Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Joey but you can call me Dub if you’d like. I’d like to take you on a tour of the hobby of card collecting. There will be a lot to see along this journey. We will discuss some new products that we are just discovering and will revisit some older products that are worthy of a second look. But before we really get started, I thought you should at least get to know me a little bit. I don’t want to be a stranger. We are on this trek together after all.
I began collecting baseball cards in 1989. I used to think that it was the perfect time to get into the hobby but as I have gotten older, I have realized that I missed some great card sets from the 70’s and 80’s. Sure, we all would like to take a ride in Doc Brown’s DeLorean back to 1952 and stock up on mint condition Mickey Mantle Rookie Cards but card collecting in the 50’s really wasn’t the hobby that it is today. In fact, that is why those cards are so valuable today. In the 50’s and 60’s, as opposed to preserving the cards, most kids played with them like toys. They were used for makeshift baseball games, tacked to walls and even used as noisemakers in bicycle spokes. A generous portion of those cards have disappeared, been destroyed or at least been worn down to very poor condition.
The hobby really exploded in the 80’s after Fleer and Donruss won a major court decision that allowed them to start printing cards (1981), thus creating competition for Topps and forcing innovation. The first sets released by Fleer and Donruss were rushed to the market and fairly lackluster due to the timing of the decision. But they stepped up their game in ’82 and the card wars officially began. The card companies battled each year, using new designs and features to try and grab their share of the market. Topps remained the most well known card set but Donruss and Fleer had the superior cards in certain years. In my opinion, Donruss was best in 1986 while Fleer led the way in 1985 and 1988. And the 1984 Fleer Update Set remains one of the most sought after sets of the 80’s.
When I began collecting in 1989, the options were even more plentiful. Score joined the hobby in 1988 and Upper Deck debuted in 1989. Upper Deck provided collectors with the first “premium” baseball card set and had the entire hobby buzzing. They used holograms on the cards to deter counterfeiting and also used new foil packaging in an effort to combat pack tampering, which was always an issue with the old wax packs that were being used. But even while I was really excited with all of the new products at my fingertips, I did miss out on getting a fresh ’82 Cal Ripken Jr., an ’86 Jose Canseco Donruss Rated Rookie and those awesome ’87 Topps cards that looked like the wood grain station wagons riding around my hometown during that era.
Fortunately for me, the prices for all of those cards are still very reasonable so that is where my primary focus is when collecting. I will collect any and all cards from 1980 through 1993. Don’t get me wrong, I like autographs and patches and printing plates from new products as well. When I go to my LCS (Local Card Shop), I’ll pick up some of the latest releases to give them a look and try to score some of my Atlanta players. But if I am being honest, I am a “Junk Wax Disciple” and when I am sitting down for an afternoon of card sorting, it’s most often going to be with an old wax pack from my youth so I can relive the early days of my collecting and return to my childhood. Nothing can spark a smile on my face like seeing a 1989 Ken Griffey Jr. Rated Rookie and thinking back to the first time I pulled one from a pack. And yes, I remember that day!
That is what card collecting has become for me in 2017; routine walks through the nostalgic forest. I can buy a box of ’87 Donruss and slip those mint Bo Jackson RC’s right into protective sleeves and preserve my youth to pass along to my kids. I can sit down with a stack of ’89 Donruss and show my daughter (age 10) the players that I collected back when I was around her age. I can introduce her to Dale Murphy and Nolan Ryan. I can tell her just how good Darryl Strawberry and Ryne Sandberg were and how fun Ozzie Smith was to watch. All the while, I can harken back to the time in my life when I was seeing those cards for the first time, sitting on my bed with my price guide open and RBI Baseball on the tube in the background.
So while I plan on bringing you articles about new products and some of the innovative changes going on in the hobby, we are also going to take some fun trips down memory lane because there are plenty of products that need to be revisited. If you collected in the 80’s, you may want to take out your old cards and remember the days when collecting was all about base card’s, Diamond Kings, Pro Vision, Rookies and Future Stars. If you are new to the hobby, it might send you to your LCS to find an old wax box to rip for the first time. If that is the case, then I have done my job. And don’t worry, I collect baseball, football, basketball and some hockey so the topics will be wide ranging. I hope you are as excited as I am about this journey. Until next time, do yourself a favor and rip some wax!