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Come hell or high numbers

This is not a 1967 Topps high number. Nope, it's just Terry Francona's dad at card No. 443, creased four ways to Sunday by some demented kid on the playground 50 years ago.

And this is exactly the point. I haven't accumulated many '67 high numbers and even the '67s that aren't highs arrive in need of a shave, shower and place to sleep for the night.

I continue to say I'm attempting to complete the 1967 Topps set. But I still don't believe I'm doing it. It seems like a dead end. Unrealistic. Totally impractical. I know there are other card chases much more quixotic than trying to finish the '67 set, but I often ignore card chases that I know will be exceedingly difficult. Yet, I'm doing THIS.

Just the other day a very impressive collector reminded me of exactly how impossible this set chase is. He often displays on Twitter a "carpet o' cards" and his carpet the other day was the 1967 high number series, cards 534-609.

That is the picture. Here is the tweet and the glorious thread. Are you as awestruck as I was?

Tell me that isn't the most impossible task you've ever seen.

There are a whole bunch of challenging cards in this seventh series and they are very well-known.

The Tom Seaver and Rod Carew rookie cards are the most challenging, most expensive and, unlike other set pursuits where I'm not really sure what will be the last card I obtain, I'm almost positive my last card -- if I ever get there -- for the '67 set will be the Seaver rookie.

Those star cards, along with the Brooks Robinson on the bottom row, are outlined in blue. There are other difficult cards -- well, more difficult, they're all difficult -- if you care about condition, which are outlined in purple.

This makes things extra sticky for me because I just can't have my cards looking like the devil child in the neighborhood got ahold of it. I've always been like that. While other kids were tossing their cards casually against the wall in a bid to win cards from other kids, I was standing there appalled: "Why are you tossing your cards around????"

But I have made several concessions for set pursuits like this. First of all, card sets that are more than 50 years old need to be given a little slack. Perfect-looking cards from 70 years ago are pretty freakish. Nobody 70 years old looks mint. Cards that age probably shouldn't either.

Secondly, these are all cards from either before I was born or way before I knew what baseball was. I never saw the players play, in most cases, they don't mean a whole lot to me. I'm basically collecting the design and a bit of history, I can live with well-worn corners and a little creasing.

I damn well better, because I'm going to have to make many, many, many compromises if I want those high numbers. Because this is what I have so far:

Yeah, six cards.

I probably should have started this project when I was 21.

(I also own the Dodgers cards that are displayed here but they aren't leaving the Dodgers binders, so that's another obstacle I've positioned in front of me).

Collectors much more experienced and older than me -- at least I hope they're older -- have assured me that completing this set can be done. Just work on buying a high-numbered card every month until it's done, they say. That's reassuring. I can do that. One card a month? Sure. It's not like I'm blowing money at the card aisle anymore.

But we'll see how easy it is when I've finished off the first six series and am staring at 42 high-numbered cards to go.

That's a long way from now though. For now, I'm finding my '67 reassurance in the cards that periodically arrive in my mailbox. Most recently I completed another trade with Bo of Baseball Cards Come To Life! and my side of the deal was getting a few 1967 needs.

None of the cards were high numbers. But there were some nice ones in there, and most in good enough shape that I can cross them off the list forever.

Bo is not as bent out of shape with condition as I am, quite the opposite actually. He graciously made sure I received the better-conditioned cards of his dupes. I'm not a grading freak or anything but this is a big step for me. All of these cards are in acceptable condition for my quest with the exception of Bob Allen, who is just a bit too baked.

I'm very happy to get the Nuxhall (great windbreaker action!) and the Gardner, who grew up where I did.

I certainly will accept 53-year-old gum stains into my set. The Alston looks a bit worse in the scan than in person. And I suppose I have to accept crew cuts, too.

The Beauchamp card shows why I consider this set the best of the '60s, just nudging out 1965. The minimalist design opens up the background of '67 cards to all kinds of delightful scenes. And that's why it's an all-time top five set for me.

Cesar Tovar was glued into a scrapbook at one point. That's quite OK. I have high numbers to blow money on, I can't be worrying about the fanciness of card No. 317.

Corner creases? Yeah, sure.

Dave Giusti is another upstate New York native. The Dick Dietz card reminds me that Keith Hernandez made a Dietz reference during a Mets-Phillies game over the weekend. All I could think of is: Nobody knows what you're talking about, Keith. Even I am too young to know much about Dick Dietz.

But collecting cards from when I was a toddler or before I was born allows me to learn more about these guys. Since I'm not worried about them being super-pristine, I can turn the cards over at my leisure -- even drop them on the hardwood floor without freaking out -- and gain some knowledge.

Tony Cloninger's card will tell you that he hit two grand slams in a single game, which had just happened the previous year and is basically the only thing I know about Cloninger. But I turned over that card and discovered he won 24 games in 1965.

These are the two highest numbers of the lot, cards No. 500 and 510. Not actual high numbers but I'm sure happy to get them.

That is my second Marichal vintage card in two weeks! That's crazy!

I wish I could handle writing on cards and rips and folded cards like some bloggers can but that's just never going to be me.

It's partly why I still think this chase is so unrealistic. Me? Owning an absolutely annihilated Seaver rookie card just to say I have it? I'll believe it when I see it.

But that's gonna be what it will take.

So let's get this done. Come hell or high numbers.


gogosox60 said…
that 1967 high number Brooks Robinson card is the best photo of any of his cards and it's so unattainable that I may never see one ever inperson!! And I jus turned 60!
Commishbob said…
There are times when I look at listing for these hi #'s and wonder what I was drinking when I decided that collecting this was a good idea. I've got about 20 or so in that series including the Brooks but I'm not sure I'll ever find a Seaver I'd be good with buying.
Eric P said…
I collected this set but I never picked up the Seaver rookie. I go back and forth about whether I want to spend hundreds for one card or use the money for other cards.
Old Cards said…
I have 7 of the high numbers, but I lack your tenacity to collect them all. Thanks for the post on one of the greatest sets ever and good luck on your quest.
Chris said…
Oof, the '67 set is a beast! Here's hoping you can secure a Seaver RC in acceptable shape someday.
Fuji said…
Gum (and wax) stains would have bothered me 35 years ago, but these days I embrace them. They add character to vintage cards... especially the ones from before I was born.

And thanks for bringing the whole high number and Rod Carew rookie card thing to my attention. A few years ago, I started buying Carew cards here and there and was blown away by how expensive his rookie cards close for, but never took the time to put the puzzle pieces together.
Elliptical Man said…
Marichal wins this round.
bryan was here said…
There's something about high numbers that just hits different. The photography is crisper, the pictures seem better, the player selection.
I like to dabble in the high numbers, at least in the '60s cards. The 66's have some of the most beautiful photos on cards. Even the five-year old headshot of Roger Craig looks so much better. The 67's are no execption. That Dave Ricketts card, the close-up of the Cardinals back-up catcher captures that old-school essence of baseball. He also has an awesome photo on his 1970 high number with the Pirates.

Best of luck in completing your set. One a month should be good. If you're patient enough to wait six years to complete it, you'll be fine.
Mark Hoyle said…
When I started on this set I was in the same mindset as you. But with a little patience you can chip away. You would be surprised. There are a few high numbers that are double prints.
POISON75 said…
I started this set back in 1990 after my mother found a bunch of them at a card/comic book show in Royal Oak,Michigan in a trashcan back in 1985. The cards weren't the best of shape on some but after going through the pile I had a good starter set that she thought it might be a very interesting set to make. Earlier this year I completed the poster inserts. Last month I finally found my Joe Niekro RC at a show for $15. Currently if I don't count the number of variants I am down to 9 of them 21 if I do them if some how I can locate them. All 9 are in the same dreaded 7th series

1967 Topps:

544-Indians Team

552-Ted Savage

568-John Sullivan

573-White Sox Team

580-Rocky Colavito

581-Mets Rookies (T.Seaver)

595-Cookie Rojas

597-Ted Abernathy

600-Brooks Robinson

I am 45 years old but I still like to see this set complete to show my mother that her set as she puts it is complete. The only other good things that came out of that trashcan even though they weren't the best shape but I still kept them in my personal collection were a 1957 Al Kaline & a 1958 Billy Martin. 30 years in counting in trying to get this done Mr. Owl sir we both can continue to work & someday we will finally get this set complete for us to look forward to flipping the pages in the binder on our accomplishment in completing our 1967 Topps baseball set.

You'll probably finish your set before I do mine. ( I'm a cheapskate, lol).
Bo said…
Glad to help! I was very fortunate to have acquired many of the '67 highs in my first big vintage purchase - I had no idea just how lucky until the comments on my blog. I have 43 of them including Wills and the Carew rookie.

Supposedly the Brooks Robinson card was overhyped in the '70s and '80s and is more plentiful than was once feared, though the persistent rumors keep the price so high.
NPB Card Guy said…
That Vern Law card with the Forbes Field scoreboard and Pitt's Cathedral of Learning in the background is awesome.
Unknown said…
Agree with NPB. The backgrounds in the '67 were incredible. Looking to the "bowl" of Yankee Stadium. Even the Spring Training locale (I assume) on the Athletics cards. Not HD photography but I'll take it over the new "you can see the dirt fly" photography of today. I'd to complete the '67. My wife is a patient woman but I can't see me saying "I spent $700 on a piece of cardboard, dear".
bobrzik said…
When I was putting together a 1967 set back in 1985, I looked at what I already had and I had lots of '67 high numbers (7th series), but was lacking many of the 5th and 6th series. Where I grew up (St. Louis), apparently the 7th series high numbers were more readily available than some of the earlier series for some reason.
GCA said…
This is my birth year set, but ever since the National a few years ago showed how much in demand the high #'s are, I've not considered building it (unless I'm helping Mr. Poison up there).
My easy out may be my distant cousin that moved into my grandmother's house who has a complete set. One day I might convince him to sell!
Speaking as someone who has all but 3 of the 1967 cards, may I give you some advice?

Don't let the high numbers issue scare you away from the set. Even collecting 6 series' worth of the cards will be satisfying. (I say that as someone who first followed baseball when these 490 guys (the number of single-player cards) were playing. Those of you whose "idols" (as it were) played in later decades may not get as much enjoyment from this set as I have.

Although I didn't start buying cards until May 1967 (only the 2nd or 3rd series was in stores by then), I was able to get the cards I missed by trading or shooting with friends. By the end of the summer, I had every card in the 1st 6 series except the Cardinals team card. Stores in my area did not sell the 7th series.

I was content with that, and figured I'd never get the missing cards. Then in the 1980s, card shows and card stores in the mall became a thing, and I was able to get all but 5 of the 7th series cards, and the Cardinals team.

"Completing" the set was never a priority for me. Over the years I got sidetracked by collecting all the Phillies cards from 1960-1993, and starting the '63, '64, '65, '66, and '70 sets.

Since starting my blogs 10 years ago, I also got the 1967 Maury Wills and Brooks Robinson cards, so now I am down to needing Tommy John, Rod Carew, and Tom Seaver. I have seen and contemplated picking up the Carew card at a local store, but it was very noticably off-center so I resisted.

I guess the point I wanted to make was, having some 1967 cards is better than no 1967 cards, so you shouldn't get hung up on whether or not completing rhe set is practical.
Nick said…
Creased cards equals cheap(er) cards, which is as good of a reason I have for collecting them! I'll always welcome nice-condition cards, of course, but I'll take a damaged copy for half the price of a good one all day long.

Also, today I learned I own exactly two '67 high numbers: Steve Blass & Jimmy Piersall.
Jonathan said…
As someone who completed the 1967 set last week, I can tell you it is totally possible. Christmas and birthday money were used, and I was very lucky in several ebay auctions, but it can be done. My Seaver was by far the most expensive, but since the original owner bent it in half, I got it for under $400. The Carew is a double print so as long as centering doesn't matter too much you can get that one in decent shape for $250. It was hard, but totally worth it as it gave me the gumption to finish all the 60s sets.

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