Sunday, July 24, 2011

A binder is a beautiful thing

My 1972 Topps cards were placed in a binder yesterday.

Well, two-thirds of them anyway. I ran out of pages, which is a constant problem. I'm always rationing pages.

But that's OK, because the final third of the set is where I'm missing a whole bunch of cards, and it's always a little painful staring at all those blank pockets.

That's the least appealing part of using a binder to display a set. But for me the rest is all positive. I absolutely love the binder method for a set. I would never put a set that I like in a box. That doesn't make sense to me. Sets are meant to be displayed in tic-tac-toe fashion and shown off by the proud collecting papa. Let that baby breathe!

But the best part of the binder storage method is looking forward to how the cards will be displayed. Which players will be featured together on a page? Which colors will sit next to each other? Will there be that weird little quirk in which a player from the same team is displayed side-by-side? Where will the subsets pop up?

And, what will Chapter 1 look like?

Chapter 1 is the opening page of the binder, and it becomes the most familiar page in the binder. For many sets, I have memorized the first nine cards in the set because of that first page. I can rattle the page off without opening the binder.

Those collecting the 1972 set probably know this page well. The Pirates World Champion team card. The Stan Williams night card. Ron Swoboda's melon head, the abruptly early checklist card, clocking in at No. 4.

After putting the first two-thirds of the cards in the binder, I counted 15 completed pages. I don't expect to find any more when I put the rest of the set in, since the last 300 cards are the most difficult to land.

Right now, here is my favorite completed page:

A lot of notable characters right there. And some great card photos, too.

Here is another great one. The page offers the wonderful cartoon Oriole bird, a Red tossing pitches in his warm-up jacket, the Yankees team coming off a fourth-place finish (just how I like it), tough guy Leron Lee, nerdy-looking Tom Timmerman and Frank Linzy, Rich Allen pretending he's a White Sox (he's really a Phillie), Rollie without a mustache, and Don Mincher wearing a cap that someone sat on.

The players on these pages will be linked together forever. They may not be teammates, but here, in the '72 arrangement, Rollie Fingers, Tom Timmerman and Rich Allen will always be binder teammates.

This page needs a little work. But it illustrates the enjoyable aspect of organizing a binder. Look at the middle column. Shamsky, Moses and Pavletich appear to have all been hit by the same stench at the same time. And they are forever portrayed as reeling in unison from the same odor. Look, even Sparky is laughing, and Watson is pretending he's not the culprit.

A binder tells stories, just like a book. I guess that explains why I have so many binders. (I think it's between 45-50).

It's going to be a long time before I complete the '72 set. But getting it into a binder is a major step. I'll probably buy the rest of the pages for it this week.

The few high numbers that I have will be lonely in their pages for awhile. But slowly I'll add some friends -- some new binder teammates. And the character of the '72 set will slowly take shape, all within the binder.


  1. That is an awesome looking set. I have some random 72s that I dont need. I'll check your wantlists and see if I could help you out,Godfather.

  2. Crazy thought... Topps should recall all old Rollie Fingers cards, airbrush a stache on him, and send the cards back to everybody. I just can't get used to the hairless Fingers... he looks unfinished. Airbrushing should work too, as it'd be in the spirit of the times of the card.

    (don't worry folks. I'm not entirely serious about that idea)

  3. In binders of nine card sheets is how God intended cards to be displayed, not in acrylic slabs with labels I say. The '59 set page with Brooks and Frank Robinson together with Lou Burdette is sweet. But the best page in my '59 binder had the Gibson, Cuellar and Killebrew rookies. It's a damn museum piece.

    Great post Night Owl. Made my morning already!

  4. Am I the only one who has their cards in binders arranged by team, and not numerically?

  5. Jim ~

    I arrange binders by team if my set is a long way from completion or I don't intend on completing it. But once I've made it a set "to complete" then I put it in order by number.

  6. I'm with you Jim, I track the set by the numbers, but keep 'em in a box (in penny sleeves if it's vintage) until I get most of the way there and then put 'em in teams. Team card and stars first, then managers, then the rest of the players with the Rookie Stars at the end, being careful to leave spaces for the last few that are still missing.
    Binders are always begun with the league leaders, World Series, checklists, and misc rookies in the front. Then teams organized by their finish that year.