I intended to write this post nearly four months ago. I suppose better late than never. Since acquiring this milestone card, the collection has increased by another 250 cards.
Back in October 2003, my only child was born. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter my wife lost her job. In an effort to keep our finances afloat, I sold nearly all my pre-World War II Phillies cards, as well as the majority of my pre-1957 Bowman and Topps cards. In most cases, I had complete team sets, and that includes notables ones such as the T206 White Border and 1933 Goudey. It was something I did willingly—the health and well-being of my family was far more important than my baseball card collection—but I didn’t enjoy doing it
Over the past five years, I’ve slowly rebuilt that portion of my collection. It probably would’ve gone much more quickly if I hadn’t devoted so many resources to acquiring the ridiculous number of cards that I originally missed out on during the 2004-2009 timeframe (especially 2005), when I had to be far more selective about what I collected. I’ve managed to reassemble the Play Ball sets, the ’55 and ’56 Topps sets, and most of the Bowman team sets, but the majority of the team sets I once owned remain works in progress. Some of them I may never complete again; in particular, I just don’t see how I’ll ever manage to reacquire a T206 White Border Titus—the remaining card I need to complete that particular team set.
On the other hand, I’ve been fortunate enough to pick up some cards I didn’t own (let alone imagine owning) 10 years ago. I now possess a few Cracker Jack cards, some caramel cards, a few exhibits, a Tattoo Orbit, and even a few pins. The presence of these cards in my collection more than offsets the OCD angst caused by the fact that I still need to complete many pre-1954 Phillies team sets. Nonetheless, the completion of some of those sets remains a serious goal. One such set was the 1949 Bowman, and it probably comes as no surprise that the Ashburn rookie card was one of the final cards I needed to complete it.
Of all the cards I sold during the 2003-2004 winter, the Ashburn’s rookie card was the one that hurt the most when I sold it. I actually only owned it for roughly a year at the time, but it was easily the centerpiece of my collection. It wasn’t in the best condition (it was professionally graded by SGC as a 40), but I was thrilled with its overall appearance. Yet, at the time I felt confident that I could require it somewhat easily once I again possessed the resources to do so.
I was wrong.
Roughly 18 months ago, I started actively searching for another 1949 Bowman Ashburn card professionally graded in VG or VG-EX condition. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a card that more than held its value—it was more expensive that it had been when I bought and sold it 10 years earlier (even when factoring inflation over that time). I quickly resigned myself to the idea that I would need to accept one graded in Good condition. Even then, it took a great amount of patience. Finally, around the time I was approaching the 20,000 milestone, one finally hit eBay at a price relatively near what I was willing to pay. Thankfully, the seller had a “Make Best Offer” option on the “Buy It Now” price and I was able to negotiate the card down to the maximum I was willing to pay.
So, once again it’s a centerpiece to my collection, and although it wasn’t technically the 20,000th Phillies card in my possession, I made sure that it was the 20,000th added to the Excel spreadsheet I use to track my collection. It’s not as nice as my original Ashburn rookie card, but at least I own one again (which is more than could very well be said about the T206 Titus.) Just as nice, it meant that it put me just one card away from completing my 1949 Bowman team set—the completion of which I described yesterday.
If you told me 30 years ago that one day I would own over 20,000 Phillies cards, I might’ve believed that it potentially could happen sometime significantly later in life; I just don’t think any of us back in the mid ‘80s could’ve possibly anticipated the radical changes in the hobby that would begin around the start of the ‘90s and continue to this day. Barring a catastrophic collapse in the hobby or my finances, 30,000 seems incredibly likely at some point down the road—as mind-boggling as that possibility seems.