Sunday, March 14, 2010

The most valuable card I ever ruined

I'm fairly sure I have mentioned this before, but I'll mention it again, and get into the messy details, too.

I once obliterated a 1979 Topps Ozzie Smith rookie card.

The recent post at Things Done To Cards reminded me of that fateful day when I applied glue and acetate to the back and front of dear ol' Ozzie.

Back in my early collecting days, we didn't have a lot of money to spend on cards, so we didn't accumulate very many. Doubles were few and far between.

But by 1978 and 1979, I'd earn money for odd jobs and I had enough cash to walk to the corner store or drug store just about every Saturday. Eventually, I collected a whole mess of doubles. By 1980, the first year I made a concerted effort to collect the entire set, my dupes filled a box or two.

I didn't know what to do with them. I had a few trading partners, but not a lot. I mean who wants a 1978 Larry Haney card? But I wanted to create a purpose for them besides just sitting in a box.

Baseball card binders were just beginning to become a popular way to store and display cards. You could order them in catalogs. I didn't have much money to buy fancy, stylized binders with the words "baseball cards" embossed on the front. But I did have an old loose-leaf binder that I had used in school. It was one of those 1970s denim-looking things, complete with the rusted metallic rings that held the loose-leaf paper together.

I decided it would be an ingenious idea to turn my binder into an official Baseball Card Binder by applying a bunch of doubles to it. So, that's what I did. I took a stack of dupes from 1978, 79 and 80 and affixed them in rows to the front and back of the binder.

I specifically remember wanting to apply only the most notable players to the binder. I can't remember all of the cards that I glued to it, but I do remember a 1980 Mike Schmidt and a 1979 Buddy Bell.

And I remember placing glue on the back of Ozzie Smith's rookie card and sticking it onto the front of the binder. Oh, and I glued cards onto both inside covers of the binder, too. Then I cut up up some other doubles, so I could put the names of teams on the spine.

For the grand finish, I placed clear acetate paper over the front, back and insides of the binder to "protect" the cards from the elements.

Viola! I had my Baseball Card Binder. I was very proud of my handiwork.

To be fair, Ozzie Smith wasn't a huge name when he began his career. It wasn't until he arrived with the Cardinals and they started to win pennants that he became the true Wizard of Oz.

That was also the same time that I began to regret gluing those cards, especially the Ozzie, to the binder. I was relieved that I had another unglued Ozzie safely in a 9-pocket sheet. But I wanted to free the other one.

I thought I might be able to save at least part of the Ozzie double. I knew the back was a goner, but maybe I could save the front? Unfortunately, I was unwise to the ways of acetate paper. As I carefully tried to free Ozzie, the paper tore off the front of Ozzie's card and the card back was a mess.

Disgusted, I threw the binder in the garbage.

I wish I had the binder now, to show everyone what we did with cards before price guides and card grading became common knowledge.

It would be a source of pride for me now once again. Like it was when I first made it.

But only because I know I have another rookie Ozzie sitting in a top loader.


  1. meh. a ruined ozzie rc... who cares? you had fun! that's awesome! I truly understand the pride you felt too... many a hockey card was used for similar pursuits back in the day.

  2. I did something similar in 1980, but I stapled cards to the wall. Just about every all-star and future HOFer ended up on the bedroom wall. I also did the same thing to the 5x7 cards in '80 and '81. I had a cool-looking bedroom wall for a while. The cards I stapled were all doubles--no harm, no foul. :)

  3. I'm really old school. I put a 1960 Mickey Mantle A/S card in my bicycle spokes. You know, the bright orange one ? It sure did look good flappin' back'n forth!

  4. Is there any chance your other Ozzie RC is centered? If you've got a nice centered copy I'd be willing to talk, if you're willing to part with it for a price!

    Pipe dreams, yes, but I once did own a PERFECTLY centered Ozzie RC before it was stolen. It was a little fuzzy around the edges but centered perfectly. Someday...

  5. I should mention -- Ozzie was like, THE player who got me into baseball. Before all that Joakim Soria stuff :)

  6. Ah. Sad.

    And that binder would be so cool to see. Maybe you should recreate it using the remaining cards! I say go for it. Heh.

  7. I used to have '87 Topps cards taped to my bedroom door. Then I added some '88 Topps football to the mix as well.

  8. Dave: the "other" Ozzie is the one scanned for the post. You can see it's not exactly well-centered.

  9. I haven't had the heart to tell my Ozzie Smith RC story yet. Here's a hint: if I ever do tell it, there won't be an image.