Quite a bit of reaction to some recent columns in the email bin lately so without further adieu, let’s catch up with your correspondence and my replies. We start with a note about a column I wrote a few years ago about some Chicago area shops from years gone by.
I am a fan and enjoy reading your column. A fellow collector posted a link to our Facebook group recently to your 2011 column where you talk about your dear, late friends at AU Sports and Audre Gold in particular. I am a Northwestern alumnus and worked in college at a now defunct shop just down Dempster called, North Shore Baseball Card Exchange. I knew AU, of course, as I would ride my bicycle past their original store on the way to work. My 1951 Red Backs are from AU as we specialized in newer issues in the late 1980’s.
I have been trying to track down my old colleagues and specifically the owner of North Shore, whose name I think was Brian. He was something of a character; a large man with an aggressive personality to match. Brian was a USC alum who built a mail order business from his dorm room and, as he told the story, was eventually asked to leave because of its success and impact on his roommate as cases of unopened product took over their room. I have a guess that Brian sold the inventory of his two Chicagoland shops and the “Exchange” name to the now famous NW Indiana store. Do you have any idea if that’s true and have you run across anyone that might fit that description within the hobby?
Well, I probably would have been the only roommate in the world happy to have access to all those unopened cases. I probably would have worked out a deal to bring those to shows back in the day. Unfortunately, I don’t know the answer to your question, Tom. Can anyone help?
Another reader wrote about my column earlier this week dealing with the evolution of the sports card hobby and his frustration as a team collector.
I found your column on the current state of card collecting interesting. I have been collecting Brewers cards since the Brewers were formed in 1970. During that time, there has been only one time that I lost interest and did not buy many cards and that was the 1994 strike era. If I got Brewers cards I kept them, but didn’t go out of my way looking for them again until about 1996.
Since Topps only has the license for baseball cards now, after this season, I am still going to collect Brewers cards, but nowhere near what I tried to collect in the past. To me, Topps is ruining the hobby, especially with their colored border cards. This year, Topps had the regular white border, plus black, blue (Wal-Mart), camo, gold, green, dark orange, light orange, pink, purple (Toys R Us), red (Target), red foil, and yellow. 13 different color borders and yet, I have not been able to get all of the different color borders for even one Brewer player. Then to make matters worse, Topps had yellow borders (which looked nice) only for the first series, then added orange, only for the second series.
The city I live in (city of Sheboygan, WI) has a population of 50,000 and 100,000 in the county, but has NO hobby shops, so hobby only issues cannot be found here. We also have no Toys R Us, so those cards cannot be found here. There is a Target in the county. The only places we have to get cards are Wal-Mart and Shop-Ko. There is a small card show held in the county, five times a year, but it is held in a small room, with room for only about 15 tables (not dealers, but tables).
In addition, there are to many cards of the same players. There were zero cards of Martin Maldonado this year, even though he has spent two seasons on the Brewers 25 man roster. But, according to my count, and I know I don’t know of all the cards, there are 74 different cards of Carlos Gomez, 57 different cards of Ryan Braun, and even 35 different cards of Robin Yount, who has been retired for 20 years. I would guess that there are not more than a dozen collectors, if that many, want 74 different cards of Carlos Gomez.
Right now, I am leaning towards not collecting Brewers cards in 2015. Between the number of cards that will be available and the same players over and over, it doesn’t excite me anymore. The worst collapse in major league history (last season) doesn’t help either. I know some people say the 1964 Phillies had the worst collapse, but I feel the Brewers have to be considered with the worst. The Brewers were eliminated before the last game of the season, and unlike the 64 Phillies, who had only one chance to make the post-season, the Brewers missed out on three ways to make the playoffs, 1st place or two wild cards and then no one got fired for it.
I will continue to collect certain players that I also collect, Brett Favre, Rollie Fingers, Warren Spahn, and Dizzy Dean.
Since Topps makes a lot of high-end products, or product that is only available in hobby shops, the kids of today, cannot get the cards or players they want to collect. Sure, eBay helps, but not for the kids. If kids, want a card, they can’t buy it on eBay, compared to going to a hobby shop or buying a pack of cards. In order to buy it on eBay, you need a Paypal account, which kids cannot get, which means, the kids (who are the future of this hobby) have almost no chance to get cards by themselves.
Sorry about how long this got.
You like many other collectors had to get that sour taste of the 1994 strike out of your mouth before resuming collecting. The Martin Maldonado name brings up one of the more interesting parts of Topps current dilemma. As we pointed out in our Topps Update review, if you have a series which seems to have too many “common” cards, then the collectors notice that and the prices fall. But if you don’t include these players during the year, then fans like you get frustrated when a fan favorite who has been with a team for several years does not receive a card.
This has always been tricky, for if you think back about 10 years when the Kansas City Royals seemed to be terminally terrible, there might be one or two players from that team, at the most, in a release. I know when I would chat with Neil Hoppenworth, a long-time major set builder, that his Royals collectors would just shake their head about how few cards of their favorite team were available.
We’ve been beating the drums to get Guilder Rodriguez a card in the 2015 Topps series one set. Now, he will never make the Hall of Fame or even a star list but the way his story captivated baseball during the final week of the 2014 campaign made for a great human interest story. And wouldn’t it be nice to have a remembrance of the game his dad saw him get both his first major league hit and also a game-winning run batted in? Rodriguez was 31 when he arrived in the majors but he is not just as much a part of history as some of his far more accomplished teammates But long-term, how many people are really going to want that card? That is one of the issues Topps faces.
We also agree that keeping kids involved in the hobby is a tricky situation. There are so many more choices nowadays for them to be involved with. But I was encouraged when at our first show, about one-third of the attendees were kids and they mostly seemed to be very active at dealers tables. In addition, I know Nick’s Sportscards in Dallas does a lot of kid-friendly store promotions on a daily basis from rewards for good grades to t-shirts and many other items.
I have been frequenting a local card shop here in Conroe, TX the last 2+ years after relocation from Northern CA. I’m an avid collector and was excited to see a card shop that I could frequent close by. I quickly developed a relationship with the owner and have purchased Hobby boxes, supplies, and vintage singles from him. He always goes out of his way to meet my collecting needs. He has 5 glass display cases in his shop and up until 2 weeks ago he devoted 1 of the cases to sports cards. He committed the rest of the cases to gaming cards, comic books, figurines, etc. I’m guessing 90% of his viewable merchandise is non-sports related. His “gaming” business is booming and it allows him to produce enough income to keep the doors open and then some.
The current demand for “gaming” merchandise has reduced the displayed sports cards to just half of one case. I see the same merchandising trend at my local Walmart, Target and Toys R Us too. Supply and demand always wins out in the end. How will the sports card industry grow with less and less opportunity for potential buyers to view the merchandise? Boy do I feel old right now.
Your loyal reader,
Thank you for reading our columns. We truly do appreciate all our readers. The good news is that it appears you have a real solid relationship with the store owner and hopefully he will put aside items for you as needed. But he also has to do what keeps him in business. And if gaming is what is going to keep his lights on, then he has to evolve to that realm. Meanwhile, you can continue working with him on your sports items. Sounds like a good game plan going forward.
I enjoy reading your articles on Sports Collectors Daily. I used to be an avid collector and at one point wanted to open up my own store. I have a pretty large collection of products across the four major sports ranging from the mid to late 1970s through the early 2000s. Unfortunately, once my daughter was born, I put aside what had become an expensive hobby to save for college. I have a few questions that I was hoping you could answer.
1) Do you know of any software or web sites out there that would assist me in organizing my collection? I want to get a really good idea of what I have. I’ve thought about creating my own spreadsheets in Excel or even my own database with the help of some friends, but it’d be great if there was something already created that I could purchase or download to assist men in the huge undertaking.
2) Once I have it organized, I’d like to try to figure out what its value is. The services that Beckett offers are a little out of my price range. Is there really any other way I can get this information electronically without having to pay an exorbitant fee for it?
3) How can I go about deciding which cards I should get graded? This is a fairly expensive venture based on what I’ve priced out, so I want to make sure I don’t spend money on a card only to have it graded in a way that wouldn’t really increase its value.
Any help you can give me would be really appreciated. Thanks in advance for reading my e-mail, and for your time.
If anyone has a good card collecting software program to recommend, please let us know and we’ll pass that info on to Carl. And as for which cards to get graded, I think the answer is that it’s really up to you. Personally, i use a 15 percent rule which is if the card is worth $100 and the cost to get graded is $15 or less, then this is worth your time to get graded. In addition, there are some cards such as the 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan which are worth getting graded in any condition. Compare the cost to the potential benefit is a good rule of thumb but those are some very broad guidelines I would personally use.
And, finally Arnie Prichep had written us with some concerns about his box break of 2014 Stadium Club and we posted his email here a while ago.
You wondered if I would have felt differently if I had gotten big autographs like Rivera or Griffey. Well, I got autos of two Yankees – Solarte and Anna, and that’s fine with me. I didn’t have those guys autographs, and have now added two new Yankees to my autograph book. Even though they aren’t Yankees anymore, they were shown as Yankees on the cards, so I was happy to get them.
So no, I would not have felt differently if I got bigger “hits”. Anyway, I know that who you get as the hits is a hit-and-miss proposition, so it doesn’t have a bearing on how I like the overall base set (which is the most important thing to me).
Again, thanks for posting the letter (email), and keep up the interesting columns.
Arnie, in many ways that is good to hear but it is funny that both Yankees (a team you collect) are no longer with the Yankees by the time 2015 rolled around. The world—and baseball rosters—are always changing.
As always we appreciate being able to be the voice of our readers. Please keep those emails coming.