The follow is an article by staff writer, Kosmo
I began collecting baseball cards when I was a kid. One of the first cards I remember having was a 1985 Gary Gaetti card that a friend gave to me. I have no idea what happened to this card – I assume I traded it at some point, since I’m not a Twins fan. Another early card I had was a 1985 Ryne Sandberg card. Sandberg is my all-time favorite player. My cousin gave me this card. It’s well worn, but it’s still prominently displayed in one of my albums. I could replace it with a better copy for a few bucks, but I’ve kept this one to remember that it was a gift.
I fondly remember collecting the 1993 Topps set. There were “black gold” special cards that year. I kept pulling cards that could be redeemed for sets of 11, 22, or 44 of the special cards. I didn’t really care for them, and traded them (at book value) to my friend Justin for unopened packs of cards. Many times those packs contained winners, which I would again trade to Justin. I ended up putting together two complete sets of the 1993 Topps set for a total investment of about $5. My godson (and nephew) was born in 1993, so I gave one set to his parents to give to him when he was older.
The inevitable market crash came – due in large part to the companies printing cards like they were the Weimar-era German mint. The market became flooded to the point where supply exceeded demand, and the cards of this era became just pieces of cardboard with pictures of players. Editor’s Note: The Economist has a great article on the baseball card bubble.
I still collect today, but in a different way than I did 25 years ago. I don’t try to put together complete sets. I pick up a few cards for the current players I like, and I buy occasional cards from decades past. I don’t buy too often, but when I do, it’s far more likely like I’ll buy a card from pre-1950 than from the current day.
Over the years, I’ve had a couple of people give me their entire collections. At some point, many people outgrow the hobby and simply need to storage space. Luckily, I’ve always been able to find the space.
In the cache of cards I got from a friend, I discovered that I had a complete Topps set from 1976. In the condition it’s in, it’s probably worth a couple hundred bucks.
Instead of selling the set, I decided to go a different route – I decided to give it away. I decided to give away a team set to a fan of each team. There were 24 baseball teams at the time (currently, there are 30). I switched allegiances from the Cubs to the Rockies in 1993, so I actually don’t have a team represented in the set. I’m going to keep the Cardinals set for my seven year old, and gave the Cubs set to the 10 year old across the street. The other 22 went (and are still going) to people I’ve gotten to know over the internet. Some of these are people I’ve interacted with for a decade or more and some I’ve only become acquainted with more recently. I’m going to cripple the Brewers set by taking the Hank Aaron card – because I don’t have any Aaron cards, and I want one – but all the other sets will be complete.
My out of pocket cost for this venture is about $3.60 per team. The boxes cost about 85 cents (including the shipping costs) in bulk, and it costs $2.76 for postage.
- The Red Sox cards went to a personal finance blogger who walks dogs to make a few bucks and is a big fan of the New England Patriots. Editor’s Note: That guy sounds like a jerk ;-). What’s especially cool is that I was born in 1976..
- The Expos set went to a prominent sports writer who is perhaps the best known Expos fan in the world. Those of you who are baseball fans may know who I’m talking about.
- The Reds set – absolutely loaded with stars from the Big Red Machine of the 1970s – went to a pastor in Indiana.
- A college baseball coach in New Jersey got the Oakland A’s set. His dad happened to be in town to help with a household move, and they spent some time reminiscing about guys like Vida Blue and Rollie Fingers.
- A guy who advises congress on matters related to pensions was the recipient of the Phillies set. Although I never asked for anything in return, he sent me a hat for a local minor league team.
There are plenty more stories about where the cards went, but the key point is that they went somewhere where they were appreciated, instead of cluttering up my storage room. Sure, I could have cashed in and made a few bucks, but I was able to send gifts to a couple dozen people instead, at a fairly low out of pocket cost.
You might ask why I’m going this? Not only am I giving up the ability to sell the set, but I’m spending money to give it away. Well, I am getting something out of it. I’m getting some entertainment value out of the process. I enjoy seeing people receive their small gift and gush about how cool the cards of their favorite players are.
And you, reader, are also a part of this story. The Great Baseball Card Giveaway eventually turned into this article. I get paid by Lazy Man, who in turn gets paid whenever you use his links to buy things. So, in a way, you are helping to fund my giveaway. A couple dozen complete strangers thank you.
What Kosmo doesn’t know is that more than 5 years ago, when I lived in California, I found a small collection of around 100 cards for sale at a flea market. It was mostly hockey and football players who weren’t as heavily printed and collected as baseball cards. I probably would have skipped it, but I saw one particular card (pictured in this article) that I thought a friend would like. Like many things in my life, I put it aside and forgot about it. Maybe, he’ll get a surprise back in the mail.