Thursday, March 2, 2017

1978: The Final Two

It was 1978 and a ten year old Shawn was enjoying the summer of playing baseball and hanging around the neighborhood.
Fifth grade was looming at Fountain Rock Elementary,which might be the best year that a person can have at school-which is being the oldest kids at school,yet young enough to still be able to relax,have fun and enjoy still being a kid,

However,I had a problem.
And to me,it was a huge one-I was close to finishing my first ever Topps baseball card set.
Now,one wouldn't think that would be an issue,but it was one for one reason,but first some background.
From the beginning of Topps starting to make baseball cards in 1952,Topps would release their set in a few different series,which enabled them to add players that were traded,late rookie arrivals and stars to make them still worth buying.
This helped stretch Topps's product to last the entire summer and kids always needed more cards.
The problem with that was that by the last series,kids were going back to school,the baseball season was winding down and football season was starting,which meant demand was less and fewer stores ordered them,which resulted in all those sets having the now dreaded high numbers,where even common players aren't inexpensive in those sets.

In 1974,Topps changed policy and released their entire set all at once,figuring that with a huge set all at once,kids would need more time to complete the set and it wouldn't hurt sales.
That part was true,but in my case,something unforeseen occurred-My dad knew I was down to two cards and decided to quit buying cards for me!
The logic was sound as the set had 726 cards in it,so my chances of gaining one of the two cards that I needed were a cool 363 to 1 per pack.
In 1978 dollars,the packs were either 20 cents (or 25,I cannot remember) and dad felt he was tossing money away along with accumulating extra cards against those odds.

It wasn't like I needed big money stars out of the set-I had all the stars of the day,but needed two outfielders-Sixto Lezcano of the Milwaukee Brewers and Jerry Turner of the San Diego Padres.
Lezcano was thought as a coming star and he was coming off his best year to date with 21 homers in 1977.
Still,it was a common card because Lezcano's rookie card was the year before.
Turner ,on the other hand, was the epitome of journeyman outfielder having hit .246 with a career high of 10 homers in 1977.
Those cards being commons meant little because this was the day before card shops and card shows,so I was limited to the one or two people that I could trade with and if they didn't have them,it wasn't looking good for the finished set.
There was still hope though,the one person in the neighborhood that had more cards than me (By a huge margin) likely had Lezcano and Turner,so I cut my way through my grandmother's yard to reach his house.
I mentioned the numerous games of basketball that I played against Chris Mullin in my post a few years ago on the Kentucky Colonels and when it came to cards,everything in the neighborhood ran through him.

I had one thing going for me-a decent stash of 1960's stars that had been given to me by my grandmother's nephew and those helped me get some good stuff in return at times.
The object of Chris Mullin's desire on this day? My 1962 Brooks Robinson and Chris was willing to part with Lezcano and Turner for Brooksie!
Even at 10,I knew that was a bad deal,but I felt cornered in,so I did what most kids did-ran home and asked Dad for his advice.
His advice? "Do it,in the long run,the set will be worth more".
SO I did and was then laughed at by Chris,who did pull a fast one for himself,but I still was thrilled to have finished the set.

Let's look back 39 years later at Beckett and see if Dad was right.
Keep in mind the set was not mint and neither was the 1962 Robinson,but for the purpose of this,we'll assume that they are.

Doug Hopkins sent these with the warning they are rough averages from different sources.
1978 Set:100.00
1978 Jerry Turner and Sixto Lezcano combined .70
1962 Brooks Robinson ranging from 12.50-20.00

All things considered,Dad was right,but the story has a sad ending.
Dad got into baseball cards and my collection was communed with his and when he sold his stuff years later,my 1978 set went along with it.
The funny part is that I never forgot Sixto Lezcano or Jerry Turner along with the story and when I bought Strat O Matic for the PC and those two players appeared,I made sure to use the pictured cards from 1978....

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