News from the Post Office

I’ve been working on some football sets lately that I’ve always wanted to complete, and a few non-sports sets. (Have I told you about the glorious 1965 Soupy Sales set! That was a fun project.) I haven’t been working on baseball cards too much because I’m stuck. I literally need one card to complete the 1936 Goudey Wide Pen set (Type 1) and one card to finish the 1963 Bazooka All Time Greats set. I’m treading water on my hand cut 1975 Hostess set (14 to go) and my 1961 Post set.

With three more 1961 Posts in transit, I’m down to needing 26 to finish. It’ll end up a pretty nice set overall, maybe VGEX-EX. I’ve enjoyed getting hand cuts because condition is harder to peg. Nobody seemed to really know how to use scissors back then. I picked up a Mantle that was very nice, except for a crease (the price was right and I’m happy with it) and a Bob Shaw short print that was well below what I expected to pay. That’s all good.

What I’m running into is a clear case of short prints that, according to my admittedly out of date Standard Catalog, are not listed as SPs. I’m not talking hard SPs (Estrada, McMillan, Stobbs) or even tougher variations (Minneapolis v. Minnesota, company issue v. box), I’m talking about cards that should be priced as commons, but aren’t. Some examples:

58 – Gary Bell

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I can’t find it for close to $2-3, which is where it’s supposed to reside (company or box).

Orioles Group:  71 – Milt Pappas, 74 – Steve Barber

Box version of Pappas should be cheap, and all I want is the cheaper variation. I know Barber should be a buck or so more, but that’s not where I see them priced.

Phillies Group:  115 – Dick Farrell, 116 – Jim Owens, 122 – Ken Walters

Again, a mystery in cost. Eventually I’ll pull them in for less than $3, but that’s going to feel like a rip off.

West Coast Group: 142 – Johnny Antonelli , 156 – Norm Larker

No reason I shouldn’t be able to find these for $2 or less, but it’s not happening.

I do realize I’ll have to pony up for the Estrada, Stobbs and McMillan cards, but I think there are relative bargains to be had. If anyone knows why the cards above are harder to find than I figured, let me know. Maybe it’s because I’m using a 2009 Standard Catalog and discoveries have been made since then.  That has certainly been the case with certain numbers in the 1975 Hostess set, which came as news to me.

Of course, if you’ve got dubs of any of them (and the others I need), let me know.

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.

6 thoughts on “News from the Post Office”

  1. I’ll readily admit to now knowing that much about these but I remember seeing a website which broke down what cards were released with what cereals and noting that some only showed up on lousy cereals (looking at you Grape Nuts). I don’t know if those count as short prints but they did seem to correspond to things that have a lower population now.

    I also know that in my quest to get Chuck Essegian Post cards his Post ones fell into the “why is this so expensive” category but his Jell-O ones did not and I don’t know if 1961 has this variant going on or if that’s a step too far for your set-building OCD but the Jell-O cards don’t usually show up in Post searches on ebay or whatever.

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  2. It wasn’t just that kids (I’m assuming it was kids, like me) were doing the cutting of these cards. The darn cereal boxes were pretty thick and hard to deal with. And of course, I’m sure most kids wanted to cut the cards out before the cereal was consumed. I did my best on the one I saved longest (and had graded), only to get just an “authentic” rating on my Ron Santo rookie ’cause I had trimmed it too closely.
    And weren’t the ones on the boxes of the ex-Senators listed as “Minneapolis” (as opposed to the company issues)?

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    1. That’s the thing about these hand cuts. An “A” rating is good enough, though I understand that having the whole card means more. (Yes to the Minneapolis v Minnesota for the ex-Senators).

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  3. The current Beckett online price guide gives a high value of $4-$6 for the cards you list, with a low value of $1.50-$2.50. So you’re right in a sense that you should probably be able to get them for $1-$2 with some patience. There were 2 Gary Bells that sold via auction on eBay on June 15th – one for 99 cents and $1 shipping, and the other for $1.77 with free shipping. A Steve Barber sold for $2.27 with free shipping the same day, but it has a crease and doesn’t look to be the best cut in the world. The other Bell and Barber sales look to be a good bit more ($10 at a minimum, up to $25), though I don’t really know the difference in versions. I’ve found that Beckett isn’t always up-to-date on cards that aren’t seeing a large volume of sales, so it may be that the market for nicer copies of those cards has moved.

    I’ve noticed that sometimes there are cards that have a low book value, which leads to them not being listed for sale anywhere, which then leads to them going for way over book once they are for sale. The 1989 and 1990 Topps Batting Leaders are two examples that come to mind. They were the bonus card in rack packs (I think they may have been a K-mart exclusive). Commons used to list in Beckett for 10-25 cents but when they hit eBay the cards would go for $5-$7 because player collectors (I’m assuming) were looking for them. Commons now list for $1 (hi book), but the cheapest ones I can find from 1990 on eBay are $2.50 plus $1.95 shipping. Those are Johnny Ray, Lonnie Smith, Phil Bradley, and Tony Fernandez. The cheapest one from 1989 listed on eBay is Rickey Henderson at $6.79 (that’s actually below Beckett hi price).

    Just thinking about my own collection, if I ever saw a 1990 Indians Team Issue Keith Hernandez for sale I’d be willing to go over hi book (which is $2) for that. That card and the 1986 (I think it is 1986) Mets Colla Postcard (hi book of $1.50) have continued to elude me for years.

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