Archive for baseball cards

Hey card show guy: PRICE. YOUR. STUFF.

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on July 10, 2021 by Cardboard Icons

I live in a pretty populated area of California and we’re lucky recently to have a few card shows in various areas. My son and I went to one two weeks ago in Fairfield and did pretty well in a short amount of time. Then today there was a show at a mall just 15 minutes from where I live so I felt like it was a good way to spent the afternoon doing our card thing.

I’d not been to a cardshow in this mall since at least the mid 1990s, which is the last time I recall there actually being one. That was a time when mom would drove me off with a $10 bill and come back for me in two hours. I would also supplement my money with a few trades and then come away with a stack of items from the dime boxes and maybe trade a few things for other things that I wanted in my collection.

And so we went today and I was simply hoping to find a few cards to buy, and hope that my son could also find some stuff to carry on the good vibes he had from the last card show. Sadly, this was not the case.

Mall shows are always hit and miss. There were a good amount of slabs, and most of it was basketball stuff, which doesn’t surprise me given the area I live in, and the items that had been hot in recent months. But I rarely go to a show to even look in the showcases. I usually go looking to pillage the boxes marked at set prices.

Just two weeks ago I spent about $75 and walked out with a few things for my PC and a few things I figured I could flip on COMC. But it’s sort of hard to so this kind of buying when the cards aren’t priced at all.

It was a common theme at this specific show. In all there were a reported 70 tables — and that doesn’t include the rogue dealers who set up their sad stashes on the tables at the Food Court — but in all there were probably a dozen dealers. And of those dozen dealers, maybe half of them had a box or multiple boxes of cards in sleeves and top loaders for sale. And of those three dealers, only two of them actually had prices. Spoiler: The prices were not good.

One dealer had no less than four two-row shoeboxes with toploaded cards packed. I asked if they were all different prices and he said that they were. “There could be cards up to a $100 in there,” he said, noting that I should build a pile and that he’d make me a deal.

Is that supposed to be a selling point? The fact that the first card I saw was literally something I wouldn’t pay $0.50 for leads me to believe that this seller doesn’t know his prices, and that any “deal” he was likely to give me was not going to be worth my time fretting over whether the card I actually want will be made available to me at a price that I’d be comfortable.

I shook my head and just walked away, not really caring if I missed anything because odds are if I had unearthed a gem it’d be offered to me for too much, or he’d ask me to make an offer, which also isn’t usually an affective way to sell items.

As I checked out another dealer — one of the guys who actually had his stuff prices — I thanked him for putting prices on the cards and then proceeded to tell him how frustrating it is as a buyer to not know how much something is going to cost.

His response: “They don’t want to make mistakes and price something too low,” he said, adding that they’re afraid of a player performing well and someone would get too good of a deal.

I realize that not all of us collect the same, and therefore our objectives when we attend a show could be entirely different. But whether you’re seeking bargains in a box or looking at stuff in showcases I think we can all agree that we want people to price their items.

There were a few dealers who had all of their stuff marked with prices. But about half of the folks at this show did not. Instead I look like a jackass asking how much you’re asking on your PSA Slabbed “altered” Michael Jordan rookie and then I shutter when you tell me $4,500. If you price the damn thing I can just walk away and just laugh about it somewhere else.

So, what did I end up walking away with? A 2020 Topps Chrome Pink Refractor Ronald Acuna Jr., which I found apropos given that less than an hour before we showed up to the mall Acuna had been carted off the field with his knee injury. The cost: $1.

CardboardIcons the blog is a teenager

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , on July 2, 2021 by Cardboard Icons

There was a day 13 years ago when I woke up and said, “Screw it, I’m starting a blog.” So I thought what better way than to start with a blog post featuring a 1951 Bowman Phil Rizzuto card that always caught my eye when I opened Beckett Baseball as a kid.

I had no real structure, I just figured I’d post a single card each day and write a little something about it. Well, as you may or may not know, things morphed from there and a few years later this blog and some thrift shopping — as well as Twitter — helped get my foot in the door to write about cards professionally for Beckett, for a few years anyway.

My involvement at that company at this point is none. Aside from a single piece published last year — I actually wrote it for this blog and then they wanted to publish it after the fact — I’d not had a byline in the magazine in well over five years. I have nothing negative to say about the magazine; it was an amazing experience that I absolutely trace back to the day I started writing about cards right here.

My passion for writing hasn’t been the same since 2010 when I left my career as a journalist. It’s easy to write for fun when you write for a living. But now that I work in a more structured setting with 11-hour work days I find my desire to sit and type full paragraphs and thoughts for un to be much less. Plus, I’ve got two kids and a bunch of other adult stuff I have to do. So I do what most other people do — give away their content on Twitter.

That said, I keep the domain active and post on occasion. I keep wanting to come back to this blog and keep things up as I’ve maintained that this is really my diary in this hobby. It’s always fun to recall something about a card or cards and then do a quick search to refresh my recollection.

In a perfect world I’d spent 10-20 minutes a day posting something here, but reality is Twitter is so damn easy to use and the interaction I’ve had with others far surpasses any of that I’ve experienced here, even when I was more active. So if you’re reading this, and don’t already follow me on Twitter, give me a follow there @Cardboardicons I’m pretty active there, and in some ways I’ve gotten back to the roots of this blog by participating in the #CollectableADay posts that some folks have been doing for months.

Anyhow, as I’ve said in recent years, I make no promises about how active I’ll be here, but I do intend to use this space to chronicle some thoughts in a longer format, and to document parts of my collection.

Thanks for reading,

Ben – Cardboardicons.

Baseball cards continue to mark the timeline of my life

Posted in Memory Lane with tags , , , , , on June 29, 2021 by Cardboard Icons

From a young age I found that baseball cards in some ways acted as hash marks on the timeline of my life. I can remember certain cards associated with events of my life, both good and bad. And this weekend, they certainly found their way into my timeline as we celebrated the life of my grandmother.

Trips to grandmother’s house, which was about 70 minutes away from where I grew up, almost certainly involved me asking, begging and pleading with my mom to take me to a card shop, or anywhere I could purchase new cards. Sure, I grew up (ages 7-10) directly across the street from a card shop, but trips out of my neighborhood always presented new opportunities to see new shops. And so each trip to Fairfield, California, involved me finding cards somewhere. At times it was packs of 1989 Topps at Target; 1989 Donruss at the local corner store, 1990 Topps at 7-Eleven; packs of 1991 Classic Best Minor League or Donruss from some car shop.

I have lots of memories bringing baseball cards to grandma’s house and spending hours sorting them while the adults talked, argued, and laughed.

Grandma passed away in February of this year due to health reasons, she was 81. Grandma lived in Fairfield from the early 1980s through 2002 when she and her husband uprooted and moved to North Carolina, where pace of life was much more to their liking as they grew older. Since then her trips to California have only been for major events, a few weddings and graduations, but in recent year it was deaths. In 2017 her first husband died; then in 2018 her husband passed — I called both men “grandpa.” She came to visit again in 2019 to see her husband’s tombstone and to celebrate her 80th birthday with family. Then COVID came and stopped all plans for a 2020 visit. I last spoke to her during Christmas of 2020, she was so happy to hear from me. She laughed and cried; as did I as I could tell her memory was starting to fade. The came the call in February that she had been admitted to the hospital and then passed rather suddenly from non-Covid related health issues.

We’ve had a few months to process the passing, but we knew we as a family would gather again here in California when restrictions loosened so that we could have her ashes buried with those of her husband. And that’s how and why we all ended up near Fairfield again this weekend. And as luck or fate would have it, there just so happened to be a card show at Solano Town Center IN Fairfield. I knew I had to make it happen even if it was just for an hour or two with my son.

We went and it was the first real show my son had been to in almost two years; it was my first since March 2020 — literally as the country began to freak out over COVID. I remember it vividly because all autograph guests canceled their appearances over growing health and travel convcerns.

Anyhow, my son and I went to the Fairfield show and I had no expectations other than to find at least one card that I could use to memorialize this weekend; also to watch my son again dig through boxes and find something he enjoyed. I’ll probably post the small haul in a different post because I want to dedicate the rest of this space today to the one card I found.

We dug through a few bargain boxes and in one of the boxes I located this 1991 Score “Bo Breaker” card and it made me stop immediately. I knew I had found THE card for the weekend. Here’s the story.

In 1991 my family took a trip to Fairfield and my cousin and I visited a shop called “Batter Up.” To my recollection this was the second location for the store, but I recall it being larger than the ones I frequented in my hometown. They houses a dozen oshowcases with lots of singles, and for 1991 they seemed to have every pack one could want. During one trip I remember taking a few dollars and buying a fistful of 1991 Score Series 2 packs looking for a certain card — the “Bo Breaker.” The card features black borders and showcases Bo Jackson snapping a bat over his leg after striking out in a game. The reverse shows Bo finishing his swing with a broken bat in his hand. It’s sort of silly, but at the time it was a big deal. Anyhow, as luck would have it I pulled the Bo! But it didn’t leave the card shop with me.

You see, I didn’t get a ton of money for cards as a kid, but I loved opening packs. Every now and again my mom would give me a few dollars, but more times then not I earned my card money by raiding garbage bins for cans and bottles to recycle. So when I pulled this Bo, I asked how much the shop could give me in trade and the guy offered $3, which meant I could rip six more packs of 1991 Score baseball! (Insert eyeroll emoji here)

In the genius state of my 11-year-old mind this deal made total sense so I took it and then walked away with six more packs of Score figuring I’d pull another and just enjoy the extra stuff as well. Of course those new six packs did NOT contain another Bo Breaker and I went home with a stack of commons, which I still enjoyed (I later built the set with them) but certainly didn’t celebrate them the way I did or would have with Bo Breaker in my collection at the time.

I’ve owned a few Bo Breaker cards over the years, and have a few at home at the moment. But this particular copy feels extra special. I realize not everyone gets sentimental over their cards. But for me, it seems certain ones have been placed in front of me, just for me in that moment. And to find this card in the same city where we used to visit grandma, in the same city where the aforementioned transaction occurred 30 years ago, feels like the workings of something from beyond. And now THIS copy is going home with me to mark this occasion, this weekend. Love you, Grandma. Rest easy.

“I heard this card might be about $5,000 …”

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , on May 7, 2021 by Cardboard Icons

My son and I were at one of the local card shops the other day. It was our first time to this shop in a few months. While we were debating what to buy a man walks in and one of the clerks advises him to holler if he needed anything. The man said he had a question, then pulled something out of his pocket. He sheepishly said he’d purchased a re-pack item at Target recently and pulled something he believed was worth about $5,000 based on recent eBay activity.

This caught my attention so I glanced over from across the shop and immediately placed my hand over my face. The man was holding a 1988 Topps Jose Uribe in a Card Saver I, the type of holder one would send to a grading company.

The clerk got a gander of the card and went into a diatribe about how the sales for the card were a hoax and the card wasn’t worth much of anything. A second clerk had not seen the card but saw my reaction and immediately asked me: “Is that a Uribe?”

I nodded my head and fought back tears as I had never seen this question asked in real life, only online.

The man took the news like a champ, although he continued to question how on earth the completed sales were false. He of course then questioned why anyone would do such a thing. The clerk gave him several theories, all of which basically came back to people are assholes and the Card Saver I was worth more than the Uribe. The clerk asked me to confirm, which of course I did.

The man placed the card back in his pocket and said he was going to just rip it up. At this point I almost wanted to buy the Uribe because I’m a sucker for that kind of stuff. I mean how funny would it be to own that card, the actual one involved in this story. Worthless to everyone else, but priceless for me. I didn’t ask though, partly because It’s actually frowned upon for two customers to be striking a cash deal inside an establishment like this.

For those unaware, Jose Uribe was a MLB player in the late 1980s and 1990s and his 1988-1990 cards in recent years have been a running joke in this hobby. Someone somewhere posted a 1990 Fleer for sale at $5,000 a few years back and a sale appeared to be completed through eBay. Since then the 1988 Topps and 1990 Fleer cards for Uribe keep popping up with high price tags. There are a few theories that include folks just running up the price as a joke or scam hoping that others will start under cutting and buying, praying that a few actual sales get completed and someone ends up making a good chunk of money on a common. And then there are theories that the card and many others like it — commons from the era — are being used as a vehicle for money laundering.

In a nutshell, there are very few commons from the era worth the paper they are printed on these days. The memories and nostalgia attached to them, of course, can indeed be priceless for some folks. The actual Uribe in this story would’ve been worth $5 to me … but absolutely worthless to everyone else. Again, I’m a sucker for memorabilia, even if the item is merely a piece of memorabilia belonging to a specific experience.

Dueling One of Ones: Father, Son pull pair of Tim Anderson 1/1’s 7-plus years apart

Posted in Box / Pack Break with tags , , , , , on March 4, 2021 by Cardboard Icons

For more than 10 days my order of Topps hobby boxes direct from the factory sat in a FedEx truck in Ohio as the region dealt with brutal weather.

The boxes arrived Wednesday night and my son and I decided to open one box before I jumped on as a special guest on the About The Cards podcast. In the very last pack of the box my son, a 10-year-old collector, pulled the hit: a 70 Years of Baseball Platinum Autograph of batting champion Tim Anderson.

Per the collecting rules we’ve established, he gets to keep whatever he wants from the packs he opens. This includes stuff like this.

It was my boy’s THIRD 1/1 in his three-year collecting career; and it really made me happy because … it’s actually the second Tim Anderson 1/1 in our family.

Back on 11/26/13 I opened a few packs of Bowman Draft from the LCS and in the middle of one pack was Anderson’s unlabeled First Bowman black border paper card. True, the bottom right corner is smashed —only card in the pack that was damaged — but it was a 1/1 of a prospect whose turned into a phenomenal player.

For the record, these cards are NOT available; they’re very much staying in the family.