In 1971, the Bee Gees released a “comeback:” album (it would be their first comeback with another more major one to come a few years later) called Two Years On. The album celebrated their return to recording as a group and featured two big hits with the biggest one being “How Do You Mend a Broken Heart”. The first line of that song is “I can think of younger days when living for my life was everything. I could never see tomorrow”. What do the Bee Gees have to do with Rich’s Ramblings? Well nothing. But in some ways everything.
Many of those in the hobby who are of a certain age have a big interest in the music of their youth. The late Mike Gershman, who wrote “calendar” books about baseball cards and had his own interesting background, used to tell me whenever he attended the old White Plains show that many of the dealers would have radios turned to WCBS-FM, the great New York area oldies station.
Music fans dovetail very nicely with the collecting crowd. I mentioned a couple of columns ago how Bill Zimpleman and I on a once a year basis will discuss old music and concerts he has seen. Many of the PBS “oldies’ concerts are filmed in Pittsburgh near where he lives and he attends those whenever possible. A couple of years ago, a Colorado dealer told me he had his own radio show and I asked him for an aircheck which he provided the next day. It turned out that Bill knew the music-loving dealer for years and helped him in acquire tougher songs for his radio program.
This column brings back memories of younger days listening to music on AM radio, trying to complete sets using wax packs and not knowing why certain cards were much scarcer then others. Now we know, for example, why the 1961 Bill Skowron and Jim Maloney cards were so relatively difficult out of the packs. We're also learning why cards such as the 1962 George Witt or the 1969 Lou Brock card are so condition sensitive in terms of centering. But when you are young, you don't know or think of items like that. All you want to do is buy packs, chew the gum, finish your sets, play with the cards (or put them in bike spokes) and anticipate the next pack. Those cards bring back memories of summer days, playing ball with your friends and trading. It was a sweet time. We never worried about tomorrow. All we wanted to do was play with our cards and argue about which player was better. Now we know, though, about how Topps printed cards and where those cards were on the sheets so our knowledge of the hobby is better.
I've been buying cards almost non-stop since 1968 and to me it’s still as much of a kick to get a really attractive base card as it is to get a Mike Trout autograph.
My good friend Mel Solomon called me the other night and we were discussing what it was like 35 or 40 years ago when 1954 Topps were available for a quarter and how that price structure compares to what you pay today. Mel, I know where you are coming from and I agree the multiplication factor does scare away many collectors who would love the older prices. Prices going up are a fact of life. The demand is there from collectors who can’t get enough of the cards they used to have as kids or always wanted and can now afford so prices went up.
And remember if we want autographs, relics or other hits from current products, the pack prices have to be higher because the costs for the card production is higher. I may like my base cards but many buy simply for the hits.
Long-time Cowboys fans here in Dallas still talk about going to games at the old Cotton Bowl where all the seats were cheap and you could be sitting next to just about anyone. Nowadays, the seats at the new stadium are far more expensive, the scoreboard is crazy big and the TSL (seat license) just adds to the monies needed to watch a game in person. I think at that level with the exorbitant parking and concession costs, watching on a big screen HDTV on a comfortable couch is a better deal but in either place, the experience is a lot more sophisticated. You take the good with the bad.
I was surprised in 1971, by the reaction of the DJ’s to the Bee Gees as I did not have the depth of understanding to realize why their comeback was important and was a little wiser but not totally so when the Righteous Brothers had a big hit with “Rock and Roll Heaven” in the summer of 1974. For the Bee Gees, their album helped to create their incredible success they would attain later in the 1970’s during the Saturday Night Fever era. The hobby has built upon itself in a lot of directions and we have many more outlets to buy, sell and trade. It’s still moving forward and you can still buy what you loved when you were a kid.
Rich Klein’s Ramblings turns two years old this month and the trip has been a fun one. It’s been “two years on” for this column and I hope over the past two years you have enjoyed the trips to the past, the comments about the present and some of the major players and the occasional writings about whatever the heck I want to write about.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]