Mystery Cards

With the proliferation of low numbered or even unique cards in the hobby a new, well not so new anymore, category of inquiry has entered the hobby. That being, of course, mystery cards. Mystery cards are those pieces of cardboard that people come across that they have no idea what the origin of the card is.

Back when there was few publications about the hobby Mystery cards sometimes included the more mainstream cards at the time, usually for novice collectors, but mostly they were regional, or oddball issues.

With Beckett and other publications entering the hobby in the mid-eighties, Mystery cards became few and fewer. People recognized much of what was out there just from reading these publications and looking at the provided images.

Then the mid-nineties introduced the serial-numbered low print run cards. This progressed to a point where every manufacturer was producing low numbered and unique cards that became quite difficult to identify for those that didn’t originally pull the card from a pack, or redeemed it from the manufacturer.

Presently, it has become so ridiculous that counterfeiters are selling cards quite easily because of the difficulty in identifying fraudulent cards. How do you know its a fake when you have never even seen the original. Or, how do you know its a home-created card that actually was never produced by a major manufacturer when those manufacturers put out 1000s of low-numbered or unique cards each year?

People now falsely accuse sellers of selling counterfeit cards when actually the cards are later verified as original. It makes the hobby to be quite a minefield for those who are new.

Myself, I don’t bother much with low-numbered or unique cards, those are attractive to the younger generation. Because of this I rarely come across a card that I don’t recognize. But it does occasionally happen. In fact it happened to me quite recently and spurred on the writing of this post.

Here is the Mystery card I came across after purchasing a collection of late 70s early 80s O-Pee Chee baseball cards from a gentleman I met through Kijiji:

Mystery Card

 

If anyone recognizes this card just send me a message below. I would highly appreciate it.

 

 

 

 

 

Twenty Years Ago and the Chase for Wagner

McNall-Gretzky T206 Wagner card

McNall-Gretzky T206 Wagner card

Anyone who collected baseball cards back in the mid-90’s should remember Wallmart’s big sports card promotion that included the possibility of winning the McNall/Gretzky T206 Honus Wagner card.

The promotion, called the “Greatest Trading Card Giveaway of All Time,” included the Wagner card as well as other important cards in the hobby. Up for grabs were cards of Gordie Howe (’51-52 Parkhurst #66), Joe Namath (’65 Topps #122), Knute Rockne (’33 Sport King #35), (Mickey Mantle (’53 Topps #82) and George Mikan (’48 Bowman #69) and many others.

Sponsored by Upper Deck, Leaf, Fleer, Skybox and Topps, the idea sprung from the brain of Harold Anderson of Treat Entertainment who purchased the Wagner card for $500,000.00 from Gretzky in 1995. Anderson approached Wallmart and the five major card companies and the promotion was born. All collectors had to do to enter the contest was to request an official entry card, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to “World’s Most Valuable Card Entry Card Request,” P.O. Box 11838, St. Paul, MN 55111 by January 1, 1996 or enter a Wallmart store and buy the specially marked 2-for-$1 trading card packs and fill out the contest card and send it away.

"Greatest Trading Card Giveaway of All Time" Ad Poster

“Greatest Trading Card Giveaway of All Time” Ad Poster

The promotion lasted five months from Oct. of 1995 to Feb. of 1996. Each month there would be a draw in each of the four sports, October was Hockey, November was Basketball, December was Baseball and January was Football. On Wagner’s birthday, February 24th, the draw for his card took place.

Patricia Gibbs was the final winner of the Wagner card which she put up for auction almost immediately after winning (she couldn’t afford the taxes on the card). Christie’s auctioned the card off to Michael Gidwitz for $641,500.00.

There was mixed feelings in the hobby at the time about this promotion. Many card shop owners thought it would draw business away from their shops and get collectors accustomed to buying their cards at big department stores like Wallmart. Others took a different view thinking that the promotion would bring thousands of more people into the hobby as the contest would introduce them to a fun pastime. Either way you had difficulty ignoring the phenomenon. Personally, I liked the idea that for once there was a chance a normal Joe, rather than a star hockey player or owner, or other well-to-do collector would have a chance to own some of the great cards in the hobby. It is a bit frustrating when a hobby meant for kids transforms into a hobby that reserves the best cards to the exclusivity of those collectors with hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend.

 

2016 Topps Now

Two Topps Now Examples

Two Topps Now Examples

Topps Now is the latest marketing strategy by the grandfather of baseball card producers and is something every collector needs to pay attention to. For those who do not know what Topps Now is here is the rundown taken from the Topps website:

Imagine your favorite player throwing a no-hitter, and then getting a card of that special moment the very next day! Starting April 4, baseball fans everywhere will get the opportunity to do so.

The Topps Company is proud to introduce TOPPS NOW, a Topps.com-exclusive product that will depict the greatest moments and milestones from the 2016 Major League Baseball season almost as soon as they happen. The physical cards will be available the very next day to purchase through Topps.com, but for just 24 hours, and will not be available for purchase again.

“TOPPS NOW was inspired by input from our passionate baseball fans,” said Clay Luraschi, Topps ’Vice President of Product Development. “Magical moments will be captured on baseball cards the very next day, giving fans everywhere a chance to own a piece of history almost immediately.”

The first two cards in the TOPPS NOW set include Francisco Liriano (card. No. 1) and the Kansas City Royals (card No. 2).

TOPPS NOW cards will depict great achievements and performances throughout the 2016 season. If a player hits four home runs in a game or has a walk-off home run, baseball fans can expect to see those cards in the TOPPS NOW set the next day. TOPPS NOW combines the magic of baseball cards with the timeliness of a special moment to get cards into the hands of baseball fans and collectors in a way that has never been done before.

TOPPS NOW adds to an already great portfolio of Topps’ Major League Baseball-exclusive cards with a new card design. In addition, at the end of each card’s selling window, Topps will announce the number of cards that will be printed for each card.

Fans can also let Topps know every night what they think should be on a TOPPS NOW card through Topps’ social media accounts utilizing the hashtag #TOPPSNOW.

Now that you have the basics, you might respond, Hey! that’s great I am going to join up for this new card distribution method.” Or, perhaps you are uninterested, “Ten bucks for one card, what the hell is Topps thinking?”

2016 Topps Now Francisco Liriano

2016 Topps Now Francisco Liriano

Either way, one thing you can’t do is ignore it. Why do I say that? For a few reasons. The first is that Topps considers all these cards to be eligible for rookie card status. For those who don’t much pay attention to RC’s anymore (like me) and much prefer the first card of a player, then this might not cause much of an effect. Most player’s first cards come much earlier than when the player first achieves an appearance in the major leagues. But some do slip through the cracks, not many, but some. And those players, along with all other players who gain a Topps Now card in their rookie debut season will be considered as an RC by the company with the RC logo printed on the card.

For hobbyists who collect RC’s, this could complicate matters substantially. If rookies playing in 2016 make an impact to an extent that Topps make a card for them in Topps Now, and if that rookie did not get treatment in the sets issued in 2016, meaning he will not be on a regular issue card until 2017 then those 2017 cards which would have become RC’s may not technically be RC’s anymore. Even if they still become RC’s they might not be desirable to RC collectors as the Topps Now RC card, issued the year previous, might become the desired RC card.

With the development mentioned above, it could lead to extreme scarcity for RC cards, especially for 2016 if Topps Now cards stay at the print runs now being shown (between 500 to 1400 of each card). With such small print runs, these RC’s could become the next chase collectable for RC seekers who haven’t joined the program. Already (as of Apr. 14th, 2016) there are RCs of the following players in Topps Now: Trevor Brown, Trevor Story, Tyler White, Kenta Maeda and Nomar Mazara. Of the fifteen cards printed so far, seven show RC cards. With print runs under 2000 you can see how these cards are going to become quite desirable if these rookies make more and more of an impact in the future.

2016 Topps Now KC Royals

2016 Topps Now KC Royals

A second reason to pay attention is for those hobbyists who are player collectors. If you are a player collector who desires one of every card of a favorite player, then Topps Now might be something you will need to join in on. Although presently the non RC cards that have hit eBay have been in the $9.99 price range (the original selling price through Topps) it might not stay that way as more and more collectors get wind of this new card distribution method. Player collectors of Chris Davis, Addison Russell, Albert Pujols, Brandon Crawford, David Ortiz, Francisco Liriano, and Bryce Harper have Topps Now cards they might want to collect. Even team collectors have a Kansas City team card in Topps Now that they might want to add to their collection.

Whether Topps Now will catch on to a large extent remains to be seen. It might be a interesting blip in 2016, or it might be continue on into the future becoming a desired area of collecting by baseball hobbyists. At $9.99 a card, I will pass on it myself. I’ll let you decide on what is best for your collecting needs.

 

2016 Topps Buybacks: An Exercise in Stupidity

2016 Topps Buyback cards

2016 Topps Buyback cards

With 2016 in full swing, and much of this year’s product already on the shelves of dealers and department store chains, including Topps flagship product, you probably have come across some of this year’s Topps Buyback cards.

This is Topps 65th Anniversary and it is reflected on all of the Buyback cards in various lines of Topps product.

Topps, after realizing that just inserting random cards from years past, was an asinine gimmick, decided to stamp the cards with an insignia. Which to most collectors, including myself, is even worse.

If Topps ever wanted Buyback cards to make any sense they would purchase only those cards that are popular with collectors. Forget the 1987 Topps commons and insert a 1956 Topps Mickey Mantle, Forget an ’86 common and put in a 1980 Topps Rickey Henderson. Most of all, and I can’t emphasize this enough, don’t stamp the card!

When Topps stamps a card it doesn’t create a new card, it degrades a vintage card. Just as if you accidentally spilled some ink on the card, a Topps 65th Anniversary stamp on a vintage card makes it less desirable and drops it in grade. If you had a 1983 Topps Tony Gwynn rookie card in its original form, and a second one with the stamp which would you want? The answer is a no-brainer, why would I want a damaged Gwynn card?

To further the stupidity, this year Topps has decided to not only stamp the buyback cards but make them tiered with the stamps changing color. Although no specific numbers were given Topps did explain the color scheme itself. It is the following:

  • Black – Standard
  • Red – Limited
  • Blue – Rare
  • Silver – Scarce
  • Gold – one of ones (1/1)

Topps also included signature cards in the mix. The signature cards would be the exception to this whole 65th Anniversary debacle as they become similar to cards signed by players at the ballpark with proof of authenticity.

Returning to the tiered color scheme, WTF is Topps thinking this will accomplish? There are only so many times that Topps can think their customers are idiots before it will affect their sales. If most collectors think that stamped buybacks are just damaged cards, what will changing the color of the object of the damage do? Absolutely nothing.

Perhaps Topps needs someone to give them a much-needed piece of advice. I can be that someone…

Dear Topps,

I would like to inform you, as a representative of your concerned customer base, that your 2016 Topps Buyback promotion for your 65th Anniversary is embarrassing. You should rethink your priorities, fire or at least reprimand the people in your marketing department who thought up this scheme, and return to promotions that actually make sense.

If you do decide to continue with buyback promotions then do it correctly. There are only two kinds of buybacks that your customers are interested in. The first are cards that have significance in the hobby. Get us excited with RC’s of Hall of Famers or at least star players. Who of your loyal patrons would be upset pulling a RC of Roberto Clemente or even more recent and less expensive inductees like Paul Molitor or Wade Boggs. Thurman Munson or Alan Trammell would be a couple of non-Hall players that RC’s would be fun to pull from Topps packs of 2016. But don’t stamp them. Keep them in their original form. Every one you stamp creates one less collectible card.

The second kind of buybacks that are acceptable are the signature cards. You did it last year with the Topps Heritage Signature cards, you can keep up the good work. Perhaps put a slabbed signature in random boxes, or even just a redemption card in random packs so that cheaters don’t go looking for those boxes that seem a bit heavier that the others. Just don’t put signatures on the important rookie cards. Leave the important cards alone.

Thank you,

Your ever loyal customer,

The Ignorant Itellectual

 

 

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.

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

$70.00 for Bryce Harper?

2012 Topps Update Hobby Box

2012 Topps Update Hobby Box

2012 Topps Update #US299 Bryce Harper - Shirt and Jacket

2012 Topps Update #US299 Bryce Harper – Shirt and Jacket

It was a fun idea. Usually, I am more apt to buy sets and/or cards from pre 90s days but I decided to try something more recent this time. Buying boxes over the internet is not usually a smart thing. eBay and other sites really nail you on the shipping costs (and usually a small mark up on the product as well). Blow Out Cards occasionally has some good deals, but it is usually on boxes of product that has failed to sell when it first came out, or was over-printed. The best way to get exactly what you want and to save money is to buy locally.

2012 Topps Update #US299 Bryce Harper

2012 Topps Update #US299 Bryce Harper

In my city, there is one shop that beats out all others in pricing for all sports cards and sports cards supplies. I won’t plug it but suffice it to say they are usually about 20% cheaper than their competition. When I decide to collect something, I want to collect all of the year’s base cards. The main series and the update/rookie series as well. With Topps that usually means collecting three series of cards (Series I, Series II, and the Update). I looked over the stock of my local dealer and found that 2012 was the more recent of his product that he had boxes for all three series of cards. Other years he would have one, or sometimes two, of the series but not three.

2012 Topps Update #US183

2012 Topps Update #US183

Over the next few weeks I went in and purchases three boxes from Series One, then again three boxes from Series Two, when I returned for the Update boxes, I was in for quite a surprise. Series One sold for $34.99, Series Two for $39.99. Because I bought multiple boxes the dealer gave me a discount of 5% which further reduce my costs. But with the Update boxes he wouldn’t budge. Plus he was charging 105.00 per box. Being less knowledgeable about more recent players and cards I asked why the sharp price increase? The dealer, a man who knows much more about hockey than baseball couldn’t really tell me. He reacts to the marketplace was all he could say. I did some research and it seems that the Update set includes the rookie card and parallels etc. of Bryce Harper.

2012 Topps Update #US299 Bryce Harper - Horizontal

2012 Topps Update #US299 Bryce Harper – Horizontal

Now, tell me if I’m wrong but are there not many more cards that have been produced of Bryce Harper before 2012. Bowman and Topps have Harper cards in there sets in 2011. Upper Deck produced a Harper card way back in 2008. Not technically rookie cards, they nevertheless dilute the water of Bryce Harper cards. You would think demand would be much less for Harper’s actual rookie cards because of it. So why would a $70.00 price increase for the 2012 Topps Update boxes be warranted? I can’t figure it out. I passed on purchasing any of these boxes and decided to buy the base set online for $50.00.

A Love of the Minis

1952 Bowman #11 Ralph Kiner

I started seriously collecting baseball cards back in 1992. I was 26 yrs. of age and the catalyst was the Blue Jays winning the pennant and the World Series. Not that I was a Jays fan because I wasn’t (the Mariners and Expos were my teams) it was just that baseball, my favourite sport, was at the time, a rival to hockey for the attention of the nation (Canada).

With the added interest in baseball, cards were selling everywhere. It wasn’t as difficult to trade and collect baseball cards. Gas stations carried Upper Deck, Donruss, Fleer, Topps, and Score packs, department stores and corner stores carried boxes of product. And there seemed to be a new card shop opening in the city I lived every three to six months.

Like most people new to a hobby, I collected the new and hot products. But it didn’t take long before I realized that much of what was being sold was not worth the price. When boxes were sold at a higher price than you could get for the individulal cards inside them (unless you hit a rare insert or autograph card), especially when they were produced in the millions, it was time to move on to something different. Myself I looked backwards.

1952 Bowman Baseball Card Pack

1952 Bowman Baseball Card Pack

I wanted to collect a vintage card set. I looked at all the sets from the early 1900’s to the 1950’s and found only one set that would be inexpensive enough to collect, large enough to make it a challenge, and available enough not to wait months before finding any of the cards. That set was the 1952 Bowman set. The Bowman cards became my favourite cards because of this and two other reasons.

The first was that they were art cards rather than photographs. I like the combination of art and sport. Although some photos are skillful, most are routine and boring. But art cards, they show skill with every image.

The second reason was their smaller size. After opening thousands of packs of regular sized baseball cards, a set of smaller cards was a refreshing change. The 1952 Bowman set began my love for smaller cards.

Thirty years later I am still collecting the ’52 Bowmans, but I have in the past, and still do today, collect other mini card sets. Below are some of my personal favourites.

1993 Humpty Dumpty

1993 Humpty Dumpty Baseball

1993 Humpty Dumpty Baseball

The 1993 Humpty Dumpty Baseball set consists of 50 player cards and an unnumbered checklist card. They were only distributed in Canada. They were sold inside bags of Humpty Dumpty potato chips, one card per bag. The cards were sealed in a cellophane wrapper. The cards measure 1-7/16″ x 1-15/16″.

The fronts were full bleed images of 50 stars and semi-stars of the major leagues including Hall of Famers: Cal Ripken, Frank Thomas, George Brett, Kirby Puckett, Dave Winfield, Rickey Henderson, Nolan Ryan, Paul Molitor, Roberto Alomar, Tony Gwynn, Ken Griffey Jr. and Ozzie Smith. A mail in offer was available to attain a red plastic binder including five polypropylene twelve-pocketed sheets that hold the cards.

It was enjoyable to collect these cards except for the weight gain. The completion of this set was difficult though as you came across many duplicates before getting the complete run. I eventually stopped eating the chips and just took the cards from the bags. Once I was up to four cards on some of the players yet not receice any of a few others I stopped. I completed the set through trades online after that.

1991 & 1992 Cracker Jack Minis

1991 & 1992 Carcker Jack Mini Baseball Cards

1991 & 1992 Carcker Jack Mini Baseball Cards

These are actually two different sets. The 1991 set was produced by Topps and look like a mini version of their 40th Anniversary regular set. The 1992 set was produced by Donruss and they look similar to Donruss’ 1992 regular set.  Out of all the mini cards I have collected over the years these are the tiniest. They measure just 1 1/4″ X 1 3/4″ each.

Although the fronts look like the Topps and Donruss sets, the backs are completely different. Each of the two years came in two series of 36 cards each. That would be 72 cards each for 1991 and 1992. They came in specially marked boxes of Cracker Jack, one card per box.

1991 Topps Series II Cracker Jack Box and Surprize

1991 Topps Series II Cracker Jack Box and Surprize

The two years’ sets contain almost every Hall of Fame player from the era including Nolan Ryan, Paul Molitor, Ryne Sandberg, Cal Ripken Jr., George Brett, Rickey Henderson, Robin Yount, Tony Gwynn, Wade Boggs, Kirby Puckett, Ken Griffey Jr., Eddie Murray, Carlton Fisk, Andre Dawson, Barry Larkin, Frank Thomas, Ozzie Smith, Dennis Eckersley, Craig Biggio, and Tom Glavine.

A mail-in offer for a mini card album with six top loading plastic pages for $4.95 per album was available at the time.

Cracker Jack Mini Baseball Collector Album

Cracker Jack Mini Baseball Collector Album

2007 Fleer Mini Die Cuts

2007 Fleer Mini Die Cut #136 Carlos Beltran

2007 Fleer Mini Die Cut #136 Carlos Beltran

In 2007, Upper Deck put out the last set of cards under the Fleer name. This 400 card set had a mini parallel set that I enjoy collecting. The cards are the same as the regular set except that the border has been removed. The cards measure 2 1/8″ X 3″. In a typical box you will pull between 15-20 of these cards so although not extremely limited, you will need to buy a case or two to come close to finishing the set. I prefer to look to the secondary market for the cards where I occasionally found lots of 20 or more available for a reasonable cost. This set is also available in a gold version which is super tough to collect. You might pull one card from every few boxes if you are lucky. I busted open four boxes myself and found only one of these cards.

2012 Topps 1987 Mini Cards

2012 Topps 1987 Mini #TM38 Chase Utley

2012 Topps 1987 Mini #TM38 Chase Utley

This set of 150 cards is fun to collect if you were a fan of the 1987 Topps set. The cards measure 2 1/8″ X 3 1/8″ and come at approximately 8 to 10 per hobby box. I pulled nine from a box I opened recently. The 150 cards are split between three series. 2012 Topps Series One has the first 50 cards. Series Two has the second 50 cards, and the Update set has the last 50 cards. You would need a case of each series to complete the set.

There are many other tiny cards out there including all the pre 1954 Bowman cards and the original Cracker Jack cards from 1914. Most of the pre WWII cards were irregularly shaped including many in tiny format. Unfortunately, nice looking cards from that era can be quite expensive. If you really want a monster challenge and money is no object, the T206 cards from 1909-11 are tiny and very fun to collect. With over 500 cards in the set, including the Honus Wagner card you better be prepared to spend millions to complete that set. Personally, I will, with the occasional exception, stick with the cards mentioned above as those are the ones I can afford.

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.

Carl Crawford, The Perfect Example

Carl Crawford Red Sox Poster

Carl Crawford Red Sox Poster

I have been watching some of the LA Dodgers games this year, mostly to see the pitching, but Carl Crawford has caught my eye as well. After a hiatus of approx. 15 years from watching baseball and collecting cards, I have been reacquainting myself with the MLB. Mostly I have been looking on players who started their career around the time I stopped watching because those are the players I’m unfamiliar with.

Crawford is one of the guys I am a bit disappointed for missing out on watching his career. He is just the type of player I like most. The “Tim Raines” type of player has always been my favourite, and Crawford fits the type exactly.

1999 Topps Traded Baseball #T75 Carl Crawford Rookie Card

1999 Topps Traded Baseball #T75 Carl Crawford Rookie Card

Unfortunately, Crawford has become “The Perfect Example” of how unpredictable it is to guess Hall of Famers. Starting out in Tampa Bay becoming a regular player at the early age of 21, he seemed to be a good pick for speculation, getting a few extra rookie and insert cards seemed a good bet. When be began his tear, stealing every base known to man, and hitting around .300 with 80 to 110 runs per season, not to mention popping of some key HRs, the speculation could be seen as beginning to pay off. With only his low walk totals being a blemish (he is a lead off hitter after all), Crawford started to become a good shot to reach the Hall.

But then everything derailed. The trade from Tampa Bay to Boston made Andrew Friedman seem like a clairvoyant, as Crawford’s slow fall to injury-prone mediocre player began in his new Red Sox uniform. Since leaving Tampa, Crawford, due to injury after injury killed his career,and lost his shot to be a Hall of Famer, Similar to players such as Eric Davis, and Don Mattingly, Crawford can be added to a long list of Hall of Fame talent killed off by injury.

1999 Bowman Chrome #440 Carl Crawford Rookie Card

1999 Bowman Chrome #440 Carl Crawford Rookie Card

Crawford Just turned 34 in August, so perhaps I am a bit premature, If he returns to play like he did in Tampa for the 2016 season and stays in that form for another 7 or more years, getting at least 150 hits per year, and stealing another 150 to 200 bases, both possible but remotely achievable, then Crawford could turn his whole career around. But if he can’t play uninjured now at 34 years old then the likelihood of him staying injury-free until his 41st birthday is remote.

But damn, it would have been fun to watch him during his Tampa years, I’m sad I missed it.