1971 was the first year I began collecting sports cards. Starting in the spring with baseball, my fave sport, I’d take the fifty cent allowance I got each week for not being TOO much of a pain in the ass, and walk the 3/4 mile each way (I just measured it on google maps) to what was then Adam’s Drugs (now a Dollar Tree, evidently) and buy 5 packs of 10 cards for a dime baseball cards.
They put ’em out in at least 6 “series” back then, meaning they’d sell segments of the entire set and change them every few weeks. You’d have to wait for a lot of your favorite players and stars, reading the checklist cards carefully to see what was out there, what was gone and what was coming.
Far too often, the local candy wholesalers would run erratic schedules, and combining that with packs left on the shelves meant some series of cards got incredibly short shrift. Looking over all the cards I bought in ’71, Series 4 and 6, the final one, are rather thin. 1972 was an even bigger set, and the final series of those had a very brief shelf life at Adam’s Drugs, as well as nationally. It’s why the “high number” cards even for commons are more expensive these days.
In ’73 and ’74, I bought whole boxes directly from a local wholesaler who didn’t mind selling single boxes to kids who collected cards. And Topps abandoned series in ’73, as well as cutting down the size of the set from 787 to 660. So, a box of packs held unlimited possibilities of what players I’d get. 24 packs to a box for two bucks at wholesale, a WAY better deal than Adam’s Drugs, once I’d saved my allowance.
In later years, I’d buy hand-sorted complete sets from ads in the back of The Sporting News. It was great to have the cards… but the anticipation/surprise of opening those wax packs was gone, and it was really part of the fun.
I didn’t miss the hard-candy textured shingle of industrial bubblegum that we always dreaded would be next to a card we really wanted in the pack, leaving that God damn gum stain on it.
Anyway, back in 1971 by the time we got to around this point in the year near Labor Day, the football packs would appear, followed by the basketball and hockey ones.
In the fall of ’71, I kept buying cards. I paid more attention to football than I did to baseketball or hockey. I only bought maybe 1 or 2 packs of those, but I bought football throughout the season. Only 2 series of cards to deal with, too. Continue reading “OCD Football Card Of The Day: 1971 Ray Nitschke”