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Slowly but surely someday

I've made do in this hobby despite working a job that is known for not paying well.

I made the decision a long time ago to go into a profession because I enjoyed it, not because it made a lot of money. I've gotten used to scraping by -- have done it for decades -- and have enjoyed stability in a notoriously unstable line of work.

There's not a lot of cash for cards. I've written about that many times on this blog. It goes in stages, sometimes I have extra for cards, many times I don't.

My card interests are relatively affordable but in the last five years where almost any card worth having is too much money, it's difficult to get what I want. It takes longer. I need to be patient, which for someone who is not 25 anymore, is not the virtue it once was.
I am currently chasing two vintage sets, 1969 and 1970 Topps (well, three if you throw in the 1967 Topps insanity). I am 90 cards away from finishing 1969 and 53 from completing 1970. It feels like it's taking forever, but if I think back to my totals about three or four years ago, I know I'd be stunned that I am this close.
It's taken some resourcefulness. Cards like '69 and '70 do not show up in blog trades like they once did. The best place to get those kinds of cards is at a card show, but those don't pop up as often as I'd like.
Ebay is a possibility but most stuff is annoyingly overpriced. COMC is the same, often worse. Sportlots is more reasonable but even that has gotten pricey sometimes. That's why I'm glad I have Twitter.
I landed a few 1970 needs, many of them higher numbers, from Trevor (@Tec872). It's more affordable than picking them up elsewhere. The only challenge is you have to be around when the sale is happening and also you need to be quick. There are a lot of vultures.

The Cardinals team card. That is a squad with Brock and Gibson (pick them out yourself) and desperately clinging to its '60s prowess before they plunge into a decade of mediocrity. 

Key card of The Big Orange. Staub isn't one of those players who lives in the high numbers, but he seems to be on the next level down in quite a few sets. I don't think I had ever seen this card before and I was nearly beaten to the punch for it.

Ted Savage practically played for a new team every year. On this card he's with the Reds. The next year he is a Brewer. In '69 he's a Dodger. In '68 a Cub. Before that the Pirates and the Phillies.

Another team card down (all the 1970 team cards are bunched into the back half of the set). This contains a couple minor creases but it's in better shape than the one I had in my ebay cart that cost a lot more.

'Ol Buck Martinez on his rookie card. He assumed this pose in '72 and '75 as well, which is why I momentarily thought I owned it already.
This is not a high number nor even fills a hole. It's an upgrade. I've owned a 1970 Lou Brock since the time I had maybe 23 1970 Topps cards (which wasn't that long ago). It's well-worn and it was time to brush up a little.

So that was a nice selection that helped me whittle down my 1970 wants a little more, until the next card show, probably.

There's still the matter of that Nolan Ryan card. And for the 1969 set, there's still the matter of Nolan Ryan, Reggie Jackson and Johnny Bench.

But I did something about that through a Twitter buy, too.

Dylan (@CardsStory) was unloading his impressive catchers cards collection to fund some other card purchases. I was lucky enough to be paying attention when he posted one card for sale for a price I could afford.

I even had time to think about it a little before I decided I wanted it.

This second-year Bench has some issues. It's the only way I could land it. It's got good-sized creases in the lower left, four worn corners, it's off-center and there are a couple of thumb-tack marks or whatever the heck people were doing to cards in 1969.

But it's a clean photo and perfect for my set build and I will not be a bit concerned that it's in less-fancy shape than the cards next to it. That's sometimes an issue for me. It won't be this time.

Here is the card back because the high rollers never show the backs of their big spendy purchases.

I like seeing the Buffalo stats on this card and the glowing review. Young Bench is not how I remember him. The first card of his I saw and owned was his 1975 Topps card. But I got to know him as a player more when he looked like this:

So, yeah, it's very cool to get a Bench card from his early days. I know the young collector in me, circa 1978, would think it is extremely wild.

That's the pace I'm going to have to stay at when acquiring future '69 and '70 cards, I don't see the price going down on that stuff. But who knows.
The hobby has surprised me before. See today's post.


Doc Samson said…
An excellent post, Mr. Owl. I am currently an independent contractor and don’t have anything resembling a steady income. I will try to control myself when it comes to future purchases (I love buying complete sets.) The odds of controlling myself are very, very low, though.
About 20 years ago I decided I needed an old Johhny Bench card in the collection and purchased a copy of that '69 Topps, in about the same condition as yours. It's one of a handful of cards that are more cherished than all the others in my collection.
Nick said…
I saw your claim of that '69 Bench on Twitter and was glad you were able to steal that one. It's great what a few tiny flaws can do to a card's price.

My job is by no means well-paying, but I usually have a few extra bucks to spend on cards these days, which makes it hard to control my impulses when I see a card I want. Just too easy to click that "BUY" button sometimes.
Michael D said…
I love your patience...What's funny about me is I'm patient for collecting the older sets, taking my time and being particular on how the card looks for the price, etc...I've walked away from many a card that way. However, I'm not very patient when it comes to collecting this year's set. Waiting on pins and needles for Series 2 to show up in my neighborhood Walmart.
I am battling those impulses. I told myself I wasn't going to go to a show this weekend, then a dealer asked me to stop by today actually, but I resisted but now thinking I will go tomorrow. I have to stop damnit. I can't I'm addicted. Shoot me an e-mail with the remaining 69's and 70's needs.
Old Cards said…
The 69 Bench looks great! Like your description of Ebay prices and couldn't agree more. Glad to see you getting closer on completion of the 69 and 70 sets.
sg488 said…
Good luck on getting that Reggie rookie hope you can find one that meets your budget/condition standards.
Matt said…
With so much going on in my life and expenses on the rise its really hard to pick up anything now. Trading has gone down as shipping is too much. So I get having to be patient for the important and long chases. I have many sets I am only a few cards off from I have been waiting on.
Fuji said…
I wrap up my school year with life project... where students roll the dice and get a career (and potentially a family). They learn stuff like taxes, cost of living expenses, etc. Anyways... we end up doing a potential career interest activity and I always encourage them to choose a profession they will enjoy. I can't imagine waking up 5 days a week to a job I dread.

P.S. I don't often regret not utilizing Twitter... but this post makes a great argument for me to check it out periodically.
1984 Tigers said…
I lucked out in the early 80s when a friend got huge lots of 70 and 71 topps highs from a dealer. Love the highs both years. 1970 has Kaline (all time favorite player), F Rob, Ryan (great card), Bench in 1st MVP year which is a bear to find in nice condition, plus Pilots only team card.

Most of the pilots cards are either in Yankees stadium or in their Arizona spring training.

Plus the 2nd from last series has Mays, Banks, and tough to get Rose.

My personal favorite from the set is 500 Hank Aaron, with him in the locker room holding a ball and the glove tucked under his arm.

Paul t
Bo said…
I'm almost done with '73, should be down to 3 left pending an incoming trade. After that I'll have '69 in my sights, 62 remaining there but just about all of the tough ones still needed. Not nearly as close on '70-'72, mostly because of the high numbers.
Jon said…
I'm sure that there's some people who've been working on, and yet to complete, these sets since they came out, who would be amazed at the progress you've made so far.
carlsonjok said…
I think I build sets at about the same pace as you do. Three to four years, start to finish. I have moved pretty quickly on 1969, being only six cards from finishing after two years. I managed to find a reasonably priced Bench at a show this weekend. However, two of my remaining cards are the Nolan Ryan second year and the Rollie Fingers rookie. So, in the end, it may end up being 3-4 years on this set also. The prices on those two cards is nuts.
Jimetal7212 said…
Getting there on my 70 set, down to 2 (Pete Ward, Santo). I could just suck it up and eBay them but, yeah... Working 69 too and short pretty much all the key cards. Feels like I'm in insanity mode considering how outrageous pricing has gotten.
GTT said…
Beautiful Johnny Bench!
Benjamin said…
@michael D I'm with you; building an older set feels like it should take time to finish, for some reason. Like hunting down pieces of history from various places. New sets are plentiful and it feels like you a) should be able to get them quickly and b) want to snatch them up before vultures steal all the "good" cards and hoard them or sell them on eBay for 10x as much.
Paul Hadsall said…
Those are some great cards. I like that your Johnny Bench card feels like it has some history behind it.
Jafronius said…
Congrats on the pickups!