Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The publication that started it all

I'm not quite done with my card show adventure. I generally don't like dragging card show posts out over multiple days, but this isn't related to the actual show. This involves the trip on the way to the show.

When Angus and I met for the trip, we exchanged pleasantries and a few goodies. His gift for me was much more eclectic than mine. I merely gave him a selection of Mets cards, while Angus gave me cards, oddball items, and the first issue from a magazine that changed everything for collectors.

I'll start with the box topper:

Angus received this from some Giants fan, who was horrified when he pulled this out of his box of A&G. The thought of being appalled by Corey Seager baffles me to no end -- I really think these people need to see a psychiatrist -- but I was quite happy to have this.

I don't recall where Angus got this but he said he spotted it and knew I'd be interested. He was right, mostly because I never saw this item before.

It turns out that Topps Pin-Ups were issued in 1990, a year in which I spent all my time trying to avoid getting fired from my very first full-time job by my very first detestable boss. There's no way I was looking for baseball noggins to pin on my mirror.

Here is another reason that they weren't on my radar. Not a single Dodger in this selection. I don't know how that's possible. Craig Worthington is there for crying out loud, but we can't fit in Orel Hershiser or Kirk Gibson. What kind of inferior product is this?

The incentive isn't strong to open this, especially with the thought of pulling Will Clark's giant screaming head. So I'll save this for the end of the post.

Angus, during his many travels, also got his hand on some 2017 New Era cards, those cards you receive after (over)spending for a baseball cap.

I was very happy to see this, since I have no desire to buy a new baseball cap.

Here is the Dodger from the set. There is nothing that says "New Era" on it, but the image is different from the 2017 flagship set picture. (The Topps logo also is not foil). On the back, there is a teeny, tiny New Era logo down in the corner with all the logoese.

New Era also has 1987-themed cards, because of course it does. The only thing different about these (beside different photos, and possibly different subjects, I'm not sure) is that the 30th anniversary logo is not foil.

That's enough to give one a headache, but that's OK, because also in Angus' bag of goodies was a magazine that gives all of this foundation and perspective.

This is the very first issue of Baseball Cards magazine.

I've owned just about all of the pre-1986 Baseball Cards magazines and featured them on this blog. The only ones I did not have are the first two, issued in 1981. This is way too cool, and to think that Angus obtained it when it was used as packing material with something he ordered!

Take a look at the teasers on the cover: "Complete up-to-the-minute price guide," which doesn't make sense when the magazine shows up twice a year. Lots of mentions about how valuable cards are, too.

Here are the contents of that premier issue available on newsstands in the spring of 1981.

This page in the magazine gives you an idea of how much of what we know about the hobby over the last 35 years sprouted from this magazine. This is Bob Lemke's "well here we go" letter. It's fascinating reading and gives perspective on where the hobby was during the early 1980s.

Advertisements like this take me back. Baseball Magazine had the coolest ads in the world. Renata Galasso, marry me.

Did you know there are errors in 1981 Fleer? Did you know they can make you money? Did you know that Fleer had NO IDEA that it was issuing errors and SCRAMBLED to correct them?

The first issue of Baseball Cards Magazine gives you the scoop.

This topic freaked me out in the 1980s. I loved the idea of storing my cards in pages in a binder. I liked it so much that I looked at advertisements for binders like I looked at ads for cards. I practically drooled over the binders. I was horrified to know that the pages might be ruining the cards.

I'd tell my parents that I could never put my card binders in the attic or basement and I'd worry when the temperature hit 80 in the summer. Would my cards melt? Deteriorate like '53 Willie Mays up there?

It turns out I never had a card damaged by "PVCs". As far as I am concerned this was the hobby's version of the Killer Bees scare.

Here are the people behind the start-up of Baseball Card Magazine, which would eventually morph into a Beckett publication and you know the rest. It was quite cool at the beginning though (is that a dollar sign logo?).

The first Baseball Cards magazine even featured a centerfold to drool over. I still don't own any of these cards and quite possibly never will.

An article about the first Allen and Ginter's sets.

And an article about Salada Tea coins with a reprint of this fantastic advertising cartoon.

Since I've never seen more than the cover of this issue, I get to read all of these articles for the first time! I can't wait.

Here is the first magazine price guide -- or at least the first one that I know. This was revolutionary as price guides were showing up once a year in a large Beckett volume at the time. This particular price guide goes to only 1975. It skips the Robin Yount rookie and features such jaw-dropping prices like $65 for a Pete Rose rookie and 16 bucks for a 1952 Andy Pafko.

That's the back cover. If that doesn't make you want to go back to 1981, I don't know what does. I can hear REO Speedwagon in the background as I read the ad.

Much of what we know about cards sprung forth from this magazine. This is what helped bring the hobby to the masses. Common collectors began to become aware of what they had in their collection, how much it was worth and what other kind of cards existed. The magazine created new collectors and new kinds of collectors.

I'm proof of that. As a diehard reader of this magazine, here I am in 2017, spreading the word myself.

Anyway, let's get back to opening that 1990 pin-up.

If I don't pull a Giant, my guess is that I pull a Yankee (Mattingly) or someone really boring (Harold Reynolds or Gregg Olson).

Let's take a look:

Yup, Mattingly.

So glad he isn't managing the Dodgers this postseason.


  1. Kinda jealous of that Mattingly pinup lol.

    1. Want it? Since you spoke first, it's yours if you do, otherwise Turrdog gets it.

    2. Feel free to send it Turrdog's way. I'm just thinking about when floating head decals will make a comeback.

  2. Topps put out a test set of heads up in 1989 . Those are tough. I know there's a Guererro and Herschiser . There were no Bosox in the 90 set but three in the test set

  3. I have a few issues of Card Prices Update (also referred to as CPU), it was a monthly baseball card price guide that started in either 1979 or 1980. If I run across one the next time I'm going through my basement, I'll set it aside and send it to you. Until then, here's a link to a cover of an issue that came out in April 1980 and another in January 1981. It was printed on newsprint like SCD and Baseball Hobby News during it's early years.


  4. Big fan of Mattingly so if you're looking for a good home for that head... I'm coming to hunt in Harrisville early next month. You hit the show in Syracuse this past weekend? I couldn't make it from Rochester, but I wanted to get there.

    1. Send me an email and we'll figure out how to get the Mattingly to you.

  5. LOL about the Mattingly. It figures. I found it at a card store in Cooperstown for either a quarter or fifty cents - I don't fully remember. It was cheap.

    I knew that you would appreciate the magazine. I just didn't know if you would have a copy or not. I really enjoyed the articles and ads.

  6. I like the title for the A&G story.

  7. I had that magazine. Although I loved Baseball Hobby News more.

  8. I have two of those Heads Up! that I opened, and one that I left unopened. I know it must have not cost much, but I regretted even buying 3 of them at the time.

    There was a shop owner who used to tell me stories about cards being ruined in binders. I didn't listen to his warnings, but some doubt lingered in my mind. Turns out my cards have been fine now for many years.

  9. I have this magazine and several of the issues that followed. Like you said, got me interested in my cards again.

  10. The effects of PVC pages were dependent on what you stored in them. I never had a regular card damaged in PVC pages but I had postcards that needed to be very carefully extracted from 4 pocket PVC pages. It ruined at least one.

  11. A. Topps Heads-Up has to be Craig Worthington's collecting claim to fame.

    B. I love looking at my old issues of Baseball Cards, but my earliest issues is from 1986. Owning the premiere issue is pretty flippin' awesome.

  12. Thanks for sharing the Mag, great post!

  13. I found a new card store by me. He has a bunch of unopened junk wax era stuff and one of them is those heads up cards.