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Meets the criteria

I don't spend much time thinking about what sets should be in my collection. But if I do think about it a little, there is definitely a theme to what I like and the sets in my collection reflect that. It comes down to three specifics really: 1. Are the players pictured in the set from when I was following baseball as a kid or a teenager? 2. Is it a kind of set that interests me? 3. Did Topps make the set? If all three of those boxes are checked, then the set needs to get in my belly ... er, collection.   Sometimes I dismiss sets for some reason or another and then I realize that they meet the criteria and it becomes a no-brainer: Get. That. Set!!   So it is with the 1987 Topps Traded set.   As you know, I consider everything '87 Topps overblown, overproduced and overplayed. It's ubiquitous. I'm tired of it, sick of it, every this is so BOOORRRING phrase that you want to use. However ... The 132-card set showcases a whole bunch of players that I followed when I was you
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Hold on to The Hammer

  I've told the first part of this story a few times, but not the second part.   I'm fairly certain that my first glimpse of Henry Aaron came when I opened the pack that I had shoplifted from the end cap of a local drug store when I was 9 years old.   It was 1975 and all I knew of television programming were cartoons and Oscar the Grouch. I wasn't watching baseball games yet and I certainly wasn't reading newspapers. But I knew the name Hank Aaron. Maybe my classmates mentioned him or maybe my third-grade teacher brought him up when he broke the home run record. That's the kind of impact he made at the time. So when I opened that pilfered pack as the guilt washed over me, I knew who Aaron was. I knew he was the best player in the pack. I knew he had broken the record. Whose record, I had no idea. But that Aaron, he is probably the first baseball player I ever knew. I pretended that I had found the pack of cards on the sidewalk a few houses down from where I lived. A

Modern card collecting and the pain scale

  I am a traditional collector in the modern world.   That causes all kinds of conflicts. I grew up during a time when you walked or biked to the store to buy wax packs and then used those cards to -- maybe one day -- build the set.   We almost never achieved that goal (well, the people I knew didn't anyway) because we didn't have the funds to accumulate 660 different cards in a 6-month span. But the objective each year always made sense to me. The goal was to accumulate as many players and cards that represented that year that you could.   I still think that way, even though set-collecting is even more daunting today than it was when my allowance was like a buck a week. Almost everyone agrees it's impossible today to complete a set the way I did in 1978. It certainly isn't cost-efficient. But I can't help the way I was built or dismiss what I was taught when I was first buying cards. The way the sets were presented 40 years ago, from packaging to appearance to size