Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Reasons to love regionals #3: The thrill of the hunt

When it comes to Jays team sets, nothing takes me back like the Fire Safety and Oh Henry! sets of the 80s and 90s. They are flimsy, they are low quality, and there are often cards cut to different sizes. There's always a healthy dose of guys you've never heard of that will never actually play an official game with the team, and you can always count on a few guys in awkward poses in ballparks you can't possibly recognize.

And despite how awful they sound, I think they are awesome. My guess is that many people agree with the above description, and for that reason, want nothing to do with these cards. I'm guessing for that reason, they weren't kept, and got chucked in the garbage. As a result, some of them are incredibly tough to track down. But the thrill of the hunt is just part of the fun!

Every now and again, I'll hit Google or eBay and search for 'blue jays fire safety' or 'blue jays oh henry'. Other times, I'll slot in a specific year, hoping to find one of the sets I'm missing. Often these searches are fruitless. I get a pile of past auctions, trading card / checklist sites or a random PC wantlist that is after a certain card. There's also a plethora of 5-year-old forum posts saying "I found these cards, what are they worth?" But weeding through that stuff is fun, because it's part of the challenge; not letting all that static interfere with a possible hit.

This past weekend I decided to hit the internet for a bit and just search for some of those sets. My searches turned up a craigslist ad for a 1994 Blue Jays Oh Henry set. The listing was from early August. I've never trusted craiglist, so I didn't bite. And then a few hours later, I changed my mind. This is the first time I've seen this set for sale in its entirety. Only one problem: I couldn't find the listing again! Eventually, I gave up, half annoyed that I didn't bite the first time, and half annoyed that I just couldn't find the ad again.

 Later in the day, I went searching again. I'm sure I was using the same search terms for the third time in a row, and I generally always use Google, so I know it wasn't like I had forgotten which search engine to use. Only this time, luck was on my side. Somehow, I turned up a kijiji ad from earlier in September for a listing right in Ontario. It read almost identically to the craiglist ad, so I'm confident it's the same person. I immediately contacted them, and what'ya know! Cards were still available, we struck a deal, and they are in the mail as we speak.

Now, I hate to mark these cards off of my wantlist before they arrive, but in mind, that's exactly what I've done. This is a big score. It's a tough set to locate, it almost slipped away, and somehow came back. I'll post some scans in a dedicated post when the cards arrive, but I'm pretty jazzed right now, and that seemed like a good reason for a post. Finding these compares to earlier in the year when I tracked down an even more difficult Blue Jays regional from 2002.

Anyway, this story sums up another reason I love regionals. They are available enough to be cheap, but just difficult enough to be a challenge. And I really enjoy the thrill of the hunt!

Thanks for reading,



  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Matthew. The '95 and '96 sets are going to be difficult too, I think, but getting this one feels like a milestone pickup. Maybe, partly, because it gets me within 1 card of a complete 1984-94 run of Fire Safety sets.