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the daily banana

By My Calculations 16 Years Ago, I Should Have Been Retired By Now


Bankrupt On Selling

Between the years of 1984 and 1992-ish, I was a player in the commodities market. Big money, dollar dollar bill y'all. Yes, baseball cards, you know about the only thing someone without a real income could invest in. Yes, invest in. Beckett Baseball Card Monthly was my bible. Every issue instilled a firm belief that someday all those hours of sorting cards into sets, placing them into protective sleeves and PVC-free plastic binder pages would pay off. Reading Requiem for a Rookie Card, pretty much all of my fears are confirmed. I've got about 100,000 Brooklyn Bridges to sell these days, rather than bars of gold.

Back in the early Nineties the baseball card companies thought that the saying more is better was ever so true, but it was not. The market was flooded with so many different brands, special sets, and rare or elite cards that is was simply overwhelming. I also had a gut feeling that anything from the current year was hardly rare or scare with everyone placing these special cards into protective cases (no bicycle spokes here). However, the card market inflated the prices of everything. In theory I could have cashed in $20,000 worth of cards before I even graduated high school. Well, that was in theory, because nobody would truly pay the prices listed in price guides for everything I owned. The smart move seemed to be, stash them away and take a look sometime in the future. [In hindsight maybe I would have been better off selling everything and buying jugs of gasoline.]

Basically I lost interest in the hobby in 1993. I remember in the Spring of 1994, my dad and I were taking a trip down to Arizona for Spring Training, which was one of the Mecca’s for collecting autographs. Since I hadn't been adamantly buying cards of the last few seasons I needed to pick up some cards of players who weren't on anyone’s baseball cards a few years earlier. I went to Pegasus Books in downtown Bend. This was a shop I used to visit on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis. Instead of being greeted by the owner with a 'hey, nice to see you again' greeting, it was more like 'where the hell are buying your cards from now?!!?'. Wow, so much for the good ol' days. Can't imagine why I didn't want to get back into the wonderful hobby. Maybe I wasn't the only one seeing it all fall apart. After the trip I put my stuff away and didn't touch it for another four years.

There was a point where it looked like things were working out. In 1998, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, helped bring back fans to the game. Well, baseball had been pretty flat to most fans and something was needed to push the sport back into the casual fans mind. Offense is always sexier than defense, and in baseball the homerun hitter is more interesting than the pitcher with the low ERA. In 1998, things got interesting. Roger Maris' record of 61 homeruns in 1961, had appeared to be a tough number to beat. By the All-Star break McGwire had 37 homeruns. Of course every year someone would be close to 30 homeruns by the half-way point and usually fizzle down the stretch. Well, the point is, he didn't fizzle and neither did Sammy Sosa, and as they smashed the record to pieces, people began to get interested in baseball cards again.

Of course this time around, the playing field was a little different. Back in the day, the term Mint Condition was a little trivial. People would glance at a card and generally if it had no visible defects it was 'mint'. These days you have to send your cards into companies to have them professionally graded (on a scale from 1 to 10, 10 being as good as it gets). By the end of 1998 people were flocking to get Mark McGwire's 1985 rookie card. Some of the cards rated with a 10 were selling on eBay for thousands of dollars. One of those cards sold on eBay last week for $20.

So what happened this time? Well, the strike in 1994 did damage the first time around, and this time suspicions, accusations, and scandals over steroid abuse basically pushed a lot of people into being disgusted with the whole situation. When Jose Canseco came out and admitted he used steroids and claimed many others did to, I know for a fact his baseball cards went even lower in value. Argh... At one point I had his 1986 Donruss rookie card when it skyrocketed to over $100 when he became the first player to hit 40 homers and steal 40 bases in a single season. Now, it's probably worth about $1, if that. About a year ago someone gave my wife some 'junk' they didn't want. In the box were a few unopened packs of baseball cards. They were 1989 UpperDeck packs. These used to be considered the prime jewels of baseball cards back in 1989-1993 or so. I opened them with hopes of scoring a Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card, but no luck. I probably had more fun opening the packs, something I hadn't done in quite some time, then seeing all of the junk cards I now had added to my already bloated collection.

So here I sit today. Jose Canseco's rookie card isn't going to buy me a trip to Europe. Neither is Will Clark, Bo Jackson, Glenn Davis, Mike Greenwell or Bobby Bonilla. Who? Well, you get my point. Maybe I should wallpaper a room with the worthless ones. Of course I won't, because someday, maybe someday they might be worth something. Yeah right. Maybe I'll be able to buy a pack of gum that at least tastes good.

Posted by monkeyinabox ::: |


Karl said:

Describing himself as "a big teddy bear," former baseball star Jose Canseco denied hitting anyone in a 2001 bar fight.

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