Posted by: Chris | September 28, 2010

Vintage Versus Vindication

Mike has written us another article and I must say, this piece is well worth the read, enjoy guys!

Chris brought to my attention recently picking up a box of Topps 
baseball product from 2004, not because there were major hits in the 
box, it was going for $9.99 half off in the Wal-Mart checkout #18 
lane, or because it was a throw-in for a jersey auto of Jeff Samardzija.
He got the box because it brought back a memory. More than just one, 
but several good ones. The product, in this case 2004 Topps Opening 
Day, isn’t littered with jumbo relics, HOF chase autos or cards from 
the Paleozoic era with giant lizards on them. It was just a basic 
product that carried some weight for something different. Enjoyment.

Far too often in the Blogosphere new products are introduced, then 
hoarded, then picked apart and given a grade. Sometimes within the 
day of release or shortly after. While there are several avenues to 
find information, from Topps itself, Beckett, or just Joe Collector 
who has his or her own corner of the hobby equipped with a camera, 
razor blade and a hobby or blaster box to shred up, this hobby has 
changed. The enjoyment anymore seems to come only when the pack is 
fatter than the last one, with hopes of a Mantle or Ruth cut up and 
often the “gigantic” letdown when all that comes with the “hit” is a 
Jay Payton jersey card.

It made me think recently after watching a box break on a blog for 
2010 Topps football, and with Chris’ latest announcement about the 
hobby becoming “blah” to him, where did the fun go? What happened to 
opening a pack and enjoying the contents, not just sifting for the 
heavy pack because there might not be a letdown in it.

His 2004 Topps Opening Day reminded me of earlier this summer when I 
went back into my history bank with two separate boxes I purchased. A 
1987 Topps baseball rack pack box and a 1987 Topps football wax box. 
The baseball rack box was straight nostalgia. I immediately went into 
kid mode, as I could remember all the photos and knew who was on the 
card before I saw the name. I went back to church with my 
grandparents, with the number of the Clint Hurdle card (#317!) 
matching the page number of the Bible reading on the bulletin board 
that day. Obscure but true. The football box reminded me of my dad, 
when he used to go to the local Hooks Drugs and reward me for good 
behavior with a cello pack of 87 Topps football. Again, opening those 
packs this summer, I knew just about all of those 23-year-old cards 
before I gave them a once-over. Admittedly, my vintage football 
purchase was to get the Walter Payton box bottom for my collection, 
but the contents were still well-received.

So how did we get to this point? Many have their own theories, but my 
line of logic points to the instant everything in today’s society. I 
don’t have a card store within 50 miles of my house, so I usually go 
through the Bay or specific marketplace websites for my singles. 
Because everything is instant, if we don’t like it, we can resell it. 
And now that every pack has to have candy in it (ironically), if 
there isn’t a guaranteed something in the box, the purchase was a 
waste. I wondered watching the 2010 box break why companies bothered 
to make base cards anymore. It harkened back to the video Chris 
Harris from Stale Gum had from the 2010 National, with all those 
vultures at the show ripping Topps baseball product to get their 
minimum number of wrappers so they could rush into line for a 
Strasburg limited print – which immediately went on eBay.

My 87 Topps has inserts – the All-Star and 1000 Yard Club cards, but 
I could have cared less about those. I was interested to see if I 
could pull some of the HOF of the era – Rice, Marino, Payton in the 
football and Ripken, Sandberg, Bonds (say what you will – I needed 
him for my set!) and how many more Bo Jackson Future Stars cards I 
could add to the top loader box (last count – 17). Also whether I 
could point out Tom Foley, Garth Iorg and Bruce Hurst as quickly as I 
could Vai Sikahema, Jim Everett and Curt Warner – the other one.

Sometimes it isn’t about how much money you can get for a resale of a 
product. It’s about a memory. I’m not ignorant to the fact that in 
1989 we all wanted the Griffey Jr. Upper Deck because everyone else 
wanted the Griffey Jr. so we could get the cheaper Griffey Jrs. But 
what is missing from today, in my opinion, is meaning. Why throw down 
a portion of your paycheck, if you are lucky enough to have one, on 
product in hopes of finding a card so rare you probably won’t get it 
anyway? And if it was anything less, it was a waste of money? Find 
something you like, not necessarily something someone else likes. It 
may make your hobby experience more memorable than the last pack you 
scoffed at in the Wal-Mart aisle.


  1. Awesome, nice post! I find myself liking boxes from the 90’s-early 2000’s way more than anything more recent. I would love to pull some good trade bait from a 2009 high end product, but like you said, I most likely won’t get it. But for $20 I can get a great box from the ’90s loaded with near future HOFs and all the Mets I grew up watching.

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