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.