Here is what has happened over the past three months…
A Brief Vacation
I traveled with the kids to Washington DC for Spring Break. The trip included a Washington Capitals hockey game, a first for all of us. The Caps won 4-3 against the eventual Eastern Conference champion Tampa Bay Lightning. Alex Ovechkin recorded his 1,400th career point while we ate tons of popcorn and had a great time.
Chantilly Card Show
I returned to the DC area last weekend for the area’s largest card show. This was the first time I have attended a show of this size. The “museum factor” was definitely higher than the local show I attended in February. On display were at least a half dozen 1952 Topps Mickey Mantles, an unopened low series pack from the same set, assorted Babe Ruth Goudey cards, and even a T-206 Eddie Plank.
I found common bins to be generally well stocked with most at reasonable prices. Vintage singles on display were usually another matter. Many tables had older cards in VG or lower grade priced as if they were EX-MT or better. While this seemed to be the case with many sellers, there were a few outliers. A guy with a stack of poor condition 1950s Yogi Berra cards looked ready to do some good business with a $10 sticker on each one.
I only attended the first day of the show, entering during the Sneak Peek hours and leaving a little after general admission opened. A steady stream of Pelican cases were offered to dealers, but almost all seemed to be modern cards that were being turned down. There was a dealer set up along the back wall who seemed to only want to trade cards. We didn’t work anything out, but he was easily the happiest person in the room and talking with him was a highlight of the visit.
I asked around about the availability of 1993 Finest. Four dealers (out of 300 tables) had base cards from the set at $10-$20 each. Two additional tables had refractors. The first had a Paul O’Neill, a card already taken off my want list. The second had PSA 9 graded examples of Bo Jackson and Don Mattingly but was pricing the pair well beyond what my pricing records show they usually sell for. One seller didn’t have any on hand, but told me of how he broke up a fully graded set several years ago. Another said he puts the cards he comes across into his personal collection and doesn’t sell them.
While I didn’t acquire any new refractors, I didn’t walk away empty handed. Eight new 1952 Topps cards were selected from obliging discount bins. These included a Robin Roberts card and a handful of minor stars like Mickey Vernon and Johnny Sain. I also picked up a piece of the junkiest junk wax ever made – a sealed wax box of Donruss 1991 Series 1.
Other New Additions
In addition to the Chantilly pick-ups, I made further progress on the in-progress 1952 Topps and 1993 Finest sets. Three common refractors joined to collection at a rate of one per month, bringing set completion up to 74%. One of the upper tier 1993 Refractor sets appears to be in the process of being broken up with lots of gem mint 10s on the move. The cards are too nice for my wallet, but it is interesting to see them in motion. Hopefully the buyers look to unload some NM-MT examples as a result of their new purchases.
12 additional cards joined my lowball 1952 set, including Pete Reiser and a pair of high-numbers. Set completion improves to 39% with these additions. Aside from keeping an opportunistic eye out for nearly destroyed high numbers, I’ll probably save some cash and wait for a chance next year to move above the 50% mark with the help of some obliging common boxes at card shows.
Graded Cards Finally Returned
PSA appears to have largely caught up with the backlog of cards submitted over the past few years. Both of my outstanding orders were returned in good order during April. I am particularly pleased with my hand-collected set of 2001 Origins Refractors, a half dozen of which tied for highest-known grades. Looking at the population report, it looks like I accounted for half of ’01 Origins graded during the past year.
My reading list was almost entirely devoid of sports, though it will not stay that way. I read Jared Diamond’s Swing Kings, an account of how freelance hitting coaches have changed hitting orthodoxy to great effect in recent years. Aaron Judge is a product of this new school of thought and his pace for 60+ homeruns this season could bring additional attention to developments in this area. Christopher Klein’s Strong Boy, a biography of 19th century boxing great John Sullivan, was another reading target in recent months.
I have found myself wanting to really do a deep dive into baseball card hobby literature as part of my studies. With this in mind I acquired most of the ’80s/’90s Beckett Baseball Card Monthly magazines and have plans to augment the grouping with additional titles.