I swear I was already in the middle of constructing this post when Fuji's post about looking for the last card in a set popped up in my reader.
"Crap," I said. "Well, everything's scanned and cropped, no going back."
Besides, this post is more for me than anyone else.
I've long wanted to put together a post highlighting the final card I needed from sets I have completed. It seems that some of those cards are burned in my brain while others are completely forgotten. If I have a post for these cards, then I won't ever forget about these elusive birds. I will simply consult the post!
So that's what I'll do here. Much like this post, I will update it as I complete sets. But this time it will be a much less orderly exercise.
Searching for that last card is what all set collectors have in common. It is what bonds us together. Sure, team collectors must find a "last card," too, but the sets are smaller and therefore the final card isn't as memorable. There are "last cards" in parallel set chases and insert chases as well, but again, a full, at-least- 600-plus-card set is where unforgettable memories are created.
To go through all that effort, often covering an entire season or year -- sometimes dragging into the next year and the next year and the next -- produces a particularly exultant moment when that final card is placed in its slot.
And each of us set-collectors know that feeling. That's why we're always so eager to help some else out when they're down to that final card. That's why the One-Card Challenge I created eight years ago was so successful. We share in that quest and we know the travails and triumphs. We know the dedication it takes and the collation foisted upon us.
OK, so down to business. I've completed a lot of sets. And there's no way I'm going to show the last card needed for all of them now. That will take hours and days of researching old posts and wracking my brain. I'll get to a lot of those other sets later. Right now, I'll start with these ones:
1975 Topps - Rod Carew, #600
I completed the '75 set in 2004. Once I reacquired the Robin Yount card that I owned as a 9-year-old, most of the other cards were equally attainable. (I already had the George Brett, purchased as a teenager). As I completed my set with the columns of cards at the pawn shop downtown, Carew was the last to show up.
1989 Topps - Craig Biggio, #49; Mike Scott, #180; Claudell Washington, #185; Gary Ward, #302
The "benefit," if you could call it that, of trying to complete a set solely through buying packs -- no ordering online, no buying the whole set -- is you will remember the cards that eluded you forever.
I bought so much 1989 Topps in 1989, all at one drug store in the Buffalo suburbs, and it became clear to me as I pulled out the 20th card of Moose Stubing, that two Yankees and two Astros would be my lasting curse. Those were the only four cards I could not get that year.
I ended up acquiring all four at once many years later. It's interesting that one of them was Craig Biggio. Today, for sure, I can see some card company making a rookie less available than the other cards (see Kris Bryant), but not then. People barely knew who Craig Biggio was!
2006 Topps - Andy Pettitte, #95
Another Astro, another set I tried to complete through only store pack purchases. This time I succeeded.
Pettitte is from the first series and with all the cards I accumulated from that set, I found some of the cards in the first series to be the trickiest (Greg Maddux was another one). But I pulled that Pettitte card out of a pack and you should have seen the size of my smile.
1973 Topps - Leo Durocher, #624
One more Astro and then I'll lay off.
As of the initial writing of this post, this is the most recent set I've completed. Leo Durocher is from the last high series Topps ever made, which is why it was the final card I needed.
1976 Topps - NL Batting Leaders, #201; Fergie Jenkins, #250
The next group of sets here were all completed within the first few years of the blog. I was sent both cards #201 and #250 by the same person and then the second set I ever collected was complete.
1978 Topps - Lou Piniella, #159; Bruce Bochte, #537; George Mitterwald, #688
One of the first sets I completed through blog trades.
There is mention on my blog about these being the last three cards I needed, but there is no mention that I can find that I had obtained those cards. Yet, there they are in my binder!
Both Botche and Piniella I owned as a kid before they disappeared from me, so if Mitterwald wants to claim he's the final card, I won't argue.
1983 Topps - Jack Clark, #210
The last of the early blog set completions.
I feel fortunate that the remaining cards from this set came fast and furious, I barely had time to process that Clark was the final card. If it took me years, decades to find that last card, no doubt I'd despise Clark more than I already do.
1971 Topps - Roberto Clemente, #630
The generosity of other bloggers was never more apparent than when Captain Canuck sent me the final card I needed to finish the '71 Topps set, none other than semi-high number and baseball god, Roberto Clemente.
I was looking at a $30-plus purchase and I needed the card doubly as I had just started a set blog on 1971 Topps. The Canadian mail came to the rescue. I won't forget this last card.
1972 Topps - Tim Foli, In Action, #708
Of course, it was a high-number card, but it wasn't Bobby Murcer and it wasn't Rod Carew, it was Tim Foli.
1977 Topps - Dennis Eckersley, #525
As every set collector knows, sometimes you think you've completed the set but you really haven't. What a terrible discovery that is.
For me and 1977, Larry Parrish's card (#526) was filed twice in my '77 binder and neither was in the right spot. One of them was in Eckersley's spot and that meant I now had to find an Eckersley. But no worries, Eck's here with me now.
2008 Allen & Ginter - Harriet Beecher Stowe, #313; Wily Mo Pena, #319
I don't think you could've convinced me even 20 years ago that I'd need a card of Harriet Beecher Stowe to complete a set. But I'm certainly not complaining. The 2008 Allen & Ginter set is my favorite A&G set and the first I completed.
Harriet Beecher Stowe and Wily Mo Pena -- both three-namers, hmmm -- landed in the short-printed portion of A&G that year, making them elusive. Looking at the prices now, both can be retrieved on COMC for under a buck, meaning nobody should ever collect a set in the year it was issued.
1980 Topps - Ralph Garr, #272
Along with 1989 and 2006 Topps, 1980 represents a quest I'll never forget. It was the first time I seriously tried to complete a set.
Looking back, it was a good time to try. The following year, the number of cards you needed to buy tripled with the addition of Donruss and Fleer, and who was going to complete all that? (Me, three decades later, that's who).
But I still fell around 16 cards short of finishing 1980 Topps in 1980. Then after landing each, one by one, Ralph Garr -- one of my favorite non-Dodgers at the time -- became the final one. My eyes still light up seeing this card in the binder.
OK. That's all I have for now. But there are so many other completed sets to get to.
I will add them all to this post when I find spare moments. Perhaps I'll alert you when I do, in case you want to revel in the glory of a set collector's greatest achievement.