Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Rack Pack and the Quest For Calvin Edward . . .

. . . Ripken Jr that is. I have been waxing nostalgic lately. Ha ha ha, I crack myself up. You see, I've been in a tad bit of a hobby rut when it comes to baseball cards. Topps proving me right, for the most part, with their exclusive licensing trifecta of mediocrity I believe is mostly to blame. I think this year has been a classic case of how exclusive licensing is bad for The Hobby, period.

That said, I have been craving, I don't know, not a return to simpler times per say, but a means of recapturing that feeling. You know the one? Not the one that comes from a "killer" hit, but the one that comes with the elation of finding an elusive card to complete a set, or the discovery of a previously unknown (to you), obscure insert for your player collection, or the feeling of finding your favorite player when you were a kid and first discovered the addiction of cardboard.

So I started thinking about the products that would potentially be able to recapture that seemingly long lost magic. The chosen product had to meet two specific pieces of criteria. The first, obviously was to be affordable or rather very affordable. So while I would love to crack a pack or box of 1969 Topps, that just isn't realistic. The second, the product has to contain a rookie from a player or team I collect.

After some research I settled on a rack pack of 1982 Donruss I found at Dave and Adams for $8.95 with the obvious intent of finding card number 405 Calvin Edward Ripken Jr. My man, Cal Ripken Jr.

Damn it!!!!!!! I am so pissed!! I just went to grab the link to the video from the live break I did on Ustream only to discover that while the video was broadcast live, it failed to record. Crap, damn it, bon of snitch!!!! A moment in collecting time lost forever.

Oh well, what can you do. Anyway, going through the first 2 packs brought back some great memories. One of which was seeing those "they are so ugly they're beautiful" Houston Astros rainbow striped jerseys. Fielding a veteran pitching staff anchored by Nolan Ryan and Don Sutton I got to see a lot of them living in Chicago and playing my hometown Cubs.

The next memory was conjured up by this card of Bill Russell, SS for the Los Angeles Dodgers who in 1981, the previous year, finally got over the hump and beat the Yankees 4 games to 2. As a kid the Dodgers were my 3rd favorite team because my Grandma, of all people, really taught me how to watch baseball and was a Dodger's fan. Although I think it had more to do with the fact that she REALLY hated the Yankees. Anyway I still remember as clear as day the starting line-up of Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, Bill Russell, Ron Cey, Pedro Guerrero, Kenny Landreaux, Dusty Baker and Steve Yeager. A pitching staff that included Jerry Ruess, Fernando Valenzuela, Burt Hooten and Steve Howe. In addition, a key player coming off the bench at the time was a young Mike Scioscia. All these years later and I still remember that dugout, in a blink without even thinking.

I had to laugh when I pulled this card of Dave Kingman, a Diamond King no less. King Kong. His home runs onto Waveland Avenue at Wrigley Field where epic. So were his propensity to do either that or strike out.
Opening the 3rd pack, there it was the unmistakable bottom card of Calvin Edward Ripken. Nothing more than an acne plagued young adult with a dream and a desire to play the game the only way he knew how, The Ripken Way. I was ecstatic. I'd done it. Chasing a rookie, albeit one I already own but that wasn't the point, I found it, the Iron Man himself.

My additional (albeit distant second) goal of this exercise was to take that Ripken (if discovered) have it graded and "flip" it. Why? To recreate an experiment first made famous, at least archival, by Bob Brill and The Brill Report with his $10,000 project. I thought it would be cool to take the money invested in the pack and grading, sell it and buy something else to "flip" and so on and so one. Now, Bob had the advantage of owning a shop and having items walk in off the street that he could low ball people on who needed the money but in the age of eBay I bet I could replicate the exercise on a smaller scale.

Unfortunately, upon closer examination, I discovered this:

Yep. The unmistakable presence of a fricken corner ding, and a good one too. Looking at the cards in the rest of the pack, they were all dinged too. The rack pack had obviously been dropped at one point in time.

My emotions went from ecstatic to bummed. But that's when I remembered the real reason for this exercise. It was to recapture that lost feeling. NOT cash in BIG TIME!! So I settled down and with my primary mission accomplished, I'm happy. Thanks Cal.


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