Cardboard appreciation: 1982 Topps Traded Cal Ripken
(Hey! It's the first day of summer! I have a few summer-like posts on the horizon. Come to think of it, all of my posts are summer-like, seeing as they focus on baseball. I like that. Time for Cardboard Appreciation. This is the 70th in a series):
For less than a week, the Stephen Strasburg 2010 Bowman purple refractor was one of the most valuable cards in my collection.
It isn't any longer. I mailed it off this afternoon. I do admit that I did it with a hint of sadness. It was nice to have something that cool in my possession, even though I knew almost the whole way that I would give it up soon.
It's a different feeling for me because I don't have a lot of cards that would be considered extremely valuable. As a collector of modest means, I have a few "jewels," but nothing that is terribly difficult to acquire. All of my high-priced cards were obtained either through finding a deal somewhere or through sheer luck. I've never thrown a ton of money at a single card.
Strasburg is an example of that. So is the '82 Traded Cal Ripken card.
The Ripken card has consistently been my collection's most expensive card -- in terms of the dreaded book value -- almost since the day I acquired it. Back when Topps first issued its traded sets, you could not find them in stores. You had to send away for the entire set, which is what I did with the 1982 Traded set.
The Traded sets were extremely exciting back then. A novelty. Terrific fun. I was very disappointed in the fact that I didn't get to send away for the first one in 1981 -- I'm not sure why. I probably couldn't afford it.
When the '82 set became available, I immediately shipped off my 15 bucks, and the Traded set arrived in a tidy, dark blue box. Already, Ripken was one of the more coveted players in the set even though he hadn't yet put up the numbers that would lead him to the Hall of Fame.
That Ripken card has been carefully preserved all these years. Back at the height of my book value obsession, I would compile a list of my more valued cards (you should have seen the prices in 1992), and update them yearly. Ripken always sat on the top.
But now it's time for another card to join Ripken, or at least reside in the same ballpark.
The Strasburg card has brought me enough cash that I can actually think about some of the cards that I figured were unattainable in my current state.
There are several ways that I could go, but I'm thinking of finally landing one of the mega Dodger cards of the 1956 Topps set. That would be either Jackie Robinson or Sandy Koufax.
It's about bleeping time that I got a card of Robinson during his playing career. This might be the opportunity.
But I'm also weighing a several other options. Here they are:
1. Purchasing more than one Koufax card. That would mean picking up 2 or 3 from the 1960s.
2. Putting another dent in my 1971 Topps wants. Not a lot of cards to go. But even with the Strasburg cash, I couldn't fully complete the set.
3. Finishing off a few long-standing wants. In one, fell swoop, I could wrap up the 1976 Topps set, grab the 1992 Bowman Piazza, the 1981 Traded Valenzuela and a few others.
All of these sound tempting, particularly the Robinson option and the last option.
I've been known to take suggestions periodically, so what would you do? And, no, giving you the Ripken card is not an option.