Jumping Into the Deep End

I’ve posted sporadically the last few months because my collecting focus has been almost exclusively on football. I’ve been juggling multiple sets – 1964, 1966 and 1967 Topps, and 1967 Philadelphia. With 1967 Topps done (thanks Big Ben Davidson!), I’ve been thinking hard about tackling a big baseball set. 

(We all know that in our card community we’re often spurred on to pursue cards that our friends show us and talk about. I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a nod to Mark Armour’s recent relentless assault on completing Topps sets he was reasonably close to finishing. Mark has thanked me for honing his thoughts on that, so thanks are due right back at him).

After much deliberation, I made my decision – 1964 Topps. Why? A few reasons:

1 – I’ve got a relatively solid start, with 157 cards (although 17 will need to be upgraded to set-building condition). Not a big base, but 27% is 27% percent. Though 1964 is a bit before my collecting time (I was almost two years old), these cards came from a friend almost 50 years ago. They were his brother’s cards, supplemented by star purchases I made in the ‘70’s. I’ve always loved the look of the 1964s.

2 – I think I can get from 157 to 400 pretty fast. I won, bought, traded, for 60 yesterday, with, hopefully, another 50-60 on the horizon in coming auctions. Checking Beckett Marketplace, I’m sure I can add another 100-150 at my price point. (COMC is usually my go-to on set builds, but with at least 3 month delivery times, I’ll have to hold off for now. It would be mentally debilitating to have 150 cards bought, but undeliverable, until early 2021).

3 – High numbers are very reasonable. In EX, they seem easy to grab for $2-3, and, in lots, even less. That’s important and pricey highs keep me from going after 1966.

4 – Mantle. Need him, but he’s not too expensive. I think, with patience, I can get a nice one for $150ish. Rose is the second biggest on my list, but $75 seems to be attainable. (I once had this card, or my pal’s brother once did. It was a nice card, BUT, on the back, in bold caps, was written “STAY OUT TIM!” I was so upset about that that I ripped it in half and threw it away.)

So my strategy is in place – quick lots to get to a reasonable place, hit the local Cooperstown card shops (Yastrzemski Sports and Baseball Nostalgia) to fill some holes, peck around for stars, and, in time, go to card shows once the coast is clear. Of course, if any of you out there have EX or better cards that you’d like to sell or trade, I’m open to talk. For now, sheets have been bought, an album attained, and starting cards placed.

There’s something sad about 587 card slots, mostly unfilled. It seems lonely and daunting, a few cards surrounded by ghosts.

It’s also hopeful. As pages get filled and the set fleshes out, there’s that wonderful sense of a goal gradually attained.

Wish me luck!

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 “Jumping Into the Deep End”

  1. I’m up to about 550 of the ’64s, but because the ones I still need are the bank-breakers (Mantle, Mays, Clemente, Rose, etc.), I doubt I’ll ever get there. Mine are a weird mix of PSA graded and ungraded. My only tip would be to look for PSA 4s and 5s, even if you want a raw card (just crack ’em out). These go dirt cheap for commons.
    Good luck, Jeff.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. It’s always nice to fill that last empty spot on a page.

    It has been 5-6 weeks since I ordered from COMC, but I believe there was a rush option at the time. While it was a little pricey ($15 or so), I received my cards fairly quickly. My willingness to pay for shipping increased after waiting 3 months for the May order to arrive. I’m like you – I’d rather have the cards sooner rather than later.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I did buy a bunch of thicker (manufactured patch type) cards the last time. They cost a few dollars to ship as a single (been burned way too many times with crinkled thick cards shipped PWE), so an extra quarter wasn’t bad for them, particularly when the cards were already a good bit cheaper on COMC than anywhere else.

        I didn’t pay the extra for the lot I bought back in May and I could barely remember what I bought when it arrived in August (I had things marked off so I didn’t buy the cards again elsewhere – not that that’s ever happened before). It was kind of like Christmas getting 70ish modern Johnny Mize cards plus the elusive Wonderful Monds 1995 SP Top Prospects Autograph card.


  3. 1967 Topps is a great set. One of my favorites. I am working on completing a 1973 Topps set. I have 25 cards to go (all commons). I had a real good experience with Cardbarrel.com. I ordered a bunch of 1973 commons that I needed from them and I was very pleased with the price and the quality of the cards. I have been slowly working on completing a 1961 Topps set (about 20 years). I don’t think that I am ever going to complete it.

    Liked by 1 person

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