One game-changer to writing my own blog was that no cards seemed to be out of my reach anymore.
What had seemed unattainable before was surprisingly doable, thanks to reader generosity and simply the publicity the blog has given me.
I've reminded myself of that blog phenomenon over and over and tried to rid myself of the "oh, I'll never be able to finish that" mind-set that has been my safety net against disappointment in this hobby for decades.
But there are still impossible quests. No one will be able to convince me that they are not.
The main one is completing the 1952 Topps Dodgers team set.
Supposedly it can be done. It's not like one of the cards is a 1 of 1. But it's still impossible to me.
Every collector knows about cards 311-407 in the 1952 Topps set, the high-number series in which many of the cards were off-loaded into the ocean because all the unsold cases were taking up warehouse space. The surviving fourth-series cards, already rare because the final series was always printed in fewer quantities, are not cheap.
If I collected a team like, say, the A's or the Tigers, I might be able to land the couple of high-numbers that feature those teams in that set. But as a Dodgers fan, I can forget about owning them all. That's because the Dodgers have more high numbers in the '52 set than any other team. By kind of a lot. Here is the count:
1. Dodgers - 16
2. Giants - 12
3. Pirates - 10
4. Cubs - 9
4. Red Sox - 9
4. Reds - 9
7. Yankees - 7
8. Braves - 5
9. Cardinals - 4
9. Phillies - 4
11. Athletics - 3
11. Browns - 3
11. Indians - 3
14. Tigers - 2
15. Senators - 1
16. White Sox - 0 (lucky bastards)
I haven't even gotten a single Dodgers high-number from '52, let alone 16 of them. A couple of other teams have their own problems (i.e. Yankees/Mantle), but getting 16 near-impossible cards on a writer's salary is right up there.
Even when I land a 1952 Dodger that is not a high-number it feels like an accomplishment. The Billy Cox at the top of the post is my most recent. It's my 10th Dodger from this set and there are still a fair number of lower numbers to go (including Hodges and Snider).
When I add a '52 Dodger to my collection, I do feel like anything is possible, that's how cool those cards are. But in more rational moments, I know that it's terribly unlikely.
This is why the reprint/archives sets of the 1980s and '90s are so useful. I have all of the 1952 Topps Dodgers from the 1995 Archives Brooklyn Dodgers set and that will get me through the rest of my days as far as "having" the '52 high numbers. Here they all are, all 16:
Sure, they're not the right size, they're too slick and none of them feature the card condition that I'm accustomed to for early '50s cards.
But I get to hold them in my hands and look at them and that's the important part. If someone comes to my house and asks me "what do all of the 1952 Topps Brooklyn Dodgers cards look like?" I'll be able to show them physical copies.
That's not going to happen. But this still makes me happy. And it's the best I can do when the task is impossible.