Thursday, January 14, 2021

Beckett Issue #1: November 1984

I listen pretty regularly to a few baseball card podcasts and I recently came across the Dr. James Beckett Sports Card Insights podcast and I've been listening to it while I've been working in my card room. I really enjoy it and think that most everyone reading this would probably enjoy it as well.

All his episodes are 15 minutes or less and he talks a lot about his early days in the hobby before starting the Beckett price guide, his time running Beckett publications, and his time since selling his company back in 2005 or 2006 as not much more than a collector. He browses quarter boxes at card shows and sells on He does a lot of interviews with people in the hobby. It's good stuff.

My card shop has a copy of Beckett issue #1 hanging up, but it's not for sale.I see it every time I'm there and between that and listening to the podcast, I started looking for a copy of issue #1 for myself. They are available on eBay, but are pricey. There is a reprint however from 2001 that can be had for about $5 and so I picked that up.

Here is the front cover. You can see where it says Reprint 2001 under $2.50. In one of the podcasts Jim mentions why he picked these two cards for the cover. He wanted to feature two cards representing both older and newer players/cards. Clemente was his all-time favorite player and so he represented the older players/cards and he thought Dale Murphy was one of the hot current players at that time, which makes sense since he had won back to back MVP awards in 1982 and 1983, so he choose his rookie card to represent new players/cards. 

Here is the back cover.

I have seen the cover before, but I don't recall ever seeing inside, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. This is from November 1984, so I was only 3 years old at the time it was originally issued.

The inside cover has some information about the magazine, cards in general (things like buying and selling, condition, etc.) and some information on how prices were determined.

The next page features a letter from Jim Beckett introducing himself and the magazine, with pictures of the Sports Americana price guide books he had published as early as 1979.

I won't show all of the price guide pages, but here are a few. The 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle is priced between $1200-$1400, while the 1951 Bowman Mantle rookie card is priced between just $350-$375.

The 1963 Pete Rose rookie card is priced at $225-$350, so roughly the same price range as the 1951 Bowman Mantle.

Here are the center pages of the magazine. It is black and white photos of what is supposed to be a card from every set that is priced in the magazine, but although 1960, 1961, and 1963 Fleer are showcased below, those sets are not in the actual price guide.

As soon as I saw this page, I thought "New collecting goal!" So I will be looking to see how many of these cards I already own and then will start tracking down the others.

The price guide section ends with 1984 Donruss, Fleer, and Topps and then there are just a few additional pages.

The Readers Write section which is just Hot and Cold lists. Ryne Sandberg is on nearly every Hot list, while Darryl Strawberry frequents many of theHot and Cold lists.

There are some names on here that are very interesting. Like "84T Bobby Meacham" is on one Hot list, while another features "55T 151-160"

The next page is a survey form, so that you too could provide your own Hot and Cold lists and other feedback about the hobby. In all my years of reading Beckett magazine, I don't think I every sent in a survey. How about you? Did you every send in the survey to Beckett magazine? If you did, were you ever selected as a winner?

On the back of the Survey is the Subscription Form. In his podcast, Jim mentions how this was done on purpose hoping that as people would send in the Survey, they would also fill out the Subscription Form as well.

The inside of the back cover has a Condition Guide and a Legend.

A couple of questions for you. Were you collecting in 1984? Have you ever owned the original of issue #1 of Beckett magazine? What do you think of this issue? Have you listened to Dr. James Becketts Sports Card Insights podcast?


  1. A. Yes I was collecting in 1984.
    B. No. But I've searched for a copy a few times over the years.
    C. I love flipping through older sports cards magazines in general, so I think it's awesome.
    D. Never listened to that podcast. I listen to a couple and that's all I really have time for.

  2. i was collecting in 1984, and completed 2 sets each of donruss and fleer, but only one of topps.
    i believe i had this reprint of beckett #1 at one time, or at least flipped through it. my dad used to buy the annual price guides for a couple of years, anyway.
    my favorite part about this issue, aside from looking back at the prices, is that steve garvey represented the 1979 set in that centerfold
    i've not listened to that podcast, or any card podcasts, before. i'm more of a music listener.
    thanks for sharing!

  3. Yes. I started seriously collecting in 1983.
    No. Never owned one, but I've read it before.
    I love old issues of sports card magazines, especially those that came with cards.
    I'm not really a podcast guy.

  4. Fascinating to look at, especially the hot/cold list. Brad Komminsk! I wasn't collecting until 1987, and never really moved past the "buying packs at the store" phase as a kid. What a time that would have been to be an adult in the hobby.

  5. 1. Yes I was collecting in 1984 but rather casually.
    2. Never owned/read Beckett #1. In fact, I don't think I learned of Beckett Magazines until maybe a couple of years after they first came out.
    3. I have plenty of old Beckett Magazines but not this one. It's fun to see how it evolved and matured. It's also fun to compare past card prices to current card prices.
    4. I have yet to listen to my first podcast. Dr. Beckett's podcasts may be the first.

    Thanks for a great post. I'd seen the cover online before but had not seen other pages. I'd probably still be reading and subscribing to that magazine if Dr. Beckett hadn't sold the company.

  6. Never have owned a Beckett #1 but listen to his podcast on occasion. It’s not bad, but I’m a fan of the longer formats.

  7. Yes, I was collecting in '84 but had scaled back, purchasing the entire Topps set at once for the first time.

    I've never subscribed to Beckett magazine until I recently started writing for it. I did have the first 4 Beckett yearly price guides though, all of which you showed on that one page. I still have the original one, pictured in the top left corner of that page.

    I did catch him talking on his podcast a time or two. He talks quite fast and authoritatively. It was a little too much for me.