Ramblings: Databases Are Not for Deleting

In my “every day” job,  I was recently able to take down a SharePoint site all by myself. No one is sure how I did that and because I took responsibility so freely the official story became there was a system failure at the moment I sent it into the abyss. The only problem I ran into was an instant messaging conversation with a Senior VP who by the end of our conversation was lacing the talk with LOL and ROFL. This does prove that sometimes, in order to not get punished for a mistake,  just make one so big that no one can do anything but laugh about it.

When I was talking to my favorite manager from that section afterwards I realized that I had actually done something similar in the early days of one of the Beckett databases. In the middle of 1996 we were creating the Beckett Almanac of Baseball Cards and Collectibles (and let me assure you that if you have a copy of that book and spent any money for that book I’m real sorry).  I spent a good 90 days without a break, except for flying to New Jersey for an uncle’s funeral, working 8-8 on weekdays and 12-6 on Saturdays and Sundays to get the first book out.

That book took another year to continue fixing and frankly it was not until the 1997 book that this monster became something I was really proud of producing. One of my friends always wants the 1996 book though because he knows that book was really mine but I prefer the books where I got tons of help although the 1997 book took almost as much time to produce. I will say by about 1999 I was able to do the book as mainly a night and weekend venture.

Why am I talking about all this?  The reason was during the creation of the 1996 Almanac we were adding the checklists for all the “Tiffany” and/or “Glossy” parallel sets that the major card manufacturers produced in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Somehow in creating the 1989 Topps Tiffany set I was able to delete the 1989 set from the database. And thus, the 1989 set did not appear in the next issue of Beckett Baseball Card Monthly. How did we ever figure out what was missing, we figured out what was missing because the phone calls started coming almost immediately as to what the new price of Brady Anderson rookies were. You see that month I deleted the 1989 Topps set from the data base, Brady was having his hottest month on the way to that crazy 50 homer season.

Of course, that name reminds me of one of the customers who was able to get through to us in the price guide area. His first name was Dave and  he was always able to figure out how to get past the receptionists and talk to us. He was a Brady Anderson “super collector” before that term became popular. Many times he would know about weird and oddball cards or even parallels long before we would.ever find out about these cards. With collectors like that, we could always stay on top of new releases so there was a lot of benefits to talking to collectors such as him.

Well, after a short while we did figure out what I did and some controls were placed into the Beckett computer system to prevent such an occurrence from repeating. But for one month, I learned that even in 1996, old common base sets were still important even if the overall prices were sinking. That lesson would come back to all of us just a scant two years later when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa led the final revival of the “junk wax” era on their way to breaking Roger Maris’ single-season home run record.

And for me, I guess every 16 years I delete a database.   Don’t give me anything deletable in 2028.

Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]