It was another fun card filled a week at the shop.
Early on, we had a customer come in from a nearby town with cards for us to look at and potentially purchase. Although he didn’t have anything that we could really use, he and I got into a really cool conversation about the current sports card market. He was a former baseball player and got out of the hobby years ago, but a friend recently dragged him back into the fray.
We walked through those common steps that collectors returning to the hobby have as far as the shock of how many products there are, the surprise of how expensive much of the new stuff is and the utter confusion of the sheer quantity of different card options. We had a really fun conversation that ended with him telling me that he collects two somewhat obscure baseball players. He collects David Bednar, who I’m very familiar with as he’s the Pittsburgh Pirates All Star closer.
He also collects another Bednar, San Francisco Giants minor league pitching prospect Will Bednar. He proceeded to tell me that’s his last name and the reason he’s drawn to those two young players. It’s fun to hear stories like that and hear people that truly collect for the love of the hobby and for unique reasons all their own. We joked that he should have full access and easily picking of a plethora of Bednar cards as the auctions come and go on eBay.
2023 Topps Heritage Baseball was an absolute hit as it is pretty much each and every season. We have in-store customers that absolutely adore this product and, of course, we sell piles of it online, to the point where we don’t have any in stock at the moment. We went through multiple cases for the set collectors and collectors that love the nostalgia of the throwback designs and also for the collectors who love the chase of the variations, parallels and inserts. It really is a product for everybody. Even one of my famous friends who recently got into baseball cards is buying boxes and piecing the set together with his young son.
If you’ve read any installments of my recent Better Than a Box series, you know I will find a star player and give you a number of his cards for the same or less than the price of current hobby boxes. Well I’ve taken that a step further this week as we were looking at past year’s sealed boxes of cards versus current year sealed boxes and couldn’t believe some of the prices we found.
We picked up a Box of 2004 SP Authentic Football, an absolute premiere product back in the day, featuring rookie cards of future Hall of Famers and legends in Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, Larry Fitzgerald and Phillip Rivers for the same or less than the price of a current year hobby box of Certified, Mosaic, Prizm, Contenders or anything else down the line.
The Upper Deck products from the early 2000s are typically well done and this seems to be a far better buy than some of what’s found in boxes today. We might actually do a box break just to see what we might be able to pull from the decade old box of UD goodness.
Another interesting 2004 Upper Deck Football moment came this week as we had a 2004 Upper Deck Ben Roethlisberger rookie card come back from PSA graded an 8, which obviously, isn’t great but we went to check pop reports and there are an astonishingly few graded rookie cards or any cards from that product.
For whatever reason that slipped through the cracks or was something we weren’t aware of so, we actually went out and bought a few sealed boxes of 2004 Upper Deck football at around $300 per box, which was another surprise.
And while we’re on the topic of early 2000s higher end Upper Deck releases, a very interesting customer stopped by the store this week to sell product. Apparently he’s from out of town but owns a number of rental properties in our fair city and a few of our lovely Sunbury residents are either behind or flat out not paying him rent, so he has no other recourse than the sell some of his high end sports cards to make ends meet.
He brought in a small safe or safety deposit box that was filled with eye popping stuff including high end LeBron James rookies, higher end Steph Curry rookies and even a sealed box of 2003-2004 SPx Basketball. Aside from the fact that that SPx Box is incredibly valuable (right around $3,000 online) and really great see in person, that specific product takes me back to a time in my collecting life that changed everything for me.
That was the year when my collecting habits and spending were completely out of control. I was living in State College, PA and actually bought a case of this legendary SPx product from a local card shop. Jake was the owner of the shop. I developed a great relationship with him. I would go in every Friday and pay for and pick up another box. It got to the point where I was literally sneaking them into the house and opening them in the closet in my office when no one was around.
I went through the case box by box and didn’t even hit a Wade, Bosh, Anthony or anything close. I was sweating bullets. By the time I was into the next last box in the case (in my closet) I finally pulled the LeBron Jersey/Auto true rookie card. Clearly, I was elated to do so even back then but that was not my most proud time of being a member of this great hobby. Shortly thereafter I swore off buying cards (for the better part of a decade) and swore off ever charging anything to a credit card that had to do with sports or sports cards. It was interesting to hold this box because those good and bad memories came rushing back and it was a stark reminder of how I handled the hobby in the past and how differently I handle it today. I almost wanted just to keep the box for myself as a memento for the obvious personal reasons.
My week ended in Williamsport watching my nephew play in the district championship game at historic Bowman Field. His Mifflinburg Wildcats won the title and now move on to the state tournament.
In the shop, we have another big sports card week ahead as we’re going to get, literally, a skid of Optic Basketball in all of its forms, so I’ll be sure to share that story next week.