One of my favorite old baseball card stories is how these baseball card sets used to be sort of alive". Distribution by numerous series throughout the season allowed for the set to be updated as things happened in baseball. The last series of cards either featured players who may have been added to rosters after a good spring training or even updated the most recent information on a player. To me, the 1968 Topps JIm Palmer card (#575) is a great example.
The very first sentence on the back of the Palmer card reads: "On March 30th 1968, Palmer was sent to the Orioles' farm club in Miami to get his arm into shape." If you remember, that was important because about 18 months earlier, Palmer had pitched a World Series shutout before his 21st birthday. That World Series game was doubly important as Sandy Koufax had his final major league appearance in that game.
What no one knew who were pulling the Palmer card out of the high number packs was that the young pitcher would end up with a far better career then most others. Beginning in 1969 he would resurrect what became a Hall of Fame career and end up as the best American League pitcher of the 1970's. However, for the kids pulling the Palmer card ouf of packs, it seemed curious why Topps was wasting a card on a pitcher not even starting the season in the major leagues.
The peripatetic Dallas Card Show had its first show at the new location of the Holiday Inn located at Campbell and Central in Richardson, TX in late April. Because of the weather threat of tornadoes, we were all worried if anyone was going to attend, especially after a brief downpour just as the show opened. Fortunately the rain cleared and the crowd was decent.
My sales were pretty good but I sold to a bunch of people I had never sold to before and I also had several people ask for "old football". In this case, old football means late 60's-early 80's. I had never sold so many football cards at any other show.
For the second time in about six months, I again sold to the same person all my off-quality "small" Bowman baseball cards. When I spoke to Mark Macrae for advice on my show, he mentioned these cards are currently very popular in off quality. The dealer/collector who bought these cards also bought a ton of bulk from another dealer.
One dealer was a lady who retired and wanted to consolidate what she had. Some dealer walking around worked out a deal to buy her table. What made that interesting, is that this was the second time he had bought out a table at the Dallas Card Show and I had not seen that type of activity since my New Jersey dealing days.
I continued to hear good things and get people who wanted to be involved in our second show at Adat Chaverim at the end of August.
The promoter of the Dallas area Awesome Card Show ended up moving all the way to Arlington for the May show from its current location at the Doubletree in Richardson. One of the vendors who does many of Jimmy's local shows told me that the biggest issue with the Arlington location for May is the Rangers have a day game scheduled that day meaning the crowd needs to come early or won't come because they would be stuck in traffic. And don't get me started on traffic going to Arlington, TX which is a location that needs a train or express bus going within walking distance of either the baseball or football stadium. That is now the second move for the show.
When one scours hobby message boards on a day off and has time to think and write (always a dangerous combination), the rambling mind I have really tends to wander. While looking at a thread about team set collecting on the popular Net54 post-war message board I was struck by this post made by long time collector Joshua Levine.
"I have a limited budget as a teacher but have managed to put together a vast array of Phillies from 1886 to 1989 (my cut-off). I do have a bit of stuff post 1989 but do not actively collect that. That being said, around 1991 I spent two years putting together a list of every Phillie card produced from 1880-1990. When it was finished, it was nearly 40 pages at a 8 font. Now it is down to just under 20 pages with a 10 font. I have examples of many sets but would love one of everything. I know I will never complete the list but there are still things on the list that are attainable even at my meager income."
I then examined his list and realized even if you had unlimited coin, you would probably never finish collecting a complete team collection as some cards would always show up on a want list. Unless you get real lucky some cards such as the 1904 Allegheny Card Company may never become available. That occurs when you have exactly one set known in the hobby. But. there are other cards which are available but are on his want list and that brings me to my thought.
His current list is available here, by the way: http://www.oldbaseball.com/wantlists/philwant.htm
Although his list says he has all the Topps regular issue cards past 1954, he was looking for upgrades on some tough cards such as the 1966 Grant Jackson high number rookie card or the equally difficult high nuumber 1967 Don Shaw/Gary Sutherland rookie card. Even in 1991 these cards were not cheap on the show circuit although it took a while for the price guides to catch up on their true value.
My question is, and I want to hear your reaction:
At what price point did you decide enough is enough and give up on the pursuit of a certain card? Was there a percentage of book involved? An amount of time that passed without success? A change in philosophy toward collecting? Was there a price point such as my old collecting friend in Garfield, New Jersey who stopped buying 1954 Bowman's when the cost went past a quarter?
Especially in today's collecting world, I'm curious as to what your tipping point is. And if you don't feel like stopping, what keeps you going full steam ahead on any specific card? As we showed, this column is as much your column as well as mine so please send all your responses to the email address listed below and we'll publish some of them in an upcoming Rich's Ramblings column.