So, a few months ago my co-worker advised me that he had established a relationship with one of his local thrift stores and they would contact him if they obtained any sports cards. This shop isn’t a chain store, just some little shop that buys storage lockers and resells items. I’ve never been there, but that’s how it was described to me. And given the location in the middle of nowhere, I had no reason to doubt my friend’s description.
A short while after that relationship was established, my friend sends me pictures from the shop of various vintage cards. Among the cards was a 1956 Topps Roberto Clemente. Long story short, my co-worker end up buying a bunch of cards and collectibles for several hundred dollars from this store. In these transactions he acquired for me the aforementioned 1956 Topps Clemente and an off-center 1956 Topps Hank Aaron. I initially was going to send both cards to BGS in my order, but ultimately decided on just the Clemente as it was centered almost perfectly.
Well, the Clemente is gorgeous. It graded a 6.5. I could flip it for a decent profit, but like everything else in this batch of Beckett Graded cards, they are all for my personal collection.
The Clemente was the newest addition to my collection before the BGS order was sent, but just about the same time I completed that transaction, I acquired a rookie card of Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg. This 1934 Goudey rookie card had been elusive. And then it happened. A HENRY Greenberg rookie card was posted on eBay and it was slabbed by SGC. The card looked amazing, and the simple fact that it was listed as Henry likely kept bidding lower that it should have went. Centered the card was, but mint it is not. I could not see that it had a crease in the picture on eBay, but when it arrived I could see it. Disappointed? Not really. The card was graded a 2.5 by SGC and that would explain why. Whenever I purchase rookies that are graded by SGC, GAI or even PSA, I almost always end up cracking them and sending them to Beckett Grading because I like the continuity in my display case and I feel the cases are superior to the other companies. So I cracked it and sent it to BGS. It crossed over at exactly a 2.5
Speaking of a crossover, here is a 1959 Topps Bob Gibson rookie card that is absolutely stunning. It’s centered and doesn’t have a single crease. So why was it graded an SGC 2 when it came into my hands. There is clear glue residue on the back. It came back from BGS as a 2.5. It could be the best-looking card in this grade. Finding these Gibson rookie centered is not an easy task. I’m more than happy to have this copy, regardless of the grade that it has been assigned.
Technically speaking, there are no official rookie cards prior to 1933. That is the year that Goudey was released and according to Beckett, that set holds the first “rookie cards.” This means that many early 20th century legends do not have rookie cards. Ty Cobb, Cy Young and even Honus Wagner technically do not have rookies. But for my collection, this just means I seek early cards of the players, and in most cases, I chase the coveted T206 tobacco cards. At some point last year I acquired a Willie Keeler graded a PSA 1. I sent it to BVG in this order and it came back a BVG 2. I wasn’t expecting that. Grading on T206s is always a crapshoot. I’m just happy that BVG concurred with PSA on the fact that the card was real.
Sometime last year I was taking inventory of my Hall of Famer rookie cards and noticed that I was missing a Robin Roberts 1949 Bowman rookie. I managed to find a raw centered copy with rounded corners for about $25. Needless to say it was submitted and came back … a 2.5. Not exactly a high-end copy, but it looks great in this case. Still worth every penny that I put into the card and the grading fee.
One of the oddest rookie card parings I own is the 1941 DoublePlay card that features not only Harold “Pee Wee” Reese but also Kirby Higbe. The pairing is notable because Reese has for a long time been portrayed as a supporter of Jackie Robinson and Higbe was among a group of players who was traded in 1947 after they refused to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers after Robinson was brought onto the team as Major League Baseball’s first African-American player. This copy was a PSA 4 when I purchased it. I cracked it from its case and saw that the only real blemish was a stain near the left border. It came back a 5.5.
And speaking of Jackie Robinson. In 2006, shortly after I returned to the hobby, I acquired a 1949 Bowman Robinson for my collection. It was raw when I purchased it and I sent it to BGS to have it slabbed as ‘Authentic” instead of actually graded. At the time I liked that idea. However, over the years I’ve found that many people are confused by this, and in my own display cases, the blue labels looked odd with the silver, white and occasional gold labels issued by Beckett Grading. I decided this was the perfect time to crack the Robinson from it’s authentic case and submit it along with the aforementioned Reese/Higbe rookie. It came back a 1.5.
The final card in this batch is on that was acquired at about the same time as the Jackie Robinson. It is 1951 Bowman Willie Mays rookie. In recent years, these cards have increased in value regardless of condition. My copy is clearly not mint as it is way off center. But it is not creased, so that it a plus. Like the Robinson, I initially submitted this card to be placed in an “Authentic” case only. And for the same reasons as the Robinson, I decided to crack it and sent it in this batch. I was surprised to see it come back as a 2 — I just figured the centering would kill the grade — but the fact that there are no creases is always a positive apparently.