Thursday, July 4, 2013

Start it up!

I've really enjoyed reading people's blogs, my main inspiration comes from Sports Cards Uncensored. This blog by Adam Gellman has it all. Honest reviews, great journalism and a true love of the hobby. You can find his blog here: His site started up in 2008 and was in response to some of the shady practices that happen on Ebay and one of the largest hobby magazines, Beckett.

I'm a 39 year old guy that collect's cards. I've always enjoyed sports but what makes me a collector is the sometimes insane personality you have to have to be interested in holding on to and categorizing little 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" pieces of cardboard. I collected for a while when I was 14-16 years old. My brother Adam Lorenz and I used to love going down to the local 7/11 in smallville Santee, CA and getting packs of 1987 topps baseball cards. I think they were around 50 cents a pack so we couldn't get many. I don't think we had many trips either because one or both of us were always in trouble at home; a sort of house arrest was our reality for many summer days. I think the fate of my baseball cards was the same as most kids; the cards ended up in the garbage. That being said, what with the junk wax production levels of the late 80's and early 90's I think my mom only threw out 3.00 worth of cards in today's market. I never even finished the gargantuan but beautiful 1987 Topps wood bordered baseball set. I bought the whole set at a local card shop years later for 6.00. This set featured no true rookies but some great cards like Mark Mcgwire featured in his A's uniform years before the home run derby between he and Sammy Sosa that temporarily catapulted his popularity as well as the Bo Jackson which holds interest for football and baseball collectors alike.

Years later I got into collecting again. The mid 90's was an exciting time for collectors as autographed and game jersey cards started to be produced by Press Pass and Upper Deck. Box prices soared and it became a hobby that was really geared for young adults. I became fascinated with the Upper Deck Footbal Spx brand in 1999. This was truly one of the first high end sets that had on card rookie autographs. I ended up paying too much for the set that I built from scratch because the rookie autograph card values did not keep up with their initial demand. Cards like the Akili Smith and Cade Mcnown were commanding over 150.00 apiece at the time I got them. Years later? You could probably pick up both for 30.00. The cardinal rule for sports card collecting is to wait. Wait until the player establishes themselves. So many rookies have "hype" and are sold for unreal levels before they've ever even played a game. For every Peyton Manning there is a Ryan Leaf and for every Tom Brady there's a Tim Rattay. If you really want to grow your collection and have something valuable in the long run it's better to collect hall of famers and players with extensive resumes. Ebay sales are dominated by pork belly future traders looking to make a quick buck off of a player with a good game or two. I'll admit, I've been able to cash in on these trends myself and it's always sweet when you do get lucky. Since I'm primarily a set collector I get all the bad players that you have to buy to complete a set along with the 1 or two future hall of famers that the set might contain. The key is to wait until the hype dies down. I did end up spending alot of money on that built from scratch 1999 spx football set but as I went along I got smarter. Some of the big names I did not end up overspending on were the Ricky Williams, Duante Culpepper and the last card to finish it all, the Tim Couch. Couch's rookies were going for over 300.00 in their heyday. I managed to get mine, 7 years later for around 25.00. I think even that price is too much considering his "bust" status but I understand the price considering it was short printed to 500 copies and it was a popular set for a long time.

I've collected a few sets from Upper Deck Spx, I now have the 1999, 2000 and 2008 complete sets. All of these typically have around 28 to 30 autographed rookie cards. When Upper Deck lost their NFL license in 2010 I became less enthusiastic about the brand. I enjoy seeing rookie cards with the player in their team uniform. I must say it's interesting to see Dan Marino in his early 80's Pitt uniform or Joe Namath as a Razorback. The cards they make are the best collegiate cards that have ever been made in the history of cards. I still love them. I have decided it's a good thing to branch out from doing set collections for one brand. It takes me years to complete a set because I don't like to spend too much money doing it. I try to purchase lots, resell some stuff and basically wheel and deal until I have all the cards I need.

The new challenge I've come up with is to collect ALL football cards. Obviously this is an impossible goal with card companies cranking out thousands of new football cards seemingly every week of the year. Collecting at random will put me in contact with new sellers, new forums and new ways of thinking about this hobby. Heck, I've already started a blog about it which is something new in my 20 + years of collecting!

The way I'll do this is to search football cards on Ebay for items ending soonest. The item that comes up at the top of the list is the card I'll find a way to get. Will I press the button to buy it right away? Hell no! We all know that Ebay sellers sometimes ask WAY too much money for their cards. I'll save the card in my list and find out what the true market value of it is. I won't trust Beckett; this company is way out of touch as Adam G. tells his readers.I'll check the past sales on Ebay and try to find one for the best price that I can.

First card on the list, oddly enough was a 2013 Spx Manti T'eo autographed rookie card. I know I had to overpay here because here's a rookie with some odd character issues (this is the linebacker from Notre Dame with the strange case of the invisible girlfriend, google search if you want to know more). He seems extremely talented and is one of the top rookies in this years proclaimed "weak" draft class. He slipped down to the second round and went to San Diego. I think this is a good place for him although it's likely that San Diego is going to get worse before they get better. I got this for a good price and it got to my mailbox a scant three days after I won it. I got the card for about a third of the price that a box of Spx would cost and while you get some base cards and 3 other "hits" I don't think that box prices these days are ever really worth the gamble. Even if I got this card out of a box I'd probably end up with 2 cards that would sell for 3 dollars each and a 99 cent jersey card. Better to just let other gamblers crack the wax and I'll buy singles on Ebay. What will this card be worth in 10 years? If I had to guess it will be a 5 dollar card. There's always the outside very small chance he'll be one of the all time greats like Ray Lewis, Singletary or Urlacher. In that case the card might double or triple in value. As you can see, from a collector's standpoint it does not make sense to buy the card now. With this challenge I will be buying some cards too soon. Along with that I'll be buying some cards that have absolutely bottomed out and will only gain value. Vintage cards fall into that category because they aren't part of the speculator's gambit. Football does not have as rich of a history as some of the other sports but there are some really great vintage cards. Walter Payton, Johnny Unitas and Joe Namath have valuable rookies that most collectors are familiar with. My hope is to come in contact with some of these great cards as well as some of the duds that are the butt of sports jokes. With this method I think I'll see both types. The good, the bad, the spectacular and the ridiculous.

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