Wednesday, June 28, 2017

This ticks all the boxes

When I was collecting cards as a youngster, every baseball card wrapper contained an offer on the side for something extra.

"It's a whole new series of colorful team pennants with official team insignia and colors. Here's a great way to decorate your room. Pick your favorite team or yearly champions! For each pennant send 40¢ plus one baseball wrapper to:"

Most of these, I ignored. I wasn't opening packs to read tiny print on the side. The only time I paid attention was when the offer involved something specific to cards: Collect all the team checklists. Check out the game card inside to win more cards. Those were worth a couple seconds of my time.

The ubiquitous Sports Card Locker, which you see in the top image at bottom right, appeared virtually every year on wrappers in the 1970s/early '80s. I probably considering sending away for that once. The personalized trading cards? No way. Nobody needs to see me on a trading card. Even when I was 10. The offer for a baseball autographed by members of your favorite team seems to blow all the other offers out of the water. But, again, I paid it no mind.

I was so oblivious to most wrapper offers that I have no recollection of many of the selections from that time.

So when mr haverkamp sent me an email asking if I had seen the ebay listing for a 1980 Topps Wax Pack Wrapper Mail Away Ron Cey Box Mint Never Folded, I had to tell him, no, I hadn't seen it, no I never knew that it existed, and, whuuuuuuuut, a Ron Cey box was offered on wrappers to every kid in America???

How did I miss that?

Yeah, I know, I was all about the cards. But, dammit, night owl, sometimes your focus is too narrow.

A week or two later, an envelope arrived from Jim and I pulled out two 1980 Topps Wax Pack Wrapper Mail Away Ron Cey Box Mint Never Foldeds.

That is too cool.

A couple of things to note about the picture. One, Topps is trying to make Cey look like a generic ball player, which, as you know, is impossible to do with Ron Cey. Two, where the heck did the second half of The Penguin's right leg go?

Since mr haverkamp thoughtfully sent me two boxes, I could safely construct one while leaving the other one Mint Never Folded.

So here is the created box:

Kind of neat and nifty and kind of simple and not very exciting, huh?

It reminds me of a pack of cigarettes for some reason. Also, the opening without any covering makes me nervous. Cards could just plop right out? Given that this was issued in 1980 and binders and pages were just starting to become a big thing, I think this new Ron Cey Collecting Box was a bit behind the times already.

There is the spine where you can write down the range of card numbers, if you write very small. I admit the box is tidy and cute. I just crammed some cards inside and it holds about 40 cards snugly before you have to worry about the inner fold dinging your cards all up.

After doing a little poking around, I figured out that you couldn't order this box off a wrapper from 1980 Topps. 1980 is the copyright on the box, but the wrapper offer appeared in 1981 Topps.

That's a selection of 1981 Topps wrapper offers and the Cey box is on the lower left.

According to the offer you received FIVE collecting boxes for a buck. I don't know if Ron Cey was on every one of them, but I'm guessing he was (as he should be).

By this time in my life as a collector, I know I was putting all of my cards in binders or shoeboxes and definitely not carrying around 40 cards in a cute little box to school. That kind of thing could get you beat up, Cey or no Cey.

But it's a pretty cool collectors item.

While I've almost always been about the cards and nothing but the cards, even as a kid refusing to read the wrapper offers, I make exceptions for The Penguin.

An item like this ticks all the boxes for my Cey collection.


  1. I still have and use 4 of the card lockers I picked up as a kid. Two of my boys also used them

  2. I don't r e member those either. I learned something new today.

  3. in 1977, the wrapper advertised a "Baseball Card T-Shirt"

    I have never been able to track even a picture of one of those and have always wondered what was on them. 1976 Topps cards, perhaps?

  4. Wow, blast from the past! I never had those boxes, but I remember them and hadn't thought about them in years. As a storage device they leave quite a bit to be desired, but as a collectible that is an item that no Ron Cey collector should be without.

    I have to admit, I thought this post was about completing a "set" of 1980 Topps wrappers featuring each different offer. It wasn't until I got to "So when mr haverkamp sent me an email..." that I realized that this is not what the post is about at all.

  5. I had those Sports Card Lockers but the Cey box is new to me, too. What a sweet item for your Cey collection.

  6. Ran into Jim at our local card show this weekend and he mentioned these Cey boxes. Didn't realize it until right now... but I'm pretty sure I ordered these for my Star Wars cards back in the day.

  7. I have two of the red Topps lockers still in use. The clasps are sticky because there is glue that has migrated from the little patches that hold the clasp on.

    I saved a bunch of wrappers from 1980 on. I will have to check to see if I have '81s with that ad on them if you want one to make the "set".

  8. Yep! Got one. They did it again in '83. Sending one of each.

  9. The Topps Archives just posted a different way that these Ron Cey Collectors Boxes were distributed. There's always something new to learn...