My Favorite Common, Mor-a-les

My mother used to throw out my cards.

Trite, right? Here’s the twist: I let her. Every year, or maybe more sporadically than that, my mother would ask if I wanted my cards. I told her no. It’s crazy looking back at it.

That all ended for me at the close of 1971. What remained was a small stack, part of that year’s baseball set, and all of my football, basketball and hockey cards. I kept everything from that moment on.

As the ‘70’s wore on, and my local reputation was built on, or ruined by, my penchant for cards, friends would give me their collections as they grew out of them and I remained stuck. My 1971 baseball cards piled up, but, as they were not my originals and cared for as such, condition was a hodgepodge.

Rich Morales, #276 in the set, #1 in my heart, always stuck out as a reminder of the grief I suffered by not keeping my own cards and the joy I incurred by getting everyone else’s.

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What a wreck. If a card has anti-gloss, this is it. You can almost feel the texture by looking at it – rough, grainy, dirty, as if a card had driven over it multiple times. Creases, paper loss, a real PSA -7. The back is less gross, but not very nice.

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When I discovered a few years back that I was pretty close to finishing a 1971 set, I decided to complete it in somewhat consistent condition, somewhere between VG and EX. I got it done and am pretty pleased with it. All of a sudden, this Morales card was less comfortable in its surroundings. With some mixed feeling, I upgraded.

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In the past year I’ve completed my 1968-70 football sets. As I’ve done so, I’ve sold my crappy cards in bulk from those years. Weirdly, there’s a market for poor condition cards.

Those can go. In fact, so can my extra baseball cards of that era, and I’ve moved over 1,000 to a Facebook collector. Rich Morales is safe though. I’ll never get rid of him.

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.

3 thoughts on “My Favorite Common, Mor-a-les”

  1. I think one of the generational differences is that I didn’t get a lot of free collections when friends stopped collecting in the late 1980s and early 1990s. I only recall two such instances. One was when my grandfather gave me what he thought were my cards but were more likely cards from one of my uncles – two Happy Meal boxes full of (mostly) 1979 Topps cards. That added a good bit of age to my collection which was mostly 1986 and later at that time (though I always had a lot of 1982 Topps for some reason). The other was when I got about two shoeboxes full of cards from a neighbor – while not Morales level bad, they were not in high quality condition, and they were mostly late 1980s stuff. A good bit weren’t even from the major manufacturers, but, as I would learn later, ASA cards. But as I could not find those in monthly price guides they were not “real” cards to me at the time.

    Everyone at that time either held on to their cards, thinking they would retire early after selling off a few Gregg Jefferies rookies, or they sold them. My best friend sold off most of his collection to buy a TV, which was probably a good move because I doubt he could get a TV dinner today for what he sold off, let alone an actual TV.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting. I’d never thought of that. Your generation perceived a value that mine didn’t. I was the beneficiary of their ignorance.

      One thing I did do for friends in the 70’s, when price guides were non-existent, but dealer catalogs were prevalent, was go through their collections to tell them what their cards were worth. My fee? I got to keep cards I needed.

      Like

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