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.


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


The Craziness That Is Kijiji


Kijiji Logo

Kijiji Logo

So I’m looking on Kijiji a couple weeks ago for baseball cards in the city I live. It’s good to check out Kijiji as sometimes you can get lucky and find cards at bargain basement prices and not worry about the cost of shipping. For example, I purchased five super boxes of cards plus five complete sets, all from 1985 to 1993 for $50.00 a couple months ago. It was over 20k cards and helped complete sets i was missing individual cards from. I also picked up five rookie and traded sets from Score from 1985 to 1989 for $20.00 last week.

But that’s not the main reason for this post. You ever notice that with the occasional bargain you find, you have to put up with guys who think their collections are worth more than their house and rarer than a Shoeless Joe Jackson autograph? And their cards are inevitably from the 1986- 1992 time period, the most overproduced era of baseball cards.

Here is an example of what I speak:

86 LEAF-DUNROSS BASEBALL “MINT-MINT!!!unopened/ 18 cents a card!

Baseball season is just around the corner …This is a LOT of 12 ( SUPER MINT CONDITION ) manufacturer sealed packs of the 86 Dunruss baseball cards ( there are NONE out there in better condition !!!!!).. The price works out to 17.5 cents a card ( based on the fact of how many cards are in each of the factory sealed packs ! JUST TRIED COUNTING them with a magnifying glass & it seems to come to 57 cards each pack )…PROFIT TO BE MADE !!! to the right, smart person into this …see the pictures … Check my other 5 pages of ads here on Kijiji too!! Might be something else you’ve been looking for..thanks

Yes that is right $120.00 for a complete set of 1986 Donruss for God’s sake.

I emailed the guy because I was interested in the set. I informed him that he had a complete set of ’86 Donruss that came from a factory set box. Donruss sealed the cards in cellophane inside a factory sealed box. Each of the 12 sealed groups contained 55 cards to come to a total of 660 cards. The factory set also included the Diamond King puzzle cards of Hank Aaron which he did not have. With both the sealed box and the Aaron puzzle inside the factory set, the package sells in the $25 to $40 dollar range. Since his has only the cards I offered him $20.00.

eBay Listing for 1986 Donruss Factory Sets

eBay Listing for 1986 Donruss Factory Sets

He replied, “I would rather give the whole set away for free with my car as a bonus than sell these cards for that price.” So I returned by saying, “Well you can keep the car but what time should I go by your place to pick up the free cards?” That’s when he lost it. Whenever you point out a person’s obvious lack of knowledge for selling something higher than what it’s worth, or on the other hand not so much his lack of knowledge but his obvious plan to try and rip off some schmuck who doesn’t know much about what he is buying, the person always gets angry at you.

I finally replied, “Dude your ad has been posted and reposed for the last 6 months on Kijiji. No one wants your cards except me. They are baseball cards, not hockey, you live in Canada not New York, and the cards are very common to find and are nothing special. When you decide to get your head out of your ass, send me an email and I will still buy them off you for $20.00.”

He gave me a final reply that included more expletives than regular words and we haven’t conversed since.

Although you can find lots of bargains on Kijiji, you better watch out and research the stuff you want to buy before you purchase it, otherwise you might pay $120.00 for a set of ’86 Donruss cards.

Before I leave you, here is an even more blatant example of a person trying to rip-off an ignorant public. I took a screen shot of five offerings he posted:

Kijiji Baseball Card Ads

Kijiji Baseball Card Ads

Not only did he get the year of the cards incorrect (they are from 1991 not 1990), he misleads people that Johnson was a Mariner before an Expo, when the exact opposite is true. Anyone who collects baseball cards knows these 1991 Donruss and Upper Deck cards are practically worthless. They were overproduced and if they would ever get sold, it would be for pennies not multiple dollars.