Blog Bat Around: $50,000 Shopping Spree


Being somewhat of a blogging newcomer (First and Goal’s first “birthday” is still over a month away), this is my first Blog Bat Around. The topic for discussion? What would I do if I were given $50,000 and 15 minutes on eBay? First, I would like to say that I am actually a pretty sensible guy. Given $50,000 in real life, I would most likely max out the Roth IRA contributions for my wife and I, get some home improvement projects rolling, and put the rest towards the mortgage. Obviously there are three glaring problems with this plan: 1) that would take more than 15 minutes to orchestrate, 2) I can’t really do any of this on eBay, and 3) no one is actually giving me $50,000. Second, given that I am a budget collector and an accountant, there is no way I could blow $50,000 in a 15-minute span on eBay. Not going to happen. I am far too anal about looking for the lowest prices (even if it’s free money, I’d still want to get the most possible for my hard(ly)-earned dollars) and most of what I collect is dirt cheap to begin with. So I am throwing out that portion of the question. I’m going to answer this question instead: What would you do if you were given $50,000 in eBay gift certificates, had an entire day off work, and had to spend the money on sports collectibles?

I like that question a lot better. It gives me time to do some homework. But not too much homework. And since no one has offered to pony up that $50,000 yet, here are my quick thoughts as to what I would buy:

1) 1950 Topps Felt Backs Joe Paterno
As a football collector and a Penn State alumnus, this would be the ultimate card for my collection. Even given JoePa’s incredible success and longevity, he still has only been featured on a small handfull of cards, including this gem of a rookie card. What some people may not know is that Joe was actually 64 years old when this card was printed. Estimated cost: $2,500

1950 Topps Felt Backs Joe Paterno

2) Emmitt Smith autographed jersey
Supposedly no player collection is complete without an autographed jersey. Given my normal shrewdiness, it is very highly doubtful I will ever splurge to get one of these. But, given fantasy money to blow, I would be more than happy to in this case. Estimated cost: $500.

Emmitt Smith autographed jersey

3) Pittsburgh Pirates Grab Bag
Next up would be a quick solution to my sudden urge to put together a collection of every Topps base card featuring a Pittsburgh Pirate. Because I doubt there are very many auctions or BIN listings for 1987 Topps cards, this would probably take the form of me buying a ton of lots and hoping for the best. Obviously I would go for anything that resembles a team set for a particular year, and then try to fill in the cracks with singles. The biggest problem with this idea is that I have a feeling a fair amount of money would be wasted on shipping charges. The one perk is that what I predict to be the most expensive card in that category, Roberto Clemente’s rookie, would easily be within my reach. Estimated cost (at least what I’d be willing to spend on random Topps Pirates): $3,500.

1955 Topps Roberto Clemente

4) Random Emmitt Smith additions
As I said, I am a budget collector AND I am trying to focus my collection. So rather than go blow a bunch of money on iconic cards or very overpriced cardboard of young players who haven’t proven anything yet, I would just bolster my Emmitt collection. This is a big reason I vote for the “all day off work” revision to the Blog Bat Around. I would love to stroll around eBay and add whatever Emmitt cards I come across that I do not already own. One of the general targets would be autographs and/or jersey cards as I have very few of those in my collection currently. I would especially be interested in stuff from the high-end sets I wouldn’t otherwise purchase, like Exquisite, UD Black, etc. But to stay true to my roots, there is no reason to expect I would walk away from this fantasy without tons of shiny 90s inserts and any base card I do not already have. BTW, I’m putting out a bounty for the 1999 Donruss Elite Primary Colors Red. I have yet to see one of these listed for sale anywhere. It would look really nice beside my Yellow and Blue ones. Probable limit: $8,500

5) Card Shop inventory
For those of you who have read my blog for a little while, it is no secret that it is a dream of mine to own my own card shop. With the estimated remaining $35,000 of eBay goodness, I would try to buy a ton of boxes and cases of unopened product (and maybe give in and buy a bunch of over priced cards of young players who haven’t proven anything yet or even some iconic football cards). Without having to pump in $35,000 of my own capital (which would NEVER happen at this point in life), I wouldn’t be obsessed with profit margin to start off with. I could start selling the inventory to get cash, which would in turn be used to buy more inventory. Right now may not be the best time to jump into the market, but even if the entire $35,000 was gone in two years, at least I could say I gave my dream a chance at reality AND I wouldn’t be out $35,000 of my own money. That sounds like a win/win situation to me.

So maybe my $50,000 shopping spree wouldn’t be as fun or frantic as some others’ and maybe I am aiming far too low, but if all I walked away with were the things listed above, I would be a VERY happy collector.

Now, who wants to make this plan a reality…?