I’ve never been so excited to see a Dallas Cowboy.
I recently picked up this 1975 Cliff Harris card, and when I got it home and slipped it into the appropriate binder sheet, I had officially finished a football set that I’d started collecting through wax packs back in 1975.
Just a little side note: The images that accompany this post are some of the cards I’ve picked up over the past few years to complete the set.
In 1975, I went nuts for card collecting. If it came in a wax wrapper, I was spending my allowance on it. I completed the Topps baseball set that year, bought a lot of Wacky Packs – admittedly, everybody in my elementary school bought Wacky Packs – and bought a bunch of Fleer “Pioneers of Baseball” (which is one of the few sets I still can’t put a finger on).
I also bought a lot of Topps football back in 1975, more football than I’d ever bought before or since. For whatever reason, I didn’t get into 1976 football quite the same way, and after that my post-baseball pack buying switched over to hockey. I still enjoyed the football cards I had, but I didn’t bother going any further with it.
Over the years, I gave some thoughts to working on the set again, but I kept coming up against the same obstacle: the Dan Fouts rookie. I don’t know what “book” is on this, but I’d seen the card selling for $20-30, and that was much more than it was worth to me.
About five years ago I decided to make an effort to complete the set… but with limits on both spending and condition. I decided to put a $10 limit of how much I’d spend on any given card in the set (I think I ended up getting this Fouts for $7), and I also decided not to get anything that was nicer than VG/EX. As a kid, I took better care of my cards than most other kids did, but that still meant dinged corners and the occasional minor crease. I wasn’t going to upgrade the cards I’ve had all these years, so there’s no point in getting mint cards when 75% of the set was VG/EX at best and would stay that way.
For a couple of years, “working on the set” meant keeping one eye out looking for affordable, lesser condition stars that I needed. Once I got the Fouts and a couple of other key cards out of the way, I ramped up my efforts.
It finally came down to two rookies named Cliff. I got Cliff Branch on COMC…
…but for some reason I had an issue finding a Cliff Harris rookie that was selling within my price range… until the show I’d mentioned up top.
And now, a long-term, on-and-off goal has finally been accomplished! And I’ve got a big, ol’ grin on my face.
Now that I’m finished with this set, I’m tempted to resume another non-baseball set from my younger days, but I’m not sure what that would be. My kneejerk reaction is to complete the 1979/80 Hockey set, one I’ve always loved…
…But the main obstacle for that one can be summed up in two words:
Of course, I could always make my goal to collect everything in that set except for the Gretzky rookie, and I can just leave the spot blank or buy a reprint or something.
…Or maybe I should stop taking on “just one more set” and focus on my main priorities.
But where’s the fun in that?