Sunday Conversation: Topps’ Jeff Heckman

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By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor

Jeff Heckman is a manager of marketing and development for Topps Digital, which helps bring all of the company’s offerings to life via Topps.com. He’s also the subject of this week’s Sunday Conversation.

Q: We last caught up with you last summer for the Beckett Sports Card Monthly Art Issue to take a look at Topps’ new wall art. How busy has the division been during that time and has it grown?
A: We have been very busy developing wall art concepts for Topps.com. Once we made the decision to start offering limited edition wall art in late March 2014, the wall art category really exploded for us. We found the sweet spot of offering a limited number of prints using classic designs from our Archives. The category grew exponentially vs. 2013 to the point where we had demand for two-to-three new wall art offerings per week.

Q: Which lines of wall art were the standouts in the last year? Any that will go back to drawing board for refinement?
A: We were fortunate to have more standouts than flops last year. The biggest standouts were the following collections: Movie pin-up posters, For Mayor, ’59 Logos, Major League, MLB All-Star, Finest 1/1, Past & Present, Concert posters and MLB playoffs. There were definitely a few collections that didn’t live up to our expectations such as Illustrations, because we really liked the design and quality. The real positive from last year is that we were able to get real-time data based on designs, players and teams that we used to improve our wall art collections as the year progressed. We plan to continue to apply these learnings to our 2015 offerings.

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Top 5: Notable Leonard Nimoy cards

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By Matt Bible | Beckett Non-Sports and Gaming Analyst | Commentary

“Live long and prosper.”

These words will forever resonate with Trekkers, Trekkies and anyone who is even remotely familiar with the world of science fiction. It is Beckett’s sad duty to report that the world has lost a television icon. Leonard Nimoy, most notable for his role as Mr. Spock on Star Trek, has passed away at the age of 83 due to an extended illness.

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First Look: 2015 Upper Deck Inscriptions Football

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By David Lee | Beckett Football Editor

The first football card product of the year from Upper Deck will be Upper Deck Inscriptions. As the name suggests, there are plenty of autographs and, well, inscriptions.

Lots of them.

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First Look: 2015 Topps Star Wars Chrome Perspectives: Jedi vs. Sith

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By Chris Olds | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor

The next Star Wars release of 2015 arrives in August — and it’s a collection of everything Star Wars so far.

It’s 2015 Star Wars Chrome Perspectives: Jedi vs. Sith — a follow-up to the 2014 release that explored the Star Wars canon via Chrome that arrives on Aug. 5

Carrying a $3.99 per pack suggested retail price. this one will include 24 packs per hobby box — one designed for Jedi and another designed for Sith — but with two hits inside all of them. There will be one Chrome medallion and a second hit from an array of autographs, printing plates and sketch cards.

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Box Busters: 2014-15 Donruss basketball cards

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Join Beckett Basketball‘s Derek Ficken and Chris Olds as they rip into boxes of 2014-15 Donruss in this latest edition of Box Busters.

What will they find inside? Watch and find out …

Note: Save your wrappers — Panini America has a redemption program planned.

NHL Hobby Stars of the Week: Jonathan Quick, Henrik Sedin, Max Pacioretty

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By Eric Norton | Beckett Hockey Analyst

It’s Wednesday, and that means we run down the three Hobby Stars of the Week and let collectors know why they should take notice of their cards.

Jonathan Quick, G, Los Angeles Kings
Posting a 3-0-0 record with a .959 save percent average and a 1.33 goals against average, Quick was on fire last week. He began the week with 21 saves in an outing against the Lightning as the Kings outlasted Steven Stamkos and the Bolts in a 3-2 victory. He followed that performance up by doubling his saves as the Kings beat the Avs 4-1. Quick ended the week with a victory over the rival Sharks at Levi’s Stadium in a 2015 Stadium Series game which extended the Kings winning streak to seven games. Quick is no stranger on the collecting front either. He has three Rookie Cards all of which will cost you a pretty penny on the secondary market.  The hardest to find of these is his Be A Player which is numbered to 99.

Cards to Grab:
2007-08 Be A Player #247 RC/99, $300
2007-08 SP Authentic #177 RC/999, $200
2011-12 Crown Royale Veteran Silhouette Patch Autographs #32 /25, $120

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Latest Topps wall art line meshes Finest with metal

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By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor

The latest line of MLB wall art from Topps is one that takes a popular brand from the past and blows it up onto metal prints.

The brand is 1993 Finest and there are 162 new offerings all printed on metal beginning today only on Topps.com.

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Legends, Divas power interest in 2015 Topps WWE

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By Chris Olds | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor | Commentary

Some of the newest names in professional wrestling as well as some of the oldest ones are capturing the attention of collectors who have ripped into packs of 2015 Topps WWE, which arrived last week.

More than 65 eBay auctions have ended with final bids topping $100 for cards from the product — a mix of autographs, Relics, kiss cards and even manufactured Relics have topped the plateau.

The retail-only autographs of long-time wrestler but WWE newcomer Sting are leading the way. His autographs, which are limited to only 100 copies and found only in Walmart packs have topped $300.

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First Look: 2015 Diamond Kings baseball cards

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By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor

After a decade-long break, the standalone Diamond Kings brand of baseball cards is back and it’s bringing with it one of the biggest names in sports history.

Panini America revealed the first glimpses at a revisited DK set on Tuesday as 2015 Diamond Kings is set to return in late April packing two autograph or memorabilia cards in every 12-pack hobby box. But among its biggest inclusions? Diamond Kings will mark the first appearance of Babe Ruth in a Panini product.

Yep, that guy.

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First Look: 2015 Topps Heritage checklist

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By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor | Commentary

The checklist for this year’s Topps Heritage baseball card set is here from Topps and the trip down memory lane will include some surprises as we revisit 1966 in the packs of today.

Among them? Cut autographs of Dick Clark, Fats Domino and Red Skelton alongside autographs of Bryce Harper, Mariano Rivera, Rusney Castillo and Sandy Koufax.

Back this year will be action image variations and throwback uniform cards where photographs showcase retro threads worn regularly in MLB. Also back from a few years ago are color swaps where the color design is altered on some rarer cards.

At retail there will be 15-card tributes to Nolan Ryan and Sandy Koufax — A Legend Begins will be Ryan cards in Target packs, while Koufax will have his A Legend Retires cards found at Walmart.

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What errors might be in 2015 Topps Heritage? Start with a look back at 1966 Topps …

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By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor | Commentary

With the release of the final checklist for 2015 Topps Heritage coming any day now in advance of the product’s arrival next Wednesday, we’ll know a bit more about the ways Topps is adding a chase to this year’s throwback issue, which is a re-imagining of the 1966 Topps brand.

We already know that we’ll have throwback uniform and action image variations on top of the more-standard 75 short-printed cards in the set. We’ll find out precisely what those cards are the second a checklist arrives.

But the rarer error variations? Those aren’t typically revealed, so now it’s time to guess on which cards in this year’s set will have variations based on mistakes made back in 1966.

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Box Busters: 2014 Topps Fire football cards

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Join Beckett Football‘s Chris Olds and Justin Grunert as they rip into boxes of 2014 Topps Fire in this latest edition of Box Busters.

What will they find inside? Watch and find out …

Topps prepares first Star Wars wall art line

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By Chris Olds | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor

There has been an awakening — and on Tuesday collectors can feel it.

No, it’s not The Force Awakens just yet, but Topps is readying a look at the past of Star Wars with a new line of wall art coming Tuesday only on Topps.com.

It’s a five-piece series reproducing the original wrappers from the 1977 trading card releases — only this time they’re much larger and more durable than their wax-paper debuts.

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First Look: 2015 Topps Triple Threads baseball

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By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor

The 10th edition of Triple Threads might have more in store than ever — and some cards do.

Topps revealed the first glimpses at 2015 Topps Triple Threads on Monday and it includes four “Deca” sets that include 10 swatches among multiple-panel booklets as a nod to this being the 10th edition of the long-running memorabilia-loaded brand.

It will arrive on Sept. 16 with the familiar two-pack box format and, like in past years, there will be two types of packs. Version 1 will include three base cards, two parallels, a Triple Relic and a Unity auto Relic. Pack Version 2 will include three base, two parallels, one signed Triple Relic and a Unity Relic.

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Upper Deck signs several top NFL prospects

 

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By David Lee | Beckett Football Editor

The NFL Combine is underway in Indy, and the NFL Draft is about two months away. To usher what looks to be another exciting rookie class deep in talent and hobby appeal, card companies are gearing up the first draft picks cards of 2015. Upper Deck recently announced the signing of many top prospects to card deals.

Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston, Melvin Gordon, Todd Gurley, Amari Cooper, Bryce Petty, Ameer Abdullah and several others have signed to appear on collegiate-licensed cards from Upper Deck. This includes many autograph deals.

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Muhammad Ali’s gloves sell for $956,000

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By Chris Olds | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor

On the 50th anniversary of their controversial second fight, the gloves worn by Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston packed even more punch and the result was the same — a knockout.

They sold for $956,000 during a Heritage Auctions sale in New York on Saturday night.

The buyer chose to remain anonymous, whole the gloves were consigned by Seth Ersoff, a Los Angeles-based collector who bought them from the family of the boxing commissioner who handled the famed fight.

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Sunday Conversation: Card artist Mike James

 

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By Chris Olds | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor

Mike James is a veteran sports card artist who has had his work appear in several different card sets through the years. We caught up with him for a brief Q&A for our latest Sunday Conversation

mug-MikeJamesHow long have you done sketch cards and what is your art background?
The first set that I worked on for a card company was for Be A Player back in 2003-04. It was an insert set called Brush With Greatness — not exactly sketch cards — they were a series of paintings that were made into a card set, but still a very cool thrill for me. I have been doing on-card art for various sets for the past three or four years now. Up until the past six months or so, the sets that I worked on were for In The Game and Famous Fabrics. Some of the coolest original art cards I did for them were for Ultimate Memorabilia (starting with Ultimate 11), Sportkings and Famous Fabrics’ Music, Music, Music. I also got to do some really unique 1/1 cards for the Industry Summit. I have degrees in both fine arts and graphic design — both of which have served me very well.

How would you describe your style or your approach — and what makes you different than the next artist?
For the most part, I try to make my art as realistic as possible. I have always been very particular about trying to get in as much detail as I can with the portraits that I do. As for what makes my work different than any other artist — I think it all comes down to style. I’m sure every artist has a different approach to their own work, but there are so many fantastic artists creating work with so many different styles. It’s pretty amazing to me, really, how much good solid work is out there now … especially given the small format required for the finished pieces — 2.5 by 3.5 is not a lot of space to capture the details, especially where there are other graphic elements on the cards!

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Ronda Rousey auction ends at $10,103

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By Matt Bible | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Analyst

Apparently, $10,000 isn’t a stretch at all.

Beckett.com reported on Friday that a 2012 Topps Finest Red Refractor Autograph 1/1 of Ronda Rousey  was up for auction on eBay. The auction was at $5,900 after 56 bids.

Well, the auction has concluded and the card has sold. The final number is staggering and has most likely set a record for autographed UFC cards if it is paid for — $10,103.

Upper Deck Confirms Chris Osgood Error Card

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By Stephen Laroche | Beckett Hockey Editor

With National Hockey Card Day taking place throughout the United States tomorrow, collectors will be busting plenty of special promotional packs containing 25th Anniversary Retro Young Guns – but there will be one card that will look a bit strange to anyone that remembers watching Chris Osgood during his days with the Detroit Red Wings.

A post on Upper Deck‘s blog has stated how this error card came about and noted their plans to satisfy any collectors who would like a corrected version.

“We became aware during the production process that the card of Chris Osgood featured an incorrect photo that was mislabeled with our photo vendor. In reality the player depicted is Tim Cheveldae. We were too far along in the production process to pull those cards from the packout and get a corrected Osgood card in, but we did create a corrected version of the Osgood Young Guns Tribute rookie card that is available now.”

How can a collector that pulls this card receive a new card? Find out after the jump. Read More »

Beckett Auctions “All Star” Auction Ends Sunday

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By Derek Ficken | Beckett Media

Beckett Auctions current auction is in its last few days before it closes for good on one-of-a-kind items like a complete BGS 9.5 set of 1986-87 Fleer Basketball, a Rawlings/Adirondack bat featuring 41 HOF signatures including Willie Mays, Ted Williams, Don Drysdale, and many more! The auction ends Sunday, February 22nd at 9pm CST, with a 15 minute extended bidding window on certain items.

Among the highlights are some high valued Mickey Mantle cards such as his 1958 Topps #150 BVG 7, 1963 Topps #200 BVG 6.5, and plenty of autographed encapsulated baseballs from players like Mantle, DiMaggio, Jeter, and many more!

Fortunately for Basketball collectors, there are plenty of items ranging from $15 to $25k that fit your price range. Everyone has been paying close attention to the 1986-87 Fleer complete set, but there are also other complete sets including 2011-12 Exquisite Collection Dimensions Shadowbox Autographs, or even a near complete set of 2011-12 Exquisite Collection UD Black College Vault Autographs.

Here are some non-basketball items that are being showcased in this month’s auction as well:

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Beckett Auctions lands Texas t-card find

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By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor

A collection of more than 60 rare tobacco and caramel baseball cards has been unearthed by a Texas collector with the cards graded via Beckett Grading Services in advance of a Beckett Auctions sale that launches next month.

The find includes several rare Hindu Red-backed T206 cards along with many big names from baseball’s past — many are the only or highest-graded cards to be encapsulated by BGS, the grading division of Beckett Media. Also included in the find are a pair of 1933 Goudey Babe Ruth cards.

“This ‘Texas T-Card Find’ belonged to the consignors dad’s uncle,” said Rob Springs, the business lead for Beckett Auctions, the auctions division of Beckett Media. “He was born in the early 1900s and was pretty much a bachelor all his life, so upon his death, all of his collection went to the consignor’s dad. He collected all of the cards himself and since he worked for Hershey’s, he did a lot of traveling and collecting along the way, which is where they believe a lot of the cards came from.”

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First Look: 2014-15 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection

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By Stephen Laroche | Beckett Hockey Editor

This June, hockey fans will be watching the 2014-15 NHL season wind down with the Stanley Cup Final, but those that collect cards will have something new to bust while watching the action on the ice as Upper Deck is set to release its latest edition of Ultimate Collection.

With an all-new configuration which sees the number of cards per pack increase from four to six, each pack of 2014-15 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection will include one base card and one 2004-05 Retro card along with four autograph or memorabilia hits.

What else can be found in packs? Find out after the jump. Read More »

Sting makes WWE card debut — with even more to be found in Walmart packs

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By Chris Olds | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor

Sting has his first WWE trading cards with the arrival of 2015 Topps WWE this week, but collectors will find even more for the wrestling icon if they shop around.

Like at Walmart.

Collectors who rip into jumbo packs of the product found at Walmart will have a shot at an autographed cards found only in those packs. An autographed Relic will be found only in retail blaster boxes, while a standard Relic will only be found in blasters sold at Walmarts.

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Rousey card could be knockout acquisition

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By Matt Bible | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Analyst

Even in the card world, Ronda gets a little rowdy.

A seller on eBay is auctioning what could be a record-setter for UFC trading cards — the 2012 Topps Finest UFC Red Refractor Autograph 1/1 of then-UFC rookie fighter, Ronda Rousey.

Yes, just like Rousey, this card is one-of-a-kind. The blue-ink signature is crisp on the card’s scarlet trim and the photo shows her hand being raised in victory, as she has no doubt pummeled another fighter. Now, her card is set to pummel the secondary market. As it currently stands, the card has a high bid of $5,900 after 56 bids.

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Five Questions … about Topps Heritage

 

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By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor

Up next for Topps on its 2015 baseball card release calendar is Topps Heritage, a hobby powerhouse that has been going for 15 years now on the simple idea of replicating past with today’s players.

This year’s design is from 1966 — and it arrives on March 4 with the look and feel of yesteryear but with today’s better printing, autographs and memorabilia cards, too.  While we still have plenty of time before its arrival — or even the first look at a checklist — we were curious to hear your thoughts on Heritage this year as well as past years.

Take our poll and feel free to leave your comments below.

1. Are you typically a fan of Topps Heritage?

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2. How would you grade the design for the 1966 set?

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3. Will you be buying Topps Heritage?

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4. Will you be buying more or less Heritage this year?

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5. What has been your favorite past year redone via Heritage?

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Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball and Beckett Sports Card Monthly magazines. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an email to him at colds@beckett.com. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

Upper Deck Reveals Series 2 Young Guns

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By Stephen Laroche | Beckett Hockey Editor

With 2014-15 Upper Deck Series 2 slated to hit the hobby next week, many collectors have been discussing the players that they are hoping to see as a part of its popular Young Guns subset. This afternoon, Upper Deck revealed its list of the rookies that made the cut and the list is full of young prospects that are making an impact this season.

The company had previously teased the fact that Tampa Bay Lightning freshman Jonathan Drouin was going to be a part of this release and revealed that they were also including minor league veteran Rob Zepp, who is the oldest goalie to earn a win in their first NHL game.

Who else made the cut? Find out after the jump. Read More »

Upper Deck and Basketball – Where Do They Go From Here?

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By Stephen Laroche | Beckett Basketball Editor

The recent announcement that Panini America was taking over as the sole and exclusive trading card licensee for the Collegiate Licensing Company has sent shockwaves throughout the hobby and immediately collectors wondered: How would this announcement impact Upper Deck?

Just before press time for the next issue of Beckett Basketball, we received a statement from Upper Deck’s Chris Carlin regarding their future plans for basketball cards.

“Upper Deck has no plans to abandon a category the company helped create. The basketball market is undoubtedly better with Upper Deck in it. The company continues to enjoy an exclusive relationship with LeBron James and Michael Jordan, which will not change as Upper Deck continues to find ways to deliver fans compelling basketball products. Upper Deck will continue to aggressively look at licensing opportunities that will allow the company to resume a leadership position in the category.” Read More »

Artist uses game-used baseballs to make dress

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By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor

Spring training is the home of surprises — and we have our first for the year.

It’s a game-used dress.

Fans who attend New York Mets home spring games at Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie, Fla., beginning on March 6 will have a chance to own this dress, which is made from the leather shells of 130 game-used MLB baseballs.

Yep, game-used baseballs.

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Carolina Hurricanes To Hold Trading Card Giveaway

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By Stephen Laroche | Beckett Hockey Editor

Fans of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes are in for a treat tomorrow evening as the team is holding a trading card giveaway that comes compliments of Upper Deck. While the Hurricanes currently reside at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division, they will be facing the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have lost 21 of their past 23 games.

Limited to the first 10,000 fans coming through the gates, the six-card checklist will feature All-Star Game participant Justin Faulk, Jeff Skinner, Jordan Staal, Cam Ward, Eric Staal and rookie Victor Rask. In order to receive a special seventh card of sophomore Elias Lindholm, fans need to purchase a pack of Upper Deck cards at the team store, The Eye.

It should also be noted that this is Family Night as well and packages are available that include discount tickets and concessions for four people. The team is also holding a Diaper Drive and those that donate a package of diapers will be entered into a draw for autographed prizes that include a team-signed jersey.

Hobby Q&A: Sketch card artist Jason Crosby

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By Matt Bible | Beckett Non-Sports Analyst

Not so long ago, in hay fields a few states away, 38-year-old artist Jason Crosby grew up just like any other Georgia kid, splashing in the mud and running through the woods. He also had an affinity for watching and playing sports, citing Dale Murphy and Mark McGwire as some of his heroes. As an aspiring artist, he grew up drawing those heroes. He majored in art with a focus on graphic design at the University of Georgia and worked in design for four years before beginning full-time free lance illustration in 2005. It was only a couple of years ago that he “fell into” the sketch-card world. The South Carolina-based artist’s unique style and penchant for creating sports crossovers of non-sports cards has made him one of the hottest new sketch artists in the card business.

Did you collect cards or comics when you were younger?
Collecting cards is what I did as a kid and well into college! I can’t tell you how many hours I spent memorizing every stat off  the back of cards, attending shows and visiting my local card shop. It is how my dad and I bonded. He couldn’t tell you the best card from the set of who were the hot players, but looking back as an adult, he did it so we could have fun together. He passed away several years ago so he never got to see me work on sketch cards for companies he’d recognize such as Topps, Upper Deck, etc. I know he’d be proud. I used to design and illustrate my own sports cards using photographs I’d take of my friends playing backyard baseball. We’d keep up with stats for each game and for the season. I’ve always been a sports card nut!

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