Featured Cards: 2009 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions #100, Chase Utley; 2009 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BCP149, Freddy Galvis; 1993 Score Select Rookie/Traded ’93 All-Star Rookie Team #4, Kevin Stocker
As a Phillies fan, I don’t think I need to get into any real detail concerning yesterday’s news about Chase Utley. All I’m going to say about it is that my biggest fear this past off-season was that the Phillies were an old team and old teams have a very disconcerting track record of succumbing to injuries. Thankfully, the Phillies have a great starting rotation that is capable of carrying a team with a league-average offense. However, having both Utley and Ryan Howard on the DL to start the season means that there is no margin of error. An injury to any of their other starters puts the season on a course that frighteningly parallels the Titanic’s in 1912.
From the perspective of a Phillies collector, the ancillary news that Freddy Galvis will likely start the season as the team’s second basemen means that I am now attempting to acquire his 2008 Bowman Signs of the Future card at what I consider to be a reasonable price. While my policy of refusing to purchase autograph cards of any Phillies prospect until an appearance in a regular-season Major League game seems imminent has saved me lots of money over the past 10 years, situations such as the current one show its one drawback. Back when the card came out, I could’ve easily purchased Galvis’s Signs of the Future for around 10 dollars. Now that I am interested in purchasing one, it looks like eBay sellers are trying to get roughly $50 per card. I don’t expect that to last, and I’ll exert as much patience as necessary. I know that price will not hold, and I hope to have the card in my collection sometime within the next month or so for much less than that.
Part of the reason why I can calmly wait is that I’ve had experience with this situation before. For those of you who didn’t collect Phillies card in 1993, it may be hard to believe that Kevin Stocker’s rookie cards were incredibly hot at the end of that season. In particular, no card was hotter than the Stocker card you see here. Shortly after it appeared in dealer’s display cases, this insert was booking at around $50 (nearly $80 in today’s cash). Even though I my desire to maintain as complete a Phillies baseball card collection as possible probably crosses over into the realm of obsessive-compulsive disorder, I never once considered buying the card at anywhere near that price. Luckily for me, a dealer near where I went to high school in Maryland quickly got the card and immediately priced it at full book value. Unfortunately for him, this was pre-Internet and his store wasn’t quite close enough to Philly to properly cash in on the Stocker rookie-craze. It sat in one of his cases for three years (I know this because I checked whenever I came back into town every three months or so) until I finally offered him $10 for it — which I believe was paying double book price at that time. He apparently never bothered to update the price of the card during the three-year interval. After initially trying to get me to pay more, I flatly stated to him that I had waited three years, pointed out what the card was then booking at*, reminded him my offer was double book price, and finally said if he wouldn’t take it, then I would return in three months with a lower offer. Luckily, that brought him to his senses and I walked out of the store feeling like I had a won a major victory, even though I still grossly overpaid for the card.
In my mind this Stocker card and the Galvis 2008 Signs of the Future card have a lot in common. Part of the reason I never bought into the Stocker rookie card hype was that I knew his minor league stats, and there was nothing in them to suggest that he would ever come close to repeating his 1993 Major League numbers. The reason I’m not buying Galvis’s first autograph card is that there is nothing in his minor league numbers to suggest that he will have the type of career that justifies paying $50 for the card. I can be patient. I’ve been in this position before, and I suspect that I’ll be in it again.
* The 2011 Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards lists the card at $1.00.