When he's had a couple of extra bucks the last few years, George C. Messerschmidt has been going down to Collector's Hideaway to buy a few packs of sports trading cards.
Messerschmidt, a fourth-generation Juneau resident and disabled veteran, said he buys the cards as a hobby, and an investment.
"I don't do it to bust myself financially," Messerschmidt said. "I just go for the higher-end cards. I have a handicapped 12-year-old and, when I'm gone, this is something that can be liquidated for her."
On one of his more recent trips to the local card shop, Messerschmidt noticed the first basketball card sets had been released following the NBA Draft on June 26. Since 1999 Juneau-Douglas High School graduate Carlos Boozer was selected in the draft's second round by the Cleveland Cavaliers, Messerschmidt thought he'd see if he could find a Boozer rookie card.
Messerschmidt bought a few packs of the SA-GE Hit Preferred basketball cards and, when he started opening them, he said he and shop owner Dave Estes couldn't help but laugh. In his first eight packs of five or six cards each, Messerschmidt said he found 18 basic Boozer cards.
But the real surprise came when Messerschmidt drew a limited edition gold label autograph card numbered 63 of 100. The card shows Boozer in his Duke uniform dunking the basketball and has a quote from Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski on the back discussing Boozer's NBA prospects.
"I grabbed these because of the Boozer card," Messerschmidt said. "I knew with the SA-GE set my chances were pretty good to get one. I was laughing, because it's unheard for any set to have multiples. It was like they meant for those cards to get to Juneau."
The SA-GE Hit card set is so new it doesn't have a listing in Beckett's, the magazine series most collectors use as their main source for card values. But an Internet search for "Carlos Boozer card" found at least one collector's Web site where the individual basic Boozer cards were selling for as much as $8.99 each. Messerschmidt said he paid $4 for each pack and he figures the limited edition card will be worth a bit more.
But Messerschmidt is betting on Boozer having a successful NBA career, which will cause the value of his rookie cards to skyrocket. Even though Messerschmidt said he was disappointed Boozer was selected by the Cavs - Messerschmidt is a Seattle SuperSonics fan - he feels Boozer's already proven he can handle NBA competition.
"I usually buy baseball cards, but there are five rookie basketball players I've been trying to collect," Messerschmidt said. "I've been looking for Boozer, Dan Dickau, Jason (now Jay) Williams, Yao Ming and Mike Dunleavy. I figure these five are the most likely to succeed, from what I can see."
Messerschmidt said the most valuable cards he's found in recent years include a Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card from Upper Deck, and special edition Topps Finest cards of Bob Gibson and Mike Schmidt. But he's starting to get a collection of Boozer rookie cards. Messerschmidt said he now has 28 Boozer cards from SA-GE Hit, Upper Deck and the Press Pass trading sets.
"Boozer's proven he's NBA-caliber," Messerschmidt said.
Charles Bingham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.