Catching Up Where I Once Quit
This hobby of collecting trading cards has a funny way of bringing back former collectors. For me, I opened my first pack of wax in 1990 and collected for close to a decade before quietly bowing out of the game in late 1997.
At that point, I was seventeen years old and was tired of paying $10 dollars and up for cards when I could have been using that money to fix up my car or take a girl out on a date. For me, the final straw came during back to back releases from Bowman.
Bowman Chrome and Bowman's Best were two of the more popular products released in 1997 and one player in particular made some real Hobby noise that year after making his debut with the Seattle Mariners and outshining the immortal, Ken Griffey Jr.
By early 1998, Jose Cruz Jr.'s Bowman Chrome rookie card and the parallel versions were among the hottest cards of the year, selling for $40 dollars and up. Meanwhile, his Bowman's Best Atomic Refractor and his certified autograph from the same product was rare and desired enough that if you were to sell it, you'd have enough money to put a down payment on a nice car. Maybe not a Lexus or Mercedes Benz but still something nice.
To a teenager with a part-time job and too old to get an allowance from his parents, I chose to walk away and never look back. I wanted those Jose Cruz Jr. cards more than one can imagine but there was just no way it was going to ever happen, or so I believed.
Folks, it took exactly a decade before I made a return to collecting. As you can imagine, a lot has changed in ten years but one thing that has not was my desire to own these cards. By now, Jose Cruz Jr. was a Major League "washout". A player who flourished for a couple of seasons and suddenly forgot to hit for almost a decade.
Little by little I have been stocking up on his Bowman releases over the last year. First came his base card from '97 Bowman's Best and just two days ago I went on a crazy eBay shopping spree and picked up the following cards:
1. '97 Bowman's Best - Refractor
2. '97 Bowman's Best - Atomic Refractor
3. '97 Bowman's Best - Best Cuts
4. '97 Bowman's Best - Best Cuts Refractor
5. '97 Bowman's Best - Mirror Image
6. '97 Bowman's Best - Certified Autograph
Keep in mind that this lot alone in the late-90's would have cost me close to $500 dollars cash, if not more considering there was no secondary market and I would have had to travel all over the United States to find these cards. The price I paid for this "Wax Gold" was....wait for it, under $20 dollars including shipping!
These cards may be worthless to 99% of collectors today but to me it has created a bridge to my collecting youth that died sometime in 1997. Surprisingly enough, I am just shy of a master set of '97 Bowman's Best Jose Cruz Jr. I just hope I can complete it in under a decade's time.
Author, Wax Heaven