Collecting On A Budget – Hanley Ramirez

I have finally come to the conclusion that unless you are looking for a “hit of a lifetime”, it makes absolutely no sense to buy wax these days. With the economy being nowhere near what it once was and unemployment at highs not seen in over a decade, it’s tough to tell your husband or wife that you want to buy some packs of baseball cards.

Still, you don’ have to completely walk away from The Hobby or sell off your collection. Thanks to the power of eBay, there are literally thousands of great deals to be found that you won’t find in a card shop or even through buying expensive wax and hoping for some “MOJO”.

Hanley Ramirez is hands down one of the best players in the game and still has tons of potential to achieve. Last year, at the tender age of 24, Hanley joined the “30-30” club. In 2009, he came into Spring Training with twenty extra pounds of muscle and it has helped as he has led the Marlins to a first place spot in the National League East.

While his early year cards are out of the price range of 95% of collectors, there is still plenty of great cards to be had for very reasonable prices. Take for example the two Ramirez cards below: one features an on-card autograph and the other features a piece of a “game-used” material with a stripe and is a Gold Refractor serial numbered to just 50 copies.

If you’re a Marlins fan or Hanley Ramirez collector, these two wonderful cards could have been yours this week for less than a single pack of 2008 SPx last year. Without shipping, these two cards sold for a total of $19.84 and could easily be the centerpiece of any young collection.

How many packs of SPx did you buy last year just to find a White Sox middle reliever’s autograph or a Milwaukee Brewers back-up catcher’s jersey relic? Of course, SPx is just an example I will base my Collecting On A Budget series on.

Next time on Collecting On A Budget: Albert Pujols

Source:

2007 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection Autograph

2008 Bowman Sterling Game-Used Jersey/Gold Refractor

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28 comments

  1. The vast majority of Americans have been unaffected by the economic downturn. Most collectors are collectors because they have the discretionary income to spend on them. Most people affected by the economic downturn either never had the discretionary income to spend on cards (the poor), or money still isn’t a problem for them despite losses on the stock market or sales or whatever their line of work (the rich).

    I guess I just don’t understand why people think that because others are losing their jobs that they themselves need to cut back when everything is the same for them. We’re in a period of deflation right now, meaning prices are lower. Cost of living everywhere is lower than it has been in a long time. People are “cutting back” because they think they should because everyone else says they are.

    When this period of deflation is over with, we’re going to see a rebound with insane inflation. When that happens, whatever you had saved is going to be a drop in the bucket when things rise in cost so much that it’s going to take a truckload of cash just to pay rent.

    In other words, while there’s no reason to live it up like you’re going to die tomorrow, there’s also no reason to cut back and keep from spending when you’re unaffected. It’s bad for the economy, and it serves no purpose.

  2. Honestly, i am turning my attention more toward SI magazines and Sports Hats and Caps. Even clean, regular baseballs for the occasional autographs, hats are for the same reason (to get a hat autograph). I figure those are two easy items to get auto’d. I also learned that old SI cover magazines can get up to $19.95 in less than a month!
    i would start collecting those items if i were you. i am skipping saturdays auction at my local card shoppe for saving money. Honestly though, my love for this hobby has been soured since my other collection had been ruined. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ sad sad sad…..

    by the way ross, i have a nice SI magazine that has Albert Pujols on the cover, beautiful article about him inside about helping children with Down Syndrome. you know, i am not a huge fan of his, but i do support him when he does kind gestures like that :). i would be willing to trade the magazine if you could put up an offer….. ๐Ÿ™‚

    P.S. a question for Ross. Next time I go to wal mart, they have a nice Cardinals hat for 7 bucks. last time when i was about to buy it at the register i put it back to save up for a nice angel hat, turns out, i have more money that i though! ๐Ÿ˜€ so should i buy it? i do like troy glaus ๐Ÿ™‚ hmmmmm… I am a collector so maybe i should buy it!

  3. Can I ask why you don’t include the shipping price in your total amounts. To me it is more accurate to include shipping. Also the Autographed Ramirez card was purchased from a seller w/ 5 feedback rating. To me unless your one of the 5 that IS the ebay equivalent of gambling on a Wax pack.

  4. Deal, he has just 5 feedback but all are positive and I don’t see a reason to worry about a $15 dollar card.

    Everyone starts somewhere on eBay.

  5. Although I do buy single cards on ebay, I do feel nothing matches the awesome feeling of opening up packs.

  6. Good point Mario! Last week I bought a Tom Seaver Jersey card #ed to 325 for 99cents….. and I just bought a Willie Mccovey jersey card #ed to 99 for 6 Bucks! Two of the all time great’s jersey cards for less than a blaster box!

  7. Singles are a value since ebay. I love it, but will always bust wax. Thomas couldn’t be more wrong on a number of things.

  8. Jeff, I think Thomas was saying HE wasn’t affected.

    I wasn’t rich or poor in late 2007 and was spending $200-$300 every single paycheck on wax. When gas prices started soaring I was forced to cut back and when I lost my job in late 2008 I was forced to quit buying altogether.

    MANY collectors have been forced to sell their collections and/or quit collecting completely when they lost their jobs. I know because many of them have emailed me about it or write about it every single day on card forums.

  9. After decades of cracking wax, foil and mylar, I have become a player on ebay and Sportlots. For the price of a box of 08 Heritage I was able to obtain a basic set, a Reds team set and some inserts. There is no point in busting wax if you are concentrating on teams or players. I will still pick up a box or two but now wait a while on purchasing them. A box of 2000 Gamers Football was bought by me for $28 at a local shop. The price tag had $72 scratched out on it.
    Ebay allows you to collect how and what you want for a reasonable price on game used, parallels and inserts while Sportlots lets you pick up base cards on the cheap.

  10. I really enjoy busting wax and will continue to do so but not to the extent I have in the past.

    For the price of a blaster, you can find some really nice cards of great players on ebay.

  11. I’m saying the majority of collectors haven’t been affected. A couple examples here and there doesn’t disprove the theory in any way. Of course there are going to be a few people who are “forced” to give up their collections. That doesn’t mean that it is in any way indicative or representative of the hobby as a whole.

    And Jeff W, saying I “couldn’t be more wrong” is pointless. Either challenge my arguments or don’t bother saying anything at all. Taking a shot at me like that is just weak.

  12. I’m an economist Thomas, I could write pages on how wriong you are. We are not experiencing deflation, you read wholesale prices are going down in the newspaper, now you think you know something. Everyone who invests, is paid by someone else, and uses credit has been touched. I did not lose my job, my costs haven’t changed much, you are essentially talking about a number of people like me. Well, layoffs have been hanging over most of our heads or executed real close to us. That means you should keep doing the same? Many have retirement savings worth less than initial investment, something they never expected. Buy the same, or put more away to keep your plans? If you are not experiencing direct income difficulties this economy has still changed a lot for everyone. These are the MAJORITY of Americans. On the low percentages you have people who can take a 40% hit easily, and on the other end those that have lost their jobs/disposable income. You spoke in a huge generalization and are wrong. I didn’t evn touch on credit, but this is a baseball blog.

  13. I didn’t mention, you are right on future inflation. Even mor reason to plug away and get real estate if inflation gets out of control.

  14. With regards to the economy, the people who are getting hit the worst are the less educated. There have been numerous reports noting that the unemployment rate among those with a college degree is still only 4-5%, compared to 12-13% for those without a college degree.

    Regarding wax, I agree the modern wax is way too expensive. Twenty years ago, if you opened a pack of 1989 Topps, you paid about 3 cents a card (15 cards for 40 cents). Today, you would pay about 20 cents a card (10 cards for about $2). Now it can be argued that today’s cards are a little bit nicer and more technologically advanced than those of 20 years ago, but I doubt too many people think that they are six times nicer.

    What is driving up the cost of wax is the relics and autographs, which is really too bad since many people do not collect them.

    If companies are going to bother to make the hobby and retail versions of their product different, why not make the retail version insert/relic/autograph-free and charge a much lower price per pack/box?

  15. Economically speaking even if prices are down; the prices of cards aren’t down. A blaster still costs $20. I would love to see the return of $40 boxes but i don’t think it will come untill the gaurantee of “hits” is removed. Inserts were way more exciting and have held thier value much more. Look at 1997 pinnacle certified cards and comapre the prices with G/U cards. 1993 Finest Refractors are far priceir than most autos. That’s just the facts.

  16. You know, Thomas, I used to think that the economy would never affect someone like me. Then two things happened that I never expected to change my outlook. First, I was promoted to a job that meant I was dealing mainly with people in texas. I didnt know the expanse of how hard these people were hit until I talked to a few of them on the phone. Everyone is affected.

    Then, yesterday, my wife called me and said she had gotten laid off due to the economic condition of her company. Wonderful. Now, like a lot of these people, our income will be at least 1/4-1/3 smaller than it was the day before. It was that sudden.

    To say that many collectors are unaffected is a gross generalization in my opinion. Most of the people who are affected are affected in their discretionary income. Before, when there was a lot, they could collect. Now, when there is a little, they cant.

  17. I would love to see the return of $40 boxes but i donโ€™t think it will come untill the gaurantee of โ€œhitsโ€ is removed. Inserts were way more exciting and have held thier value much more. Look at 1997 pinnacle certified cards and comapre the prices with G/U cards. 1993 Finest Refractors are far priceir than most autos. Thatโ€™s just the facts.

    They are much pricier because of the scarcity of the card. They were as scarce then as many of the top autos are today. Thats the reason they are pricy, not anything else. Scarcity drives price today as much as it did back then. The difference now is that the typical collector is bored with contrived scarcity on cards, and wants more than just cardboard.

    Personally, I would take an auto numbered to 1599 of my favorite player any day over an insert numbered to 5, or 1/1. I care more about the memorabilia aspect of the hobby, having something connected to your favorite player, rather than the only the cardboard. The majority of people in this hobby are the same way. If it was just inserts and base, I wouldnt collect anymore. Thats just the facts.

  18. Once again mfw13 nailed it. I know the hobby is all about the hits to most people these days but if everyone just took a step back and analyze it, the money driven auto-gamer hits have really hurt the hobby more than help it.

  19. Wax over Ebay any day. If you think cards are cheap on Ebay head over to Dave and Adams for some cheaper wax. Nothing compares to the thrill of the pull. Ever!!

  20. Great Post! Just one little correction, the top card isn’t an on card auto as you said.

    Thanks,
    Jesse

  21. Jesse, I actually looked through about 5-7 different cards similar to the Hanley and couldn’t find a sticker but I will take your word for it.

  22. yes, it’s a sticker. I have a Jim Rice auto from the same set and it’s a very nicely done sticker – so well done that it’s hard to tell unless you look at the glint off the card to see that the auto is on sticker and not on card.

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