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Monday, March 23, 2015

BASEBALL CARDS - a cranky re-run


This cranky re-run is from September 2013
This re-run was inspired by a Suldog re-run    You should all read it, it will bring back memories for a lot of you guys and for the ladies it might give you some insight into what goes on in the fertile mind of a nine year old boy, and by fertile I mean full know.

Did you read it?  Good isn't it.  This is my take on the same subject.


Growing up in the fifties, there was one economic law that every young boy knew only too well; the law of supply and demand.  That economic rule was hammered home very clearly to every boy that collected baseball cards.

In the fifties you could not just go to the store and buy a complete set of every baseball card Topps made for the year, you bought your cards in packs of five.  A pack of cards cost five cents.  Each pack had five cards and a flat piece of bubble gum.  Sometimes we actually chewed the gum, but it was not nearly as good as the roll of six pieces of bazooka you got for a nickel.

Opening the pack to see what cards you got was always exciting.  I lived in Long Island, New York.  If you got a card of any player from any of the three New York Teams, it was a big deal.  I’m guessing that if you lived in St. Louis, New York players were a dime a dozen.  In New York they were rare. 

The rarest yet were the big three, center-fielders Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, and Duke Snider.  We gambled for baseball cards by flipping them, first heads up wins, or flinging them against a wall, closest wins.  No one ever used one of the NY center-fielders in a flip or wall game.

We used baseball cards in our bikes to simulate a motor sound.  A clothes pin held the card into the spokes, and the resulting snapping sound was considered very cool.  No one used Mickey, Willie or the Duke in their spokes.

We also traded cards in an attempt to get a full set, or at least get all the players from your favorite team.  Unless you somehow had duplicates of  Mickey, Willie, or the Duke, you would never trade them.  If you had duplicates, they would fetch many cards in trade.

Mickey, Willie and the Duke were in very short supply and the demand was unlimited.  Some cards of other players seemed to be in almost every pack and had zero value except for flipping or jamming in your bicycle spokes.

Two players stick out in my mind.  Virgil “Fire” Trucks was a very successful pitcher.  In 1952 he became only the third pitcher to ever pitch two no-hitters in one season…and yet…Virgil seemed to be in almost every pack.  Bobby Shantz was a left handed pitcher who was the National League MVP in 1952 and yet in 1955 his card was a rare as a blade of grass.

One thing about the law of supply and demand, it made it a thrill when-ever you opened a pack and found one of the rare cards.  It made it exciting every time you tore open a nickel pack with the great anticipation of finding a player with an interlocking NY or a Brooklyn B on their cap.

It is little wonder that cards from the fifties and before can be worth thousands of dollars today.  Many were rare, and they had to survive bicycle spokes, flipping, bends, folds, rubber band dents, and mothers who threw them away to make space while you went off to college.

Kids today get all the cards of all the players of all the teams in one big purchase. 

“Happy Birthday son…baseball cards!  Don’t use them, don’t touch them, file them away in plastic covers.  In thirty years they will be worth a fortune!”

No they won’t dad.  Everyone has them.  You just buy them.  

Simple and easy just like lots of stuff today and everyone saves them untouched and pristine so someday they will be valuable.  But they won’t be valuable because they are in easy supply and the demand will be small.

Demand will be small because today’s young boys will have no pleasant memories of playing with those cards.   

They will never have experienced the thrill of getting lucky enough to find in that little nickel pack a Mickey, a Willie, or a Duke.

It is simple Economics 101; it is the Law of Supply and Demand.


  1. Nice to read the information from your blog!

  2. I remember the boys doing this back in my youth. It was a big deal. I so remember all of this.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

  3. my husband collected them a few years back - like you said, buy 'em in bulk and let 'em sit.

  4. Good Monday Morning. When I young ( I'm 65 ) I used to have baseball cards and hockey cards. I really enjoyed them. I wished that I had kept them. Sill of me letting them go. Have a wonderful Day. See ya.

    Cruisin Paul

  5. Even I had baseball cards. Heck, back in the day if you didn't 't have any people thought you were a communist.

  6. I read past the "economics" of these cards to the sweet story of a young happy boy of the 50s, effortlessly learning valued traits like patience, fairness and creativity though carefree unorganized play.
    My sisters and I stitched our own wobbly old doll clothes because 100 piece Barbie "wardrobe sets" weren't around yet to deny us the satisfaction of productivity in the same way pre-packed card collections spoil things for little boys today.

  7. You are right. It's fun to collect and trade and enjoy, that's what gives them value later on.

  8. Well phooey, I didn't know they were so easy to get these days. That really does take the fun and the value out.

  9. I remember making card houses out of baseball cards. I also remember getting them in gum. Geesh, those were the days! But you are right, supply and demand. Its hard to impress value on something in the future for kids that might enjoy immediate gratification.


  10. We didn't have baseball cards in Germany, but I remember doing the same with cards of animals. There was one exotic, elk-like animal that was so rare that nobody in my circle of friends had it. Kids really are the same all over the world.

  11. With my boys, it was Yu-Gi-Oh cards. They wouldn't know which end of a bat to hold.

  12. Joe, what can I say? Great tale-telling, as always. Thank you for the kind words (and the link.)

  13. We lived in the same small town as Ivy Paul Andrews who pitched for the Yankees in the late 1930s.
    His wife was our homeroom teacher in high school. Once she invited us to her home and it was a museum of baseball memorabilia.
    I could have stayed there for days looking. She had a Christmas Card from Babe Ruth from Japan when he went there to introduce baseball.