The last two cards that I needed to complete the 1981 Coke sets (this will be disputed by a certain noted collector) arrived in the mail today.
Although I've always loved those Coke issues from around this time, I didn't go all-in on them until this year, when other oddball issues from my favorite time period increased in price and availability. In the spring, I did a lot of damage to the Coke sets, but eased off over the following months.
I resumed the chase a few weeks ago. Finally, about a week ago, the last two player cards showed up in the mail.
This is the charm of the sets. Although there is a Nolan Ryan and Pete Rose and George Brett, they aren't necessarily more difficult to obtain than the other cards. That's because mojo hunters -- who only collect stars and rookies -- aren't interested in these much, and isn't it wonderful?
It's so nice that something from my childhood hasn't been run roughshod by "investors" and the like.
Still, although it wasn't the most challenging of sets to finish, it felt like an accomplishment when I landed Griffey and Zachry. I displayed all the cards to show off on Twitter -- because that's what you do on there before you do it here.
That's just glorious. So many feelings from back in the day. Every time I think about how painful my teenage years could be, one look at something like this makes me realize, maybe things weren't so bad.
But as proud as I was of this, I knew it wasn't quite finished. I mentioned that I was missing two of the ad cards, one of them came with each team.
A Twitter follower, Jason (@jschris1), deduced exactly which two I needed -- the Royals and Tigers -- and had happened to be starting a card organizing project with his collection, and those Coke cards were sitting right on top as he began. That's destiny, man.
Still, some folks don't think it's finished. One Keith Olbermann, upon seeing my triumphant display, had to point out the Dave Kingman Cubs variation and the Yankees team cards that were pulled due to sponsorship issues. Both are quite rare.
I explained that I don't concern myself with impossible tasks like that. It's fine for him, he's got access to stuff I never will and has a collection I'll never attain, but there's a certain peace of mind that comes in collecting when you just let specific items go and call it complete. Decades and decades of Topps short-print hijinks has trained me for this.
So I will proudly display this as complete and insist that it is and do it with a smile on my face.
"Coke and a smile" was the Coca-Cola slogan when this set came out and it's quite appropriate. I feel like the kid.