Fortunately, the grading madness didn't really start until after I had already gotten out of the hobby. Another thing I always find amusing when I come across it now, is that one guy in the sports card infomercials (or just a sportscard program on TV, I dunno) who does nothing but SCREAM his bloody head off the entire program. Know the guy I'm talking about? Not sure if he's still around, but I know he was for at least a good 5 years or so, up until just recently. Such a freak, that I always had to stop and watch him yell for a good half hour straight!
As for Brian's comment earlier about buying packs... I think I stopped buying baseball cards by the pack, as soon as they really started offering them by the set as well. I'd guess that was around 1984ish. I just recall complete sets for each year (for each company) were only around $20 - $25, which was much easier than trying to piece together a 792 card set pack by pack. Even up into the early 90's, I was still pulling sets for about that price. I think I got all 5 sets (Topps, Donruss, Fleer, Upper Deck, Score) for those last few years for only about $125 - $150. Not too bad. What was strange though, is that individual cards from those sets (like a Griffey rookie) were going for WAY MORE than the complete set actually cost. Made absolutely no sense...
My biggest fear though, is that all of my 50's and 60's cards are in binders in those 9 pocket sleeves, but I have no idea if they were those relatively new "acid free" pages (or whatever it was), or if I've got the old crappy ones that eat away at the cards... I guess now that I have access to them again (since we moved last year, and I got them out of my aunt's house) I should maybe take a look at them and figure that out, huh?
Especially before I go about insuring them for bookoo bucks. Just gonna take a while, since I've got like 16 bankers boxes and about 12 binders full of them. Ugh.