If you’re not just emerging from a cave, you probably know the new Star Wars movie is out and maybe you’ve already stood in line to buy a ticket. The whole concept that a movie sequence which actually began back in 1977 is more popular than ever is a truly unique aspect of the whole series. Unlike some entertainment institutions from the past, the whole enterprise wasn’t born from a comic book or television series; just a hugely successful, action-packed movie to introduce the brand in 1977. And one can safely say the whole concept of Star Wars has rarely disappointed us over the years.
This is very much unlike the first Star Trek movie. I remember going with some friends to see one of the opening day showings and being totally disappointed in how boring the movie was compared to the original. And once one got over the shock of seeing Persis Khambatt with no hair on her head and the obligatory shots of all the characters we had so loved there was nothing there. It turned out to be a relatively successful motion picture series that lasted several years but to this day, I still remember the great disappointment in what we were hoping would be a fantastic movie (it was released two years after Star Wars) and how none of it seemed quite as fun as the television series had been.
To me, it brings up an important difference between movies and other forms of entertainment and sports cards. And this is especially for opening packs but can carry into other parts of the hobby as well. If you opened packs avidly as a youth, you probably remember that familiar refrain: “Got him. Got him. Need him. Oh no, not another one of him…,” then you know you probably still enjoy opening packs to this day.
This past week, I was opening some Stadium Club packs from 1994 and 1995 which I had acquired from collector Matt Charlton in exchange for some cards for his “print oddity” collection (if you have any blank backs, off-cut, badly registered or other print oddity cards Matt is building a really cool collection which I help him with any chance I get). So I get home and while the best card was a Dave Winfield 1st Day Issue), the real joy was to open those boxes and telescope back about 20 years.
I know stuff from that era isn’t exactly considered hobby gold but Stadium Club had the best photos of the era and seeing them again made me realize just how beautiful some of those issues were. And sometimes there are cards which, at least to me, are more interesting today than they were back then. I was struck by the David Wells Stadium Club card in which he proudly shows the tattoo on his arm. It was unusual then but today, players with tattoos are commonplace (have you ever seen Ryan Roberts or Josh Hamilton?). Opening packs with 14 cards was kind of cool as well.
Then my wife popped in and sort of put things in perspective when she grabbed a pack and pulled Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell. “Those can’t be junk,” she said. “They were my favorite Tigers.” She and her family lived in the Detroit area until they migrated to Texas circa 1984. For her, there was no disappointment in those packs and for me, there was none either.
But we are not disappointed with the concept of opening packs or walking into a store or a show. Instead we, as collectors, are always optimistic we’re going to spy a great deal or a card we’ve been after for years. As a dealer we hope for a big day of sales. Whenver I open a box, I’m always hopeful of getting a good card (I finally got one in Triple Threads football which we’ll review this week) and being able to tell the fan who reads all the reviews via the Sports Collectors Daily Facebook feed that, yes, I finally pulled something great.
There is always the next show, the next trip to the store or the next pack to open.
And we all want to be like the customer I witnessed at Triple Cards the other day.
I came in to buy supplies and there was a new customer in the store with his three young children. He went to the table Al has to set up for opening packs and said, “This card is not autographed but it does say 1 of 1.” Well, the 1 of 1 was only a three colored patch card of star rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota. Al was nice enough to put the card in a special holder for the happy customer.
Whenever a nice card is pulled at Nick’s Sports Cards, they scan it and put it the next week’s newsletter, which is a smart move for any shop. It generates excitement and interest each week when friends and neighbors have success.
We all want to be the one to pull the next great card but it doesn’t always happen and if we don’t get something great, just remember to not be so heavily invested in flipping that you can’t have fun and enjoy what’s inside. The hobby is supposed to be fun, not just a constant search for hits. Unlike a movie, at least you have something to show for your time and effort.
I hope Santa drops a few packs in your stocking—even if newer cards aren’t your thing anymore—because we should never lose the feeling that comes with wondering what’s inside the wrapper and appreciating sets from any era.