The Hall of Fame Challenge, Post Four

My latest purchases came in and with it I am coming closer to finishing the cards I need for the inductees from 2016 back to 2014.

The Hall of Fame Challenge Post Four, Graded

The Hall of Fame Challenge Post Four, Graded

The Hall of Fame Challenge Post Four, Ungraded

The Hall of Fame Challenge Post Four, Ungraded

The ones that will be added to the wall are the following:

1990 Leaf #300 – Frank Thomas RC
1990 O-Pee-Chee #414 – Frank Thomas RC
1987 Leaf #36 – Greg Maddux RC
1988 Fleer #539 – Tom Glavine RC

As a reminder, here is the list of all HoF members and their cards from 2016 to 2013 (I’m collecting chronologically backward in years as you remember):

2016

1989 Bowman Ken Griffey Jr. RC #220
1989 Donruss Ken Griffey Jr. RC #33
1989 Fleer Ken Griffey Jr. RC #548
1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. RC #1
1992 Bowman Mike Piazza RC #461

2015

1988 Fleer Update Craig Biggio RC #U-89
1988 Score Rookie/Traded Craig Biggio RC #103T
1989 Donruss Randy Johnson RC #42
1989 Fleer Randy Johnson RC #381
1989 O-Pee-Chee Randy Johnson RC #186
1989 Score Randy Johnson RC #645
1989 Topps Randy Johnson RC #647
1989 Upper Deck Randy Johnson RC #25
1991 Upper Deck Final Edition Pedro Martinez RC #2F
1988 Fleer Update John Smoltz RC #U-74

2014

1969 Topps Bobby Cox RC #237
1988 Donruss Tom Glavine RC #644
1988 Fleer Tom Glavine RC #539
1988 Score Tom Glavine RC #638
1988 Topps Tom Glavine RC #779
1964 Topps Tony LaRussa RC #244
1987 Donruss Greg Maddux RC #36
1987 Leaf Greg Maddux RC #36
1990 Bowman Frank Thomas RC #320
1990 Leaf Frank Thomas RC #300
1990 O-Pee-Chee Frank Thomas RC #414
1990 Score Frank Thomas RC #663
1990 Topps Frank Thomas RC #414
1962 Topps Joe Torre RC #218

I highlighted in orange the cards I have for the wall. That means I have only five cards remaining (ungraded) before I move on to 2013 and before.

If you wish to check my progress (including graded cards for this collection and prices I paid for all the cards) just click here

Here is the updated wall with the new cards added:

Hall of Fame, The Wall, Post Four

Hall of Fame, The Wall, Post Four

The Hall of Fame Challenge, Post Three

The Hall of Fame Challenge, Post Five

Collecting Challenge, 1952 Bowman, Post Three

1952 Bowman #8 - Pee Wee Reese

1952 Bowman #8 Pee Wee Reese

My latest purchases from COMC arrived which included a 1952 Bowman. Pee Wee Reese was its subject (#8 in the set).

Pee Wee Reese, a Hall of Fame player for the great Dodgers teams of the period, does not come cheap on cardboard. The ’52 Bowman set is no different (although it’s cheaper than most). I purchased my copy for $7.45 but it is not in great condition (it has a crease line across the center).

This raises my total cards to 146 (146/252, 57.93%).

Collecting Challenge, 1952 Bowman, Post Two

Collecting Challenge, 1952 Bowman, Post Four

Spotlight on Oddballs: 1950 V362 Big League Stars

1950 Big League Stars #45 - Tom Lasorda

1950 Big League Stars #45 – Tom Lasorda

Goudey, through its Canadian subsidiary World Wide Gum Co, of Granby, Quebec, released this set of minor league cards in 1950. The 48 card set measures 3 1/4″ X 2 5/8 and feature players from the International League. Fronts show an image of the player in Blue ink with biographical notes both in French and English. The bottom shows the name of the set and number of the card and the top prints the player name and team affiliation. The backs are blank.

There are two cards of note in the set, Chuck Connors, the actor, NBA and MLB player, and a very early card of Tommy Lasorda. Lasorda is the only Hall of Fame player in the set. You can see the full set below:

 

Spotlight on Oddballs: 1976 A&P Brewers & Royals Sets

1976 A & P Royals #NNO2 - George Brett

1976 A & P Royals #NNO2 – George Brett

Throughout baseball history confectionery businesses and food chains have used baseball cards to increase sales of their products or visits to their stores. In 1976, the A&P grocery chain used paper-based picture cards of MLB players from the Kansas City Royals and Milwaukee Brewers to increase the number of sales for certain products they were promoting in those two cities.

The 1976 A&P Royals set consisted of 16 over-sized semi-gloss paper (5 7/8″ X 9″) and as the name indicates was distributed by the A&P grocery chain around the Kansas City region. Customers received a set of four cards with the purchase of certain weekly specials.

The cards show 16 players, of which George Brett (a second year card) is the only Hall of Fame player. The unnumbered cards show a portrait of each player without cap. The fronts have a white border with a black facsimile autograph and the MLPA logo on the top-right. The backs are blank.

1976 A & P Brewers NNO15 - Robin Yount

1976 A & P Brewers NNO15 – Robin Yount

The 1976 A&P Brewers set had the same number of cards and same design. The player list included two Hall of Fame players, Hank Aaron and a second year Robin Yount. Unlike the Royals set, the Brewers set included a card of County Stadium which reduced the player selection by one (15 players instead of 16).

Both sets have fallen into the background of hobbyists’ minds, of those that even remember these sets at all given their regionalism and 30 year history, and justifiably so. Presently, the Yount, Brett and Aaron cards are the only ones worth any significant amount of money (if you call $20.00 or less significant). The rest are only interesting to individual player, or team collectors.

For a full checklist and image catalog, see below:

1937 O-Pee-Chee Baseball

1937 O-Pee-Chee Baseball

1937 O-Pee-Chee Baseball

When one thinks of sets they wish they had the money to collect, and I don’t mean more recent sets that involve a few hundred dollars, but the vintage sets that always are out of reach for many budget-minded collectors, it usually involves sets such as the 1952 Topps set (the most wanted post WWII set), the 1948 Bowman set (the first mainstream post WWII set), The Goudey sets from the 30s, and also the 1909-11 T-206 tobacco cards. These sets, as well as some others, are very popular for collectors, but most hobbyists can only afford a card or two not the whole set. Even trying to avoid a big cash outlay for the whole set by collecting individual cards one or a few at a time still presents an insurmountable challenge to most collectors once the commons have been put to bed and the star cards and Hall of Fame players are all that remain.

1937 O-Pee-Chee Baseball Wax Pack Wrapper

1937 O-Pee-Chee Baseball Wax Pack Wrapper

One set that always seems to fly under the radar, and it is a set I have always put on my wish list, is the 1937 O-Pee-Chee Baseball set. It is a small set, only 40 cards, and it only features American League players of the era, but it has the distinction of being Canada’s first true set of baseball cards. They came one to a pack with a stick of bubble gum for a penny. They are quite rare these days and because of it command sometimes thousands of dollars for each card (especially graded in high condition).

The 1937 O-Pee-Chee baseball set was the company’s first cardboard cards. The company did issue a 58-card set back in 1934 (ACC # V94 Canadian Butterfinger) but the cards were made of paper stock and measured 6-1/2 x 8-1/2 inches. After the ’37 set O-Pee-Chee would not print another until their association with Topps in 1965. As I said the set consists of 40 cards numbered A-101 to A-140. It is cataloged in the ACC as V300.

There has been speculation through the years as to why the cards were given the designation of Series A (you can see this on the back bottom of the cards) but no one knows for sure. Most guess that O-Pee-Chee was planning a second series of cards featuring players from the National League (all players from this set are from the American League) and would designate it Series B (as they did with consecutive Hockey sets from the time period). As to why the numbering starts at #101 instead of #1 is also a mystery.

The cards each measure 2 3/8″ x 2 7/8″ and are die-cut. They contain B&W images of the players in the foreground with a baseball field in the background. A ribbon-shaped image in white with black outline at the bottom give the name of the player, his team, and his position. The back of the cards are plain with the player’s name at the top, the card number at the bottom, and a bilingual biography (English above, French below, separated by a short line).

The set contains 15 Hall of Famers including, Earl Averill, Jimmie Foxx, Hank Greenberg, Goose Goslin, Charlie Gehringer, Luke Appling, Tony Lazzeri, Bill Dickey, Joe Cronin, Rick Ferrell, Red Ruffing, Lefty Grove, Rogers Hornsby, the second year card of Joe DiMaggio, and the rookie card of Bob Feller.

The 1937 O-Pee-Chee set was the first baseball set from a major manufacturer printed in Canada and it is the main reason it holds merit for Canadian collectors such as myself. It is very unlikely that I will ever own this set of cards but it will always stand alongside the American sets mentioned earlier in my baseball sets wish list.

The 1939 O-Pee-Chee Complete Set

Anyone Remember This Promotion?

Back in 1995, in order to attract more attention to their product, Score ran a contest to win a Score Platinum Rookie Card. In the advertisement for the contest they showed a picture of Fenway Park in Boston and revealed that they planted three mistakes in the picture. If you could figure out what they were you could send a 3″ by 5″ card and a SASE to Score to receive the Platinum RC.

I found the ad. in a Beckett Baseball Card Monthly from Feb. of 1995 and I thought it might be interesting to see how many readers first remember the ad. and second can pick out the three mistakes. Here is the ad:

1995 Score Baseball Ad

Some of the wrong answers I have heard over the years are:

1) no seats above the Green Monster
2) No one in the on deck circle
3) it’s not 315 feet down the left field foul line
4) the batter is outside the batter’s box

Winners would receive one of two cards, either an Alex Rodriguez card or an Ivan Rodriguez card. They are shown below:

1995 Score AD1 Alex Rodriguez & AD2 Ivan Rodriguez

1995 Score AD1 Alex Rodriguez & AD2 Ivan Rodriguez

 

Jose Altuve – Getting It Done

Jose Altuve At the Plate

Jose Altuve At the Plate

It’s time to start picking up Jose Altuve cards. Altuve can no longer be thought of as a man playing above his talent or experience. With his first Gold Glove award this past season, Altuve has now shown he is a force both at the plate and in the field. All-Star appearances, Silver Slugger Awards, batting titles and numerous stolen bases makes Altuve the premiere second sacker in the American League, if not all of baseball.

Jose Altuve At the Bag

Jose Altuve At the Bag

When Altuve began as a starting second baseman in his second year in the majors he has done nothing but produce. Each year there was improvement, and his last two years have been All-Star calibre. Doing well this early in his career bodes well for the 25 year old. A good year early in one’s career is noteworthy, having your first four years as a starter be eye-catching, is rare. Most who do this, barring injuries and a Dale Murphy style loss of talent, end up with a serious shot at Hall of Fame entry.

If we compare Altuve to two recent Hall of Fame second basemen, Roberto Alomar and Craig Biggio, he compares well with the former and outshines the latter:

Altuve Comparisons

Player.BA.OB.SLR/RBISB/CSDO/TR/HR
Altuve - 1st Yr..276.297.35726/127/310/1/2
Altuve - 2nd Yr..290.340.39980/3733/1134/4/7
Altuve - 3rd Yr..283.316.36364/5235/1331/2/5
Altuve - 4th Yr..341.377.45385/5956/947/3/7
Altuve - 5th Yr..313.353.45986/6638/1340/4/15
Alomar - 1st Yr..266.328.38284/4124/624/6/9
Alomar - 2nd Yr..295.347.37682/5642/1727/1/7
Alomar - 3rd Yr..287.340.38180/6024/727/5/6
Alomar - 4th Yr..295.354.43688/6953/1141/11/9
Alomar - 5th Yr..310.405.427105/7649/927/8/8
Biggio - 1st Yr..211.254.35014/56/16/1/3
Biggio - 2nd Yr..257.336.40264/6021/321/2/13
Biggio - 3rd Yr..276.342.34853/4225/1124/2/4
Biggio - 4th Yr..295.358.37479/4619/624/4/4
Biggio - 5th Yr..277.378.36996/3938/1532/3/6
2010 Bowman Chrome #BCP137 Jose Altuve

2010 Bowman Chrome #BCP137 Jose Altuve

It is time to start picking up Altuve’s 2010 prospect cards, and 2011 RCs. The best ones are in 2010 Bowman Chrome (the main set card and the colored refractors).

 

The Elusive PSA 10 1951 Bowman Mantle Rookie Card

1951 Bowman #253 Mickey Mantle RC PSA 10

1951 Bowman #253 Mickey Mantle RC PSA 10

How times have changed over the past 20-plus years in the hobby. If you asked me back in the late ’80s what would be the most influential trend in card collecting that would affect pricing I would have probably said that Beckett Magazines created and would continue to create a central pricing structure that would attract lots of speculators, investors and collectors. This increased participation would skyrocket demands on product which in turn would increase pricing. I wasn’t half wrong, Beckett did create a marketplace that attracted huge amounts of new people into the hobby, but the card companies also reacted by producing huge amounts of cards to match or exceed the demand. Over time this suppressed pricing on all newer cards and the trend in pricing upward stayed only in the vintage area of the hobby.

The overall biggest influence on the pricing for cards wasn’t actually Beckett Magazine. The largest trend that pushed pricing upwards was the introduction of third party grading services.

The best example for this trend can be seen in one of my all-time favourite cards. A card that, once graded, quickly moved out of my budget and into the realm of the rich.

The card I’m speaking of you probably have guessed from the title of this post is the 1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle RC. It has the distinction of being one of the very few seminal vintage cards that has a PSA 10 population of only one. It, over the last 22-23 years (since it has been graded), has remained unique. Other important vintage cards either have no PSA 10 examples or more than one which makes this card highly desirable to high end vintage collectors.

1951 Bowman #253 Mickey Mantle RC PSA Pop. Report

1951 Bowman #253 Mickey Mantle RC PSA Pop. Report

The card first came to the public’s attention in an article written by Michael Payne for Beckett Baseball Card Monthly back in 1994 (the November issue). Two University of Miami students (Dan Forman and Jerry Schwartz), who came across the card (the article didn’t give any specifics), sent it in to be graded by PSA.

The card came back a 10. They informed a Mantle collector who they had sold cards to before, by the name of Rick Skurnik, that the card would be put up for auction. Skurnik, with some financial help from his wife Gail, won the auction with a bid of $30,000.00.

Nov. 1994 Beckett Article

Nov. 1994 Beckett Article

The card periodically came up in dealings, Skurnik didn’t keep the card for too long. It was sold for just under 100k in 1998, then 325k a few years later. In 2008, Memory Lane Inc. set up a private sale of the card for 600k. The 600k sale was the last anyone has heard of the card.

The card, if sold today, would fetch around a million according to most experts in the hobby and I wouldn’t disagree.

To summarize, the card, once graded, went from 30k to 100k to 325k to 600k all within 14 years. If we consider it a million dollar card in 2016 that would be a 33 fold increase in 22 years. That is the essence of the hobby today, the search for high end copies of important cards to then be sent off to be graded and resold at a huge profit.

The Mantle card is not a unique example, it is a regular occurrence. Cards that were priced in the hundreds of dollars back in the ’80s and early ’90s are now sold in the tens, if not the hundreds, of thousands of dollars because they have had the distinction of being graded very high by one of the 3rd party grading companies. The difference between a NM or higher non graded card, to its graded counterpart can run in the range of 10 to 100 times higher in price. That is if you can even find ungraded copies of important cards in superior condition. Most high end cards with some significance have been graded creating a two-tiered system of collecting, those that are graded and high end, and those that are ungraded and are less than NM. In some cases grading has even moved into the lower conditioned cards depending on the card’s significance. Eventually there will be no more vintage cards to grade and the companies will be competing to grade the new and more recent cards only. We will see if another trend comes to the forefront at that time.

 

Does Card Grading Eliminate Counterfeiting?

The simple answer is no. It does deter it somewhat as it is more expensive to accomplish the fraud than it was before card grading became popular. Simply put, card grading makes the counterfeiter manufacture the encasement and flip after creating the fake card itself.

PSA Logo

PSA Logo

It is quite difficult to break open an encasement without leaving evidence of the procedure. When the plastic is bent in any significant way, is cut, or melted, proof is usually seen. The plastic “snows up” when bent or cut, and when melted, it warps (as all plastics do).

But what happens when an individual or group goes through the process of creating both the card, the flip, and the encasement. In this scenario the encasement is an actual help to the counterfeiter. It stops potential buyers from feeling the card stock to see if it’s inconsistent with the cardboard used in the original manufacturing of the card. The encasement also gives the buyer a false sense of security which usually leads him to pay less attention to the details of the card.

SGC Logo

SGC Logo

Two factors led to the popularity of graded cards. The first was to quell any debate between the buyer and the seller of a card. No more arguments on whether a card is Excellent or Near Mint, the grade is on the card encasement for both parties to see. The second, and more important factor, was the internet and online sellers such as eBay. Now collectors had a whole planet of dealers to buy cards from but with the inferiority of images compared to directly looking at a card with ones own eyes (and perhaps a magnifying glass), there was no assurance the grade a card seller was espousing for a card he or she was selling was the actual grade of the card. Grading cards eliminated that problem (or so the grading companies wish you to believe).

The main target cards for counterfeiters are the cards that have reached the high hundreds or thousands of dollars, but are not rare enough to raise suspicion when they show up online or at card shows. Cards from the late ’60s onward. Nolan Ryan’s, Rickey Henderson’s, and Cal Ripken Jr.’s rookie cards would be some good examples.

Beckett Grading Logo

Beckett Grading Logo

The card manufacturers are mostly letting their customers down when it comes to battling against counterfeited graded cards. What is the point of a serial number on the card if not to identify its owner? It obviously can’t be to stop counterfeiters as they just copy the same serial number for their fake encased card. Who cares if you can look up a serial number because unless the counterfeiter is an idiot his counterfeited card will come up as existing in the company’s database.

How to properly combat counterfeiting is to encourage people who own graded cards and submit cards for grading to register their cards on the company website so the company knows who owns what. Personal information doesn’t need to be made public, just that a serial numbered card is at present owned by someone. If they decide to sell the card they can show it on the company website as being sold on eBay or COMC etc. When another person decides he wants to buy the card he can contact the person through the auction site and also through the grading company website to make sure the card is authentic.

The result will be that if the buyer puts the serial number into the database it will come up as existing. He then can contact the owner through the website asking if he is selling the card and then contact him on the auction site to see if it’s the same person. This will reduce the sale of counterfeited cards enormously. At present none of the grading companies offer this service. Some offer a serial number look up as well as a registry you can join, but none offer what I have described in the last few paragraphs. It is a shame that the grading of cards was to counteract counterfeiting, yet it did nothing of the sort. It just added a new layer of cost to the pricing of cards. Hopefully the grading companies get their act together before the counterfeiting of graded cards becomes as prevalent as ungraded cards are.

 

If I Had A Million Dollars…

I’d buy me some cards. I would have cleaned up at a recent auction hosted by Heritage Auctions. Dubbed the Platinum Night Sports Auction, it was held Feb. 20-21 in New York. If you don’t think that high grade vintage sports cards is a part of the hobby reserved for the rich, then you haven’t seen what these cards are selling for lately. The greatest example of this was the bidding on a PSA 9 1955 Topps Roberto Clemente RC:

1955 Topps Roberto Clemente PSA 9

1955 Topps Roberto Clemente PSA 9

This card shown above fetched, and I kid you not, $478.000. It make my saving up to buy a T206 Roger Bresnahan card at a low grade for $100.00 look infantile.

1952 Topps Mickey Mantle PSA 8

1952 Topps Mickey Mantle PSA 8

Not to be outdone by the Puerto Rican Hall of Famer, a Mickey Mantle 1952 Topps card graded at PSA 8 realized a price of , and stop telling me to stop kidding around, $501,900.00.

It’s time to start buying lotto tickets if I ever wish to participate in these auctions. Perhaps I have a rich uncle somewhere who will leave me a million in his will. I can just image me sitting in a room with other astute refined men holding numbered paddles trying to keep an air of maturity and sophistication as we bid on cards which were sold to children over 60 years ago.

Two other significant cards were sold in New York those two days as well. A 1916 M101-5 Blank Back card of Babe Ruth graded at PSA 5 realized $191,200.00 and a 1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle RC graded at PSA 8 sold for an astounding $137,425.00:

1915 M101-5 Ruth & 1952 Topps Mantle

1915 M101-5 Ruth & 1952 Topps Mantle

Those four cards, some of the more significant cards in the hobby’s history, are ones that will never be in most card collector’s inventory (including not in mine). I will need to stick to high grade cards from the 1990s if I ever want to stay out of bankruptcy court and leave the vintage ones for those that have more money than brains.