We can all say we missed the boat on a lot of older cards back when they were cheaper but was there one specific deal you recall passing up that you REALLY regret now? That’s the question we posed on Facebook earlier this week. We offered a stack of older Topps cards as a
bribe prize to a random winner. We got a boatload of responses including some really interesting stories that’ll make you wish you could hop in the flux capacitor and have a shot at these yourself.
Passed up on a ’75 Brett rookie in mint condition for $10 at a show in the Chicago area in 1981. Can’t complain too much though, did pick up a rookie Nolan Ryan for $15 at that show that I still have to this day.
I began collecting when I was 10 years old in 1970. At that time everything was done by mail. In about 1972, I found an ad in the Sports Hobbyist (anyone who remembers that has been around a LONG time!) advertising early 20th century cards. I sent for the list and found hundreds of T206, T205, T202 Hassan Triple Folders, T201 Mecca Double Folders and many more for unbelievable prices. For example, the T206 Ty Cobb Red Back was .50 cents in fair condition. The seller was tired of the commercialization of the hobby (imagine that in 1972!).
But I was 11 at the time and had very little money and parents who thought I was nuts collecting baseball cards. I did cobble together a few dollars and got about 40 T206 (including the Cobb Red Back), a selection of T202, T201 and several others. I’ve always regretted not buying a whole lot more. And I compromised on condition so I could buy more. I estimate that I could of had them all for $50!
Best part of the story is that I still have every one of the cards I bought from that fellow!
As evidence that, as children, we covet heroes more than we covet the value of a card: In 1988 an older collector offered me an 800 count box of 1971 and 1972 Topps cards for a 1987 Donruss Bo Jackson rookie. I think his intent was to get me deeper into the hobby. I, of course, refused the trade. I didn’t know most of the players from the 1970s, but I sure loved Bo Jackson.
In 1983 I had an opportunity to buy a 1968 Ryan rookie and 1968 Bench rookie for $20. I turned it down thinking it was too expensive. Both cards were NM. Uggghhhh!!!
In 1965 I was 13 and “pitching” baseball cards…. Pitching was a game played where winner gets all the cards thrown. There were 1960 fleer Babe Ruths (2) , a 1959 Ted Williams (Fleer), and then my friend Joey asked to throw a older larger size card… a 1952 Mantle. Of course I said NO THATS CHEATING! I won the hand. Later when Joey couldn t play the card I remember he put in the spokes of his bike, as a noise maker. Oh well it gave me memories of the things I’ve loved and collected since I was 8… BASEBALL CARDS!
Back when 86/87 Fleer basketball cards came out, I stumbled across several boxes out at a store called Newberry’s. They were priced at get this, 10 cents a pack. Well at that age I had limited funds so I had to make some decisions.
I did spend about $6 on the cards so I did manage to get a little over a box and a half. I did have more to spend, however I thought it would be a good idea to go buy a couple of new cassettes at the record store instead, rather than grabbing another 4 boxes or so. I cannot recall what cassettes they were, but I’m quite certain the right decision was not made. I sometimes weep openly about this.
I was in college at Elon College outside of Burlington, North Carolina from 1983 to 1985 back when Jordan was over at Ewe NC in Chapel Hole. I even ran into him a few times…NEVER liked his attitude, but that is a different story! (I am a huge NC State fan).
I had the opportunity to buy a case of Fleer basketball a little after my college days for about $8.00 per box or right at 100.00 per case…do the math! Hell, I spent 40.00 every Thursday night at the local bar there near campus.
Also, back then…the Star cards were not very popular and could be bought for pennies on the dollar just by going to the card company’s location and taking them off of their hands….not a lot of people did and most of the boxes would up in the trash dump or were destroyed.
Who knew what those cards would be worth today and how buying a few cases and have less than $500.00 in them could have made you six figures at the very least?
In my early 20s traveling across the country, there was a gentleman at a gas station needing money to continue his trip or get home I don’t remember his whole story. However he did have a shoe box full of old cards and needed some gas money. He wanted $200 for the whole box and there were lots of very old cards I only had an extra $50 I could spare so I bought a small stack from him I did get a few Aarons, Mantles, and stuff like that worth a heck of a lot more than I paid however I wish I could have bought the whole box and helped the fellow out even more…..
It was 1988 and I was 14 years old. I was at a card show in giant hotel ballroom (when was the last time that happened?) and I had $20 left in my pocket. I had already bought what I came for, a 1969 Rollie Fingers rookie card – even then I was a vintage collector – but I was looking for something new. So as I passed by the last table I narrowed my choices down to two things. First was a complete set of 1981-1982 basketball cards. I was six feet tall as a teenager, and I loved hoops (still do). But like I said, I also loved vintage cards. And Topps had just put out a set that not only looked like the 1956’s that I loved so much, they were oversized, too! Yup, Topps Big, and the guy had a whole box waiting for me. Obviously, you can guess what I chose to waste my $20 on, and it still haunts me 25 years later.
Back in 1981 there was a collectors shop in my home town. They played 1940s music and had wall to wall collectibles. Mostly stuff like old magazines, 78 records and WWII things. They did dabble in cards though.
I picked up about 2 dozen ’33 Goudeys from them over about 4 or 5 months. But Because I was impatient And decided to go for quantity I bypassed quality. I missed the opportunity to buy a 1933 Goudey Lou Gehrig for $100.
In the 1960’s I had a price guide for the Card Collectors Company. I was collecting cards but I was also trying to obtain all of the Mays and Mantle cards from Topps and Bowman. The cards were all priced in the $1.00 to 2.00 range for the stars and minimal for the others. I would have to talk my parents into writing a check for me to order the cards. Invariably I would order maybe 4 to 5 cards for $10.00. I would receive a letter stating three of the cards were out of stock and receive 2. This went on for a year. I felt they were holding back to keep me from obtaining all the cards. Eventually I received most of the Mays and Mantle cards. Thinking back I wonder about the other cards I have collected over the years and whether I could have gotten the Ruth, Cobb, and older Giants card that I have had to pay large amounts for or just not obtain.
By 1972, when I graduated from high school, I sold my collection for $60.00. I thought it was time to move on. By 1977, I saw my first price guide and was shocked at the prices for all of my former cards, even the commons. I started collecting again. (Fortunately my friend who bought my collection saved all of the star cards, sold the rest and gave me the star cards back.)
Sadly, my collection as a child was never mint and holds lots of memories but probably not much in value compared to other collections but I still have it 40+ years later.
Approximately 4 years ago my sister had a part time business where she would put items on eBay for people and make a commission. She had an ad posted in the paper and would get calls from people wanting to sell their items.
One day she received a call from a gentleman wanting to sell some baseball cards. My sister is not a collector and does not know much about cards, so she referred the gentleman to me.
I gave the man a call back and he said he was not sure what years they are, but he knows they are old. He asked if I was available to take a look at them, which I did that day.
When I arrived at his home, he had me sit on the couch in the living room and said he would be right back. A minute or so later he came back and laid a stack of cards on the table. I instantly knew what they were, because the first card in the stack was a 1909 T206 Cy Young. The cards were not in plastic or protected at all, but were still in very good condition. There were all the big names, Cy Young, Nap Lajoie, Christy Mathewson, Eddie Plank, Chief Bender and much more, 87 cards total.
The gentleman then said “Give me a minute, there is more”, he then came back with a box full of card binders bull of 1940’s playball, 140 cards total.
Unfortunately at the time, being a single dad, I did not have extra money to be buying baseball cards. I figured this guy would want $10,000++ for these cards.
I asked him what he was looking to get for all the cards, he said $350.00. I could not believe my ears. I was literally shaking. I had the money in a savings account, but unfortunately it was aSunday, and I did not have the money on me to buy the cards, so I called a fellow collector and told him the situation. He immediately came over and bought the cards.
Approximately a week later, I received a letter from the man that bought the cards. In the envelope was a letter thanking me for calling him and a token of appreciation was a Nap Lajoie t206 from the collection.
Approximately 2 years later I ran into the brother of the man that bought the cards. He said that his brother had sent a lot of the cards out for grading and (so far) had made close to $25,000 on the collection and still has a majority of the “money cards” in a safety deposit box.
I still have the T206 Nap Lajoie, and it is a reminder of the deal of the century that slipped through my fingers.
That was a collection that some people will never come across in a lifetime and something I will NEVER have the chance to buy again.