Tuesday, January 16, 2018

#1 Andy Pafko

#1 Andy Pafko
Progress: 1st of this card
301 of 407  73.9% complete
How acquired: $47.96 on eBay
Condition: Poor

When I first made the decision to actively pursue these '52 Topps cards, Andy Pafko was the only non "common" that I was actively targeting and had a saved ebay search for.  Back in 2008, It was my goal to pick one of these up for under $20, and I came very close a couple of times.  Over time I lost interest, as when I had enough in my "ebay account" (I sell a lot of cheap modern cards on ebay) to put towards a big purchase, "Pafko" wasn't a name that rang out the way a lot of the Hall of Famers did.  As a result he took a back seat, and now is actually the final card of the first 310 I acquired.  When I chose him for the banner of this blog (and now this card has been photo shopped in) I never would have guessed that to be the case.

I used to be a pretty big comic book collector in my pre-teen and early teenage years.  "Reader" is probably a more accurate description.  But I liked to read the old issues and story lines, a habit that couldn't help but rub shoulders with "collecting."  Issue #1's were always a very big deal.  In the mid-1980's, DC Comics (I was a DC reader) rebooted all their story lines, and restarted a lot of the comics at issue #1.  When I was "collecting" in the early 90's these were "old" and still within my price range.  So I targeted a lot of #1's and tried to work/read my way up to where I was currently in the story line.  It ingrained the importance of "#1" into my collecting subconscious, even though there is no real inherent value to card #1 in baseball sets.  With one very notable exception, this Andy Pafko.

In a way, I'm doing with Topps cards what I did with Justice League, and Flash, and Superman comics thirty years ago.  I'm working on the old sets, building my way up to where my own collection started.  These sets, Topps sets, tell a story.  They're like almanacs of a given year of baseball history.  This Pafko is the Topps version of Detective Comics #27, or probably more accurately, Action Comics #1.  This is where the Topps story starts.  I know, the red/blue backs are out there, but they're not "baseball cards," at least not as I've known baseball cards to be my entire life.  

I've read that this card is "valuable" because kids would wrap there cards in a stack with rubber bands and as such, there aren't many high grade copies of this Pafko because he was usually on top.  I don't buy that theory.  For one, there aren't many high grade copies of any of these cards, and more to the point, why are the low grade copies so expensive?  It's a lot simpler than that.  This is card #1 in the first Topps set.  That's all you need to know to explain the price it carries.  No offense to Pafko, who had an excellent career, but he shouldn't cost anywhere near what Yogi does.  There's a strong argument to be made that it's the first modern baseball card.  I don't think you need to be an old comic book collector to appreciate that.

Look at the back of this card.  "In 1943 at Los Angeles, Andy led the Pacific Coast League in batting with .356 and was brought up to the Cubs at the end of the season." Call me Ishmael.  With that simple sentence about a minor league batting line, the Topps story begins.

My copy is well worn.  I sort of figured that I would have to pay out for a nicer one, given I didn't think I would land one of these for less than $80, and at that point, I'll pay a little extra for a slabbed one to make sure it's real (and then free it myself).  But this one fell in my lap at a price I can live with.  I'd prefer it was a red back, but the black backs are allegedly more "rare," so I guess it has that going for it.  Aside from the #1 on the back of the card, there's really not too much to get excited about, but I don't think I'm alone in my belief that that #1 is more than enough.

Stats: 17 seasons, 4x All-Star, 1,796 hits, 213 HR's, 976 RBI's, .285 avg.. 4x NL Pennants, World Series Ring in '57 with Milwaukee Braves

Best Hall of Fame Showing: 0.7% 1966

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