Ramblings: Website Stirs Memories of Early Topps Books; Heritage Suggestions

by Rich Klein

New Year’s Eve  was dreary here in Dallas and since my wife had to spend the day at home for medical reasons (nothing serious, just something she is better off at home doing), I took a tour of the COMC.Com web site. A few things really struck me, including that if you are a bit older, like me, just looking at the cards for sale from a specific year or years is a great trip down memory lane.  You get to see the cards of your youth without needing to purchase them and you can see the fronts and the backs.

And this morning, as I started to write this I started thinking about one of the greatest baseball card books of all time. In 1986, when the first Topps Baseball Cards: The Complete Picture Collection was released the book was a great boon to the hobby. Keep in mind, this was long before th e internet and the big, thick price guides we have today.   Thanks to the book, collectors could now see (at least the fronts) of all the base Topps cards issued from 1951-1985.

I remember long-time dealer Tom Reid telling me how Maxine Berger (Sy’s daughter) kept at it until she had purchased all the cards the company needed for that book.  You read that correctly.  ALL of  the cards in that book were purchased and not taken from internet scans or borrowed from other collectors. A scant decade later, when I was assisting Mike Payne with the 300 Great Baseball Cards book,  we used many real cards but we also were able to use many scans sent from dealers or collectors who were nice enough to send them to us back in the early days of email. I wrote a small percentage of the blurbs in that book and if you know me, you could probably figure out which ones I wrote.

So let us make this New Year’s resolution #1, which is, although we live in the present never forget what a gift going back to the past can be.

Willie Mays autographed 2012 Topps HeritageAnother thing I was thinking about is while on the COMC web site was I was looking at Topps Heritage buy backs. As many of you know, Heritage is my favorite baseball card product and I’m always looking for ways I think they can be improved. The first suggestion I always make is to better replicate the 1960’s Topps Sets that Heritage should become a 600 card set with the last 100-120 cards short printed to mimic ‘high numbers’ from back in the day.

Seeing those Heritage Buy Backs made me think that Topps could expand their autographs in Heritage even more. Their autograph mix includes current players, retired stars and superstars and players who had their final card in the year Heritage is honoring. How about having some players sign their buyback cards and including those as buy backs as well. You don’t have to have superstars signing, I’d be perfectly happy with buy back autographs of players such as Jim Wynn, Don Larsen, Wally Moon, etc. You don’t have to be a star to be in that series either.

So let us make this New Year’s resolution #2, which is, although card companies overall do a real solid job with producing cards, they can always improve and our goal is to give good constructive criticism not any hatchet jobs.

And I saw a thread on a message board about old collector’s club where people met, in person, to buy/sell/trade or even show off their cards. In the Dallas area we have a lot of little one-off groups with up to maybe five people but wouldn’t it be nice to have a larger gathering?  No, you can never come up with a time to please everyone, so just understand that will be more than one meeting and thus there would always be another chance to catch up. And you know just like shows and stores, you might actually, you know, meet in person other hobbyists with whom you share some common interests.

So let us make this New Year’s resolution #3, which is to get off the computer and go to shows stores or whatever ways we can connect with other hobbyists face to face.  It’s always more fun to me.

So, those are some of my 2013 hobby resolutions.  What are yours?

Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]