Friday, November 12, 2010

Those were the days.

Well now that I've been blogging for over a year  on the topic of sports cards and collecting I've noticed a lot of other blogs, both established and new, are authored by collectors that are getting back into the game and that had stopped collecting for some reason or another.  Probably growing up had a lot to do with it.  It got me thinking about my collecting history.  I never really stopped buying cards,  through high school and college I still bought a pack here and there still haunting my LCS in my hometown and in college.

It all started in 1987, my father was based at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas.  I had gotten into collecting comic mainly because I could buy large quantities from the quarter boxes and read until my heart was content and there was always a cheap stack of comics at the local flea markets.  I soon discovered a couple comic book shops near my house at Logan Heights a military housing development.  One was called Rita's Fantasy Shop and had tons of comics and quarter boxes, as well as, used paperbacks, posters, and other nerdy stuff.  The other was the Comic Book Shop, which I found shortly after they opened.  Brad the owner was just getting into comics, he was a sports card guy and it showed but from his humble beginnings he grew pretty fast and had to upgrade to bigger storefronts 3 times before I moved.  On a side note I actually did a quick internet search and Brad still has a comic book store in El Paso, it's call All-Star Comics, man the internet is great and evil.  It's amazing what you can find out.  And I bought a lot of comics from Brad over the years but not many baseball cards.  There was a Circle K on the way to the Comic Book Shop and they had the quarter packs of Garbage Pail Kids.  I missed the first series but got a complete second series and I have no idea where that is now.

It was also at this Circle K that I bought my first pack of cards.  A 1987 Topps Cello pack.  I just loved those old Cello packs and bought tons of 1987, 88, and 89 from that Circle K as well as tons of Garbage Pail Kids.  It was also this time that I started paying attention to baseball and football on TV and being a Wisconsin boy that meant a leaning toward the Brewers and Packers.  In 1987 it had been 5 years since the Brewers had been to their one and only World Series appearance and the stars on the team were Robin Yount and Paul Molitor.  And so began my Robin Yount collecting days.  Back then a Yount rookie was pie in the sky.  There was no way on  my allowance that I would ever be able to afford one of his rookie cards.  I  guess I'm glad I waited because back then his rookies were going for hundreds now you can pick up a decent 75 Yount for twenty bucks.

In the era of bad wax that I started collecting in cards were still affordable for a kid like me and then in 1989 the Billy Ripken Fuck Face card happened and over night packs of 89 Fleer skyrocketed.  It always makes me wonder if Fleer did it on purpose.  Packs that were going for 50 cents now were going for 5, 10, 15 bucks!  Sound familiar?  Bowman anyone.  89 Fleer was also the first team set I ever bought from Brad.  And since it was Gary Sheffield rookie year I paid a whole 3 bucks for the set!!!

Then my father got stationed overseas to Berlin, Germany.  I was 16 and let me tell you Germany when your 16 is a blast.  You might think that this would be the point were I would take a break from collecting being in Germany but you're wrong.  The base PX and shopette(on base convience stores)  had boxes and boxes of 90 and 91 Score, Topps, Fleer and some Upper Deck as well as a mind blowing Stadium Club product.  I also got a job so had tons of disposiable income so for the first time I started buying boxes of cards.  I still to this day have monster boxes full of worthless 90 and 91 Score, Fleer and Topps.  But I didn't care.  I did pull one amazing card out of 91 score I pulled and numbered auto of Chuck Knoblauch.  I was amazed.  It was numbered to 10,000!  But signed on card.  I was amazed and only recently did I let the card go.  It was the gem in my collection.  Before relics and autos were common place.  It was also here that I got my first Yount rookie at an on base card show.  I had a dog earred corner and the edges were fuzzy but I got it cheap, well cheap at the time, and it was my most prized card.  I still have it.

The college years were a slow time.  No box buying for this poor starving college student but I did manage to get a few pack now and then.  This era, 92-97, was the start of the innovation, higher quality cards,  Fleer Ultra, Stadium Club, Pinnacle, ect.  Inserts started appearing, relic cards, autographs, sequentially numbered cards, die cuts, parallels, ect.

And to this day I'm still collecting.  Yes I have a closet full of worthless bad wax, but I have few gems in there as well and I have some kick ass player collections if I do say so myself. 

So after this long drawn out autobiography of a card collector, what are your guys stories, how did you start collecting, if you stopped why and why did you start again?  And I guess a question I didn't address why do you collect what you collect?

Until next time.
cb out


  1. It was 1978. I was 10. We were vacationing in Florida. My Dad gave me and my brother each a dollar and told us to walk to 7-11, pick up a pack of cards, and whatever else we wanted. We begged him for the rest of our week long vacation to go back and buy more cards. We emptied the box. My brother, the Pirates fan, was so excited to get a Kent Tekulve card (he pronounced it Teck-you-lev).

  2. My story is similar to yours in many ways - I am a fellow Wisconsinite and also started collecting with those wood-bordered 1987 Topps cards (still one of my all-time favorite set designs). My prized Ken Griffey Jr. collection started in about 1992 and has since grown to over 600 cards! I've always been a set builder too, but usually I ended up with sets missing a handful of cards because the early-to-mid 90s was that terrible "post-card stores carrying commons, pre-rise of eBay" period. I'm a few years younger than you, so my prime collecting years were 1987-2000, which is when I too was forced to put collecting mostly on hiatus due to being a poor college student. It was only in the last year or so that I've truly gotten back into collecting - first by buying some random Griffeys on eBay, and then the pack-buying bug returned with a vengeance!

    Oh, and I also own a Billy Ripken fuck face card. :)