Tuesday, November 22, 2011

When paper cuts were much more common

Let's wash away the ugliness of earlier today with a dip into the cleansing pool of nostalgia.

This is my favorite edition of Baseball Cards Magazine from the period in which I had a subscription, between 1982-85.

It's my favorite for obvious reasons: there are instructions inside on how to start a Jackie Robinson collection and there is opportunity to win your very own Steve Sax jersey.

Sign me up for both, please!

Unfortunately, I didn't start a Jackie Robinson collection until many, many years later. And I never won the Steve Sax jersey, although I did enter, as you'll see in a moment.

But let's see what else is inside the June 1984 issue, shall we?

Awesome. The new product reviews. This is where BCM would introduce us to what was out for the year. I'm not sure when this issue came to my mailbox. April, maybe? The cards for the year were already in drug stores and super markets, so most of the card sets listed here were not new to me. But it was still nice to read about what "the experts" thought about the cards. By this time, I was old enough that there weren't very many collectors around anymore. All the kids had grown up. It felt good to see some enthusiasm for cards somewhere. Kind of like now.

It's interesting to read now that collectors liked the Donruss and Fleer sets from '84, and how dealers were upset at Donruss because it made two cards in the set (the Living Legends cards) unavailable to them. The cards were retail-only issues. Fleer was complimented for its quirky photography, although this is the first place I learned that Glenn Hubbard was upset because Fleer photographed him with a boa constrictor. (I didn't understand why that would be upsetting. I still kind of don't).

Topps was slammed for repeating the '83 design on its '84 set. Also, BCM noted how many more rookies were available in Donruss over Topps.

Hey! Collector Q&A! One of my favorite parts of the magazine.

For the most part, this edition of Collector Q&A is informative. Lots of questions that I might've asked. It doesn't quite disintegrate into a "is this worth anything?" free-for-all that I saw in other issues.

The collecting fear around this time was that the sheets that were used to store cards, polyvinyl chloride sheets, would eventually fade and ruin your cards. It was such a big deal that my MOTHER even was concerned about it. I don't know where she picked up on this, but she wanted to make sure I was storing my cards in the right place with the right sheets.

The new sheets were made from polyethlyene plastic, and I ordered a few. I didn't really like them. The early versions of these weren't as clear as the previous sheets and made my cards appear as if I was viewing them through a fog. I think I still have some of them around. I can't believe I put any cards in them.

I am pretty certain that I wanted to subscribe to this in the worst way. Never did though. Wonder how long it lasted?

One of the many advertisements hawking collecting wares in this issue. But something in particular caught my eye:

A-HA!!!! There WERE sheets for '75 minis!!!!!!!

I will have to do some investigating when I get a chance.

This was a regular feature for BCM. I don't know who Irwin Cohen is/was, but he always got the snazzy assignment of interviewing baseball stars for the magazine. It would kill me when Cohen would ask someone like Yount, "do you know what your rookie card sells for today?" and Yount would say, "I have no idea."


My reaction was so strong because Yount was basically confirming that all baseball cards are essentially worthless. Not something you want to read in the pages of a baseball card magazine.

I've shown this photo before. Yount here is knocking down the grading on his rookie card a notch or two. I was probably curling up in a fetal position when I first saw this.

I'm over it now.

Here is where the real fun begins. A whole article about collecting Robinson memorabilia with all kinds of pictures!!!!

Even then I wasn't too interested in memorabilia. I just cared about the cards. But it was still fun to look at TV Guides with Jackie's picture on them or discs or comic books featuring Jackie.

It also helped me prepare for the final page in the article, which was this:

I'll take that one, and that one, and that one, and that one, and that one, and that one, please!

Given that Topps went wacky with reprints, I'm glad I didn't end up cutting these out and pasting them onto cardboard.

Minor League sets were kind of a novelty at the time. There was no Bowman or nationally released minor league sets. I found regional minors sets fascinating. Every time they popped up in a mail-order catalog, I thought about sending away for them.

I was happy to see an article about minor league sets, not only because it showed me how many that there were, but also because this was the first time I ever saw any of the cards in color. All the mail order images were black-and-white.

The article went on to list the various Pacific Coast League sets. I still need to get me the '78 Dukes set.

The team-collecting article, which appeared in many issues, was on the White Sox this time. The image of the World Series tickets for a team that didn't make the Series is almost mesmerizing. They're called "phantom tickets" according to the caption.

I had been a veteran of a few shows by the time this story arrived, but I'm sure I devoured this article. The story breaks down card shows under the various kinds:

Mall shows
Two-day shows
Superstar shows
Major conventions

I still haven't been to a major convention, but I've covered all the others. There was also something listed called "buying trips," which was a show of 1-5 dealers set up mostly for them to buy collections. I'll bet those don't exist anymore.

This was the second in a series on the autographing habits of major league players at the time. This article covered the American League West (which was the Angels, White Sox, Royals, Twins, A's, Mariners and Rangers then).

Here is what the author said about each team:


Good signers: Bobby Grich, Doug DeCinces, Rick Burleson, Bob Boone, Mike Witt.
Tough signers: Fred Lynn, Reggie Jackson, Joe Ferguson
Moody signers: Rod Carew
Get-them-on-the-right-day signers: Ellis Valentine

White Sox

Good signers: Ron Kittle, Marc Hill, Mike Squires, Vance Law, Britt Burns, Scott Fletcher, Rudy Law, Richard Dotson, Floyd Bannister, Tom Paciorek, manager Tony La Russa
Fan-mail signers: Jerry Koosman, LaMarr Hoyt
Off-and-on signers: Greg Luzinski
Tough signers: Carlton Fisk, Harold Baines, Salome Barojas
Nasty, refuse-to-signers: Ron Reed


Nice signers: Larry Gura, Paul Splittorff, Dennis Leonard, Dan Quisenberry, John Wathan, Frank White
Tough signers: George Brett, Willie Wilson
Off-and-on signers: Hal McRae


Good signers: Gary Gaetti, John Castino, Dave Engle
Tough signers: Ron Davis (only if you ask him to sign pictures of him as a Yankee)


Good signers: Davey Lopes, Bill Almon, Danny Meyer, manager Steve Boros
Difficult signers: Rickey Henderson (unless you're a kid), Carney Lansford, Mike Norris, Joe Morgan


Good signers: Jim Beattie, Ed Vandeberg, Rick Sweet, Steve Henderson, Al Cowens
Off-and-on signers: Gorman Thomas, Richie Zisk


Fan-mail signers: Larry Parrish, Dave Hostetler, Danny Darwin, Billy Sample, Charlie Hough, Wayne Tolleson, manager Doug Rader
Tough signers: Mickey Rivers, Jon Matlack
Off-and-on signers: Buddy Bell

Ohboyohboyohboyohboyohboyohboyohboy!!!!!! My very own Steve Sax jersey!!!!!

Sax was about the coolest player for a Dodger fan at that point. As you can see, I neatly cut out the order form down in the bottom right.

I always had to check what was on the back of the order form before I cut something out.

Eeesh. Robin Hood cards??? Commence cutting.

Big Klu?

A Big Klu Interview???

I almost stopped writing this so I could read the article. I'll have to take it with me for that inevitable dead period during Thanksgiving when there is, *SIGH* NOTHING GOING ON. Big Klu will be a fascinating respite. Out of all the sluggers of that period, I probably know the least about Kluszewski.

The next article I'll read is this one. You've got to love the '59 Topps set.

Unfortunately, I think this is just a factual rehash of the 1959 season. Kind of boring, except for the team-that- won-the-Series part.

Something much more interesting. A ranking of the top manager cards to that point. Wow! This is definitely something I would want to do on the blog. Great stuff.

Personally, I'd rank the '78 manager cards as the best. There is nothing better. 1960 and 1973 would finish a distant second. I don't know why 1961 is on there. Everything -- except the all-star cards -- in the '61 set is inferior.

I don't know why I scanned this. I just thought that the combination of "mint and unusual" is humorous. As if you couldn't hook a customer with one but not the other.

That's about it for the June, 1984 issue.

I may not have won the Steve Sax jersey. Matt Kemp may not have won the N.L. MVP award.

But life is rarely fair.

It's in times like these that I like to remind myself about the fun part of life.

That's why I keep the BCM back issues around. And some adult beverages.

One has already been utilized. I'll be breaking out the other this Thanksgiving.


  1. I loved this magazine too! It was probably the first thing I ever read cover to cover. Everything inside was fascinating and wonderful.

  2. cool post. enjoyed traveling back in time with you.

  3. I always enjoy your look back at these magazines as they bring back a ton of memories. I hope you continue to spotlight some more issues in the future.

  4. Great post! I can't wait to hear about the Kluszewski article. He was my Dad's favorite player, and I've always been intrigued by Big Klu!

  5. It's like traveling back in a time machine. Thanks...

  6. The 1978 Dukes set would be great to have. That was a solid minor league team of some good Doyers.

    Of course,Joe Morgan is a tough sign. He is a jerk!

  7. Either Yount is holding his '75 mini, or his hands are massive.

    Typo alert! The A's manager was Steve Boros, not Scott. I also chuckled to see that item #1 in the magazine list of manager cards refers to them as "manger" cards.

  8. I remember picking up that issue 4 months before I was born. Good times.

  9. Maybe the rookie card Yount is holding is worth more, because it has his DNA on it...

  10. The 1951-1952 Bowman were 2 1/16 X 3 1/8, which is very close to 1975 Topps, so it makes sense that there should be a page for holding them.

  11. Baseball Cards magazine was the publication available in most supermarkets, so I tended to read those more than the Becketts, which seemed to only be found at baseball card shops.

    In the late 80s, early part of the 1990s - I also remember Baseball Card News - one article I read was going through a pack of 1990 Topps.