Skip to content

Charlie Finley Would’ve Been Proud (if he’d been born yet)

Last summer I did a post on Craig Brown’s excellent Threads of Our Game site, which aims to be a Dressed to the Nines-style database for pre-1900 baseball uniforms.

Craig updates the site based on his own research and, especially, research submissions that are sent to him. He’s recently made some major finds regarding National League teams that used color-coded uniforms — a specific color for each position on the field. Here’s Craig with an explanation (for all the links, I recommend scrolling down past the mock-up to see the background research and documentation, much of which is fascinating):

The driver behind these color-coding experiments was the Chicago National League team and Albert Spalding, who was launching his sporting goods business and securing manufacturing contracts with the league. The concept of players wearing numbers was decades away, so the idea was to identify the players on the field by individual colors, and then have those same colors next to the players’ names in the scorecards. Many if not all of these color-coding experiments were abandoned during their respective seasons, though exact documentation of when is yet to be pinpointed.

In 1876, Chicago became the first team to wear color-coded their caps. They did it again in 1877, and then they took it to the next level in 1879, adding color-coded ties, belts, and banded stockings to the mix:

Color-coded caps were also used by Minneapolis in 1877 and Worcester, Mass., in 1879. A newspaper report from the time said, “The Worcesters have decided that each man shall wear an inch band of a particular color about his hat during the season, the color to be printed against the player’s name on the scorecard.” So now we really need to find one of those scorecards!

Then in 1882, the National League dove head-first into the color pool. These uniforms were made of silk and the players reportedly hated the color schemes. Here is the Detroit N.L. team:

Other 1882 teams with color-coded uniforms included Buffalo, Chicago, and Troy.

And that same year, Cincinnati joined the new American Association but wanted to appear like they were in “the League.” So they too went with color-coded jerseys.

And at least two more 1882 teams may have experimented with color-coded caps: New York (which, as you can see, also wore little polka dots) and St. Louis.

I love this color-coding stuff, but Craig has recently come up with some other research finds:

• We all know the 1868 Cincinnati team was the first to wear knickers, but it turns out that another 1868 Ohio team, from Xenia, did the same.

• The 1870 Union team from the Bronx may have been the first to wear detachable sleeves.

• You know how soccer teams will have a separate uniform for the keeper? The 1878 Buffalo baseball team tried something similar: They had a different jersey and belt for pitchers and catchers.

• The 1858 team from Westfield, Mass., had a particularly dressy uniform that looked more like a marching band uni. Imagine someone wearing a throwback of that!

Great stuff from Craig and his research contributors. Explore more of his site here.

• • • • •

ESPN contest reminder: I’m currently accepting entries for an ESPN contest to name and design a team for a prospective NHL expansion franchise in Las Vegas. Details here.

• • • • •

Mike’s Question of the Week
By Mike Chamernik

I’ve had a few extra bucks in my pocket recently, and I’ve chosen to dispose of that income by buying trading cards. I’m not going to be a serious collector; I’m just trying to get as many cards from the 2014-15 Panini NBA Hoops set as I can.

What will I do with these cards? I don’t know. I’ll look at them. I’ll use them as bookmarks. I’ll put them on the reverse side of my work ID. Whatever. I just want to amass as much of the set as possible.

I collected cards as a kid as well. Did you collect trading cards as a kid or adult? Did you keep them in a binder, or display them? What was your favorite card? What lengths did you go to collect cards? What was your favorite card or favorite set? Did anyone actually trade cards with their friends, or was the term “trading cards” just a nicety? Did you ever find any valuable cards (or, conversely, did you ever load up on rookie cards of someone who was a bust)?

This 1999-2000 Richard Hamilton Topps Clear Shot card is the best card I have. It’s not worth much monetarily, but I just think it’s neat — it’s clear, and it has the matched-up front and back view of Rip.

As always, post yours responses in today’s comments.

• • • • •

Uni Watch News Ticker
By Mike Chamernik

Baseball News: The Fresno Grizzlies will not give away 2017 Houston Astros World Series rings during their “Back to the Future” promotion after all (from Phil). … The Onion poked fun at people who wear baseball caps in public (from Jeff Funke). … Coleman Mullins was reading the morning paper and spotted a high school player wearing excellent stirrups with gold sannies. … In last night’s episode of the 1980s-set ABC sitcom The Goldbergs, the title family visited Veterans’ Stadium for a Phillies game, and Jeff Garlin’s jersey was missing the ball inside the “P” [the Phils did wear a ball-less “P” from 1975 through 1986, but with a zippered jersey, not button-front ”” PL] (from Elan Tavor) … Also from last night’s Goldbergs episode, the son on the show sported some bedazzled Philadelphia sports jerseys (from Chris Flinn). … The Cardinals put Oscar Taveras memorial patches on their jerseys. … We mentioned here that Indiana wore cream throwbacks on Tuesday night. But Louisville, the Hoosiers’ opponent, wore fauxbacks (from Daniel Bruhn). … Todd Radom wrote about the flags that flew over Wrigley Field in 1946. … Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen cut his hair, which will render his T-shirt moot. … Married Red Sox players have had some minor issues with removing their wedding bands before going out on the field (from Keith Thibault). … In honor of new pitcher Jeff Samardzija, the White Sox will have two Shark Cage sections during his home starts this season. Fans get a hat and shark fin-shaped K card (from Ryan Lindemann). … In his book Imperfect, pitcher Jim Abbott wrote about his stirrup preferences (from Pat Costello). … The Salem Red Sox will wear Virginia Tech remembrance hats on April 16, the team’s opener and eighth year since the Virginia Tech shootings (from Phil). … Minor leaguers in Indians camp have vertically arched NOBs. “Pretty interesting, because vertically arched lettering is much more involved and painstaking — not the sort of thing you’d expect minor leaguers to have,” says Paul (photo from Jeff Moulden). … Tennessee’s catcher wears MLB logos on his helmet and mask. … According to a small note in this piece, Yankees minor leaguers are no longer required to go high-cuffed (from Matt Harris). … The Softbank Hawks will wear these alternates in June and July (from Yusuke Toyoda). … Padres OF Matt Kemp is apparently a very snappy dresser off the field (from Phil).

Football News: The NFL Draft caps will have depictions of the cities’ skylines on the underbill. Jacksonville’s apparently has issues. … From yesterday’s comments: The Lions might have alternate jerseys this season. … With the NFL adding gold accents to everything for Super Bowl 50, Paul Stave thinks that this character could be a good league spokesman. … South Carolina will have new uniforms next year (from Phil).

Hockey News: A fan attended Tuesday night’s Panthers/Lightning game in a full space suit. … The Canucks will wear Vancouver Millionaires throwbacks tonight (from Phil). … Before Tuesday night’s game against the Blues, the Penguins honored Hall of Fame play-by-play announcer Mike Lange for 40 years of service. He was awarded a jersey, too. … The Villanova piccolo player who was shown crying on TV after the Wildcats’ NCAA basketball tournament exit appeared on The Tonight Show the other evening. “She wore her Villanova Band jersey for her performance. This year’s design is a hockey jersey, which is the same jersey that the Villanova Roller Hockey team has been wearing for years. That design however is just a variation of the University of Maine hockey jerseys.”

Soccer News: New away kit for the U.S. men’s team. … Does England have a new BFBS jersey? Unclear if that’s real or a fan concept (from Alex Buergey). … New jerseys for Canada’s men’s and women’s national teams (from Yusuke Toyoda). … Arsenal’s home and away kits have leaked. ”¦ Here’s a good, in-depth look at the process of rebranding MLS’s Minnesota United FC (from Andy Hart).

Basketball News: The Kings wore Rochester Royals throwbacks on Tuesday night. … Sports Illustrated created a list of the worst uniforms in NBA history (from Phil). … Oscar Robertson wore protective headgear in 1967. … Here’s the story behind the Hawks’ Pacman logo. … Heat G Goran Dragic suffered a small jersey tear last night (from Stephen Hayes). … The Blazers and Jazz went red vs. green last night (from Phil). ”¦ No photo, but Andrew Hoenig reports that with 8:30 left in last night’s Temple/Louisiana Tech game, the uni numbers for the players on the floor for both teams were 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Grab Bag: Here’s a quick story on the nickname origins of the Padres, Chargers and Akron Zips (from Phil). … Lots of great sports memorabilia will be available at this estate sale on Saturday morning in Indianapolis (from George Carpenter). … “Recently came across an old folder from my youth. Kept all my sports autographs, photos and clippings in it,” says Jimmy Lonetti. “Great job by the producer to carefully remove all team logos they didn’t have rights to use. I especially love the term ‘sport-folio’ too.”

Comments (106)

    That link baseball uni has what looks to be the same odd belt placement shown on Joe D on this site recently.

    I collected baseball cards as a kid. My dad first bought me a pack when I was 3. I still have some of those 79 Topps and they’re now in a special page in my binder apart from all the others. I collected up until the early 90s when my interests and priorities began to change. I started buying some basketball, football, and hockey cards in the early 90s, too.

    In 2012, I got back into buying cards. I was collecting autographs and realized that I would soon forget some of the players names because the autographs were legible. So I figured cards would make remembering the autographs easier.

    I now have a new collection of baseball cards. It’s one thing to just collect cards. But I think it’s more fun when you have a targeted collection. For me, I collect Dale Murphy, Bryce Harper, Hall of Famers, and the Washington Nationals. They are all grouped in my binders. The rest of the cards that I get from packs I just put in boxes.

    Yes, I trade. Trading also makes it fun. The hard part is finding people to trade with. The internet makes it a little easier. I’ve traded with folks through the mail several times.
    So… If you want to trade, let me know!

    Has anybody written a good article about the Grief Industry? I believe along the line we became really enamored with the way other cultures wring their hands and beat their breasts after a tragedy. But we seem to have commercialized Sorrow the way we commercialized Christmas a generation ago. Thoughts?

    …and people complain about “softball tops” today. Imagine trying to watch a game between two teams both using that many different colors at the same time.

    This is why people who complain about “softball tops” are utterly wrong, and have no sense of the game’s history.

    Several teams had white jerseys and colored pants in the early days, and I wonder if, if that style came back in the majors, people would be scoffing at “softball pants”.

    It’s too bad that experiment didn’t last a little longer. We could have all kinds of interesting relics in our speech that only make sense if we look at how things once, were, such as when we say a pitcher was “knocked out of the box” despite pitchers having thrown from a mound, and not a box, for well over a century.

    Imagine if these colors had lasted long enough to produce slang. I would love it if announcers were calling grounders to the shortstop “maroon to the stripes!” and fly outs to right field “gray”s got it!” Would Mordecai Brown have dreamed of being a relief pitcher because of his last name?

    Would teams be retiring colors for their great players instead of numbers? Imagine Bud Selig decreeing that no baseball player will ever wear an orange-and-black jersey, in “honor” of Jackie Robinson.

    With many of the normal colors having been retired, designated hitters would be stuck wearing fuschia and pink polka dots and maybe mop-up relievers could have orange zubaz. This is the color equivalent of seeing players wear numbers like 58 and 63. There could be vigorous debate between the traditionalists who like plain blue and red and hate seeing them disappear versus the “I don’t mind seeing pinch-runners in plaid!” crowd.

    …yeah, maybe it’s good that this color thing ended when it did.

    Damn, I am from New England and watch a good amount of college hockey, but somehow when I submitted that I just blanked.

    Even though I hate them and hope they never win another game, it’s University of Maine, not Maine University.

    Someone may wish to tell the NFL that the whole link kick they’re taking seriously is supposed to be comedy.

    If there is an entity that doesn’t ‘get’ comedy, & is 100% committed to remaining utterly humorless, it’s the NFL.



    QotD: I collected cards for about 10 years or so as a kid. I remember getting a binder and sort of a starter kit full of just a few hundred random cards. Then I’d buy packs whenever I could, asked for them for x-mas and my birthday, etc. I spent a lot of time organizing and re-organizing them, for reasons I really don’t know. Like, I’d have them in order by team, then I’d take them all out and separate them by which set they were from, etc. Haven’t bought any since the late 90’s, but I still have 5 binders full just sitting on a shelf in my closet. I think my most valuable card is a Dan Marino rookie card, but I haven’t really bothered checking prices or anything in quite a while. I’d guess that my Bucs Steve Young and Tim Brown rookie cards are also up there, as well as a few early 60’s AFL cards.

    QOTW: I collected MLB, NFL and NBA cards as a kid. Like most collectors during my childhood, I tried to collect as many Michael Jordan cards as I could (I’ve got around 150). My favorite Jordan card is the only card that shows MJ wearing the “12” jersey when his uniform was stolen. If I remember correctly, it’s not even a Jordan card, but shows him very clearly wearing the 12. I collected one complete set, when I found a retail box of cards for sale on the cheap. I also have a few “valuable” cards but considering the market dropped for these long ago, it’s not worth much now. I stopped collecting in high school but both my brother and I traded heavily with other kids. I’ve still got all my cards, hoping they rebound in value in time for retirement!

    I collected baseball cards from when I got the 1985 Topps set for my 10th birthday in 1986 until 1992 or so, when I turned 16 and decided my extra money was better spent on gas and other necessities of a teenage gadabout.

    At first I’d buy Topps wax boxes from the local warehouse club to collate sets, and eventually I decided to focus on just one player because the binders and huge cardboard sorting boxes took up too much room. I do remember being excited the first time I put a full 792-card Topps set into a binder and it didn’t leave any empty slots in the last page, unlike those 660-count sets.

    I picked Will Clark because I liked his intensity as a player, and his on-field performance meant that there were dozens or hundreds of one-off/oddball cards to pursue. All those commons from the late 80’s and early 90’s are long forgotten but I’ll still take out that binder from time to time.

    My favorite card isn’t a Will Clark, though. For some reason I really love the 1986 Topps Don Mattingly card. The bold font on the top, the action shot of Donnie Baseball watching another seeing-eye single scoot through the infield, the eye black and ribbon stirrups…this was the card I was excited to get when I’d open a wax pack.

    The White Sox already have a “K Zone” on days when Chris Sale pitches. You get a red t-shirt and “K” placard.

    I don’t think I’m alone in saying I can’t stand that sort of thing. Teams and their marketing departments hijack the fun fan creations and turn them into boring, highly-polished corporate vehicles used to separate fans from their money. Case in point: the Browns’ “Dawg Pound.” Grown from the combined imaginations of Browns players and rabid fans, the Dawg Pound of old Municipal Stadium was something fans could hold onto as theirs. Once the new Browns announced there would be a designated “Dawg Pound” area in the new stadium (along with it’s own logo and, of course, merchandise), the fun was gone. The only thing the new “Pound” has in common with the old one is the drunks.

    QOTW: Collected some MLB and NFL cards as a kid. Maybe a couple of shoeboxes full. Who knows what happened to them.

    I helped a friend of a friend relocate his card shop (“Hey, Dumb Guy has a truck. he can help you!”) after it was damaged by a broken pipe. He gave me about 25 random files boxes of “stuff”–a few of which were damaged. Cards, pennants, 8x10s, binders….

    My nephew and I had a great time sorting through it all. Getting rid of the bad/wet/moldy stuff and sort the cards by sport/team, etc. There were actually some real gems including 2 Elway rookie cards (My nephew was ecstatic since we were in Denver). That was about 15 years ago. It got me back into cards. I had thousands!! HAD! One day I just thought to myself, “WTH? Why do I ave all these???”

    Sold them all at a yard sale. All except the Darrell Green cards.

    QOTW: Started collecting Topps baseball cards in 1965 when I was nine. I remember the top card in my first pack – Ron Perranoski of the Dodgers, and I think I paid more attention to his long career as a pitcher and coach than I might have otherwise. The top card of my first football pack a couple of years later was Francis Peay of the Giants, and I followed his career a little more closely than I might have otherwise, but that paid off when he became head coach of my Northwestern Wildcats.

    We did trade doubles. We also clothespinned doubles of cards we didn’t like that much to our bicycle wheels for the cool “engine” sound.

    Stopped collecting around 1970 when my mom threw out all my cards. At least she spared my Superman and Batman comics.

    Also, we got gum with the cards back then and I actually liked the gum!


    As a kid, I collected cards just to collect. I amassed A LOT of cards. They are stored away in some binders, and I look at them once in a while. It was about ten years ago I discovered that high end cards have actual pieces of jersey inside the cards. This blew my mind. I could actually have a piece of a player’s uniform? I was older, and had more disposable income, so I have been collecting high end sports cards for about 10 years.

    I didn’t like all these really cool cards sitting in a binder, so I bought a few displays for them. I collect Wisconsin athletes almost exclusively. So if a player was a member of the Packers, Bucks, Brewers, Badgers, or was born in Wisconsin.

    I do have quite a few valuable cards. One of my favorites is a Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, and Honus Wagner jersey/bat relic car serial numbered 10/18. I have a few Robin Yount 1/1 jersey relic/autograph cards that are worth some money too.

    My favorite set is Allen and Ginter by Topps. Not only is it a great baseball set, but they also have relics and autographs from other “Champions” in their sport. From Hulk Hogan, to Stuart Scott, from Joey Chestnut, to Tony Hawk. It’s a really cool set, and I look forward to it every year. I was lucky enough to pull a Joey Chestnut autograph card a few years back.

    My favorite card of all time though, is a Bigfoot relic card. You read that right. It is also part of the Allen and Ginter set. They had a subset of cards of Mythological creatures. Then they had 10 relic cards of each creature that were not revealed on the checklist. I opened the pack of cards, and saw a Bigfoot card with brownish hair embedded in it. It is also hand numbered out of 10. (Hand written serial numbering is pretty rare) Normally when Topps or Panini, or any other company authenticate autographs or relics, they have on the back of the card, “This piece of memorabilia has been authenticated by the Topps Company” or something like that. With this Bigfoot ‘relic’ it states, “This piece of material embedded in this card is from nothing at all.” I busted out laughing. It is by far one of the coolest cards I have ever seen, let alone owned.

    With starting a family now, I haven’t had the funds to collect that much anymore. Instead of purchasing the high end sets, I will search eBay for the base cards of those sets that are still numbered, but can get for a few bucks.

    So if anyone wants to talk card collecting, I would love to share my stories and collections with them.

    Here are a few pictures of my collection. Let me know what you think:




    Nice display! The memorabilia cards have always fascinated me. It’s really cool to have a swatch of a uniform in a trading card.

    Same here. All I need is a good action photo (no poses) on the front and some pertinent stats on the back.

    I liked ’em all. Personally I’m more about standard cards, but the memorabilia cards are an interesting concept.

    COMC is my favorite website for finding individual cards. eBay is certainly another one and I can find stuff on eBay that I might not find on COMC.

    I collected cards as a kid, mainly in the early 1990s when I was around 8, 9, 10. It’s one of my fondest memories, going to the store with my dad two or three times a week and picking up some packs. I mainly collected O-pee-chee and upper deck hockey cards. I collected some baseball, but the Pens were winning cups around that time so hockey was my #1.

    Once my dad bought me a complete set of upper deck baseball that came in one of those long boxes. It’s cool to know you had every card, but it felt like cheating. I still have it unopened, in original plastic wrap.

    My all time favorite card was a Lemieux. The feeling of opening pack after pack hoping to find a Mario, then one day there he is, is such a good thing. I coveted that thing like it was a bar of gold. It wasn’t a particularly valuable card or special card, but it was a Mario and I found it. That’s all I needed.

    My dad, for my birthday, also bought me a Mario rookie card. I still have it today and never plan on getting rid of it. It is one of my proudest belongings. The only other card I would ever want besides that is a Honus Wagner T206. If a fire breaks out in my house, I grab three things in this order: Wife and kids, dog, Mario rookie card. Everything else can burn.

    I also forgot to add that two or three years ago I started to collect Upper Deck baseball cards (2012 & 2013 series). Purely for nostalgic purposes. It was to feel that feeling again of opening up a fresh pack and the anticipation of who you would get.

    Also, always keep the cards in a folder. Any dupes can be used as bookmarks or as needed

    … complete set of upper deck baseball that came in one of those long boxes.

    I have one of those! My uncle got me the 1990 set when I was born.

    One minor copyedit on the soccer ticker – it’s Minnesota United FC, not Minnesota FC.

    This SI list has some of my favourite unis ever in it : The bullets’ racing stripes, the Braves’ orange duds, the Hawks’ lime greens, the floridians’ and the blue/green Mavs alts just to name a few…
    I suppose I must have the worst taste when it comes to NBA unis.

    Yeah. That list has a peculiar assortment of unis that are hard to like (Raptors camo, Knicks all-orange), and ones that we’re just *not supposed to like* (Nets faded blue, Pistons lightning bolts).

    Pistons lightning bolts were there best look ever.

    I agree the list was garbage because it left off the late 90s Rockets abominations. You don’t forget that while putting the cool green/blue Hawks and the diagonal-striped Braves on instead. Pffft to you, SI.


    I spent maybe a year collecting basketball cards in the mid-90s. While I didn’t really understand the economics of sports memorabilia, my spidey sense told me the card market bubble was oversaturated and the bubble was about to burst (not really, but there were too many choices and I didn’t see how all these speculators were going to make their money back).

    Anyway, I put a few in plastic sleeves – I had a Chris Webber rookie card and a limited-print Isaiah Rider rookie (#2 out of 500 in circulation, iirc). No idea where they are now.

    The old adage that you won’t make money if you go into business with the goal of money applies here. And too many licensees, too many special editions.

    I don’t know which was a bigger 90s bubble-burst – sports cards or Beanie Babies.

    In my opinion, the 90s ruined fashion, popular music, uniform design and sports cards.


    You telling me you don’t like Zubaz and parachute pants? Not that I disagree – I watched some West Wing episodes recently and dudes did not know how to dress back then.

    Still, hip hop was GREAT in 1994-96 and the Seattle sound has aged well in my opinion.

    The Seattle sound reminds me of the late 90s Sonics. And I didn’t like those uniforms.

    Unlike my brother, I never got on the Zubaz bandwagon. I dabbled in hip hop, but after New Jack City I drifted to smooth jazz.

    “…the Seattle sound has aged well in my opinion.”

    Only if you liked it back then, I suspect.

    The mid-’90s were also a time when far too many people became convinced not only that conventional guitar rock is *bad*, but that enjoying it *makes you a bad person*.

    Fun times.

    “…after New Jack City I drifted to smooth jazz.”

    Irony is still rampant, but you’re Jim Vilk, so I have to presume sincerity here. Enjoy!


    [one NSFW word in this]


    From a fairly young age, most of my spare cash started going towards growing my music collection, so I never really got into trading cards with any consistency.

    I did acquire a few, here and there; various NFL, MLB and NBA cards, from the ’80s and ’90s. Most of them are unspectacular, in terms of collectible value.

    My favorite, and most numerous, batch of trading cards is a bunch of 1992 World League of American Football cards by Ultimate. Some discount store was selling counter boxes of these on clearance a year or so after the WLAF shut down their North American teams, and since they were dirt cheap, I bought a few.

    I think I ended up with most or all of the set. As you might expect, very few of the players went on to have noteworthy NFL careers, but there is a San Antonio Riders Jason Garrett card in there. And the Ohio Glory has Babe Laufenberg, for those who want to play “how many different uniforms did that guy *wear*, anyway…?”

    I guess I like them because they remind me of the last time spring football was actually cool. And, from a uni-watcher’s perspective, I should mention that I always thought the early WLAF (before they became NFL Europe and got crazy) to be a really nice-looking league, for the most part. Good colors, sensible contrasts, sharp outlines and well-placed striping. Beautiful.



    Even the Orlando Thunder looked great compared to the garbage that we see today…


    I doubt that they’re worth anything from a monetary standpoint.

    But their nostalgia value? Priceless.

    Wow… amazingly, this is the first time I’ve ever seen the Orlando Thunder’s white jersey. Having seen a few shots like this: link I didn’t think they actually had a white jersey.

    Funny you should say that, because I found a couple of video clips just for *you*…


    (Man, the Knights had some good socks.)


    That’s right…color-on-color! I think it may have just been during the first season, though, and they were probably the only team in the league allowed to do it. (I’ll try to research this further when I have more time.)

    First time seeing the white jersey, though? Everybody needs a white jersey…

    …even The Jeff.


    Never had a chance to see any WLAF games back then, but considering it only lasted 2 seasons, and how bright the green was, I thought it was possible they just had that as their only jersey. Low budget league and all that… Obviously it would’ve worked.

    I have a few WLAF cards. I believe I got those from the original season. I love the helmets in that league

    They’re not worth much on the market. I know, because years ago my brother got me the entire boxed set. It’s about the only set of cards I have that would be close to mint condition. Recently I took it into a card store, along with my set of Rocket Ishmail-era CFL cards printed in French. Thought I really had something there, but the guy just sniffed and handed them back to me.

    “Thought I really had something there, but the guy just sniffed and handed them back to me.”

    For some reason, I’m envisioning Comic Book Guy from *The Simpsons*.


    I collected cards as a kid in the 1970s – 99% hockey, 1% baseball. Never traded them, just put them in binders. Never paid much attention to them.

    In the 90s, during the bubble, my cousins were collecting everything in sight, buying cases, totally obsessed. They showed me their big book of card values (Beckers?). I ask them what the most valuable card is – turns out its a Gretzky rookie card.

    I say “I’ve got three of them”.


    I check the collection, yep, I’ve got three of them. (totally crushed my cousins that I had three holy grails without even trying).

    Anyway, I still have them, stored safely. I had them graded, they’re worth a few thousand dollars each. I don’t have any plan to sell them or display them, they’re just fun to have.

    It’s cool to have cards, put them in a box and forget about them for 20 years, and then reopen them to see what you truly have

    I collected baseball cards from 1972 thru ’76. Then I stopped, mainly because I had moved from our town’s elementary school (which was situated right next to a five-and-dime shop that sold baseball cards) to our jr. high (which wasn’t near anything). My candy intake went down, too.

    I looooooved collecting cards. Traded a little with friends, but not much. Flipped a little, but not much. Mostly just pored over them. Also, when I had doubles or triples of a lousy player, I’d use those cards to practice writing my signature, because surely I was going to grow up to be a ballplayer and would therefore need to know how to sign my name in a card-sized space.

    I also dabbled a bit in football cards, but this was when Topps didn’t yet have a licensing agreement with the NFL, so the photos were all airbrushed to eliminate the helmet logos, which I found very unsatisfying. I don’t think I ever bought basketball or hockey cards.

    Kept everything in shoeboxes.

    When I was about 14, there was a card show at our local mall, and I brought all my shoeboxes there and sold them. A mild regret.

    Also, when I had doubles or triples of a lousy player, I’d use those cards to practice writing my signature, because surely I was going to grow up to be a ballplayer and would therefore need to know how to sign my name in a card-sized space.

    Ha! How sweet.

    Logo-less cards bug me, too.

    QOTW: I loved buying and collecting baseball cards as a kid, starting around age 6, which in my case was 1961. I could go to the little neighborhood candy store and buy a pack of Topps for a nickel — 5 cards and a stick of gum. Kept most of them in a little cardboard box, organized by team with rubber bands around them, and yes, the cliché is true, put duplicates and ones I didn’t care about in the spokes of my bike. A couple of pals and I would haul them out occasionally and trade.

    Valuable cards? It never occurred to anyone I knew that these had any monetary value at all. In the trading, of course, the superstars and Reds (the local team) had the most value. My favorite was any Red, especially Pete Rose, my favorite player. In addition to those, I had and still have various early 60s cards of Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Sandy Koufax, and most of the other stars of the time. Too worn to be worth much, even if I wanted to sell them, which I don’t.

    When I was 10 we moved to the country and I no longer had easy access to a store. My mom would still buy a pack for me when she went to the supermarket, but the collecting slowed way down. I think I stopped altogether at 15, because I have nothing after 1970.

    Briefly starting in 1988 I got the bug again, when companies like Score and Upper Deck started putting out beautiful cards on wonderful stock, a far cry from the cheap old Topps. But there were too many to keep up with, they got ridiculously expensive, and when companies started advertising crap like cards with bits of game-used jersey in them it suddenly seemed absurd. So I stopped around 1992. Still have parts of a few sets from that era in good binders. I did a big culling a couple of years ago and just kept one page worth (18 cards) per team per year, and threw the rest out.

    My favorite story regarding cards in bike spokes came from my high school history teacher. His brother wasted three Mickey Mantle rookie cards that way.

    I collected cards as a kid, and more importantly I find my early collecting to be the root of my fascination with uniforms. Sports Illustrated for Kids made up the beginnings of my collection. They were all cheap tear-out cardboard cards but I found them to be the coolest part of the magazine. I remember my excitement when, before I could even read basic sentences, I figured out that I had two players from the eagles. It took a lot of looking side-by-side at the photographs, but I could tell that the wing logo was the same on both helmets. Really it is odd that this is one of my earliest memories. I was probably 4 or 5.

    During the ’90s card craze I bought a bunch of old ’70s and early ’80s goalie hockey cards – mostly commons bought on the cheap. For the most part I bought them as a resource for the photos of the masks and equipment, as this was pre-internet. Now you can easily find photos of anything.

    I still have them in binders with the card sleeves.

    I lived across the street from a certain convenience store at the dawn of their MLB coin-at-the-bottom-of-the-slush-drink-cup era. I had dozens of those disks. I can’t recall what became of them (they were probably trashed), but I sure enjoyed obtaining them.
    Around the same time period, I’d pick up a pack of baseball cards here and there (I still have about 200 of those in a stationery box in the attic)…my favorite being that John Denny Philadelphia MLB team air-brushed masterpiece.


    QOTW: I Collected a hefty number of 1977 Topps baseball cards. The following year I noticed not enough had changed to continue the hobby. I traded away all my Yankees and Mets to friends in exchange for Astros/Padres/Indians/Pirates’ players. In the process I may have sacrificed Dick Tidrow or Ed Figueroa, but I was interested in colorful polyester. Turn the page to 1989 when the collector fad took off; I took my shoebox full of cards to a nearby store for appraisal. The only thing of value in there was an Andre Dawson rookie card which I sold for five dollars. No regrets. Earlier this year my office moved to a security-tagged building, so I took to wearing selections from the shoebox in my card lanyard.

    QOTW: Collected baseball cards beginning with the 1967 Topps set. Had both the ’67 & ’68 Mantles, too beat up to have value, as well a much sought-after but slightly off-center ’69 Reggie. In honor of the Orioles winning the 1970 WS I tried to collect the 1971 set in earnest, which is considered one of the more “significant” sets ever (first to have action shots, players names in all lower-case, came with metal coins), but came up ~50 cards shy, and pretty much burned out after that. Kept them stowed away in binders until we downsized in 2013, got like $125 for my entire collection. For old-time’s sake I still frequent a website devoted to the set on occasion:

    Also amassed a few NFL/AFL cards (including a pre-SB III Willie Joe), as well as a few NHL cards (odd, b/c I’ve never followed it. Remember that only b/c of how bizarre it was to see a player named “Carol” (Vadnais). Those disappeared years ago.

    I still have tucked away probably 150 Sports Illustrateds dating from the early ’70s on, including probably 25 of the first 40 swimsuit editions. Now I’m wondering if they have any value.

    I still have tucked away probably 150 Sports Illustrateds dating from the early ’70s on, including probably 25 of the first 40 swimsuit editions. Now I’m wondering if they have any value.

    Value in the collectibles market is generally predicated on scarcity. Issues of SI were mass-produced, hence not scarce. Of course, most of the issues were discarded, but something produced in SI-like quantities tends to stay in circulation.

    In spite of those expressing hope that Minnesota not change its crest, it appears that change may be coming. MLS posted today:


    I wouldn’t read too much into it. Club management says they don’t expect much (including the logo) to change: link

    I just remembered that my high school had a Baseball Card Collector’s Club moderated (during the late 1980’s) by a long-tenured history teacher.
    I was not a member but IIRC, they’d have swap-meets, go to autograph shows, stuff like that. It may have disbanded once he retired or as interest waned.
    I wonder if there are still similar after-school clubs elsewhere.

    I collected football cards throughout my childhood, but stopped about the time I reached High School.
    I always kept my cards in binders, except for the few that I displayed on a shelf in my room.
    My favorite card is my Brett Favre rookie card (link). It’s only worth about 10 bucks I think, but I love the look of the card.
    I usually built my collection through Christmas/Birthday gifts, but I spent a few of my own dollars on it.
    My favorite set is probably the 2001 Topps set, mainly because I have probably about 75% of the cards in that set. (Drew Brees, Reggie Wayne, LaDainian Tomlinson, Michael Vick rookies)
    I only traded cards with friends a couple times. I don’t think many other people really collected that much.
    The most valuable cards I own were given to me from my uncle. He had collected baseball cards when he was younger. About 10 years ago, our family was going through the house where he and my dad grew up, and he found his shoebox full of baseball cards. He apparently didn’t have much interest in them anymore, so he gave them to me. At first, I didn’t think the cards were that old, because they looked to be in pretty good condition, but after looking them up, I found out they were from the early 1960’s. The most valuable card is a 1962 Topps Roger Maris card (link). It’s from the season after he broke the HR record.

    QOTW: I collected hockey cards for almost 30 years, starting with 75-76 OPC, though my first pack was 74-75 OPC WHA. I can still see the bright neon green pack clear as day. :-)

    Everything was fine until the boom started and we started seeing packs of cards for $1.75 (“…for a pack of hockey cards! That’s ridiculous!!”). Then came inserts…then parallels…then game-used memorabilia cards…then…

    Card collecting has gone from being a fun hobby to being too immersed in the “How much is it worth?” Beckett mentality.

    In 2005, I was moving to the States and had to get rid of some things. I kept my pre-1990 cards and some of my favourite “modern” sets and sold the rest. I had more 1990’s cards sitting in my Dad’s basement and those ended up being given to the local thrift store. The dealers weren’t interested in anything from that era; too much of it.

    Nowadays, we have $500 “packs” which are basically one card in a fancy wooden box where you cross your fingers and hope you pull something good.

    In summary, card collecting has gotten too expensive and too investment-based. That why I switched my hobby focus to pocket schedules back in 2004.

    I’ve never been much of a card collector but last summer I started collecting Panini World Cup stickers. I can’t remember having so much fun hunting around for 7-11s that had packs in stock and then carefully placing them in the book and trading with some friends. It really made for some nice Saturday and Sunday morning adventures.

    QOTW: I collected hockey and baseball cards in the late 1980s/early 1990s, at the time when the industry exploded from 2 to 5 or more companies. It was exciting to see some companies break the mold of what a card should look like, and to incorporate “non-standard” themes (Upper Deck hockey had the IIHF World Jr. cards for a year or two, and a Canada Cup set, and O-Pee-Chee had the Red Army/Super Series cards), but the amount of cards out there took the fun out of collecting, especially when subsets, inserts, specialty cards, and other rarities became the grails for collectors, and just getting the regular cards alone felt like “the set wasn’t complete”. That’s when I stopped participating.

    I sent a few cards out to teams to get a player’s autograph. I sent three to Sergei Fedorov in Detroit. I pretty much gave up on ever seeing them, when at least 1.5-2 years later, they showed up in my mailbox!!

    And when I started collecting, I assumed that the most valuable card of any player would be from the year(s) he did something notable. Took me a while to realize that the rookie card was the most valuable, LOL.


    I collected cards as a kid in the late 80s through the 90s and most are worth very little.

    Anything I had that I thought was good would be put in hard holders and put in a box I could bring to school to trade. I would put other “good” ones in a binder for the same reason if they were worth less than $5 according to Beckett or Tuff Stuff. The commons would be packed away in boxes like they are at my parent’s house now.

    I collected Grant Hill specifically for his first couple seasons in the NBA and then realized there were too many card companies to keep up and that is kind of when I got sick of the hobby.

    There was a place to donate old cards but they currently aren’t accepting them anymore because most people just have worthless crap like me.

    If you know anyone who wants them for any reason let me know.

    Great responses and stories, everyone. One of the best small excitements of life is buying a pack of cards and waiting to open it.

    One of the worst small disappointments of life is opening the pack and seeing nothing but journeymen and scrubs.

    But what would the world be without those journeymen?

    And don’t forget the scrubs.

    Damnit, man…the scrubs!

    The best and rarest card I ever got in a pack of cards is a John Elway autograph card from the Mid-90s (1994?) “Playoff” football card set. If anyone remembers “Playoff” cards at the time, they were the pricey packs compared to all the other packs you could buy. They also had the most valuable “inserts” (which are the only valuable thing in most sets of cards from the 90s on).

    Anyway, as you may know, inserts are listed on the packs of all cards by the ratio you may find one in a pack, ie. Insert $ = 1:4 packs, Insert $$$ = 1:100 packs, etc. Well, this John Elway autograph was listed as 1 out of 24 –for the entire Playoff series run–, so maybe 1:1,000,000 packs. It was such a rare and exciting find that the baseball card store owner took his picture with me and the card.

    Unfortunately, this was before the time of autograph cards having any type of authentication on them, it was essentially the normal John Elway card that they had him autograph 24 times. So any old kid could theoretically take the normal John Elway card and track him down for an autograph, and thus basically have what I was lucky enough to find in a pack of cards.

    I tried for years to research and try to see if there was any sort of authentication to this card. Being the rarest insert in the most expensive card set I thought I had found absolute gold. But it was to no avail. And the card has never been in any price guides (that I know of). So basically my find of a lifetime is worth only the value of John Elway’s autograph on a lousy football card, which not being a Bronco fan isn’t worth much to me.

    Does anyone else remember Playoff football cards in the mid-90s and their inserts – specifically the John Elway autograph card??

    In the Flags of Wrigley Field, did anyone notice the W flag was blue with a white letter, and L flag was white with a blue letter. When or why did they change the W flag to white?

    My favorite baseball card growing up was weird because my favorite player is on the card BUT it is NOT his card.
    The 1973 Terry Crowley Topps card features a soon-to-be home plate collision with my idol Thurman Munson. The 1973 Topps set is a beautiful set and has an abundance of “Action shots” of players. Munson’s Card is an amazing card itself (my favorite of his cards), but the Terry Crowley card is so cool for what it shows.

    1973 Crowley Card: link

    1973 Munson Card: link

    Sure you already know this since he was your favorite player, but Munson is also the player featured on the very first “action shot” card:

    QOTW – My favorite cards are the 1986-1989 Topps Cards. It’s been a while, but growing up I tried to collect all the Mets cards from that era.

    I would definitely buy certain cards from that era that were blown up to an 8×10 or so. From what I have seen, Topps only has the offer for certain present day cards. I think I even used to have folders in Elementary school that were large versions of the Topps Cards.

    Great QOTW. Tonight I’m going home to find a card to put in the back of my work ID. Thanks for the idea!

    Those color-coded uniforms are fascinating. Great job by Threads of Our Game.


    I started buying cards when I was about 5, in 1971. At that age I didn’t take good care of them–I still have some cards I wrote on, and I know there were some I actually cut up. I was still collecting when the hobby boomed as a thing around 1980 or so–I got a subscription to Baseball Hobby News (a GREAT paper), went to card shows, and so on. Also, my uncle gave me some cards he still had from the ’50s. By that time I was putting the star players into binders (although some of the older ones were already in decidedly less than mint condition).

    When I went to college in the mid-80s, I got more into records and pretty much stopped buying cards. Really never got back into it, but I still have my old cards. I’ve gotten some cards for free from FreeCycle (a wonderful online forum for people to give stuff away so it doesn’t end up in landfills), and now I’ll occasionally put 50 cents or so into the vending machine at the supermarket for a pack of cards. Also visit some card-related online sites. I don’t think I’ll ever really get into the hobby again, but I was thinking of going to a local card show they have a few times a year. Maybe I’ll try to complete my George Brett collection at some point (there were a bunch of his cards in one of the FreeCycle packages I got) and maybe collect some newer Mets.

    I did trade with friends when I was a kid, and really I’d be happy to find someone to trade my duplicates with now.

    As for valuable cards, my uncle’s collection included a ’55 Koufax and a ’56 Aaron, among others (certainly not mint), and I think the most valuable card I have from my childhood is a ’73 Schmidt rookie.

    I’m a to-each-his(or her)-own-guy, but can no longer hold my opinion. More egregious than the skyline error is the fact that flat brimmed caps are just ugly. They look just look stupid in all circumstances. Happy to get that off my chest.

    Best wishes.

    I collected baseball, football and basketball cards in the late 70s to early 80s, and indoor soccer cards in the late 80s. Today I’m weeding out my football cards and looking to shore up my ’81-’82 NBA collection.

    Never thought of collecting for investment purposes. I buy what I can at a decent price. Probably the most I ever spent was $5 for a Magic Johnson card. I guess since he’s the greatest player it’s almost worth it. They wanted the same price for Larry Bird, but I’m holding out for now.

    I don’t keep my cards in a binder. The ones that aren’t in a set are bound up with rubber bands. Everything fits in a little plastic box, which I take out occasionally. Nothing llke handling a set of cards, so yeah, nothing’s in mint condition. The ones I keep are valiuable to me and that’s all that matters.

    I collected hockey cards for a couple of years in the mid 2000’s but eventually stopped due to the cost. I was lucky enough to pull a few very valuable cards at times, but it didn’t really offset the cost and I sold off pretty much everything. The few that I kept were ones that had meaning to me rather than value. I have several on display in my office including a few Colorado Rockies (NHL version) autographs, a Herb Brooks autograph card and a card with a piece of Vladislav Tretiak’s goalie pad.

    Don’t let the Swooshketeers get a wind of today’s post. I can just imagine them salivating at the prospect of putting different position players in different colored uniforms. Wouldn’t even have to worry about those pesky numbers they keep trying to obscure. Some things are better left in the past, and this is one of those cases.

    Uniform colors and big readable numbers. It’s really that simple. Major kudos to the person who came up with that idea first.

    For much of the 70s and 80s, the Phillies jerseys logo didn’t have the ball inside the P. The home uniforms had a P that was cut out and showed the pinstripe in the area where the ball should have been. link
    This made for a different look on each jersey depending on where the P was placed
    The jersey on the Goldberg’s looks like a P from the away jersey which had a white circle where the ball should have been. link BTW all this bugged the hell out of me when I was a kid.

    I collected baseball cards from 1973 through about 1979. My favourite set is the 1974 set with the flags above and below for the city name and the team nickname.


    That set is famous for the fact that all San Diego Padres cards were issued also with “Washington Nat’l Lea.” in anticipation of the Padres moving to Washington.



    I also loved the fact that the “Traded” cards were included in the regular set, but were marked with the word “Traded”.



    And the backs of the “Traded” cards had faux-newspapers:


    I had a favorite Thurman Munson card as a kid becuase I traded it for 15 cards and few weeks later when the kid forgot I was the one who traded it to him, I got it back for 3 cards. Cue evil laugh.

    My surviving baseball card collection from the 70’s just came back to me because my parents are finally selling the old homestead and retiring. I am having more fun remembering the journeymen and scrbs that the stars.

    One last thing, I have a few complete sets from the Renata Galasso company. They sold complete sets of cards. When I was growing up in New Jersey, I thought it was a big company that had special deals with the card makers. It turns out it was just Ms. Galasso and a couple of other people who bought up packs of cards and created whole sets to sell. They worked out of Brooklyn not too far from when live now.

    QOTW: I was huge into collecting baseball cards from 1986-1991. And mostly Donruss, I guess because of the smoother feel to them. Plus I really liked the 1990 design with the bright red border. I collected some football and basketball cards too.

    I never traded cards because none of my friends were into sports (much less a sports nut like myself).

    I kept all the best cards in sleeves inside a small box. And every time I got a new Beckett’s, I would rearrange the cards based on price but I haven’t done that since about 2001. That box also got stolen when my apartment was broken into in 2005 but I was lucky to get most of my stuff back including my box of cards.

    My most valuable were rookie cards of Mark McGwire, Karl Malone and Steve Young but I have no idea now. I’m assuming the McGwire card is worth much less than I when I last checked in 2001.

    I mostly liked the Minnesota United uniforms – ok, the collar is kinda stupid and why doesn’t the light blue jersey include the wings? Continuity! But overall, the design is fine. It’s just… why bother with a number font? The whole league wears the font dictated by MLS for that year.

    The Minnesota United FC branding is a colossal mess. Is it a duck or malliard duck or goose? I mean WTF? Looks like a logo for a South Asian Airline. Very weird and poorly executed.

    QOTW: I collected cards as a kid–mostly baseball, pretty much for the bulk of the ’90s. I would usually buy individual packs from Target or Walmart, but I guess my timing was off or something, as I would usually end up with cards from the “Series 2” edition. Never came anywhere close to completing a set, and it was always frustrating getting multiples of some unknown player. One time I did buy a complete Series set–’97 UD Series 2, IIRC–but naturally I ended up with only half the cards of the entire set.

    The other way I’d get them was in those “value” packs–usually a blister package containing assorted packs from various manufacturers from various years. It was this way that I acquired tons of Topps cards from the ’70s & ’80s.

    I always enjoyed organizing and re-organizing them, sometimes by set, sometimes by team. I’m pretty sure I handled them so much that any decent ones would be worthless. Incidentally, the most valuable card I remember owning (I would regularly check out Beckett’s from the public library) was some special die-cut Brett Favre card–maybe $45? Never came anywhere near selling it or any others, but I do recall treating that one a little more carefully than the others.

    They all reside in the binders I left them in some 15 years ago. Any clever ideas on how to display them in a manner that the wife would also find tasteful?

    Love the idea of the Loons joining MLS just hope Adidas treats them well the template they have is very bland. Idk if that star above the the actual crest will survive the cross over to the league as MLS uses a star to denote every MLS cup win would be a nice little touch if they used that star if they ever won an MLS cup

    I collected and traded cards with my brother. I was still collecting cards while in high school and I had a pile of random cards, I took a felt tipped (orange) marker and traced around a Fleer Ron Hassey A’s card. It left a perfect orange edge to the card, only visible from the side. I was just messing around and thought nothing of it. A week or so goes by and my brother and I are in his bedroom, going through boxes of cards to see if we want to trade anything when he spots the Hassey card. “What’s this card with the orange edge” he asked. Quick with an answer, I gave him some BS about it being a “special” limited edition paper used, but since it was just a Ron Hassey card, I hadn’t put it with the valuable ones. Well, of course HE JUST HAD TO HAVE IT… He ponied up all 3 Tim Hardaway rookie cards for it. (this was in 1991) so at the time, sky was the limit for these cards… Later, I told him it was just orange marker and he went nuts and vowed to never collect cards again, even though I offered him the Hardaways back… It completely jaded him. I got out of it too, but it was more of an age thing since I was graduating high school the next year.

    Saturation killed baseball card collecting… when I was a kid you had Topps, Fleer and Donruss and that’s it…. Then Score and Upper Deck came out and the others had to compete (especially with Upper Deck). Next thing you know, instead of 3 brands with 1 or at most 2 series, you’ve got numerous brands with numerous series, specials, foils, etc. Forgetta-bout-it.

Comments are closed.