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.

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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

#CardboardTherapy

Everyone needs a way to unwind after a busy day.  A way to relax and unplug from our hectic lives.  Everyone has their own way of doing this and to each, their own with whatever way they choose.  For me, my method is something I like to call Cardboard Therapy.

I work 2nd shift-type hours and do not get home until late, so its usually quiet atIMG_2228 home when I arrive.  What better time to bust out my cardboard and work on my various collections as a way to unwind.  Another perfect time for a cardboard session are Saturday mornings.  Before we start our busy weekends, I like to have my coffee and play with my cardboard.  And there’s always something that needs my attention.  Whether its sorting cards, working on building a set or writing a few letters for TTM mailings, there’s always something that needs to be done.

Relaxation is important.  We all need to unplug from our long days.  For me, I find that thumbing through cards from my childhood is one of the best ways to do this.  All these years later, Topps cards from the 80s still hold that intoxicating aroma of sugary gum and cardboard.  When I hold a stack of these cards and take in a long breath, I’m instantly taken back to my childhood.  They bring back a lot of memories.  This is mostly the reason why I built the 1988 and 1989 Topps sets.  They are very important to me and full of nostalgia.  I love thumbing through the boxes, seeing the iconic photos and reading the backs of the cards.

For the last year, another part of Cardboard therapy has been TTM writing.  I’ve been mailing cards to athletes in hopes that they send the cards back to me signed.  I willIMG_5156 research players that sign, make lists of the players that I want to send to and then search through the different boxes for their cards.  I hand write both the letters and envelopes.  This is something I like to do when I get home from work.  The entire process takes some time.  I often have several stack of cards that are in different steps of that process.  I find all of this relaxing.  The 87 Topps Jimmy Key card was my 1st TTM success.

Sometimes Cardboard Therapy can have a deeper meaning.  This past summer, I experienced one of the worst situations to effect my family.  This difficult time was hard for everyone and I chose to stay away from the hobby for awhile.  There were more important things that needed my full attention.  I was trying to deal with everything the best way that I could, but it was a difficult time.  One day I was cleaning out my childhood bedroom, I found some old binders full of cards.  Looking through the pages, I realized that these 3 x5 pieces of cardboard were helpful in another way.  A lot of great memories came pouring back to me.  I came across cards from my childhood that I forgot I had and found others that triggered many memories.  Whether it was from a baseball game that my family went to in Toronto, or a stop at the card store with my Dad or the family trip to Cooperstown, those binders were loaded with a ton of great memories.  A distinct one was from the very beginning of my card collecting.  I remembered sitting behind my garage, opening a couple of packs that were given to me by my Mom.  A lot of great memories came pouring back to me thanks to these 3 x 5″ pieces of cardboard.

s-l1600Its funny how some of these photos on the cards stick out to you all of these years later.  One that I will always remember is the 1989 Topps card #361 of Kelly Downs.  This card is special to me and I will never forget it because of the green corrugated fencing in the background of this photo.  We had the same plastic attached to our fencing in our backyard when I was little.  I remember hitting whiffle balls off of it all of these years later.  Its little things like that that always take us back to our childhood.  I believe in Cardboard Therapy.  Not only is it a wonderful way of decompressing at night, but it can have a deeper importance as well.