Thursday, January 11, 2018

My Ill-Fated 1979 Topps Project, and My Acquisition of a 1979 Topps Set

I've said before that my earliest card memories are of some 1979 Topps we had around the house.  The 1979 John Candelaria in a prior post is certainly one of those very cards.  When I was originally collecting, 1987-1994, I made a half-hearted effort to put together a 1979 Topps set.
Most of my original 1979 Topps cards.
I collected a bit more than 10% of the set; I didn't count exactly how many different cards, but it's around 80-90 or so.  Pictured above are most of these 1979 Topps cards that I had.
Manny Trillo and Al Oliver.
 Of course, I have some of my original 1979 cards in my main binder, and those are kicked off by two sentimental favorites, Manny Trillo and Al Oliver.  Trillo was a star with the Phillies from 1979 through 1982, which was long enough to win the 1980 World Series, make the All-Star team twice (out of 4 career All-Star appearances), and win 3 Gold Gloves at second base.  Oliver was a long-time Pirate who was the starting center fielder when they won the 1971 World Series.  Of his 2743 career hits (in a career surely shortened by the owners' collusion against free agents), 1490 were with the Bucs, placing him 12th on the Pirates all-time hits list, just ahead of Dave Parker and Andrew McCutchen.

A binder page featuring 1979 Topps.
The next page of 1979s in my binder has Thurman Munson, Dennis Eckersley, Victory Leaders (Ron Guidry leading the AL with 25 and Gaylord Perry leading the NL with 21), Dale Murphy, two of Rod Carew, two of Reggie Jackson, and Steve Carlton.
Another binder page featuring 1979 Topps.
Continuing to the next page, we have Gary Carter, two of Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench, Willie McCovey, Rollie Fingers, Lou Brock, and two of Carlton Fisk. After that (not pictured) are the final two 1979 cards in my binder, Jim Palmer and Tommy John.

All of the cards pictured (or described) so far are from my original period of collecting and aren't recent acquisitions.

I didn't have a great way to go about collecting a set back in the day -- I don't think the card shops in town had a lot of 1979 commons.  I picked up star cards when I could, but I didn't devote myself exclusively to the pursuit of 1979 cards, so I didn't get all of the stars, even.  The Ozzie Smith rookie was too expensive for me.  Locally, Mike Schmidt cards from the 70s commanded a premium.  So, when I quit collecting after my first year of college, I was still pretty far from my goal.
My recently acquired 1979 Topps set.
So, now that I'm collecting again?  I definitely wanted to get a 1979 Topps set.  And, that's what I've just done.  I used most of my January card budget to order a complete set from eBay.  I had considered collecting the whole set instead of buying it all at once, but it just isn't worth enough, I think.  The whole set cost me just $75, and I'm pretty sure that it would cost more to collect the cards individually, not to mention the time and effort it would take.  The condition of the cards in the set isn't perfect, but they're plenty good enough for me.
Five cards the seller put into semi-rigid holders: Rose, Brett, Ryan, Smith, and Molitor.
The previous owner put five of the best cards in semi-rigid holders, separated out from the rest of the bulk.  Ozzie Smith's rookie card is really the most valuable, I think, but there's also Pete Rose, Nolan Ryan, George Brett, and Paul Molitor.

I'm really glad to have the complete set -- even though it isn't nearly the most interesting Topps set of the era, and even though I didn't end up piecing it together myself, owning it accomplishes a childhood dream.  Coming soon on the blog will be a series of posts highlighting some notable cards from the set, now that I have all of them.