Review & Box Break: 2006 Greats of the Game
Jun 26 2006 12:10PM
By Grant Sandground
Despite a lineage that has shifted to three different manufacturers over the past three seasons, Greats of the Game remains one of the most anticipated baseball products of the year. Buoyed by a tradition that kicked into high gear in 2000 and 2001, when Fleer was producing the product, collectors have come to expect the industry's finest efforts in regards to both design and player selection for a retired-player autograph set. The '06 edition of Greats of the Game, produced by Upper Deck, went live in late April. Each hobby pack contains five cards and carries a suggested retail price of $9.99. Hobby boxes contain 15 five-card packs and on average contain two signed cards and two game-used cards.
Here's a breakdown of the last four GOTG products in regards to their content and cost.
|2004 GOTG (Ser. 1)
|2004 GOTG Cut Signature (Ser.2)
|2005 Donruss Greats
As you can see, UD was careful to provide consumers with a similar ratio of cost and content as had been established in previous years.
What you can't tell from this chart is where UD made a conscious decision to move away from earlier GOTG products by creating a 54-card Nickname Greats Autographs set in addition to a 59-card Autographics set.
The Nickname Greats Autograph set is a huge part of this product given that on average one of every two autographs in each hobby box will be a Nickname.
Though this product contains some nice game-used cards, it's clear that UD leveraged consumer satisfaction more so to the signed cards. The theme for notated autographs has historically been popular with consumers, and UD did a good job with some creative and fondly remembered monikers such as "The Human Rain Delay" (Mike Hargrove), "Bye Bye Balboni" (Steve Balboni), and "Le Grand Orange" (Rusty Staub).
What this set distinctly lacks, however, is players with some pop in the secondary market. Nolan "The Express" Ryan, Don "Donnie Baseball" Mattingly and Ernie "Mr. Cub" Banks are all retired living legends with well-known nicknames none of whom are in this set. Instead, we get Fred "The Chicken" Stanley and Jay "Moon Man" Johnstone . . . both of which are fun cards to go alongside luminaries such as Ellis "Bubba" Valentine and Doug "The Red Rooster" Rader, but leave a consumer pretty sore after laying out $90-$150
for a box.
We've also seen some problems with the dissemination of the signed nickname stickers whereby the Nickname Greats inserts feature standard autographs and the standard Autograph cards feature nickname signatures.
Also, players like Will "The Thrill" Clark and Carlton "Pudge" Fisk appear to have not signed any of their stickers with nicknames. Others like Ron "Gator" Guidry and Rusty Staub have about 25% of their cards with nicknamed signatures. Some of the more significant nicknamed signers that did have their cards produced correctly include Bob "Rapid Robert" Feller and Mark "The Bird" Fidrych.
Of the four hobby boxes we broke, we were still six cards short of a complete basic set. Here's the breakdown of the autographs and game-used cards that were pulled.
Autographs Bill "Mad Dog" Madlock
Nickname Greats Autographs - Al "The Mad Hungarian" Hrabosky
Reds Greats Memorabilia - Dave Concepcion Bat
Tigers Greats Memorabilia - Al Kaline Bat
Autographs Jack "Jack the Ripper" Clark
Nickname Greats Autographs - Bill Madlock
Decade Greats Memorabilia - Mike Schmidt Bat
Red Sox Greats Memorabilia - Jim Rice Bat
Autographs Tom "T-Bird" Herr
Autographics Paul Molitor
Cubs Greats Memorabilia - Ron Santo Bat
Decade Greats Memorabilia - Willie McCovey Bat
Autographs Gary "Sarge" Matthews
Nickname Greats Autographs Garry "Secretary of Defense" Maddox
Dodgers Greats Memorabilia - Steve Sax Jersey
Red Sox Greats Memorabilia - Carlton Fisk Jersey
This product could have greatly benefited from an expanded lineup of game-used Yankee Clippings with a card design more on par with the classic '00 Clippings set.
It also lacks high-end "wow factor." Granted, the 108 barrel cards seeded into packs provide some fuel, but for a product commanding $10 per pack it lacks big dollar card muscle especially when compared to the last few years of GOTG products issued by Fleer and Donruss.
It's clear UD put a lot of thought and effort into '06 Greats of the Game. Singles are performing quite well on the secondary market, and UD can take pride that they've added some intriguing twists to a brand that has fostered a strong audience of buyers on an annual basis. The Nickname Greats Autographs provide some really fresh new cards for collectors to pursue, but in general the product lacks the high-end firepower we've come to expect from previous editions of this brand to comfortably justify the $10 per pack price tag.
Buy Greats of The Game Now!