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My Baseball Card Collecting Adventure: 1960 Fleer Baseball Greats

Like many baseball fans who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s, I collected baseball cards passionately as a young person. Most of my disposable income went to Strat-O-Matic, Wiffle balls, and baseball cards. As an aside, I, as many other kids of that era I’m sure, also ended up with a bunch of silver tooth fillings likely from chewing all the gum that came in the cards.

Looking back, it was a great way to grow up.

I haven’t actively collected baseball cards in years, yet the itch occasionally comes back. I’ve refrained from jumping into it too much being the “responsible adult” and diverting my income towards the more urgent needs of adult life such as mortgage, 401k, college and wedding costs, etc.

I recently stumbled on an intriguing option to get back to collecting a bit – 1960 Fleer Baseball Greats. This is a set (and its sequels in 1961/1962) of retired players at the time of issue as Fleer didn’t have the contract to feature the current MLB players – except for Ted Williams.

It’s an interesting and quirky edition. Some players are pictured in their prime, some clearly well into retirement. There are front office and commissioners carded as well – I’m sure an Ed Barrow card was a hot item in neighborhood trading. Some are pictured in uniforms not usually associated with the player – Ernie Lombardi with the Giants, Ralph Kiner with the Indians, etc.

I suspect that the lack of modern day players and the quirks made it not the most popular set at the time, and it looks to keep the collectors’ expense down a bit too. Except for greats like Babe Ruth (pictured playing seeming in an old timer’s game), many cards can be had in pretty good shape for about five dollars. There are 79 cards in the set if one doesn’t count the three editions of the erroneous Pepper Martin card which had the card backs of other players.

So, by cost and volume collecting this set is certainly doable.

My plan is to keep an eye out at Ebay, hit the occasional card show, and scour the inventory from some online vendors. I’ll eventually donate the completed set to a local sports memorabilia auction. Nobody else in my family collects, and I can’t take it with me!

I made my first purchase from Dean’s Cards in Ohio – . If you’re a collector, Dean’s is a great site. Lots of cards from a wide variety of companies, plenty of vintage stuff.

They have ample 1960 Fleer Baseball Greats in stock at a variety of conditions – good for my frugal nature. I don’t need every card to be mint condition. I can usually find great satisfaction in a very good or very good/excellent conditioned card.

I opened my collection by picking up three of my favorite historical players – (pictured) Eddie Collins, Christy Mathewson, and Frank “Home Run” Baker. Total cost: about $16 (the Mathewson cost $7.25), which is a bit more than I want to pay per card, but I thought this a good bunch to start.

While completing the set will be satisfying, it’s the journey that I look forward to. I’ll keep readers up to date on my pursuits.


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