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

What Happened to Supply and Demand?

1980 Topps #482 Rickey Henderson Mint Graded Cards

1980 Topps #482 Rickey Henderson Mint Graded Cards

One of the cards, out of the thousands I’m looking for, is a graded Rickey Henderson 1980 Topps RC. I usually end up buying three rookie cards of any given Hall of Famer from 1980 forward. One is for the set I build which includes the card, the second is an ungraded card for my HOF display collection (they get puttied to a wall in my house) and a third is a graded card for storage. It’s always the third card that is a pain in the ass to buy.

1989 Upper Deck #1 Ken Griffey Jr. PSA 10

1989 Upper Deck #1 Ken Griffey Jr. PSA 10

With Rickey Henderson it is an added burden. Although the ’80s began the overproduction of baseball cards (and 1980 Topps is not an exception) there are certain cards at certain grades that just seem to escape the law of supply and demand when it comes to their pricing. Ken Griffey Jr.’s 1989 Upper Deck #1 in Gem Mint is one (it consistently sells in the $350.00 to $400.00 range on eBay, a ridiculous price when the cards population at that grade is in the thousands (over 2500 graded 10 by PSA alone). Rickey Henderson’s 1980 Topps #482 graded at Mint is another.

The Henderson card consistently sells at Mint in the $400.00 to $500.00 range on eBay. Which is plainly ridiculous. The 1980 set was produced recently enough to avoid much of the damage incurred by cards in the ’70s, ’60s. and earlier. Those cards that were thrown around in schoolyards and put onto bicycle spokes. When protection of cards began to be popular in the mid ’80s the 1980 set was one of the sets that was protected. You can easily find the whole set in Near Mint condition or better for $100.00 or less without much difficulty (I picked one up recently for $60.00). So why the outrageous price for the Henderson card?

The card follows a trend that is quite alarming for this collector. It seems the younger generation is beginning to believe a card isn’t worth squat unless it’s sealed up in a graded case. Just looking at population reports from the major graders shows that most submissions are for the newer cards. Each year more and more cards from the previous seasons of baseball and other sports are graded by younger collectors. Why not? If your card ungraded is worth 2.00 but graded at Mint or Gem Mint it jumps up to $100.00-$500.00 because people are stupid enough to pay those prices for them you would have to be an idiot not to grade your cards.

Returning to the Henderson card, it just seems that if a card is not even the least bit rare at a certain grade, then its price should no way be the price of some people’s monthly rent. Here are the populations from the major graders for Mint 1980 Topps #482 Rickey Henderson Rookie card at the time of the writing of this post:

PSA 9 Mint – 1540
BGS 9 Mint – 149
SGC 96 Mint – 130

That is over 1800 of the cards graded Mint and there are more added each month. The people who argue that it is because of the demand that drives the price up needs to look around at the different online sellers, such as eBay, Amazon, Dean’s cards, COMC, Kijiji, etc. to easily see that the card is always available. At this present time, eBay has sixteen copies listed at PSA 9, three BGS/BVG 9s, and one SGC 96 and this is always the case. The card has a higher supply than its demand, which should reduce its price but it hasn’t.

COMC Logo

COMC Logo

The only solution to this craziness is to keep a keen eye out for nice ungraded copies of the cards you want and then roll the dice and submit them to the grading companies yourself. That is, if you want graded cards in your collection. COMC has made the practice quite easy as the site has teamed up with Beckett to grade any card you buy off the site without it being shipped to you first. It’s a crapshoot but when you can buy a nice ungraded copy of the Henderson card for $15.00, and the avg. price to grade it is around $15.00, it means that unless the card comes back at a 6 or less you have at least broke even on the cost. And if you are astute enough to get an 8 or 9 you just saved yourself $50.00, $100.00 or even more dollars.

It is a shame when graded card pricing becomes so ridiculous, but ever since the boom era of the late 80s, early ’90s, greed has dominated the hobby, it just moved from over pricing of packs, boxes, and insert cards, to graded cards. I wonder what will be next.

The Hall of Fame Challenge, Post Three

Hall of Fame, The Wall, Part Three

Hall of Fame, The Wall, Part Three

The next set of Hall of Fame cards I purchased came in from COMC. I also picked up a couple of 1989 Upper Deck Factory sets which I broke open to add the Ken Griffey Jr. RC to the wall. Thirdly I found in my cards a copy of Griffey Jr.`s Donruss RC.

Here are the cards from COMC:

Latest HOF Purchases

Latest HOF Purchases

Here is a list of the new additions to the wall:

  1. 1989 Upper Deck #1 Ken Griffey Jr. RC
  2. 1989 Donruss #33 Ken Griffey Jr. RC
  3. 1989 Bowman #220 Ken Griffey Jr. RC
  4. 1989 Fleer #548 Ken Griffey Jr. RC
  5. 1992 Bowman #461 Mike Piazza RC
  6. 1989 O-Pee-Chee #186 Randy Johnson RC

The Griffey Jr. cards and the Mike Piazza card are the two players’ first cards. For Griffey Jr. Topps and Score waited until their Rookie/Traded sets to include the Mariner. Piazza was missed by everyone except Bowman. Fleer included him in their low print Update set at the end of the year, but all the other companies missed the boat completely.

I’m not sure how well informed my readers are about grading companies (I assume they are somewhat informed due to the fact that grading has been popular since the late ’90s). The Piazza card I bought from COMC was a graded card from BCCG (Beckett’s Collector’s Club grading service). I’m not sure why Beckett has this service as it is inferior and somewhat dubious in its grading practices. It actually is a stupid way to conduct business as many novice collectors are fooled into thinking the numerical grading (1-10) is equal to that of PSA. They see a lower price for the BCCG graded card and buy it not realizing it is not of equal quality to its PSA counterpart. If you come across any of these BCCG graded cards, ignore the grade and just consider it an ungraded card which you will need to inspect to get a proper grade for it.

I did this with the Piazza card I purchased for the wall. I bought a BCCG graded 10 Piazza Bowman RC for $21.30. It was in better condition than the equally priced ungraded versions of the card so it was an easy decision to purchase it and remove it from its case when I received it in the mail:

Mike Piazza Before and After

Mike Piazza Before and After

As you can see, the card is off center to the right and would probably be graded at most a PSA 9. If you wish to remove any cards from their graded case it’s quite simple. Here is an example:

Returning to the wall, I moved it to the hallway to give the dedication more space as new cards come in. You can see the new wall, with the latest cards added, at the top of this post.

The Hall of Fame Challenge, Post Two

The Hall of Fame Challenge, Post Four

When Graded Cards Become Ridiculous

Is there so much mistrust in the hobby that graded cards have become the norm for collecting vintage cardboard? It serves its purpose, in that, it gives you a card in a grade you wish to have, but cant you use your own two eyes to see the approximate grade of a card and avoid the premium of a card graded by a third party? The most annoying thing about graded cards is how people who send the cards they have in to get graded think that it makes their cards worth so much more than a non-graded card. Not just the 5-10 dollars more, but sometimes hundreds of dollars more. It cracks me up.

I figure that everyone who collects cardboard would have a brain in their head. They would, like me, look on a graded and ungraded card as similar items with the graded card having a slightly higher price because of the cost to get it graded. In other words if I see a mint card that’s ungraded (by my observation using the standards that have been in the hobby for decades) and the same card that is graded, I would want and assume that I could pay the same price for both cards with the added amount it cost the seller to grade the card put on the graded version.

Depending on what grading company you use, how many cards you send in, and what discounts you take advantage of, the cost to grade 1 card is less than 20.00. So why do i see a non graded ’89 upper deck Ken Griffey Jr. mint card selling for $40.00 yet a graded one selling for $350.00? It’s a joke right?

1989 UD #1 Griffey Jr. PSA 10 eBay Listing

1989 UD #1 Griffey Jr. PSA 10 eBay Listing

You collectors out there aren’t falling for the greedy seller’s need to fleece people of there hard earned cash are you? Or, perhaps I’m the idiot and people don’t mind paying a hefty premium on cards that are graded, especially those that gain Gem Mint status., even when there are literally 1000s of those exact cards graded and ungraded that already have or will have the same designation. I always thought scarcity was one of the main drivers of price, but it seems it’s more the grading of cards that is the most important thing.

Is a Gem mint graded card that has 100s of copies worth the prices? It seems so. You do realize that just because there are only 5 graded gem mint designations for a card, or 3, or 2, that it doesn’t mean they are the only ones in existence. Especially for cards that are not from the pre 70s. As more and more people grade their collections, more and more cards populate that gem mint area of the hobby.

The perfect example of this craziness was a recent purchase I noticed on ebay with the help of reading an article on sportscollectorsdaily.com.

How much would you pay for a really nice ungraded copy of Nolan Ryan’s 1978 Topps #400 card? If you looked it over and saw that the corners were sharp, the centering was dead-on, there where no stains or blemishes and the sheen was very nice as well, would you fork over 30.00? Perhaps, or you might realize that the card is not even close to being Ryan’s rookie card (its 10 years on) and try and buy it for a more reasonable 15.00-20.00.

Now what about a graded version of the card? If you would pay 30.00 for what looks like a pristine copy of it ungraded, what would you pay for it graded? 60.00? I mean if you would pay 30.00 for an ungraded, why not 60.00 for a nice graded psa 9? it gives the seller 30.00 for the card, 10.00 for the cost of grading it, and an extra 20.00 for his troubles. Sounds reasonable right?

Well looking at the sold and listed 1978 topps Nolan Ryan on ebay, be prepared to pay 500.00 to 1,299.00 for this card. It’s a joke right? You are in agreement with me correct? Well if that doesn’t blow you mind enough, what do you think someone would pay for a Gem Mint 10 copy of the card? A card that is 10 years from his rookie card, in a set produced in large numbers from 1978? Would you believe $17,877.00. No that is not a typo.

21 bidders bid 41 times over 10 days to reach that crazy number. here is the page:

1978 Topps #400 Nolan Ryan PSA 10 eBay Sale

1978 Topps #400 Nolan Ryan PSA 10 eBay Sale

I wonder what will happen to these cards decades in the future. will they keep going up in price, or will they die. what happens when the plastic yellows and the printing fades on these encasing? Will the owner remove the card having it return to ungraded status, or will he send it back to a grading company to have it regraded taking the chance that time has not brought the card down from its gem mint status? It seems a predicament that I would want to avoid especially when it involves 1000s of dollars.

Anyway, I think it might be time to go through my collection and start sending off my cards to get graded so i can charge 1000% more for the cards I own. Hell, I think i might start buying boxes of vintage 70s and 80s cards and start grading all of them so i can make millions lol.

Trek to the Past, 1989 and Billy Ripken

If anyone was around back in 1989 they would remember the big controversy over Billy Ripken. Less than two weeks after Fleer issued its 1989 boxes, people were screaming about card #616 either in outrage or in laughter. Either way the card caught fire and was on everyone’s list of “cards to get.” Fleer stopped issuing boxes and corrected the card, not once, not twice but three times (black marker, white out, and airbrush, if i remember correctly).

Speculation surrounded how this card was actually printed, first on Billy Ripken’s part as to why he had that bat for the photo, and second on Fleer’s part that the slip got passed numerous people to make it into production and distribution. Most, including myself, believed that it was done on purpose to increase sales of Fleer boxes (the next hot product) but for myself it had the opposite effect. Boxes quadrupled in price, wax packs were selling for $4.00 each in a card shop that I frequented at the time, and I saw copies of the card selling for $250.00. Beckett had the card priced in the 25.00 to 50.00 range but try to convince my local dealer of that and you would get an animated shrug and explanation that the card was worth much more. It was one of the first indications that the hobby in my area was changing from an actual hobby to a profit-orientated, greed-over-customer-service, business.

1989 Fleer #616 Billy Ripken Profanity Card

1989 Fleer #616 Billy Ripken Profanity Card

Ripken later admitted that he was the one who put the “Fuck Face” on the bottom of his bat, which really surprised me when I read about as I always thought it was a teammate who had a grudge against the sometimes unlikable Ripken.

Where as back in ’89 you had to pay a premium to get the card, these days you can pick it up for under five bucks. Much more interesting for me is Randy Johnson’s Marlboro Ad card which also started some controversy back during this period as well. It is of a Hall of Famer and a rookie card too-boot. Now that card is worth having much more so than the Ripken card.

1989 Fleer Randy Johnson RC Marlboro Ad Comparison

1989 Fleer Randy Johnson RC Marlboro Ad Comparison

1984 Fleer Update, Overpriced?

1984 Fleer Update

1984 Fleer Update

I remember back in the beginning of my collecting days, before the hype of the 89 Upper Deck set, about mid-1987, the 1984 Fleer Update set broke the 200.00 mark. This set was the one that made me wish I started collecting a few years earlier. What an awesome set of 132 cards. I never saw a set behave, price-wise as this set did. A player in baseball would get hot and when you looked for his rookie/first card it would come from this set.

1984 Fleer Update Dwight Gooden

1984 Fleer Update Dwight Gooden

The set took off first because of Dwight Gooden, when he fell, it was Clemens, then Saberhagen then Puckett. It seemed the set was destined to continue going up and up and up. I was envious of anyone who had the set. But always in the back of my mind I thought, this set has to be over-priced, it cant continue to increase. And in a way, I was right. I had a friend who bought the set for 500.00 in late 1988, he was very happy because the sets were always hard to find, there was no ebay at that time. I thought he was crazy but as long as he was happy who was I to judge.

I was right that the set would implode, but it didn’t as much as I thought it would. Everyone was buying the set as if Saberhagen, Darling, Puckett, Clemens, Gooden, Key, and Langston were all going to the Hall at the end of their careers. I knew that, of all the hot stars out there, only 5-10% of them ever reach the Hall. So the set must be overpriced. If I remember correctly the set reached a peak of around 800.00. Now it can be had for half that on ebay.

1984 Fleer Update Roger Clemens

1984 Fleer Update Roger Clemens

But at 300-400 dollars, isn’t this set still overpriced?

The only card in it, that I find worth a high value is the Puckett card. Clemens was a great pitcher but he is as tainted as Rose is although for him its steroids rather than gambling. Saberhagen, Langston, Gooden, Darling, all failed in their chances to reach the Hall, as Clemens and all the other Roids users in the 80s and 90s did.

So what makes this set worth 400.00? Nothing really, its just that the hobby has been so used to seeing it at a high price tag that to see it sell for 100.00 would seem foreign and strange. Clemens still grabs collectors as much as Rose does, but he shouldn’t. Rose’s play was genuine, it was his gambling on games that cost him. Clemens play will always be tainted, he enhanced his performances illegally and his rookie from this set should be worth at most a semi-star price. But supply and demand are the ultimate indicators most of the time. Although this set might be the exception. Personally I think this set should sell in the 100.00 range, but when owners of this set, who spent 300-800 dollars to buy it back in the 80s, see it should be priced in the range I stated, they refuse. It sells for 300-500 or they prefer to keep it. It’s hard to buy something for a price you think its worth if sellers would rather keep a set than take a big loss on it sale,

1984 Fleer Update Kirby Puckett

1984 Fleer Update Kirby Puckett

This set will drop in price as time passes and collectors who remember watching the players and buying the set start to die. The only problem is that I am one of them lol.

An Update to this article:

I recently did see an auction on Ebay for the boxed set. I actually bid on it myself but was away from my phone and computer at the auction’s end so I didn’t have a chance to up my bid before it sold. The price? It sold for $122.50. If more sales like this occur, the set will move down in price to a more appropriate level.

Beckett Magazine, Once Great Now Irrelevant

Beckett Magazine Covers

Beckett Magazine Covers

Being an avid Beckett magazine collector, I thought it was depressing when Beckett was sold off in 2005 and it seemed to change. Presently, there is a large contingent of sports card collectors who find Beckett tarnished and bad for the hobby. Suing everyone from COMC to Zistle seems to be what’s fueling this antagonism, but that may just be the latest gripe in a long list of gripes that hobbyists have had for Beckett. Another guess may be that Beckett charges too much for their online website features.

Personally, I really enjoyed Beckett once the print magazine became a glossy, beautifully photographed, and article-driven publication. I had little interest in the ups and downs of the price guide as I always decided myself what to pay for a card or cards not relying on the magazine to dictate what a card was worth. The price guide which although always tried to be accurate, never really was. What I do love about price guides was their checklists as this information helped you find missing cards and inserts that you may not have known about.

I could never quite decide on whether Beckett monthly was good or bad for the hobby. There were price guides before Beckett, that were put out on a yearly basis, which was fine, as they were mostly used as intended, a guide, not a bible on prices. If you wanted to buy a certain card for 150.00 and a dealer was selling it for 250.00, rarely did the dealer or the buyer pull out the yearly guide to show the other the price. When Beckett came out with a monthly price guide, it stopped being a guide really, everyone used it to buy and sell cards. If a card was over Beckett price, the dealer was accused of gouging his customers, if it was below Beckett the dealer was thought of as ignorant or dumb. The guide became somewhat a straight jacket on the flexibility of dealers to price their own merchandise. Which is ironic because it’s the dealers which would send in pricing to Beckett through their magazine survey.

It is my informed opinion that you can fault or congratulate Beckett for doing one thing. Inadvertently increasing the cost of purchasing sports cards and other memorabilia. How so you may ask? Well with a readily available monthly price guide, people were more confident in buying cards. There was less guess work for investors and collectors as the prices were right there in the magazine. This increased sales of cards. Not only for new product, but also for older cards. The movement of cards from one person to another increased and at each stop, the card usually went up in price. This pricing info was sent to Beckett and Beckett reflected it in their guide.

Before, if you bought a card you needed experience and knowledge to pay a good price. So many were wary to buy a card at a price above their comfort zone (whatever that happened to be at the time). Many collectors were scared of being ripped off so they would pass at high priced cards or barter for a lower price. It’s why before Beckett Monthly became popular, you could have rookie cards of HOF players in the tens or low hundreds of dollars, with the few elite players card in the thousands. After Beckett popularity these cards dramatically increased in price. One person would buy a card for 50.00 and resell it 2 months later for 100.00. Then the card would be again resold for 200.00 in another few months. Why did this happen? Because Beckett’s guide made everyone able to understand what cards were out there, which were the most desired ones, and how best to find them. Beckett magazine was one of a few factors that made baseball cards more expensive to collect. It made everything more efficient and turnover of cards was quicker. Upper Deck’s entry in 1989 and the Gretzky/McNall T206 Wagner card purchase for $450k in 1991 were two other factors. All these factors led to 1000s of new collectors coming into the hobby which was the catalyst for the increase across the board for the prices of cards. If you ever want to promote a hobby, standardize it with a catalog and especially a price guide and prices for these collectibles will most likely rise.

Beckett didn’t fix prices but they helped popularize the hobby and made it easier for sellers each month to push the boundary of Beckett’s High price a little each month. Bartering was a common occurrence before Beckett Monthly, but after it decreased as buyers and especially sellers would not negotiate as much. Sellers would often say to me, “Why are you trying to barter with me? it’s already priced reasonably, just check the guide.”

By 1993 I mostly gave up on collecting cads. But I continued to read the magazine, reading the front then flipping quickly over the price guide in the middle to find the articles at the back. but slowly over time the magazine got thicker, and thicker, and the articles got fewer and fewer. as they were cannibalized by the price guide. Then the print got smaller and smaller until you needed a magnifying glass to read the price guide when you were trying to organize your base set, inserts, parallels etc. and see what rare cards were available in the different sets.

Now the magazine is mostly irrelevant. The price guide is pointless. Monthly pricing is passe as daily pricing can be had by looking at online auction sales. When the time came to choose between a monthly print magazine full of articles on the hobby, or pricing on the thousands upon thousand of new cards issued each year, Beckett chose the latter and lost a majority of its subscribers. Even moving the pricing online didn’t clue them in that a printed monthly guide is irrelevant and what they should do is make a magazine with stories rather than prices.

Beckett did get a clue when they published a couple of magazines called Beckett Vintage Collector Magazine last year, It contains articles without a price guide, let’s hope they continue to do this.

Beckett Vintage Collector Magazine

Beckett Vintage Collector Magazine

The Curious Case of Clark and Palmeiro

Clark and Palmeiro Graded Cards

Clark and Palmeiro Graded Cards

Will Clark and Rafael Palmeiro will always be linked since they both were team mates of and both came to the Majors through Mississippi State University. They were nicknamed “Thunder & Lightening” at the time. Both born in 1964 (Clark March 13th, Palmeiro September 24th, they were both drafted in 1985. Clark went in the 1st round, 2nd pick by the Giants, and Palmeiro followed 20 picks later by the Cubs. Both took the first basemen’s job when they settled in the Majors. Clark stayed with the Giants most of his career (with a few years in Baltimore) while Palmeiro left Chicago to play most of his career as a Ranger (with some of his best years also in Baltimore).

Clark & Palmeiro Mississippi State Baseball

Clark & Palmeiro Mississippi State Baseball

When Palmeiro left Texas to join the Orioles in 1994, Clark took over the position (leaving San Francisco). When Clark left Texas after the 1998 season, Palmeiro returned to the Rangers to replace him. And where did Clark go? You guessed it, he went to Baltimore to replace Palmeiro.

In so many ways the two were interlinked and carbon-copied. Both hit for average, both hit for extra bases, both were left-handed, both were great defensively at first base (gold gloves for both). And both it ended up, but for different reasons, were dropped quickly from Hall of Fame voting. Clark received only 4.4% of the votes in his first year of eligibility (2006) so was dropped from the ballot (you need at least 5% to stay on the list.. Palmeiro survived his first year (11% in 2011) but failed the following year with, you guessed it, 4.4% of the vote.

Clark & Palmeiro at Mississippi State

Clark & Palmeiro at Mississippi State

1989 Fleer #631 Clark & Palmeiro

1989 Fleer #631 Clark & Palmeiro

In college, Clark was the star, Palmeiro the shadow. In the Majors it seemed the same would occur. Clark got the headlines, the All Star votes, and MVP considerations, while Palmeiro got little press in Chicago. Palmeiro, in 1994, was not resigned by Texas because the Rangers signed Clark. And that was where everything changed. Palmeiro went on to find a power stroke (most likely with the help of steroids) hitting 569 HRs for his career (compared to Clark’s 284), had nine straight years with over 100 RBIs (10 total), Clark had one (4 total), and became a force in the A.L. while Clark, from injuries and wear-and-tear (and because he didn’t juice) slowly declined in production until he retired at 36 after the 2000 season. Palmeiro continued playing until 2005 at the age of 40 before retiring, becoming one of only five players in the history of baseball to achieve 500 HRs and 3000 Hits (Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray and Alex Rodriguez).

Will Clark, later on, through the Veteran’s Committee, might get a 2nd look, but that i think is remote althugh he did have some great years:

1988 .287 29 HR 109 RBI
1989 .333 23 HR 111 RBI
1991 .301 29 HR 116 RBI
1998 .305 23 HR 102 RBI

But his career totals, low HRs without reaching 3000 hits show he is just under the threshold to be inducted, perhaps:

15 Yrs, 2176 Hits, 284 HRs, .303 AVG

As for Palmeiro, his lie to congress about steroid use will keep him out just like it has with Bonds, McGwire and others. Palmeiro was always a doubles hitter with some power, just like Clark, then out of nowhere, past his prime years, he begins to hit HRs in the 40s, not the 20s which would be his norm, not the 30s which would happen occasionally when he did reach his prime in his late 20s, but totals like 39, 39, 38, 43, 47, 39, 47, 43 and 38 (ages 30 to 38). There is an outside chance he just developed into a better hitter over time, but going from the high tens and low twenties when he was younger, to the 40s when he was reaching the end of his career seems implausible. If you look at Bonds you see the same trajectory.

Palmeiro Testifying

Palmeiro Testifying

Many collectors in the late 80s early 90s were all over Clark (and then later in the 90s Palmeiro) collecting all their rookie cards and first cards but like Mattingly before them, they both wound up disappointing these collectors. Myself, not collecting for investment purposes, wasn’t upset with them at all, I just had fun watching them on TV. Although I would’ve put money down back in the early 90s that Clark would eventually reach the Hall. Although it’s remote, I still might end up right.

Remembering Dick Perez and the Diamond Kings

Dick Perez will always be remembered by collectors as the artist behind the original series of Donruss’ Diamond Kings subset. Perez spend a decade and a half creating these portraits for collectors to enjoy until he was released from his duties after the 1996 set. Each year, for fifteen years, collectors anticipated the Donruss sets to see who Perez pictured in the subset. After Perez left the DK name had less luster and by at least my account lost much of it’s appeal. 1992 foreshadowed the loss of Perez and collector’s interest in the DK series when Donruss made the cards more difficult to collect, but more on that later. After 1996, the DK’s lost their history. Dan Gardner replaced Dick Perez, the tradition of representing each Major League Franchise with a DK player was dropped, the sets were made more and more scarce until it became quite difficult to find all of the the cards each year. But while Perez was working the set was an institution.

I thought it might be fun to write a short history of the sets to introduce the younger collectors to them (if there are any young collectors left in the hobby anyway) and to bring the rest of us on a short trip down memory lane.

1982 Donruss Diamond Kings

1982 Donruss Diamond Kings

1982 Donruss Diamond Kings

One year after joining Topps and Fleer in the baseball card market, Donruss was looking to add some nostalgia to it’s second release of cards. They contacted then hired artist Dick Perez to create 26 portraits of MLB players, one from each franchise, in order to bring art back into baseball card collecting. Donruss decided it would start off the 1982 set with these paintings and with that a tradition was born.

An unnumbered Diamond King checklist card was also included in packs. The DK checklist card would be included in each years packs and would remain unnumbered until 1987’s set. Alan Trammell’s DK card has an error and corrected version. Trammell is spelled Trammel on the error card (both front and back). The checklist card also got Trammell’s name incorrectly as Trammel so there is a error and corrected version of that card as well. See below:

1982 Donruss Diamond Kings Alan Trammell Error

1982 Donruss Diamond Kings Alan Trammell Error

 

1983 Donruss Diamond Kings

1983 Donruss Diamond Kings

1983 Donruss Diamond Kings

The 1983 DK’s were created with the same design as the 1982 cards, just the player selection changed. The unnumbered checklist card shows a photograph of artist Dick Perez. It has two versions, an error where “Check List” is missing from the back bottom of the cards, and the corrected version where “Check List” was included. See below:

1983 Donruss Diamond Kings Checklist Error

1983 Donruss Diamond Kings Checklist Error

1984 Donruss Diamond Kings

1984 Donruss Diamond Kings

1984 Donruss Diamond Kings

The 1984 set was new and improved from the previous two years. Donruss decked out the cards in red, white and blue parade-ribbon style as if the cards were to be given out on the 4th of July. Each card has an error and a corrected version. The error, where “Perez-Steele Galleries” on the back of the card is actually spelled “Perez-Steel Galleries” were found in wax packs. The error was corrected for all the factory sets. See the example below of Robin Yount’s card back:

1984 Donruss Diamond Kings Robin Yount Error

1984 Donruss Diamond Kings Robin Yount Error

 

1985 Donruss Diamond Kings

1985 Donruss Diamond Kings

1985 Donruss Diamond Kings

1985 saw the DK’s return to the design of its first two years except that the 1985 cards were given a black border and the team and position designation was not given with the player’s name. Donruss would continue with this design, mostly just changing the border colors until 1992 when the design went borderless and then in 1994 when the whole design was dropped for something best described as more imaginative.

1985 also marked the beginning of the Super Diamond Kings. These are 5×7 versions of the smaller DKs and were available through a mail-in offer. You mailed three 1985 Donruss wrappers plus $9.00 to get the 29 card set (26 DKs, the Checklist card, the Lou Gehrig puzzle card and a “History of the Diamond Kings” card of artist Dick Perez). The Perez card is below:

1985 Donruss Diamond Kings Dick Perez Card

1985 Donruss Diamond Kings Dick Perez Card

The Lou Gehrig Super DK puzzle card was the same image as its counterpart that you could assemble from the 63-piece, 3-piece per card, cards that you received from the wax packs. But the Super DK version was 12 pieces rather than 63, and it measured 5″ X 7″ rather than the larger 11″ X 7 3/4″ that the assembled puzzle from the wax packs would measure. An example of both puzzle cards are below:

1985 Donruss Diamond Kings Lou Gehrig Puzzle

1985 Donruss Diamond Kings Lou Gehrig Puzzle

1986 Donruss Diamond Kings

1986 Donruss Diamond Kings

1986 Donruss Diamond Kings

The 1986 set continued with 26 cards (one from each franchise). The border of the cards were blue with black lines. Although Perez is very good at creating a likeness of the player’s image, with his Andre Dawson portrait in the 1986 set, he really captured “The Hawk”‘s likeness. Just as in all previous years the set included a unnumbered checklist card.

For the second year in a row there was available a redemption mail-in offer to receive a Super Diamond Kings set through Perez-Steele Galleries. Three 1986 Donruss wrappers plus $9.00 would get you the set. The set consisted of the 26 DK player cards, the unnumbered checklist card, a Hank Aaron Puzzle card, and a Pete Rose “King of Kings” card. The puzzle card as well as the other cards in the set measured 4 7/8″ by 6 13/16″. The Super Diamond King puzzle card was exactly the same as the one you could put together from the puzzle pieces from the wax packs except that it was smaller. When you assembled the puzzle from the 3-piece wax pack cards it measures 11″ X 7 3/4″.

The Pete Rose “King of Kings” card was the first of a series of special Super DK cards that celebrated a certain player’s great achievement in the history of baseball, the normal version of the card was #653 in regular set.

1987 Donruss Diamond Kings

1987 Donruss Diamond Kings

1987 Donruss Diamond Kings

The 1987 version of the DK’s have a black and gold border and as with each previous year, show player portraits with a superimposed smaller action shot of the player. 1987 marks the first year that the DK checklist card was included in the numbering of the set. Previous years sets had the DK checklist, as well as the other checklist cards, as unnumbered. The DK checklist card in this set was numbered #27.

There were three cards in the DK set that did not have the yellow coloring the ribbon on the top back of the card. These error cards were eventually corrected. The three error cards and their corrections are pictured below:

1987 Donruss Diamond Kings Errors

1987 Donruss Diamond Kings Errors

For the third year in a row a redemption mail-in offer (this time $8.00, 3 1987 Donruss wrappers, and $1.50 S&H) to receive the 28 card set of Super Diamond Kings (26 DK player cards, the checklist card, and the Roberto Clemente puzzle card).

1988 Donruss Diamond Kings

1988 Donruss Diamond Kings

1988 Donruss Diamond Kings

The 1988 DK’s had a black and blue border. There were no errors in printing the cards but there are two versions of every card in the 1988 Donruss set including the DK’s. When Donruss printed the cards for their factory sets they reversed the border design. An example (Ron Darling’s DK card #6):

1988 Donruss Diamond Kings Ron Darling Reverse Border

1988 Donruss Diamond Kings Ron Darling Reverse Border

For $8.00, three 1988 Donruss wrappers, and $1.50 S&H, you could again receive through the mail the 28 card Super Diamond King set (26 player cards, the checklist card and the Stan Musial puzzle card).

1989 Donruss Diamond Kings

1989 Donruss Diamond Kings

1989 Donruss Diamond Kings

The 1989 DK set had a rainbow of colors for its borders (black down the sides, with blue, purple and green interspersed on the top and bottom). There were no error card this year, and for the fifth year in a row you could redeem through the mail $8.00, three 1989 Donruss wrappers, and $2.00 S&H to receive the 28 card Super DK set (26 player cards, the checklist card and a Warren Spahn puzzle card).

1990 Donruss Diamond Kings

1990 Donruss Diamond Kings

1990 Donruss Diamond Kings

The 1990 DK’s came with a red border. There were two errors involved with the set. The first concerns Ruben Sierra’s card (#3) in which the difference between the error and corrected card is a small square black notch that is on the back of the correct version but missing on the incorrect version. The second error involves the Brian Downing card (#10) in which Donruss screwed up the negative and reversed the image on the front of the card, the correct version has the superimposed Downing in a batting stance on the right side of his portrait. Both errors are shown below:

1990 Donruss Diamond Kings Brian Downing Reverse Error

1990 Donruss Diamond Kings Brian Downing Reverse Error

The Super Diamond Kings set was available this year for $12.00 and three 1990 Donruss wrappers. The set include the 26 player cards, the check list card and the Carl Yastrzemski puzzle card. It also included the second “King of Kings” card this time saluting Nolan Ryan (the first saluted Pete Rose in 1986). Where the Rose card had on the back the corresponding number to its regular set card (#653), the Ryan card drops the number altogether (the regular card was numbered 665). The puzzle card and Ryan card are pictured below:

1990 Donruss Diamond Kings Ryan King of Kings and Yaz Puzzle

1990 Donruss Diamond Kings Ryan King of Kings and Yaz Puzzle

1991 Donruss Diamond Kings

1991 Donruss Diamond Kings

1991 Donruss Diamond Kings

The 1991 DK set featured blue borders. Error cards are found throughout the set but this year Donruss didn’t correct any of them. They mostly involved missing TM on team logos and mistakes in the descriptions written on the back of the cards. For the seventh consecutive year you were able to mail in to receive the Super Diamond King set ($12.00 and three 1991 Donruss wrappers). This year no puzzle or checklist card was included so the set consisted of 26 player cards only. 1991 also marked the end of the superimposed mini action shot of the player leaving only the portrait to grab the collector’s attention.

1992 Donruss Diamond Kings

1992 Donruss Diamond Kings

1992 Donruss Diamond Kings

For the first time since their inagrual set of 1991, Donruss did not start their regular set with the Diamond Kings subset. Instead the 27 cards (26 player cards and one checklist card) were randomly inserted into boxes. The insert set was upgraded. The pictures were full bleed and darkened. Gold trim was embossed into the ribbons and name borders making the cards stand out from the regular set unlike in previous years. Although the set was more difficult to collect, there were approximately four to five DK’s per box, they weren’t so rare that it turned off collectors in pursuing a complete set of the cards. No errors were detected from the set.

Donruss did not offer collectors a mail in option for a Super Diamond Kings set for the first time in eight years. Super Dk’s were made but not distributed to collectors. They were given to staff at a strategy meeting at Donruss and made it into the secondary market from there. No One really knows how many sets were produced but it’s guessed that very very few were made. The sets are extremely hard to find and command hundreds if not thousands of dollars to buy. When they were given out at the meeting the set came plastic-wrapped and in a sealed cardboard box. I found these images at www.calripkenjr.net

1992 Donruss Super Diamond Kings Employee Gift Package

1992 Donruss Super Diamond Kings Employee Gift Package

1992 marked the beginning of the end for the DK’s as they were produced previously. Perez is dropped as artist by 1997 and the cards themselves never re-enter the main yearly Donruss set instead being produced as inserts in more and more difficult to find numbers until eventually they are dropped altogether only to resurface first in 2001 as inserts and paralells in Playoff’s first Donruss product and then as a main set itself in 2002 called 2002 Diamond Kings.

1993 Donruss Diamond Kings

1993 Donruss Diamond Kings

1993 Donruss Diamond Kings

The 1993 set, just as in 1992 was randomly inserted into Donruss boxes. The set is a duplicate in design of the 1992 set. The set was expanded to 31 cards which included 30 player cards and one checklist. The first 26 cards are as per usual a player from each of the teams, Card 27 and 28 are the 1st round draft picks of the two expansion clubs (Florida Marlins and Colorado Rockies), and cards 29 and 30 are of the 1992 Rookies’ of the Year (the first time a DK was made for anything other than a team representative ballplayer). The two ROY cards are pictured below:

1993 Donruss Diamond Kings ROY Cards

1993 Donruss Diamond Kings ROY Cards

For the first time since 1985, no Super Dk’s were produced, not even in in-house gift form as they were the previous year.

1994 Donruss Diamond Kings

1994 Donruss Diamond Kings

1994 Donruss Diamond Kings

Big changes occurred in the design of the DKs for 1994. Left behind was the ribbon on the top of the card and the curve-ended rectangular shaped border for the player name. Donruss and Dick Perez decided to get funked up and surreal for the 1994 issue. Players looked like they were being painted in the sky during sunset or at dawn/dusk. This year there was no ROY cards as there was in 1993. You could look forward to pulling 4 to 5 DKs per box. The set consisted of 30 cards, 28 player cards (one for each team), a third “King of Kings” card (this year Donruss saluted Dave Winfield. 1986 it was Pete Rose, 1990 it was Nolan Ryan), and Card #30 was a checklist card with a Dick Perez self-portrait. The Winfield card and Checklist card are below:

1994 Donruss Diamond Kings Dave Winfield King of Kings and Dick Perez Cards

1994 Donruss Diamond Kings Dave Winfield King of Kings and Dick Perez Cards

1994 marked the return of the Super DKs after a year’s hiatus. It was also the first time the Super DKs were used as box-toppers for Series One and Two boxes. With each box you purchased, you received a Super DK.

1995 Donruss Diamond Kings

1995 Donruss Diamond Kings

1995 Donruss Diamond Kings

The design for the DKs changed again in 1995. Perez moved away form surreal sunset imagery to what could be called a kindergarten wallpaper background with different colors and shapes. The set consisted of 29 cards (28 player cards and a checklist). Unlike the previous year, the Super DKs were not inserted into boxes as box-toppers. In fact Donruss. like in 1993, dropped the Super DKs altogether. No errors were found in the set.

1996 Donruss Diamond Kings

1996 Donruss Diamond Kings

1996 Donruss Diamond Kings

Continuing the trend of wholly changing the design yearly for the DKs (started in 1994), Perez discarded colored backgrounds in order to enhance the player portrait. The cards have a simple marble-like border with a black background. This would be Dick Perez’s last work on the DKs he would be replaced in 1997 by artist Dan Gardner. This would mark also the last time the DKs stuck to the “one player from each team” formula as 1997 would issue only 10 DK cards. This year’s DK’s were serial numbered to 10,000 copies which further limited set builders ability to complete the set. Starting in 1992 when the DKs became inserts, and continuing this year with 10,000 copies, 1997 also with 10,000 copies and 1998 reduced again to 9500 copies, the DKs became scarcer and scarcer, leaving set collector’s feeling irritated. Where 1992 started the eventual decline in the desire to have sets of the Diamond Kings (at least in the minds of set builders) 1998 marked the end of the series entirely.

Along with Perez leaving, Donruss was undergoing significant change itself. By 1996 they were purchased by Pinnacle Brands, who then in 1998 declared bankruptcy which led to the end of Donruss baseball card issues. Playoff purchased Pinnacle and resurrected Donruss renaming their company Donruss/Playoff and issued a Donruss set in 2001. As for the Diamond Kings, they were reduced to 10 cards in 1997, then 20 cards in 1998. When Playoff issued their Donruss set in 2001, the Diamond Kings were resurrected. Three insert sets were produced, “1999” Retroactive Diamond Kings (5 cards serial numbered to 2500 copies with a Studio parallel numbered to 250), a “2000” Retroactive Diamond Kings (5 cards serial numbered to 2500 copies with a Studio parallel numbered to 250), and finally an All-Time Diamond Kings set (10 cards of HOF players serial numbered to 2500 copies with a Studio parallel numbered to 250 with the first 50 autographed).

in 2002, Playoff/Donruss changed the DIamond King name from a main series card (1982-1991), from and insert (1992-1998, 2001) to its own card set entirely. The 2002 Diamond Kings is a 160-card set released in two series. The first 150 cards were issued as part of the Diamond Kings set while the final ten cards were randomly inserted into packs of 2002 Donruss The Rookies. Designed to compete with Topps’ Gallery brand, all 160 base cards and inserts are painted. Below are three examples of the main set:

2002 Diamond Kings Base Set Examples

2002 Diamond Kings Base Set Examples

Donruss/Playoff would continue the Diamond King sets until 2006. Along the way they put out Donruss sets that included Diamond Kings until Donruss sets were discontinued in 2005. After 2006 I gave up on Diamond Kings, well more like in 1996. If anyone wished to continue with what happened with Diamond Kings post 2006 I invite you to post it here. Now that Panini owns Donruss/Playoff, and has no MLB licence to produce baseball cards (although they still do with only MLBPA licencing), perhaps the DKs are forever left in the annals of baseball card history. With almost every player now having Auto cards, the DKs are no longer really needed for autographs at stadiums and through the mail I guess. What once was an awesome set of cards is now reduced to ashes.

Before Beckett, A Look at The Trader Speaks

The Trader Speaks Front Covers

The Trader Speaks Front Covers

 

The Trader Speaks was a hobby publication that ran from November 1968 until March 1984. Founded by Dan Dischley in Lake Ronkonkoma, N.Y., The Trader Speaks was the main card collecting periodical in the 1970s. Dischley was a police officer at the time and began the magazine in his free time. He later founded (along with 15 others) SABR in 1971. Dischley sold the magazine to Sonny and Eric Jackson on August 18, 1983, who then sold it to Krause Publications (the one who publishes The Standard Catalog of Vintage Baseball Cards among other guides for hobbyists).

The contents were a treasure trove for collectors who wanted to fill lists without actually knowing the details of the sets they are collecting. Advertising of sports card conventions, dealer mail order sales, and others made up much of the magazine with articles being few. TTS main purpose was to bring collectors and dealers together, a paper version of Ebay so to speak. They also emphasized the checklist covering the names and numbering (if it existed) of many of the older sets that collectors didn’t have lists for. Another service they printed was error and variations to sets. Here is an example from the August 1975 magazine listing the variations to the Topps sets of the 50s,60s,and 70s.

The Trader Speaks Example Page

The Trader Speaks Example Page

Before Beckett took over, The Trader Speaks was the periodical most collectors used a a source of information. Looking through the magazine is trip through a history. You might want to pick up a few of them just to see what Pre Beckett, Pre Internet, collecting looked like.