most of this post will deal with rookie cards because that's just the way that it is, although ii will say that my purchase of a 1952 topps jackie robinson card a few years ago is looking to be a good one. back to the rookies - i was able to get in on the ipo of the 2003 etopps lebron james card. i had purchased one or two etopps cards before that, and i believe I paid $9.99 for each. i held on (virtually) to the lebron until topps announced they were ending the program, which was 2009 or so. i was worried that i would forget about the card, so i sold it. turns out, i sold it for about 10% of what they are going for now.
back in 2017, i did have the foresight to buy a cody bellinger topps now card online the day after his big league debut. my mistake? i bought from a third party, and in between the time it took for topps to print and ship the cards to them, it became apparent that bellinger was a stud. my card was never shipped, with the seller all too happy (i imagine) to refund me my $5 and sell my card for eight times that (which is close to what i wound up paying for the card from a different seller near the peak of bellinger-mania). and near the end of this long and winding post, you'll find out my biggest regret in terms of card trading.
first though, i've done some things right. or rather, my dad did. starting in 1981, my dad would buy for me the topps traded sets. in 1983, he also bought one for himself. in 1984, fleer joined the party with their update set, and my dad handed it to me one night. as a result, i've been carrying this card around with me for the last 36 years.
i was also really excited about these two cards from those sets
i noted earlier that beginning in 1983 my dad would buy two traded sets (with 1984 being the exception). there were two reasons for that. one was that i was still a set collector, and the idea of breaking a set was unthinkable. the other was that he had joined me in the hobby (as a player collector, mostly) and many of his collections "needed" cards of players featured in these sets.
in 1982 he gave me the topps traded set. while i pined over the need for another steve sax card, he felt the same. not just about sax, but about kent hrbek, too, and so the decision to buy two sets was set in motion. at the time, he also thought about collecting this guy
i went looking for my other ripken rookie cards for this post, but the only one i could find (that is not in one of my complete non-traded/update sets) is this 1982 fleer version.
packed pulled back in 1982 from the first full box of cards my dad bought for us to break. good memories.
so these examples of "steals" are all real time purchases (speaking of which, here's one more that I found in my box of 2018 topps update that has potential)
but what about cards that i got a great deal on years after they were first released? well, in late 1993 i swung a trade for this card
ok, enough now. if i were to think of one card that i have acquired not through a pack purchase that came at a steal of a price, i would go with this one.
i got it in late 2008 in a trade with mario of the late, great "wax heaven". it cost me the cards from my defunct jose cruz jr. and ben grieve player collections, plus a bunch of marlins and a few cansecos that mario probably already had. mario even added a couple of short printed kershaw rookie cards from 2008 upper deck timeline to the trade. the card remains a gem in my kershaw and dodger collection.
i should note that the ryan above actually is the one that my dad had in his collection. the one i traded for is now in my 1971 topps set, and it's not in as nice of condition as the one shown above. over the past year, my parents have downsized and i am now the proud owner of my dad's collection. i'm not keeping it all as i am working on downsizing my collection as well, but there are some cards that i'll never part with.
over the last couple of decades, i never asked him about his collection, and even stood by silently as he talked about selling it to a third party - even taking some of it to show to a potential buyer. i had bought his 1956 topps sandy koufax from him back in 2013 to complete my run of topps flagship koufax cards as well as go towards completing my dodger team set, but other than that i had let his collection lie. i figured that if he was ready to part with it, he would part with it. and, if i were to be the recipient, he would let me know.
then, back in december of 2018 when we were together celebrating christmas, he handed me a package to unwrap. i knew right away it was a couple of pages of baseball cards. i thought maybe it was his steve garvey cards, but wasn't sure. i unwrapped the gift and this is what i saw on page 1, pocket 1.