Via the Sun Journal
Now would not be a good time to warn me of the impending recession, complain about the cost of fuel within a half-mile radius of my ears, or ask me how much I’m being paid to write this.
That’s because I just watched a dozen grown men and women, most of whom presumably own cars and aren’t living rent-free in their parents’ basement, pay $300 for a steak dinner and the privilege of peeling apart a golden wrapper to reveal six baseball cards.
The gathering was a nationwide gimmick to promote the Upper Deck trading card company’s Exquisite Rookie Signatures Baseball set.
Thirty nostalgia and collectibles stores across the country were given the opportunity to peddle the autographed, limited-edition cards to their customers. For a price.
“They’re gamblers,” store manager Dan Cunliffe II said of his dinner party. “When we found out we were chosen, we made a list of 14 of our most loyal customers. Twelve of them signed up.”
Get lucky, and you could end up with Daisuke Matsuzaka or Phil Hughes’ name personally scrawled across the glossy cardboard, or even something as rare and non-sports related as a dual autograph card of Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev or Queen Elizabeth I and King George I.
So who spends $300 on a pack of baseball cards, anyway? Oh, merely your friends and neighbors.
“Somebody that likes to gamble,” said Bouchard, who confessed that buying sports stock on speculation has been a lifelong habit. “I love collecting cards and selling cards. I started coming to this store back in 1987, so I was 12 years old. I used to get my allowance and spend all my money on packs of cards.”
But the agony and ecstasy of being a sports memorabilia collector is that it’s a poker game that lasts potentially for 20 years. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens have taught us that even a player on the cusp of retirement has ample time to inflate his body and potentially deflate his card value.
Hughes and Chase Wright’s cards drew hurrahs from their new owners and good-natured Yankees-flavored harassment from the peanut gallery. Rocky Cherry’s picture and name merely evoked snickers.
“Sounds like an ice cream or something,” said collector Duane Bonney.
Chase Wright made Upper Deck’s Exquisite Rookie Signatures Baseball set? Man, that just doesn’t seem “wright.”