I'm a newbie to writing baseball card blogs, but I'm not a newbie to buying and collecting baseball cards. I've been at this since 1972. I've gotten out a few times for various reasons, but I always get back in.
I'm a set collector first and foremost. Except for a few cards I lack (less than 25 each) from the 1971 and 1972 sets, I've got everything back to 1971. I'm short about 15 on 1964 and I've started on 1970 (about 40%) through it. I loved the sets from the 70's and 80's because they put all the players in it. Now, they didn't put everybody that spent a day on the 25-man roster, but Topps was very representative of showing us not only the superstars, but also the role players at the end of the bench. Take the 1972 Cardinals for example. We got Joe Torre, Lou Brock and Bob Gibson, but we also got Dennis Higgins, Marty Martinez and Art Shamsky. Therefore, the first thing I want is a solid flagship set with most of the players included.
Card stock is another thing I've seen change over the years. In the 70's, we got a cardboard stock that was very conducive to creasing and soft corners. In the late 80's, the quality of the cardboard improved and you don't see the corners getting soft on those cards. Then came 1989 and Upper Deck putting cards on photo-quality paper. I'm all for a quality stock that doesn't crease easily or develop soft corners, but I can do without the gloss on the front that Topps and UD have done lately. I can understand UD doing it with their superior photography and full card coverage (no borders). I prefer the finish of Heritage. This is probably because secondarily I like to collect through the mail autographs and the gloss hinders signatures. The second thing I'd like is a flagship set with a flat finish.
In the 80's I was collecting all sets. I've got all the Fleer, Donruss, Score, Upper Deck, Bowman, Leaf, Ultra and update sets produced through about 1991. At that point I had to back off. Now I'm just at Topps. I know we're down to Topps and UD now, but I'd like to see them weed out some of the sets. I like Bowman (including the Draft Picks/Prospects....guess what I think about Chrome) and Heritage. I like the Allen & Ginter and Goudey, but I haven't bought any. I agree with everyone that says there are too many superfluous sets. However, if the card companies need to produce X or whatever to provide enough of a profit margin to give us a good base set at a decent price, go ahead. In fact, load those sets up with the chase cards that "high end" collectors want. I don't need that. The third thing I'd like is a flagship set and a secondary set largely free of chase cards.
As a set collector, and especially since I'm getting ready to go after sets in the late 60's, it's really difficult to think about paying premium prices for role players just because they're high numbers (those were yesteryear's short prints). It's even more difficult when it's a rookie card of a Hall of Famer that falls into the short prints. Throw us a bone and have an even collation and equal printing in the flagship set. If they want to have the gimmicks and short prints in some of the secondary sets -- go for it.
I understand that profit is important for the card companies. Some of the things I want aren't going to be possible because of the need to make money. However, I'd like it if the card companies really looked long at all of the secondary sets to see if there are some that are a drag on their profits and get rid of them. However, if I have to put up with some of the stuff I don't want in order to have a quality photo on a quality card (contrast with the 1968 set -- photography looks like Napoleon Dynamite's friend Deb might have done it), then so be it.
One thing I've learned. I may not like what the card companies do, but I just can't see me not buying the Topps flagship set for that year. If you haven't figured it out, a lot of my requests could be accomplished by the card designers getting into a DeLorean at 88 mph. I like the older sets more than I like the modern cards. However, I'll always be there. I'm looking forward to 2009, but for now, it's back to 1972.
It's what's on the inside that counts
3 hours ago