The Bucket List

One of my favorite people to chat with about the hobby is Ryan (@basecardhero).  We have DM chat sessions sometimes that are probably like a couple of teen girls on the telephone reading Tiger Beat circa 1992.  That’s probably extreme but yeah, we have some entertaining banter.  We talk about hobby happenings, things we like and don’t like and what we are currently working on as it relates to sets or players.  I enjoy those conversations because we are a lot alike from a collecting standpoint.  Trust me, there is a lot to talk about when we chat.  The pic below is one he sent me of the cards he is sorting now.  My little collector brain almost exploded.  Our last conversation sparked an idea for this blog post. We were talking about the pains of hearing about “Zeke and Dak” and how the hype has made them less collectible in our eyes.  The conversation turned to hot prospects and Rookies of our youth and how we would’ve never tired of hearing about Ken Griffey Jr.  That led us to his 1989 Upper Deck Rookie Card.  More about that in a minute.I’ve been collecting a long time.  I started at around 11 and with a few hiccups along the way for growing up and experiencing new things; I am going on 30 years of lusting after cardboard.  I’ve picked up a lot of pieces along the way that have made me proud of my collection and I’ve talked about those in pretty good detail over the last couple of weeks in my “What’s In The Fireproof” series.  I also touched a little on things that are missing from my collection that I hope to add.  Robert Ballis (@RBallis) made a tremendously kind donation to that list with the addition of the Frank Thomas Autographed White Sox jersey a couple of weeks ago.  I am still searching for a way to somewhat even the score with Mr. Ballis.But the items I listed that I want for my collection are “wants” and are a matter of making purchases or trades.  Sometimes those items can be added with unmatched kindness like that shown by Robert.   There are other things that I list on my “Collecting Bucket List” that aren’t just pieces that are added.  The bucket list is filled with items that I am going to have to work for as a collector to add.  They are items that aren’t going to pop up on eBay and I click “buy”.  You can actually do that for almost anything but I’m working on a budget here.  I use a bucket list to outline “accomplishments” and not necessarily treasure items that are in my collection.  Although when the accomplishments are completed, they no doubt yield treasures.  Does that make any sense?Bottom line is I have a “wants” list and a “bucket list” and the bucket list is what I want to talk about today.  I WANT a UGA bloodline bulldog for the family and one day, maybe I’ll own one.  And that will be a glorious day much like the day I received the Thomas Jersey.  But on my BUCKET LIST, is traveling to Santa Monica and singing along to Everclear on the pier as the sun goes down.  When that gets accomplished, I know I can look back on my life and know that I met some goals.  Do you see the difference?  They are both great, but both very different.  So, enough half-ass explaining what I am trying to say and on to the actual bucket list.

  • I want to pull a 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey, Jr. from an actual unopened pack.  I know what you’re thinking; that’s not that big of a deal.  Let me tell you where I am coming from on this.  I have bought pack lots and boxes off of eBay for as long as eBay’s been around and it’s never happened.  The thing about ’89 Upper Deck is that even though they advertised “tamper proof” packs and more “advanced collating”, there a still a boatload of collectors that can tell you right where the Jr. is in most boxes.  And many more can open a couple of packs and figure it out.  I am not one of those people but I’m sure the boxes I have bought before have been picked over to a large extent and the Jr. has been removed.  It’s also an extremely large set, even by 80’s standards, with a checklist of 800 cards.  I didn’t get to buy many packs in ’89 because they were “so expensive” and they really weren’t available at my Wal-Mart.  I have 2 Jr’s in my collection but those were both obtained through buying the sets at reasonable prices.  I want that thrill of pulling one in a pack and it continues to elude me.
  • Let me increase the intensity just a hair with this one.  I want to own the complete 1984 USFL Topps Premier Edition.  Of course, these are available on eBay but again, the budget issue.  I can’t spend that kind of money on a box of sports cards as long as I have kids in the house.  I don’t know if I could sleep at night.  That doesn’t mean I don’t look at it quite often on the various auction sites where it’s found.  I keep thinking that one day I’ll stumble on to one at one of the many vintage or antique shops I visit in my travels.  In the meantime, I pick up singles when I can find them.  If not put together over time, then one day I’ll have enough disposable income to spend on the set.  When I get to that point, I will be satisfied with my economic standing in life.  Again, that’s an accomplishment.  The ’84 USFL Set provides the first football cards for a plethora of NFL legends.  Among them are Reggie White, Steve Young, Jim Kelly and Herschel Walker.  There are also very serviceable NFL’ers like JoJo Townsell, Ricky Sanders, Anthony Carter, Doug Williams and Mike Rozier.  The list is much more extensive but I have to move on.
  • While we are on 1984, we might as well discuss the NFL version of ’84 Topps.  This is a set I want to put together through singles and packs when I can find them.  This set is even more prestigious than the USFL version and remains one of the most sought after football sets since 1981.  This set includes the rookies of John Elway, Dan Marino, Howie Long and Eric Dickerson.  Along with those star rookies, the “veterans” in the set include Walter Payton, Franco Harris, Ozzie Newsome, Jack Lambert and Joe Montana.  The set is loaded and the price for a box reflects it.  The packs will run you $40 and the dad gum empty box costs almost $100!  This one is going to take some time one card at a time but anything is possible.
  • Continuing the theme with sets I want to build, I want to put together a pre-1980 set of any sport.  I have looked at a few that I like but I’ve just never started the process.  I know that it’s going to take some time and I usually occupy myself with 80’s sets but I want to tackle this one eventually.  I like the 1975 baseball set and (@waxtopia) just brought that one back to the forefront for me.  But otherwise, I also like ’73 and ’79 baseball.  I would love to put together the 1972-73 Basketball set but that is a long shot.  As for football, 1973 is probably my favorite design but if I’m going to do it, I might as well try for ’76 when Sweetness was a rookie.  This one is a solid goal for me but I don’t know when I’ll get around to starting it.
  • Finally, the king of all bucket list items; 1986 Fleer Basketball.  Most collectors know that basketball left the card market after the ’81-’82 Topps set and would make a triumphant return in 1986 with Fleer.  If only I had known in 1986 just how important this set would be.  It was essentially a majority rookie set because it was the first basketball card for half the league.  Everyone knows about Michael Jordan’s rookie card in the set and I have that on my wants list.  But also included in the “RC” category are James Worthy, Chris Mullin, Isaiah Thomas, Clyde Drexler, Dominique Wilkins, Patrick Ewing, Hakeem Olajuwon, Karl Malone and Charles Barkley.  Let that sink in for a minute.  A large portion of the leagues very best players throughout the 80’s and 90’s have rookie cards in the 1986 Fleer set.  Singles are tough to get and are expensive, even for semi-stars.  The other issue with Fleer is counterfeits.  There are tons of Jordan’s but there are others that can trip you up on your way to a complete set when buy one or two at a time.  I will admit that this probably has a slim chance of success but it’s on the bucket list for a reason.  It is the ultimate goal for me as a card collector.

Another “item” I want to add that is a cross-over to my bucket list is a Jackie Robinson baseball card.  I don’t really care what condition or what year but I will add an authentic, non-reprint Jackie one day.  You know exactly where it’s going to go when I get it too!  What are some of your goals as a collector?  What are some of the sets or pack pulls that have eluded you over time?  Technology and access to cards has made the bucket list much smaller than it used to be but there are still lofty goals that each of us have circled that we want to meet.  For me, the ultimate culmination of this crazy life would be me sitting at the end of the Santa Monica pier with Mrs. Dub, singing “We could live beside the ocean” all while thumbing through my set of 1986-87 Fleer basketball cards.  If things go the way I have them planned in my mind, that dream will one day become reality.


3 thoughts on “The Bucket List”

  1. Great post! My “bucket list” card is a Ted Williams RC. It’s a huge investment, and I came close this year on a low-grade copy but there were serious issues with it that weren’t visible in the listing scan. I also went to my first-ever National and I couldn’t find a low-grade copy with decent centering. My search continues….

    1. It’s super fun but can be super deflating at times too. That’s part of collecting though I suppose. Best of luck to you!

  2. I don’t have a specific bucket list, and there aren’t any particular white whales out there that will haunt me to the end of my days. That said, I would like to do a few projects.

    I never got away from non-sport, gaming, and (mostly NHL and ACC basketball) memorabilia, but most of my efforts were assisting my father in the growth of his collection. I’ve only been back into MLB for a few years, and only back into baseball cards for the last year and a half. For my first project, I’d like to open a couple boxes of cards from each year that I missed, from 1995 to 2015.

    Another thing I’d like to do is finish some of my efforts from my early days of collecting. I want to wrap up my 1978 Topps set. I’m well over halfway there, and it shouldn’t be too tough. I also want to get my hands on a high grade Dale Murphy rookie card. There are precious few graded cards in my collection, and I want to change that.

    I also want to experience the hobby from the other side. I want to try my hand at running a few breaks, and I’ve always wanted to set up shop at a card show, or maybe the regional flea market at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds.

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