A little over a year ago I got this card in a COMC shipment:
Nice little card, right? A pretty decent addition to one’s collection, plus it completed my 1973 Topps set.
I’ve been meaning to write about it since I got it… No, wait, strike that; it’s not entirely true. I’ve written plenty about it, I just never finished a post… Until now.
I’d been keeping an eye out for this card on-and-off for 40 years. The basic issue all along has been finding one that fits within my “hobby budget”.
I say “budget”, but it’s more involved than what I can or can’t afford. A large part of it involves an understanding of how much joy a purchase will bring me. Generally speaking, I usually get much more joy from four $5 cards than I would from one $20 card.
There’s also fear involved… Growing up in the suburbs of New York City, I was instilled with a healthy dose of cynicism and caution. There’s always the fear that I’ll unwittingly spend $50 on a card that turns out to be fake.
Anyway, the whole point of this is to say that when my 1973 Topps set got to 659 cards, I took some time, meditated on it for a while, and came to the conclusion that acquiring card #615 was almost completely about completing the set. The fact that it is Mike Schmidt’s rookie card is fun, but honestly doesn’t carry much weight for me.
I decided that the amount of satisfaction I would get out of having 660 cards instead of 659 would be worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $20-$25. If this was a realistic goal, fantastic. If not… Oh well. My life will go on and I’ll spend my money on cool cards from other sets.
Condition was never an issue. I didn’t care if it was creased, dog-eared, gum-stained, miscut and pulled out of a scrapbook into which it had been glued down. I didn’t care if someone had drawn glasses, a beard and Martian antennae drawn on Ron Cey. I’m not even sure I cared if Mike Schmidt was the one with blue ballpoint facial hair.
I mean, come on. My copy of card #1 in the set looks like this:
Obviously, I’m not a stickler for condition. I originally told myself that I was going to upgrade this card at some point, but I’ve actually become kinda attached to this mangled bit of cardboard. As Charlie Brown would say “This card needs me”.
Anyway, back to the rookie card…. I mentioned my hoped-for price range to a couple of dealers I’m friendly with. Because of the relationship we already had, they didn’t laugh in my face and call me delusional. Instead the merely cautioned me not to get my hopes up.
One weekday morning I was poking through my RSS reader to see if anything I’d been looking for had entered COMC’s inventory. As usual, going down the list resulted in nothing, nothing nothing… until I got to the bottom of the page where the entry for 1973 Topps #615 was. There was a new one in lesser condition that showed up overnight… let’s take a look at what they want for it.
They have it on sale for $21.45?
And I froze up as if the entire world were buffering.
…and my brain stayed frozen for a few moments, until the rational part of my brain rebooted, whacked me upside the head and said “Joe! JOE! Snap out of it! This is EXACTLY what you’ve been looking for! Don’t let someone else buy it out from under you! Click on “Buy Now”! Click on it! Click! Click! ClickClickClickCLICKCLICKCLICK!!!!!!!”
And I clicked on the “Buy Now” button.
Well, OK, first I examined the COMC images as closely as I could to make sure that the card looked legit. THEN I clicked on “Buy Now”.
And I confirmed the purchase.
And the card was sitting in my inventory.
And I wasn’t ecstatic. I wasn’t euphoric. I didn’t walk around all day with a big smile on my face.
I was stunned. I went to work in a state of disbelief. During the day, I checked my email to make sure that nobody at COMC said “Sorry, it was all a big mistake, we’re refunding your money”.
When I got home, I double-checked my “Ready To Ship” inventory to see if the card were truly there and I didn’t imagine it.
When I got the card shipped from COMC, I examined it as best I could, still wondering if it might be a counterfeit. As someone who’s handled 1973 cards for 40+ years, I’m pretty confident that this card is legit, but if anyone wants to point me towards any resources on how to spot a counterfeit Schmidt rookie, I’ll try to be open-minded.
So once I got this valuable card, this key part of the 1973 set, what did I do with it?
Hell yeah, I put it in the binder with the rest of my set.