(Disclaimer: This is not an endorsement of Larry Fritsch Cards. This is merely another tired nostalgia piece from night owl).
The Larry Fritsch Cards catalog arrived in the mail the other day.
It shows up maybe a couple of times a year. But this time it filled me with such joy and nostalgia that I had to announce it on Twitter.
What I received back in return were a couple of nods from doddering folk like me, a couple of "huh?"s, and mostly silence. Twitter isn't the right place for something like this.
So, I'll do it here.
The Larry Fritsch Cards catalog, for the entire 1980s and into the early 1990s, WAS my internet for cards. This is how I obtained cards that were not the latest and greatest at the local store. Not that Fritsch Cards didn't have the latest and greatest, too. It's just that it had everything, at least to my way of thinking then.
Before online shopping, before Amazon and ebay, poor ancient folks like me would run to mail-order catalogs for cards. There were several places to find them, but for me, Fritsch was the easiest place to find them.
Fritsch cards is where I bought my '75 George Brett rookie. It's where I grabbed my first few 1972 Dodgers. But I would only order a few cards at a time. It's all I could afford. Fritsch was always too expensive for my tastes.
As glorious as it would be to pop open a sealed vending box of 1971 Topps, there ain't no way I can throw down $18,000 to do it. And I can't buy a 1972 Series #3 Topps football set, even at the special price of $1,245.
So instead, I would plop down $5.95 for a 1987 Surf Book of the Dodgers and be happy with that. I've gotten my money's worth. I consult that Surf book often.
It sure is tempting to revisit the ritual of opening a cello pack of 1975 Topps as I did back when I was a 9-year-old. But $120 for 18 cards of joy sounds pretty obscene.
Even without being able to afford much, the catalog has always been fun to look through. Who knew Upper Deck made a Ted Williams Play Ball tribute set in 1993 (edit: 2003)? And what are 1964 Auravision Records? (I think that Nolan Ryan sixth no-hitter ticket ad has been in there since the day after Ryan's sixth no-hitter).
Obtainable Dream Page? That would be this one.
No, not the Barry Bonds set. I'm talking about the desire of every late 1970s collector. Burger King and Coca-Cola sets. Unopened packs! I read every word on pages like this.
There is plenty of the very newest, too. I don't think I've seen that Kershaw Archives card advertised before. The back advertises 2013 Allen & Ginter. Special for $95 a box. Not bad.
But this is what I utilized the most often in the 1980s and even into the early '90s. When I was first trying to complete Dodgers sets from the late '60s and early '70s, I'd order them with this form. I'd write down the cards I wanted with my choice of condition and mail it off. Fritsch would send it back signifying whether they had each card (in most cases they did) and the cost. Then you sent in your payment for the ones you wanted.
It seems clunky by today's online standards and is definitely a lot more expensive. But there was a certain charm to it and I looked forward to getting the mail twice. Once when the form came back and then again when the package showed up.
Each catalog is separated by sport and there is also a section for supplies. In the past I have ordered sheets and binders. This is the place where I once saw '75 mini pages. It's rather amusing that they have been temporarily out of stock of the most common page type for at least the last 6 catalogs.
Even by today's standards, this catalog does pretty well with variety. Mars Attacks Sketch Cards? They're here. Just about every reprint set? They're here.
There are plenty of nonsports sets. In fact, there is one here that I ordered way back when.
Yup. What teenage boy didn't love the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders when they were at their absolute most famous.
Five-by-Seven glossies of all the cheerleaders? Sign me up!
I totally remember the cards of both girls you see pictured here in their super-80s makeup. But I have no idea what happened to this set. It's hard for me to believe I got rid of it willingly.
I found myself leafing through this catalog wishing I could find something cheap so I could order something for old-times sake.
And I did find a commemorative set that I haven't seen anywhere else that is very cheap. I think I will actually order from Fritsch Cards for the first time in ... geez, it's got to be at least a dozen years or more.
And I'll wait by the door and my heart will skip when I see the return package.
So, that, kids, is what a mail-order catalog is like.
Stop looking at me with your pathetic face.