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The pop culture tax

This isn't really a complaint, just something interesting that I've been noticing.

I'm working on wrapping up a couple of '70s-centric sets right now, getting down to those last 10-20-30 cards, and the usual candidates are being evasive.

I wish I could pick up all the stars early in my set-building quests so the end of the build isn't quite so painful but it never ends up that way. The best of the best usually take the most effort. But I expect that.

What always surprises me is some of the other players that end up being the final few.

Take, for instance, the 1977 Kellogg's set that I'm now trying to complete. I picked up three more cards from that set from Sportlots. The Jose "Cheo" Cruz card was one of them.

The other two were Dodgers, already in my Dodger binders but that doesn't help me complete the set now, does it?

I would've liked to add more with this most recent order but most of the other wants simply weren't available. Here is what is left on my want list:

1 - George Foster
4 - Dock Ellis
6 - George Brett
12 - Greg Luzinski
15 - Rick Manning
16 - Lyman Bostock
22 - Bill North
26 - Mark Fidrych
46 - Al Oliver
55 - Mickey Rivers

This is interesting to me.

The only superstar remaining on that list is George Brett, who also happens to be the only '77 Kellogg's card on that want list that is currently available on Sportlots. I could nab it if I wanted to spend the cash.

All of the others are lesser stars or simply above average players. But, with the exception of Luzinski, Manning and North, every one of them is a certified star of '70s pop culture.

George Foster was a superstar in the making who crashed-and-burned when he was signed by the Mets. The stories about Dock Ellis and his controversial ways are endless. Lyman Bostock was young player destined for stardom whose life ended tragically in a shooting. Mark Fidrych pitched just one full season but his legacy will last forever. Al Oliver has a significant social media presence and is one of those He Should Be In The Hall guys. Mickey Rivers was entertainingly quirky as heck and this is his first 3-D card as a Yankee.

I haven't been able to buy any of those cards yet, because they each hold the Pop Culture Tax. I will have to search more and pay more because while their careers didn't get them to the Hall of Fame, many tales have been told about them.

I'm not saying these cards aren't available. They are. I'm just going to have to do a little more work (especially while I put COMC on standby).

But I wonder if this is a phenomenon because of how we fans of '70s cards collect, or because of the culture of the '70s? Are pop culture stars of the '80s -- Joe Charboneau, Oil Can Boyd -- any more elusive? How about the '60s? Jim Bouton? Dick Allen? (I already know the answer to the '60s question. It's "yes").

Here is another '70s example:

I also grabbed some 1977 Topps football cards for my set. I'm getting down to the final 30 or so cards and, yup, there are definitely some stars here. (Hey, Falcons checklist: I'm trying! I'm trying!).

I returned to Sportlots to load up some more '77 Topps football wants for the next purchase. And I noticed the particular players that I still needed.

The obvious group was quarterbacks. Lots and lots of quarterbacks. Jim Plunkett, Fran Tarkenton. Bob Griese. Danny White. Joe Theismann. Terry Bradshaw. Ken Stabler. Bert Jones. So many. But, again, that's expected. I was still able to grab a bunch of them for reasonable prices.

But the price I was forced to accept for one quarterback hurt a little bit.

That was Jim Zorn.

Zorn was good, don't get me wrong. He was a star from the start, led the expansion Seahawks for eight straight years. But he isn't on the level of a Tarkenton or Bradshaw.

But he sure has that pop culture tag. He was a left-handed quarterback. He was named rookie of the year. He starred for an expansion team. He also later became a head coach, which adds some notability for those who don't remember his playing days.

But I get it. When I was a kid, I liked Zorn a lot. He had a cool name. And, yeah, probably a lot of '70s collectors though the same thing. So I paid what the '77 Zorn card was asking.

Some of the other cards I threw in my cart were players who drew notice in other ways besides playing. Ed Marinaro became an actor. Ahmad Rashad became a broadcaster. They have that Pop Culture Tax. But I'll pay it.

One other '77 football card I want to point out for a different reason:

This was one of the first cards to arrive from my Sportlots order, so credit to that sender.

It arrived inside this:

Yellowed top loaders gross me out. There isn't a lot in this hobby that grosses me out but this is definitely one of them. I would never keep a top loader that had progressed to this condition.

(I half expect somebody to tell me that this is actually a yellow top loader, that they make yellow top loaders, to which I will say: DON'T MAKE YELLOW TOP LOADERS).

But we're not done.

The card inside the yellowed top loader was inside this:

This card arrived July 3rd.

And I'm getting a Christmas card.

Listen, whoever sent this is probably a perfectly swell fellow but there is nothing that will make me run to the kitchen sink and the soap dispenser more quickly than a card inside an ancient top loader inside a Christmas card when it's six months from Christmas.

OK, enough of that rant. A few remaining cards from my order that don't go with today's theme:

Sometimes I get on a shopping tangent and stuff like this winds up in my cart. I'm not apologizing though. That Shawn Green 40-man flag card is outstanding.

What the Pop Culture Tax comes down to is sports fans really loving their sport and appreciating the stories of the players in that sport. I think that really comes out in athletes from the '70s maybe more so than any other era. At least at this period of time anyway.

And I'm one of those guys. So I'll pay that Pop Culture Tax.

But, damn it, I still don't want that Mark Fidrych card to be the last one I need for the set.


Chris said…
I'm going to show my ignorance of all things '70s but I'll say it anyway: I had no idea why Jim Zorn would carry a Pop Culture tax and when you mentioned '77 Topps football needs I was thinking Fred Dryer or Vince Papale.
Commishbob said…
Ok, I've never mentioned my aversion to yellowed toploaders because I thought it was a weird quirk that only I suffered from! Nothing kills the fun of a card delivery quite like pulling a nasty, old toploaders out of the envelope. Thanks for making me feel less alone.
bryan was here said…
That's funny, because in my mail today, came my '77 Kelloggs Rick Manning, a card I didn't even know existed until about three weeks ago. I've been low key working on the Kelloggs and Hostess sets from the 70s. Those are fun sets to work on, with the added bonus of unusual player selection.
As far as the '80s go, Joe Charboneau is at the top of the pop culture tax, at least in the Cleveland area.
I especially like the '77 Jim Zorn Record Breaker card where he's dropping back to pass in Tampa Stadium. There weren't a lot of action cards throughout '70s Topps football, so that one stood out.
Good luck with the Kellogg's Fidrych. That is a tough one for some reason.
Elliptical Man said…
Well, The Bull was the starting LF on the Phillies' 1980 World Series team.
It annoys me that Beckett has no real grasp on this subject. Guys that it lists as commons or semi stars that actually sell for star level prices. And the opposite is annoying too, like saying Ken Caminiti's rookie cards have a high book value of $2. A dime is too much to pay for one of those.
The pop culture tax can definitely be annoying, but since I am probably one of those contributing to the problem, I'll just gently close my mouth and get back to collectin.
steelehere said…
The 1977 Topps Jim Zorn card has a really unique and cool photo that I imagine inspires collectors to pick up a copy. Plus, it's his rookie card.
Bah humbug......:) Come on now it's Christmas in July. BTW, That flag Green card is so awesome. I also got the cards today, thank you. Yes, buys some packs :).
Fuji said…
A. I just completed my 1977 Kellogg's set. Munson and Fidrych were the last two cards I needed.

B. Rooted for Zorn the first couple of years I started rooting for the Hawks, before Dave Krieg eventually took over.

C. Yellow top loaders are gross.
Matt said…
Sweet Cheo card!! I’d imagine if the Astros would have beaten the Phillies in 80 and/or the Mets in 86... there’d be more of a pop culture tax on his cards too...
Robert said…
Yellow top loaders are instantly discarded. I do get them from time to time on inbound packages, and I get's other people trying to get rid of them as well.
acrackedbat said…
Guess I don't mind paying a PC tax. It says to me my 1970s memories are worth a few dollars. I need the Fidrych too. Such an amazing set. I love to look through these while the cards all scream in my face "we are the 70s!" I just coddle them and say, yes, you are.
Johngy said…
The last cards I needed for my 1975 Topps BB set were Mario Mendoza and Danny Cater.
Angus said…
When I send cards in a PWE, I like putting them on cards. They seem to travel safer. I will buy card boxes that are cheap, sometimes in post-Christmas sales, so I might actually send cards in the summer in a Christmas card. :)

When I gave you the 77 Topps football cards a while back, I didn't even think of looking in my Browns doubles. Sorry I may have had those. Email me if you need any other Browns.
arpsmith said…
Very interesting and insightful observation on the Pop Culture Tax.

Good luck on the Kellogg's set - it is the only one I have complete but I cheated and bought the full set.

I am 100% with you on yellow top loaders - I typically recycle, those go straight to the trash can.
John Bateman said…
Back in the Day most of these players were known as the semi star in guide books. The Bull Luzinski, I think should have been included. Rivers I think (what I was told 35 years ago) get the New York Bump.
night owl said…
Update: I've since purchased 4 of my '77 Kellogg's wants and have bids out 4 others.
Some of those 1970s Kellogg's sets can be tough. I have a few in progress that I have dabbled in over the years, but some of those cards do not turn up too often, and when they do they are more expensive than I am willing to pay.
GCA said…
40 Man rules! Though if they did it today (and they did - Total), it would be a 1048 card online exclusive. I still say put stuff like that in $1 packs with 10 cards and $40 boxes and it would sell better than any other product.
Yellow top loaders are just ripened by the sun

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