Sunday, February 28, 2010

How the Mighty Have Fallen

When it comes to collecting, I consider myself to be somewhat patient. My budget requires me too. If I want something that's hot today, it might be a decade or more before I finally land it. But when it comes to iconic cards of the hobby, I'm certainly willing to wait.

If you were to go back in time about 15 years you'd find me watching Seinfeld, eating unhealthy amounts of Mr. Noodles, listening to Silverchair and Smashing Pumpkins and dreaming of getting a 1995 Bowman's Best Andruw Jones. At the time, the guy was a stud. There was no limit to what he might do for the amazing Braves. I don't recall exactly the price the rookie card reached, but I'm thinking it was around or over $100. That'd be 20 hours of flipping burgers and burning myself working fries for a single card, albeit a shiny one, of a guy who had a tremendous World Series debut. Add to the fact I lived in Canada where base Topps and Upper Deck were all that was found for the most part, and I wasn't going to be having any of it.

It was probably a good thing I waited. While Jones has put together a solid career overall, he didn't exactly pan out to be the phenom his early card prices demanded. As his strikeouts piled up, his stock in the hobby fell. Today he's bouncing from team to team, playing largely for up-side contract incentives.

Well, I finally got my 1995 Bowman's Best Andruw Jones rookie. The cost: $7.50. And that, friends, is why I don't prospect.

Although the card holds merely a fraction of the value it once did, it is still an important part of baseball card history. It was one of the first "shiny" base set rookies that still have a foothold in today's hobby. It's value plummet is also the thing of legend, comparable to Jose Canseco whose various 1986 cards were once worth more than $100 as well. But while Canseco's fall from grace can be attributed to overproduction as much as his fall in play, Jones is an example of raw, unproven skill that could never reach the hype.

The 1995 Bowman's Best set was at one time the hottest in the hobby. Not only did you have the Jones rookie, but there was Vladimir Guerrero and Scott Rolen as well. I picked up a Bob Abreu the same time as the Jones for an additional $6.00. One of these days I'll pull the trigger on a Guerrero to add to the Expos team set collection. However, I have a hunch if I stay patient for another few months I might save myself a few dollars. 

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