How ’bout a story?
When I was a kid collecting baseball cards, before the friggin’ boomers destroyed the hobby by bidding up the prices of various cards beyond belief by the 1980s, it was often possible to search out & find classic old cards of great stars and legends at affordable prices, or amazingly cheap prices.
One day at an antique show my mom got interested in at the ol’ Midland Mall in Rhode Island, turned out one guy had a small box of several dozen absolute MINT condition 1952 Topps baseball cards.
4 for a dollar.
Yeah, I know – where’s Biff Tannen to come back in a Delorean and tell 1972 me that I should buy the entire box? It’s the first real Topps set, amazingly in demand, where mint condition cards are extremely rare and pricey. The Mickey Mantle rookie in set sells for multiple thousands of dollars.
Believe me, I combed the box for Yankees. The only one was Hank Bauer, but it, along with more stellar names – Bob Feller, Gil Hodges and Duke Snider rounded out my dollar’s worth.
These were immediate status symbols amongst the neighborhood friends who collected and traded cards with me. They were older, I’d gotten lots of cards from them from before my time, mostly commons but some star players in there, here and there, depending on what I’d traded away for ’em.
I got repeatedly badgered by one guy for one of the 1952s… haggling went back and forth, and in what seemed like a good deal in 1972, I traded the Duke Snider for a ’64 Koufax, Drysdale, and Tony Kubek, to get a Yankee in there.
I like having the Drysdale and Koufax cards…. to this day, they’re the only cards of either of those guys in my collection, I think… but over the years, parting with that mint Duke Snider has always haunted me. And I did NOT want to pay anywhere from the $300 -$2000 I’d seen the near mint to mints go for to get it back in that condition.
BUT – we have a happy ending to this tale. Recently on ebay, I found one in decent enough condition, not mint, but an undergraded good to very good one – no creases or marks or pinholes, only some corner wear visible on the front and not quite-perfect centering. And it fit right into the “I think I’ll buy myself a birthday present a month early” category at fifty bucks.
I spent nearly as much on sushi the other night, I figured. (All you can eat, too!)
Should I fixate on my memory of leaving the Warren Spahn and Richie Ashburn cards behind to take the Bauer back in ’72 and spring for those on ebay? Well, maybe next birthday. By then, maybe I can skip enough sushi to save up, who knows?