Like a lot of collectors in the 1980s, I subscribed to Baseball Cards magazine. I was on board from practically the first issue in the early 1980s. But I had stopped getting it by 1985. During the late '80s, I'd pick it up here and there, but I never kept them.
However, I did keep the ones that came to my home between 1982-85. For years, they were stored in a box in the attic. But since this blog started, I've pulled them out and read them occasionally. They're fascinating.
They're not fascinating strictly in a nostalgic sense. They're interesting both because of the informative articles therein and in how much the magazine differed from its unholy successor, Beckett magazine. The only time I ever look at Beckett is when I'm in one of those chain bookstores and I'm desperate for something to pass the time. I'll open it up, read a few pages and practically drop it in horror over what the hobby has become -- or what is worth emphasizing in that magazine anyway.
Baseball Cards magazine seemed to present the hobby with much more fondness and care. It was much like reading the blogs today, but with less venting.
One of the perks of reading 25-year-old magazines is how much smarter you seem. For many, the past is an opportunity to boost their ego, and there is no better ego-booster than reading the Collectors Q&A column in Baseball Cards magazine between 1982-85. Wow, were we idiots.
During the early '80s, the big new fad in card collecting was error cards. When I was a kid, errors on cards came up periodically. You sort of smiled about it and moved on. But when Fleer and Donruss came onto the scene in 1981, they issued sets infiltrated with errors. They were so apparent and on every third card.
Collecting error cards became a huge deal. I couldn't help but get excited about spotting an error, and I remember pining for a 1982 Fleer Al Hrabosky card (the one with his name spelled "All"). But I never went so far as to hoard error cards. Collecting mistakes wasn't my thing. It seemed a little mean.
However, it's not too mean to pick out people's old letters from the Collectors Q&A section and make fun of them! So let's do it!
I figured I'd do this for all the magazines I have. This particular issue is for April 1984. On the front, you see the Orioles Reggie Jackson that never made it into collectors' hands, and that very nice Bowman Pee Wee Reese.
Here are some of the questions we were asking in 1984:
The Collectors Q&A column was filled with these kinds of questions. And as the years went on, there seemed to be more and more of them. Collectors were treating their hobby like the lottery. Any card could be their golden ticket. You could just sense the letter-writer preparing to shout "Mojo!"
I was aware of this error when I pulled the Caldwell card in 1980. That was about a year before people started flipping out over errors, so it was worth nothing more than a chuckle.
You can see the error on the last line of stats.
This question was interesting to me because I wasn't aware of this -- or perhaps I was aware and had forgotten about it. I am impressed that the letter writer doesn't say "is this an error?" or "is this a rare card?"
There is the Lonnie card and his 1980 stats, which are apparently Reggie Smith's.
And if you click on the image of Reggie Smith's card back, you can see that the 1980 stats are indeed the same on both the Lonnie and Reggie cards. MOJO!!!!!
Here is a question that applies today, although they had no idea back then how bad this would get:
Heh. Funny, I have a couple of 2010 Topps Chrome cards sitting under seven full baseball card binders at this very moment.
One more question, just because I found it confusing. This is a 1965 Topps card of Jim Kaat, misspelled as Katt. Topps didn't correct the error.
No, that's wrong. You bought a Topps card of Jim KAAT that was misspelled as KATT.
Let's rely on the answer to clear up the confusion:
Uh. Well, the answer is correct, technically. But the error wasn't that his name was spelled "Kaat" because that's how his name is spelled!
And that's a trip back into early 1980s collecting.
Don't you all feel superior now?
Kind of like this?
More of these to come.