Home > baseball > I Just Found The Book of 1993 Baseball Cards! People Will Want To Read My Thoughts On That!

I Just Found The Book of 1993 Baseball Cards! People Will Want To Read My Thoughts On That!

Don’t be thrown by the SNES controller. I took this picture today.

I’ve been meaning to get back to creating content for this bad mamma jamma of a blog here for several weeks now, but it wasn’t until yesterday that I found the proper inspiration to do so. Some might credit fate or say it was “written in the stars” that I would happen to find this near 2o-year-old hardcover book about baseball cards whilst agitatedly shoving items aside during the process of resetting my crappy wireless router. Others, perhaps those who have been in my home recently, may have observed that the book had been resting on a shelf near the router — maybe even unavoidably close — for quite a while, and that I am simply romanticizing what really occurred here for dramatic effect. We may never know what the real reason was. Regardless, I soon found myself skimming through the contents of The Book of 1993 Baseball Cards, mildly intrigued by which players’ cards were considered excellent investments before a shared period of ridiculous overproduction in both the sport itself and the trading card industries largely made such speculation a waste of time.

The format of the book is very simple. With the exception of a seven-page introductory article, each page contains pictures of the 1993 baseball cards of two players, along with a short blurb detailing the player’s career achievements and stat lines for the 1992 season, as well as a player’s career stat totals. The blurbs also tend to recommend a reasonable price to pay for each player’s card, as well as an opinion on which of the player’s 1993 cards is the most aesthetically pleasing. The pricing recommendations were where I paid the most attention thanks to the combination of hindsight being 20/20 and the always amusing suggested retail value of five cents for common cards featuring non-star players.

Before I cherry pick some of the player entries, though, let’s quickly swing back to the introductory piece. The basic idea of the article is to tell the reader when is the best time to buy packs of cards (right around or after the World Series, since merchants don’t want to be left holding old cards that they assume will no longer sell), or the best time to invest in a large batch of cards of a single player (basically, before everyone else catches on.) In many ways, this piece acts as a precursor to every mainstream preseason fantasy baseball article you’ll ever read. But there are also some differences. Since, at this point in time, baseball card collecting was more typically a long-term thought process than the “what have you done for me lately?” feel of the typical redraft fantasy baseball league, there was a section in the piece about some under-the-radar type long-term investment possibilities:

Be aware that some cards take years, even decades, before their value starts to escalate. Players with average abilities may be great card investments if they get a lot of publicity. Pittsburgh knuckleballer Tim Wakefield will stay in the limelight for years, regardless of his yearly successes. Due to reviving this special pitch, Wakefield will be a player whose cards could bring long-term surprises.

Because I am a horribly biased Red Sox fan, I will not link to the Aaron Boone homer. Rather, I’ll sit here and stew for a few moments, then recall Wake’s contributions to the 2004 and 2007 teams.

And then I’ll note that the following paragraph suggests that cards featuring beloved former Yankee Jack McDowell could be a smart investment not only because he is a dominant pitcher, but because of his promising future career as a musician.

It’s mostly standard stuff the rest of the way, though there is a cautionary tale about paying the price for holding onto a promising young player’s rookie card for too long. The example used is then-third-year player Todd Zeile, who wound up returning to the minors in late ’92. “Investors in his rookie cards began sweating,” the article explains. “Once a $2 value, these cards were unstable properties. Even after the righthanded Redbird returned, collectors wondered if the move would blight Zeile’s card values forever.” This anecdote was relayed just before a discussion of the escalating value of 1992 NL Rookie of the Year Eric Karros’ cards, which came right before the piece culminating with the reminder that one shouldn’t let investing in baseball cards take away from their love of the game.

With all of that out of the way, it’s on to the nearly 300 pages of individual player evaluations. As they are arranged in alphabetical order, the first happens to be famed one-handed pitcher Jim Abbott, who was poised to join the Yankees for the 1993 season. “Scoop up Abbott’s 1993 cards if you see them at a nickel apiece,” recommends the blurb. “Even if he hung up his spikes forever, he’d still be one of baseball’s most famed competitors of the 20th century.” Little did they know.

A turn of the page later, it is stated that future Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar’s ’93 cards “are snappy choices at a dime or less,” a claim which should seem absurd at present day given that he’s in the Hall, but still manages to seem increasingly logical the more I think about it. Meanwhile, cards featuring fringe Hall of Fame candidate Craig Biggio, then coming off an all-star year, are said to be worth half that, or less. The same goes for Bert Blyleven.

Of course, some of the most enjoyable and/or depressing observations regarding card investments come in the blurbs for the “steroid guys.” My favorite one comes while discussing a likely suspect, acclaimed author and Twitter god Jose Canseco. “Canseco’s 1993 cards may be a quarter apiece or more. Say no,” the reader is warned, “because his health may limit his hitting.” But what am I to do with all these quarters? “For a safe investment,” it explains, “snare the ’88 Fleer combo card of Canseco and McGwire (#624) for 75 cents.” Implicitly, the investment is safe because of Mark McGwire, who the book recommends buying ’93 cards of by the boatload. It does warn against investing in McGwire rookie cards, advice that would likely have meant premature doom for the Shop At Home Network had collectors wisely obeyed that request five years after the book’s publication date. Ironically, notorious alleged steroid cheat Roger Clemens’ cards were considered a poor investment in this book in spite the acknowledgement that he was the best pitcher in baseball in 1992.

With the luxury of hindsight, there are plenty of amusing incorrect evaluations in this book. If you are a super nerdy longtime baseball fan who collected baseball cards in the early 90s and revels in schadenfreude, I tepidly recommend heading over to Amazon.com and grabbing a copy while they last.

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