If you have been collecting sports cards for any length of time you have likely thought about cards that you would like to own someday. This is often referred to as a “grail list” in reference to the Chalice of Antioch (aka the Holy Grail) that is frequently sought by treasure hunters in books and movies. For sports card collectors a grail list is as unique as the individual making it. Inclusion of players on lists can be influenced by quality of play, long-term investment potential, card aesthetics, and emotional factors. A list of this type can be useful in that it adds focus and goals to the collecting process.
Below is my basketball list. Given unlimited time and money, these are the cards I would search out and buy. Hey, it is ok to dream sometimes!
Oscar Robertson 1961-62 Fleer #36
Teams: Cincinnati Royals (1960-1970), Milwaukee Bucks (1970-1974)
Basketball Hall of Fame: 1980
Indiana is a state that has a long and storied basketball history, and “The Big O” is the greatest player it has ever produced. As a professional, he averaged a triple-double during the 1961-62 season, was a 12-time all-star, the 1961 MVP, and won a championship with the Bucks in 1971. While serving as President of the NBA Players union, Robertson worked tirelessly to enhance player rights in the areas of free agency and compensation, often at significant personal cost.
Even as a player in high school, Robertson’s influence was felt beyond the court. When he led his Indianapolis Crispus Attucks team to back-to-back state titles in 1955 and 1956, they were the first championships in the nation won by an all-black school. Many historians point to these titles as moving desegregation of schools in Indiana forward by years, if not decades.
One of Robertson’s early cards comes from the 1961 Fleer set. This edition offers the simple beauty of solid colored boxes, framed by a white boarder, and a black-and-white photo of the player. Although low frills, this set has extreme visual appeal.