Thursday, February 21, 2013

It was worth it

I have already said my goodbyes to this card. There weren't as many tears as I thought there would be.

I had come to terms with the fact that it didn't fit in my collection a couple of months ago. In fact, I was the one who decided that it was probably time to trade it.

I have owned this 1957 Topps Willie Mays card since I was 14 or 15 years old. It was one of the cards that arrived in that large grocery bag full of cards that my dad's co-worker gave to me and my brothers. Most of the cards were from the 1956 set, with a small number of '55s, '57s and '58s mixed in. As we took turns selecting cards from the bounty before us on the dining room table, I selected this 1957 Mays first.

I picked it because it was Willie Mays ... duh. But also because I knew it had value. I was pretty sure from the moment that I saw the cards come out of that bag that it was the most valuable card in there -- monetarily speaking.

This was the early 1980s. The card hobby was exploding. Everyone -- and I mean everyone -- who saw a baseball card at that time thought "what's it worth?" instantly. I was no different. To have a '57 Mays fall into my lap -- a card that priced at around $20 mint at the time -- solidified my commitment to the hobby. And to see that card soar to 20 times that amount over the years only confirmed that I made the correct call.

I never thought I would let go of this card. Even after I obtained other cards that surpassed it in value, I figured Mays would always be worth something, so Mays was staying put.

But blog life has done some funny things to me. After four-plus years of writing here, I began to form a real idea of what my collection should be. And I embraced the concept that the only cards valuable to me were cards that fit into my collection. I was a Dodger collector, and a set collector. Those are the cards that fit, those are the cards that are valuable to me.

Sure, I've got some oddballs that don't fit anywhere, but I can find something personal in each of those that makes them valuable.

But I'd look at the Mays card and see only one thing:

A means to an end.

That's the way I viewed that card from the moment I picked it. A means to an end.

No connection to the player, or the team, or the card set, or the time period, or even to that time when I picked it out first sitting at the dining room table.

That meant that it was time to let the card go.

I paired Willie up with another '50s Giants card and made a deal with Adam of ARPSmith's Sports Obsession. But I'll let Adam detail his half of the trade at his leisure. He'll do a lot better job of describing Giants cards in a loving sort of way. I can't do that.

But I sure do love what I received in return:

Is that an epic deal or what?

The two Snider cards give me a run of Sniders from 1956 through 1959. I find that a tremendous hoot.

I am thrilled with these cards, and there is no pang of guilt for letting a '57 Mays that I've owned for more than 30 years get away.

That's because I didn't let it get away.

Instead, I found someone who wanted it more than me. More importantly, I found someone who could see it for more than just monetary value.

And that's why this trade is worth it to me.

Cards mean more than money. They mean more than whether the cards you have cost more than the cards someone else has. Anybody who has a card blog knows that. But, take it from me, there are a lot of people online who don't know that. And there are a lot of people in real life who don't know that.

Maybe this in some small way will help a collector understand.

No, I didn't trade a '57 Willie Mays for a 1991 Fleer Tom Brookens card.

But I did trade a '57 Willie Mays card.

For 30 years, I never thought that would be possible.

Turns out, I just had to let go.


  1. Sweet deal, love the vintage swap!

  2. nice cards... and the message is true.
    The early 90's me would never have given away a '71 Clemente.
    But the current me is happier knowing it's somewhere where it's appreciated and needed.

    this is a great hobby, with great people.

  3. Nice cards! Love the '58 Snider especially.

    And, of course, I 100 percent agree with your sentiments.

    From a person who spent the majority of the past seven or eight years on the trading forums, I can attest to others' misinterpretation of the "cards are more than money" idea.

  4. At first I figured I wouldn't have the stones to pull the deal off, but I suppose it's the same as if I traded a Ted Williams for two Rizzutos and a Whitey Ford. Then it doesn't sound so bad.

  5. Getting cards into the hands of people that will appreciate them more is something I've learned over my blogging "life".

    I would say that your trade worked very well both ways, great stuff!!

  6. I almost hate to ask...but isn't it a pretty awesome Night Card?

    Hopefully a Topps Archive / Lineage / Finest version can maybe fill that binder spot. Surely Willie is worth it.

  7. Great trade on so many levels.

  8. Great post and thanks for the trade. Believe it or not it I did treasure the Snider cards, even though he is a Dodger he was an all time great but I couldn't pass up the chance to pick up that Mays. It's a card I never thought I would have. I hope my post can live up to a fraction of yours, thanks for the trade my friend.