1974 Set Build

What a strange time we are living in. During these past couple of months, I’ve added new terms to my vocabulary like social distancing, Zoom Happy Hour and flattening the curve. Like many others, I’ve been working remotely from home and practicing social distancing for weeks. Both my county and state has been battling the spread of global pandemic Coronavirus. My family has kept to ourselves. Besides picking up our weekly curbside grocery order or odd trip to the Post Office after hours, we haven’t gone anywhere in weeks. We haven’t had any in-person social interactions. Instead, we’ve become very skilled at the Zoom Happy Hours. I am very grateful to live in a quiet neighborhood and have a beach on the shores of Lake Erie that is only 5 minutes fromimg_5332 my house. So we are able to get some exercise and fresh air daily. However, it is easy to get overwhelmed when watching TV or reading articles. There’s only so much information and new conferences that you can take before you’re in a dark place. Everyone needs a release or distraction, so I’ve decided to focus on cards. I try to have a Cardboard Therapy session everyday. This helps to clear my head and think about a simpler time during my childhood.

With more quiet time, I thought this would be a great time to finally start my 1974 Topps set build. Going in, I knew that this vintage set build would be the most ambitious to img_5121date. It’s easily the oldest set that I will have attempted to complete and could only be done through already opened product. Previous sets, I’ve always used unopened packs or boxes, then filled in with singles. I feel that it adds more personal experience to the set builds. While at the 2018 National in Cleveland, I wanted to pick a vintage set to work on. I ultimately chose the 1974 Topps set due to its design. This is also the 1st Topps set that was released as a whole set, so it should be a bit easier to build. Prior years, Topps sets were released as different series. Later series are more rare and therefore more difficult to put together.

There was something about the design of ’74 Topps that drew me to the set. The cards are printed on grey card stock and the front of the card uses a solid white border around the entire card. Inside that is a thin colored border and banner type boxes at the top andimg_5792 bottom of the photo that lists the city and team name. These are color specific for each team. The player’s name and position is also stated. The set has a mix of staged poses and a few action shots. Some of the action shots are memorable due to the wide angles used and distorted backgrounds that appeared on the cards. The card backs use avocado green as the dominant color, with black as the accent. The card backs are loaded with information. Besides the player’s bio, his full stats are printed, there’s a couple of interesting bits and a cartoon.

It’s now July, the area is calming down and things are starting to open up. My family still isn’t doing a lot, but we are outside as much as possible. I am well into this set. I knew from the beginning that this vintage set build would be different from previous sets. In order to keep cost down, I would need to be more liberal with the condition of the cards that I collate. I img_5168want a nice looking set, ideally with all of the cards VG/EX. I’d rather have cards with soft corners or OC, then ones with creases. The toughest cards would be Dave Winfield rc and the Washington Ntl League cards. Starting with the 2018 NSCC in Cleveland and then again the 2019 NSCC in Chicago, I was able to find dealers that sold vintage cards at great prices in bulk. I was able acquire quite a few stacks of commons and semi stars without having a checklist to work off. When I started to binder the set this past spring, I had a good start. After the initial upload on Trading card Data Base, I was around 45% complete. I was able to knock more of the set off from my LCS in Buffalo, Bases Loaded. During the early weeks of the pandemic when businesses were closed, Jeff made home deliveries. I added two 100 ct snap cases of cards for the set. At the time of writing this post and completing a couple of trades, I am 72% complete. I have 480/660 cards and 483/678 with the short print errors included.

When picking up stacks, I’m not too concerned with dupes. I’m constantly upgrading cards that are already paged. Also, the 1974 Topps set is perfect for autographs. I have used a lot of dupes for ttm requests. With the white borders and photos that are used, autographs really pop on these cards. This has been a fun set to build. I have a bunch of HOF and star cards, but still need to add more. I’m constantly searching eBay for car that have nice eye appeal, but at a great price. I know that this will be a long term build. Definitely a marathon, not a sprint. Happy collecting!

Card Show Day

I know it’s been awhile since I posted something on my blog. These past few months have been extremely busy, and my time has been limited, even for sending out TTM requests. Along the way, I have been picking up retail blasters, working on some collections and doing my favorite activity, hunting on eBay. I’ve made some purchases, but really haven’t had time to organize my collections or sit down and write a post.

However, today was a special day for card collectors like myself. There aren’t many Card Showexperiences like going to a Card Show. This particular show was my 1st since The National in August. This weekend’s show, Legends and Stars Sports Expo, is the largest held in Western New York. It is typically held in October and February each year at the Batavia Downs racetrack and casino in Batavia, NY. Generally, there are 20-30 vendors that sell a wide variety of sports cards and memorabilia. Also, a promoter brings in a pretty good lineup of former athletes for signings and photo opportunities. The lineup is usually loaded with former Buffalo Bills and Sabres, but also has appearances by national stars from the NFL and MLB. Besides Bills and Sabres stars like Bruce Smith and Pat LaFontaine, this show was headlined by Emmitt Smith and also featured Ken Anderson and Irving Fryar.

I have had the opportunity to meet almost every Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres greatMcDowell over the years. So I generally lean towards the baseball players that make an appearance at the shows. Over the years, I have met stars like Jack Morris, Kevin Mitchell, Bill Lee and Fergie Jenkins to name a few. This show had appearances by Jack McDowell, Andy Van Slyke and Ron Guidry. This was a great lineup for me. McDowell was one of my Van Slykefavorite pitchers in the 90s and I still needed to add Van Slyke for my 89 Topps set. Since I started sending out TTM requests in 2016, I have been fortunate enough to receive a few autographed cards from Jack McDowell. This show gave me an opportunity to get his signature on a ball. I also made an impulse decision to get a 8×10 signed as well. I also bought an autograph ticket for Andy Van Slyke. I am working on getting the 1989 Topps set signed and I still needed his base card for my set. Both guys were great. They took time to chat and take pictures with everyone in line. Ron Guidry had a long line, filled with Yankee fans. since I already had his signed card for my set from a TTM request , I passed on getting a signature today from him.

After the signings, I wandered the room, stopping at each vendor’s table. I didn’t have a goal in mind, but knew it would be something vintage. There were two vendors that I’ve74 Topps (1) made purchases from in the past and I hoped would be there again. First up was a vendor from the Albany, NY area with a wide selection of cards from the 1960s and 70s in binders. I plan on starting the 1974 Topps this winter, so I flipped through that binder. All of these cards were in mid range condition. Commons were .50 each, while stars and HOFers were $1-3. I picked up a stack of 50 cards for 74 Topps (2)$20. My next stop was with a local guy that sells cards on the side. He has a great selection of vintage cards from the 1970s. His inventory is mostly star cards in the lower to mid range, kept in semi rigid holders. I could spend hours thumbing through his boxes. I ended up pulling 6 cards from the 1974 set. They’ll either be for my set or my HOF collection. My final purchase was vintageVintage Hockey hockey. I’m a sucker for vintage hockey. I added 4 cards of HOFers to my collection. Couldn’t pass up adding another Perreault to my collection. I love the look of the 71-72 set. Also, this might be my 1st Stan Mikita.

Today’s show was very successful. I picked up a few autographs, including a card for my 89 set. Also, you can never go wrong with adding vintage to you collection. I’m looking forward to starting my 1974 set build this winter. Between National and today, I will be off to a good start. Now begins the enjoyment of organizing everything that I bought.

Happy collecting, everyone!

A Sense of Accomplishment

It’s a great feeling when you complete something. Especially when it’s a project that you’ve worked on for several years. This is something that happened to me 1980this past February.

In the Fall of 2016, I decided to build a couple of sets from my early collecting days. I wanted to store these sets in a binder, so I could page through the set and reminisce with the cards of my childhood. I began with a couple of sets that had a lot of meaning to me, 1988 and 1989 Topps. These two sets were the ones that introduced me to the Hobby and started it all.  Both of these sets were easy to build, strictly through wax boxes. There is a lot of unopened product, at available for very reasonable prices. After opening a couple of wax and cello boxes for each set, I completed both in a few weeks.

For my next set, I wanted more of a challenge. I wanted to pick a set that was special to me. I decided to go after my birth year set, 1980 Topps. From the start I knew this set build would be very different. The unopened product from this set is a lot more scarce and tends to be expensive. I had some cards in my collection already, but was basically starting fresh. The biggest card in 1980 Topps is the rookie card of HOFer Rickey Henderson. I already had a Beckett graded version of this card, but for this set build, I wanted to pick up another.

Aside from the Henderson RC, 1980 Topps isn’t very popular with collectors. Most of the complaints revolve around the design of the cards.  Although, I did not share those views.  The cardIMG_0233 features a single photo of each player, with a facsimile autograph towards the bottom of the card.  There are 2 information banners on the card that are color coordinated with the teams; one stating the player’s position at the top and a second showing the team name at the bottom.  The back of the card features a blue background with white trim and black text.

Since I was starting this set build from scratch, I had to decide what condition I wanted the set to be in.  I knew that cards would be harder to find, so mint was out of the question.  I decided that I wanted all of the cards to at least be in Excellent condition; no creases or major dings.  I wanted a set that had good eye appeal.  I purchased a couple of cello packs on eBay IMG_1331and already had a couple of wax packs in my pack collection.  I opened these and hit a few HOFers.  These cards were crisp and in mint condition.  They were a nice start to my set.  Over the winter I picked up several small count lots here and there on eBay; Team checklists, rookie cards and series checklists.  If I acquired dupes, always checked to see if I could upgrade cards that were in lower condition.   Months would go by and not much work would be done on the set.  However, in Summer 2017, my LCS handed me a treasure chest.  He acquired a 500 count vending box of 1980 Topps baseball cards and sold it to me at a great price.  Mostly full of commons, these cards were in really good condition.  I do not think they were handled that much since 1980.  More than half of the box were set needs and the rest were used to upgrade a lot of cards that I already had.  Then at a card show in November, I made another large dent in my set needs.  Between the purchases at the show and some trades made on Twitter, I was within 20 cards of completion of the set.

This would bring me to the spring card show this past February.  I picked up the remaining 7 cards that I needed and completed a project that I began in October 2016.  The final cardIMG_4183 that I put in the binder was card #290 Steve Garvey.  When I completed this set, I felt great.  This was the oldest set that I’ve built and proved to be the most challenging.  I enjoyed the process of acquiring the cards that I needed and always looking for set upgrades.  This set was loaded with HOF veterans and young stars early in their careers.  I obviously knew those guys going in, but there were a ton of players that I wasn’t familiar with.  It was fun learning about players of that era.  This set build was a fun experience.  For my next challenge, I want to try and build a set from the 70s.

Collating 1984 Topps

With the imminent completion of my most ambitious set build, 1980 Topps baseball, I needed to choose which set that I would try to put together next. I wanted to pick a set that had great design, an abundance of stars and a nice rookie crop. With that being said, I decided to go after the 1984 Topps baseball set.

1984 Topps (4)This is a great looking set that has a unique design and a couple of memorable rookie cards of stars from the Big Apple. It’s also loaded with HOF stars that are either late in their career (Reggie Jackson and Rod Carew) or just starting out (Ripken, Gwynn, Sandberg & Boggs). In my opinion, this particular set design is one of the better overall concepts (front and back) produced by Topps. The front of the cards are sharp. They1984 Topps (5) have two shots of the player, with an action or posed photo as the main picture and a smaller head shot in the bottom left corner. Topps did not add team logos to the front of the cards this year. Instead, the team name is printed in vertical font on the left side of the card. However, it’s the back of the card that really increases the overall grade for this set. The coloring of the card back features a great royal blue with a deep orange-red accent. Most of the stats are printed in blue font inside a light red shaded text box.  This is one of the better color combinations that Topps has used for its yearly release. Topps also placed the team logo in the top right corner on each card.  The card back design is visually sharp and easy to read.

When I build sets, I prefer to do so through packs as much as possible. There’s something 1984 Topps (1)about ripping wax packs, breathing in the aroma of cardboard and gum and being the 1st person to thumb through the cards. It would be easy to buy singles of this set and complete it quickly.  However, that wouldn’t be as exciting.  This is why I am 25 cards short of completing my 1987 Topps set build.  Although packs of 1984 Topps are harder to find then 1987 Topps, it’s a lot more doable then my previous 1980 Topps set build. There is a decent selection of wax, cello and rack packs to choose from on eBay. You can pick up wax packs for $2-3 each and rack packs for around $5-6 on eBay.  Recently, I picked up a couple of lots of these unopened rack packs to get me started with this build. Also, I1984 Topps (2) ripped a bunch of wax and cello packs of 84 Topps in recent years. I’ve kept these cards un-sorted in 100 count snap cases.  Two weeks ago I officially started this set build with a little Cardboard Therapy session on a Saturday morning.  I sorted the cards that I previously ripped and also the ones from the rack packs that I just acquired.  I picked up a new binder and a box of pages and I was on my way.   This past week I made my initial tally to see where I am at.  Counting only cards that I personally opened from packs, I currently have 456 of the 792 cards in the set.  I have a few of the glossy All Star cards from the rack packs and plan to add them to the binder.  However, I do not plan to actively collect these for my set.

I purchased a few more rack packs and should get them in the next couple of weeks.  After I open them, it should put me closer to the 600 card mark.  Also, I plan to buy PSA graded cards for the two key rookies in this set; Don Mattingly and Darryl Strawberry.  Once I get down to the final 150-200 cards, I will look to complete the set through lots and singles.  Also, I have a large stack of cards that I’ve received from @LumberjackCards to go through.  I’m very grateful for them and I’m sure they will put a large dent into my need list.  This is a fun set and I’m looking forward to the journey that it will take me on.  As an added bonus, these cards look great signed and I can use my dupes for TTM writing.

Happy Collecting,

Steve