Monday, March 26, 2012

No. 801 – Next to You

Performer: The Police
Songwriter: Sting
Original Release: Outlandos d’Amour
Year: 1978
Definitive Version: The Police Live!, 1995

When you have an unconnected narrative, it makes sense to switch up the songs that you use, so why not switch from Foo Fighters to The Police? As promised, in bullet form:

* I was listening to The Police Live! a lot in the summer of 1995 when I went to the National in St. Louis. It made me reconnect with a lot of things from my past, because in high school and early college, I listened to The Police all the time. They were on a lot at Timeout when Steve and I would be on one of big veg (for video extracting games) benders.

The last night I was in St. Louis, Dave went to dinner with friends of his who lived in town, so I was on my own. I hiked down to an area close to the Mississippi River that had a bunch of bars. I grabbed some alfredo in a nondescript pub that was as average as you might expect it to be, but while down there, I stumbled upon the National Video Game Museum.

This is as billed: It was a collection of all of the great old games that I used to play all the time in high school—and hadn’t played in a decade. And they were all playable for the same old quarter, too. How cool is that? I played Donkey Kong, Tempest, Centipede and Dig Dug. I could have stayed all night, but they closed just as the bars started to get rolling, so I had only so much time. Apparently, it’s now closed. What a bummer.

* The St. Louis National was the place where I spent more on a single baseball card than ever before. This holds true 17 years later.

My rule of thumb is that when I buy older cards, once the book value gets above, say, $4, I pay no more than 20 percent of book value. So, if a card has a book value of $50, I pass it up unless it’s $10 or less. I make few exceptions to the rule—the biggest being if I’m down to just a few cards to complete a set, I’ll go higher.

In my grand run of completing sets back to 1957, the highest price cards are the 1957 Mickey Mantle and the 1963 Pete Rose. Each booked in 1995 at $1,000, and the Rose was likely the tougher card because there were a lot of counterfeits out there and it was Rose’s rookie card. If you saw it marked down, it might be $400.

So the first day, before Dave got there that afternoon and we went to the Cardinals game, I stumbled across the bin of a dealer from the New York area. It was a blowout stars bin, and I started plowing through it. At the end, the guy told me: You’ve been here for two hours.

I don’t remember how much I spent total at his table, but it was more than $200, because in the bargain bin was a 1963 Rose for that amount. I couldn’t believe it when I pulled it out. I put it to the side to examine later and I must have spent 10 minutes on it if I spent 10 seconds. I looked at it as carefully as I could: It sure appeared to be genuine. I pulled the trigger and crossed off a huge card—a cornerstone—off my wantlist. (The ’57 Mantle would fall for far less many years later.)

* And with that, 200 down, 800 to go …


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