year, with great thanks to Mark Armour and Chris Dial for not only restarting the SABR Baseball Cards Committee, but dragging me, quite willingly, into participating in a big way. That’s been the best gift of all.

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.

7 thoughts on “Christmas Cards”

  1. Hi I’m Nick and I too have been dragged back into card collecting because of this blog.

    And this week has also been a good one for my collection. Both in terms of finding random stuff on ebay (hello Ticketron Giants cards, random 1976 Calbees, and a 1980 SFPD Giants set) but also for my Black Friday COMC order to finally arrive. I’m not at the “can spend $2.75/card for 60 cards” stage (my COMC order was ~120 cards for under $100) but it’s been fun to sort through and page and cross off items on my search lists.

    It’s also a good week for me to see my son’s burgeoning collection taking form in the shape of presents that I need to wrap for him. He’ll be getting a 2017 flagship set from his grandparents, a set of Panini Cooperstown cards from Santa, an official binder and pages from his godfather, and infinite patience from his mother as he reads her the backs of all the cards.

    Also, those SSPC misprints are fantastic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I saw you got some of those Ticketron Giants. I picked up that set years ago. It was hard to find even then. I like your random approach. Sometimes I feel I’m a little too rigid in my approach.

      And congrats on your son’s interest. That’s wonderful.


      1. “Random” is really “find out about something neat, type it into ebay, and find it for a price that’s in the ‘sure what the hell’ $10 range.” Usually such things turn out to be either non-existant or slightly (or vastly) more expensive than I’m willing to spend on a whim. This week though everything was right there in the impulse wheelhouse (I forgot to mention the 1978 Spanish-language Topps Zest set) and so I’m looking forward to semi-surprise packages over the next week or two.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. The Zest set might become a post here. The nature of the post depends on whether or not I chase down some of the 1994 Topps Spanish-language set (something I’ve not been able to find for cheap on ebay).


  2. Hey, Jeff. The 1956 set is gorgeous. I dusted mine off 3 weeks ago, having set it aside around 2003. I was 33 cards short of completion when I stopped working at it. Overall it’s VG. Like you I recently found it affordable to fill in a bunch — 15 of them., so I need 18 now. Still lacking Aaron, Clemente, Koufax and Mantle, plus some second tier stars. I ordered reprints of those four superstars as it is highly unlikely I’ll own the real things. I suspect I did the original set building when the card market was down. I was happy to open the binder and see how relatively complete it was, especially with Ted, Jackie and Ernie looking back at me. The gloss and color and double artwork on these cards is eye popping. But so is the lack of people of color in the so-called integration period.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. ’56 is my fave set pre-’57. Really, it’s the only one I truly like. I have some big stars, though not all. I’m hoping I’ll end up not spending more building than it would cost to simply buy a complete set.


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