|1959 Topps Curt Flood|
The realization that prices for cards are much, much lower than they had been while I was collecting, together with the fact that I'm an adult with a good full-time job now (unlike when I collected 1987-1992, when I was a kid with an allowance, or 1993-1994, when I was a kid with a part-time job), means that I can afford to buy some cards if I want to. But in a way it's too easy. When I originally collected, the internet barely existed and wasn't a way to get information about baseball cards. If I didn't see something at a local shop, or at a show, or read about it in Beckett, then I didn't know about it. For example, I have no memory of ever knowing about the 1975 Topps Mini set, or the 1977 Topps Cloth Stickers, or the 1976 SSPC set. At the time, I would have wanted these things if I knew about them, but probably wouldn't be able to afford them. Now? I could buy the Cloth Stickers set if I wanted, or a couple of sets. Or the SSPC set. Or even a 1987 Topps wax case, which I would have loved to get at the time. Or other odd things, like 1980s police team sets, easily available on ebay. But throwing money at my collection to get these things feels empty somehow; if I am going to make any acquisitions at this point, I want it to feel like it means something more to me than simply amassing more cards.
Plus, while I have more money than when I was a kid, I have more responsibilities, and can't spend endless money acquiring cardboard. But I can collect some. So my collection goals are somewhat limited, and I think that by buying a little bit at a time over the next few years, I will get to the point that I feel my collection is complete. I'm really only interested in players from the 80s and earlier, and cards from the 80s and earlier (maybe very slightly extending into the 90s), so this helps me to think that I can "complete" my collection -- the internet gives me access to more cards from that era than I originally had, but there's not an unlimited supply of different cards from that era. I'll discover some things I didn't originally know about, and buy some things that were originally beyond my means, and then I'll be done. I think.
In my binder of favorite cards, there are a few empty slots (about 10, to be a little more precise), partially because I sent a few cards to PSA for grading, and partially because there always were a few vacant spots. One of the recent acquisitions I posted, the Garry Maddox rookie card , went into one of these vacant spots, and the Curt Flood card pictured above is going into another. I have a list of other cards and players that I want to use to fill some of the remaining spots. They mainly are players that were excellent but not Hall of Fame caliber; in addition to Maddox and Flood, the list includes George Foster, Al Oliver, Dave Cash, Gorman Thomas, and Ken Griffey (Sr.). (I thought I would have Lee May on the list, but then I discovered that I do indeed have a nice Lee May card already.) When I do acquire these cards and post about them, I will explain what led me put them on my list. Other than these non-Hall of Fame players, I also want a 1983 Topps Tony Gwynn rookie card, and I have a few spots unspecified at present.
And then, I just ordered a few more binder pages. Enough for 180 cards. I'm planning to use those slots to develop deeper player collections of some of my favorites. Stargell and Schmidt, to be sure, but others that I'll post about as well.
Other than getting these approximately 10 cards for my binder, and developing these player collections in the binder, I also have a list of PSA-graded cards that I want. I don't know when PSA first started grading and slabbing cards, but this is something I don't think existed when I originally collected. When I recently acquired a 1954 Topps Jackie Robinson card, I wanted to be sure of authenticity and condition, so I bought a PSA card. Just recently I sent out 10 cards to PSA, 4 without autographs and 6 with autographs. For the 6 with autographs, I thought it would be nice to have the autographs authenticated. For the 4 without autographs, these are some important cards to me, and I wanted them slabbed to protect them. So, when I get these back, I will have 11 cards in PSA slabs. I see that you can buy a cardboard storage box from PSA that holds 60 slabbed cards, so I think that sounds like a good goal. I plan to increase my collection of PSA-graded cards by 49, to get up to 60. I have a few groups of cards I'd like to get, then: (1) early black MLB players, to go with my Jackie Robinson card, to one day teach my son this history, including Larry Doby, Satchel Paige, Willie Mays, Roy Campanella, Don Newcombe, and Monte Irvin, (2) as I've said, I want a number of cards from the 1950 Phillies Whiz Kids team, in particular 1951 Bowman cards of Robin Roberts, Richie Ashburn, Jim Konstanty, Del Ennis, and Granny Hamner, (3) cards commemorating the 1960 Pirates World Series win, including the eight World Series cards from the 1961 Topps set, as well as 1961 Topps cards of some of the Yankees (including Maris, Mantle, Berra, and Ford), and some of the Pirates (including Clemente and Mazeroski), (4) a few other particular cards, such as Steve Carlton's first card as a Phillie (1972 Topps Traded), Joe Morgan's 1965 rookie card, 1963 Fleer Maury Wills, at least one card from Reggie Jackson's original run with the A's, and 1971 Topps Nolan Ryan. My PSA list still has about 10 openings on it, so I can decide on some of them as I go.
I also want a few sets that I was always interested in (1978 Topps and 1979 Topps, and one or two others from the 80s), and some unopened material from the 80s, mainly for nostalgic reasons. I think if I get a few 1980s wax boxes, maybe my son and I could open some of them up one day, and he can see what it was like.
This was a lot to say in a post that started with the 1959 Curt Flood card. He fits into my collection goals as one of the near-Hall of Famers who will occupy one of the empty spots in my binder. Every account I've ever read about Flood says that he was an excellent player, but he is really remembered for the labor innovation of free agency (to be more specific, challenging the reserve clause in court). Some people say he should get into the Hall for his career, and some say he should get into the Hall for free agency. Either way, he's not in the Hall but was a great figure in baseball, and I wanted to have one of his cards to help me tell his story to my son one day. I got the card for less than $5 (including shipping) on ebay, and it's in pretty good shape -- the surface has what seem to be wax stains, but otherwise it looks good. With this addition, the total number of cards I have from the 1950s is now 13, out of my 30,000 card collection.