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Monthly Archives: May 2009

Upper Deck ponders "what if" in series 2 baseball

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Upper Deck‘s 2009 Series 2 baseball set has been out for about a week or so now and some collectors have found one of four 1989-styled baseball cards inside their mylar wrappers. They were something announced with the previous product breakdowns, but not explained.

Upper Deck explained these cards Friday in a news release, saying that they are merely adding a “What if?” postscript to its popular landmark first release.

The cards aren’t easy pulls, but are numbered 801-804  and answer the following questions:

— No. 801: What if Ken Griffey Jr.’s Rookie Card would have been an action shot instead of a head-and-shoulder portrait?

— No. 802 What if Randy Johnson‘s Rookie Card showed sporting a Seattle Mariners uniform instead of the Montreal Expos?

— Nos. 803-804. What if Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush appeared on baseball cards back then?

My answers? The Griffey wouldn’t be as cool, the Johnson would have been less cool and the last two? Well, I just don’t know …

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In the minors: Mascot cards run rampant

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By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor

I’ve always wondered why Minor League Baseball cards, specifically those found in team sets, aren’t more popular than they are — even though, yes, there are many reasons why they just can’t compete with the standard traditional baseball cards made by Topps, Upper Deck or countless other companies through the years.

They’re often players’ first cards. (Real prospecting doesn’t start with the first busted packs of Bowman, you know.) They’re often the only place to find some players’ cards — you know, the high school or college star from your neck of the woods who just never made it to The Show.

They’re often more interestingly designed and checklisted more for the baseball fan than the investor — including cards of more than just superstars.

And that’s where we’ll start with this look at some of the unusual cards found …  In the Minors.

This time? The mascots… you might not think they’re  a big, big part of baseball, but there are more than 1,800 cards found on a search for “mascot” in the Beckett.com database.

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‘The Greatest’ Figures in Boxing History?

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Two of Muhammad Ali’s most memorable fights provide the backdrop for Upper Deck’s newest Pro Shots, 7-inch action figures sporting something UD calls “hyper-realistic” detail.

Ultimately, collectors will be the judge of that. But there’s no denying the subject matter of the new figures: Ali’s legendarily photogenic knockout of Sonny Liston in 1965 and the Champ’s “Thrilla in Manila” ring war against Joe Frazier in 1975. The 1965 figure is paralleled by a hobby-exclusive black-and-white version.

“We’re very pleased with the way these latest Pro Shots figures turned out,” says Eric Hansel, sports collectibles product manager for Upper Deck Authenticated. “We worked hand-in-hand with Ali Enterprises Gentle Giant in every detail to capture the likeness and spirit of two of Muhammad’s greatest moments. Now, collectors can relive both of them.”

The two Ali figures, available nationally at such outlets as Toys R Us and Champs, join four previously released Michael Jordan Pro Shots and four Tiger Woods figures. The suggested retail price for each one is $15.99 to $19.99.

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First look: 2009 Topps Ticket to Stardom

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Topps announced a new baseball product for 2009 on Friday afternoon, Ticket to Stardom, a product that features ticket stubs as a prominent Relic inclusion that will arrive packing three autograph, ticket or Relic cards per box in late August.

There will be stubs from prominent games, concerts and other sporting events included in the product with a full array of autograph and memorabilia cards. Every 20-pack hobby box will contain one ticket card that includes two memorabilia pieces, one ticket single Relic card as well as one autographed Relic.

There will be World Baseball Classic ticket stub cards (hobby only) as well as buyback ticket stubs from notable events. Also included will be Opening Day ticket stubs as well as a trio of insert cards: Ticket to Stardom, Big Tickets and Seasoned Vets. There also will be Red (1/1), Golf (/50) and Blue (/99) parallels as well as printing plate cards.

Each pack will include 11 base cards and one parallel. A suggested retail price was not yet announced.

For a closer look, click on some of the images below.

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New York Mets OF Fernando Martinez is the first 2009 Topps Red Hot Rookie

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Topps announced the first player in its 2009 Topps Red Hot Rookie redemption program on Friday — and it’s New York Mets OF Fernando Martinez.

The 20-year-old Dominican Republic product made his Major League debut in right field on Tuesday night and has an 0-for-7 record (but with one RBI) to show for it after two games. He’s the youngest player in MLB so far this season.

The highly touted prospect is a career .282 hitter with 30 HR and 132 RBI in four minor league seasons.

The redemptions are found one per hobby box in 2009 Topps Series 2, which arrived earlier this month, and can be redeemed at topps.com.

Topps will announce the remainder of the 10 rookies throughout the season.

Chris Olds has collected sports cards and memorabilia since 1987. Before coming to Beckett Media, he wrote about the hobby for the Orlando Sentinel on his blog, SportsStuff, and for the San Antonio Express-News and The Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News. Do you have a comment, question or idea? Send e-mail to him at colds@beckett.com.

First look: 2009 Press Pass VIP NASCAR cards

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Press Pass‘ next NASCAR set, VIP, was unveiled on Thursday with a starting grid that appears to be fueled by memorabilia and autographed cards that can be found one per 24-pack hobby box.

Taking the green flag on Aug. 19, the $3.99-per-pack product will include five cards per pack with a 90-card set made up of 36 Sprint Cup drivers, 12 Recognized Rides cards, a dozen Mainstay cards, nine Red Carpet cards, 12 All-Star Awards cards and eight Behind the Scenes cards.

There will be three insert sets — After Party, Hardware and Guest List — while the memorabilia cards will have the following versions to chase:

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Box Busters: 2009 Donruss Americana

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Join Beckett Media’s Tracy Hackler, Chris Olds and Bryan Hornbeck as they rip into boxes of 2009 Donruss Americana for the latest installent of Box Busters.

The first Panini-produced Americana set arrives on June 3 with a reduced price of $25 per pack.

What will they find inside each pack? Click here.

Preview gallery: 2009 Donruss Americana

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Donruss Americana is one of those sets loaded with personalities and characters from the big screen — past and present — and this year’s version includes everything you would expect from the set with a new inclusion, Movie Posters Materials cards.

That’s the front of the “Seven Year Itch” card above, while the back of the card is below.

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The checklist also includes some sweet combination cards — Combo Cuts of Ron Howard and Clint Howard, Howard with Erin Moran for the Happy Days fans, Ralph Macchio and Martin Kove (aka The Karate Kid and the Cobra Kai Dojo master on the same card) as well as Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers for example in the 10-card set.

Casting Call cards pair Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell for example, while here are some of the Co-Stars combos: David Carradine and Michael Madsen,  George Romero and Tony Todd, Burt Reynolds and William Forsythe, Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney, Burt Lancaster and Gary Cooper, the list goes on and on …

Here are images of some other cards (not from our review boxes) to be found in Americana this year:

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Box Busters preview: 2009 Donruss Americana

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We’ve got our hands on early boxes of 2009 Donruss Americana for an episode of Box Busters later today and one thing is already for certain — the packaging choice by Panini America just might be the coolest ever.

Each four-pack box is approximately the size of an older multi-disc CD case with each pack in a cardboard CD sleeve.

Oh, and the cards ain’t that bad, either, as there is a slightly smaller checklist and what seems like a larger variety of insert cards. (See more on the set here and here.)

Here are two cards we found in a pair of boxes …

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Look for the video here later today. Meanwhile, Americana arrives on June 3.

Chris Olds has collected sports cards and memorabilia since 1987. Before coming to Beckett Media, he wrote about the hobby for the Orlando Sentinel on his blog, SportsStuff, and for the San Antonio Express-News and The Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News. Do you have a comment, question or idea? Send e-mail to him at colds@beckett.com.

First look: 2009 Topps Chrome football

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Topps released the basic product preview information and images for its 2009 Topps Chrome football set on Tuesday, giving collectors the first look at its cards showing rookies in their NFL uniforms from the recent Rookie Premiere.

Each 24-pack hobby box will include one autographed rookie or Rookie Patch card as well as a full slate of rookies, veterans, inserts and even NFL cheerleaders.

Every box will include 10 insert cards and nine parallels when the product arrives in late August.

There are approximately 50 rookie autographs on the preliminary checklist (some still TBD) with Michael Crabtree, James Laurinaitis, Matthew Stafford, Mark Sanchez and Jeremy Maclin among them. The autographed cards also will be found as Superfractors (1/1), Gold Refractors (/10) and Black Refractors (/50).

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Panini America takes fans inside NFL PLAYERS Rookie Premiere

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Panini America is unveiling several videos from the recent NFL PLAYERS Rookie Premiere this week where Scott “Not Van Pelt” Prusha interviews some of the NFL’s newest rookies.

See Prusha go one-on-one with Detroit Lions TE Brandon Pettigrew above and see the rest of the action (and a few more soon) here.

Chris Olds has collected sports cards and memorabilia since 1987. Before coming to Beckett Media, he wrote about the hobby for the Orlando Sentinel on his blog, SportsStuff, and for the San Antonio Express-News and The Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News. Do you have a comment, question or idea? Send e-mail to him at colds@beckett.com.

Also to be found in 2009 Goodwin Champions baseball …

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Yesterday, Upper Deck released its preview package for its 2009 Goodwin Champions baseball card set modeled after the 1880s tobacco cards of the same name.

Today, the company announced a big inclusion to the autograph checklist.

A guy named Jordan, a G. for the Bulls — in ye olde tobacco speak — aka Chicago Bulls legend and soon-to-be Hall of Famer Michael Jordan.

We’re sure he won’t sign many cards for the set, but his autograph’s inclusion in any product — just like Tiger Woods in the recently released Champ’s hockey — will spark interest from those who don’t normally dabble in the particular sport.

And that’s a very good thing for the industry these days.

Chris Olds has collected sports cards and memorabilia since 1987. Before coming to Beckett Media, he wrote about the hobby for the Orlando Sentinel on his blog, SportsStuff, and for the San Antonio Express-News and The Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News. Do you have a comment, question or idea? Send e-mail to him at colds@beckett.com.

First look: 2009-10 UD Black hockey cards

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Upper Deck released basic product information and preview images for its upcoming 2009-10 UD Black NHL set on Tuesday, a product that appears to be loaded with patch and autographed memorabilia cards.

Black will include one Rookie Letterman patch card and one autograph or multi-swatch memorabilia card per pack, and the product includes a wide array of 12-swatch gatefold cards, Game Night Ticket autographs (like the Bobby Orr above) and Pride of a Nation patch cards among others.

See additional preview images below. You’ll find more information about the product here as it is released.

Chris Olds has collected sports cards and memorabilia since 1987. Before coming to Beckett Media, he wrote about the hobby for the Orlando Sentinel on his blog, SportsStuff, and for the San Antonio Express-News and The Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News. Do you have a comment, question or idea? Send e-mail to him at colds@beckett.com.

Solving a sketch card mystery …

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One of my favorite additions to the baseball card world this past year is the Sketch Card, which after years of appearing in non-sports packs, finally made its way into baseball cards beginning with Topps sets late last year.

But there is a drawback to those one-of-a-kind miniature pieces of artwork that picture baseball players and not iconic figures such as Darth Vader or Superman.

It’s the baseball sketch card whodunnit — though in this case we know who did it (an artist named Graham) — it’s a whoisit.

Yours truly trekked across Dallas on a late lunch hour Tuesday afternoon to pick up a certified mailing from Topps — a redemption card for a sketch from 2009 Series 1 baseball had finally arrived.

When I ripped open the envelope, the first thing I looked for was the artist’s name — then I struggled to determine who the player is.

I have a couple of leading candidates, but without a team logo or a name I’m not sure. And I’d rather not influence your ideas — so, who do you think it is? Leave a comment below.

Chris Olds has collected sports cards and memorabilia since 1987. Before coming to Beckett Media, he wrote about the hobby for the Orlando Sentinel on his blog, SportsStuff, and for the San Antonio Express-News and The Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News. Do you have a comment, question or idea? Send e-mail to him at colds@beckett.com.

Box Busters: 2009 Upper Deck Series 2 baseball

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Beckett Baseball‘s Chris Olds and Brian Fleischer ripped into boxes of Upper Deck Series 2 baseball on Tuesday to see what they could find inside for the latest episode of Box Busters.

Did they happen to land a hot box (found in every case)? Did they find something big?

Click here to find out.

SportKings reveals high-end images, cuts production for Series C

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Sportkings released additional images for its upcoming Series C on Tuesday and announced that it will produce just 2,500 boxes of the high-end product this year.

Here’s a look at some of the high-end cards to be found when it arrives in collectors hands beginning on July 29 at The National. Our favorite, an Owner’s Box cut autograph of famous Chicago Cubs owner Philip Wrigley is above. See the rest below.

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First look: Will you go buggy for 2009 Goodwin Champions baseball cards?

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Upper Deck released the basic product breakdown and preview images for its upcoming Goodwin Champions baseball set, a new release that delivers much of the oldschool aesthetic that many collectors crave, along with some interestingly odd inclusions that touch on other collecting fields.

The set, scheduled to arrive in September, will include current and retired baseball stars alongside stars from other sports such as horse racing, surfing and martial arts among others.

The product will include advanced DNA memorabilia cards — entomology cards (see the butterfly card above), Landmarks cards and Thoroughbred Hair Cut cards that include hair from well-known horses such as Smarty Jones, Afleet Alex and Funny Cide – one in every 12-box case. (Not sure how the bug-phobic might react to finding them in their packs, but we’ll examine that when we get there.) The Landmarks cards will include elements from notable locations — coal from the Titanic wreck and salt from the Dead Sea among others.

Every 20-pack box will include two memorabilia cards and one autographed card as well as a selection of standard cards from the basic set, which is comprised of 150 regular cards, 40 short-printed cards, 20 super short-prints and 42 high series mini SPs.

According to Upper Deck, there is one one mini card per pack (some have rarer foil versions), while three out of every four packs will have an additional insert or short print card inside. Also available will be original 1888 Goodwin Champions buyback cards — including Hall of Famers Cap Anson and King Kelly.

Other inserts include Printing Plates, mini or foil mini cards (along with Black Bordered Gypsy Queen Backs, Mini Foil Black Bordered Magician Back, limited to only eight cards) as well as Citizens of the Day and Citizens of the Century cards.

Chris Olds has collected sports cards and memorabilia since 1987. Before coming to Beckett Media, he wrote about the hobby for the Orlando Sentinel on his blog, SportsStuff, and for the San Antonio Express-News and The Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News. Do you have a comment, question or idea? Send e-mail to him at colds@beckett.com.

First Look: 2009 Donruss Threads Football

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The good news is that we received preliminary product information and tons of eye candy on 2009 Donruss Threads Football today. The bad news, of course, is that you’ve gotta wait three months to get your hands on some.

But based on the contents of the sales sheet, you likely won’t mind.

While you’re feasting on the visuals, here are some of the product highlights:

* 200-card base set with 100 rookies numbered to 999; autographed rookies will be numbered to less than 999

* As its name suggests, Threads will include a bevy of memorabilia inserts (no less than nine unique sets not including parallels). Some of the highlights include Triple Threat Materials (three teammate swatches), Pro and College Gridiron Kings Materials (with autographed versions of both numbered to 10 or less), Rookie Collection Materials and Generations Materials.

* Rookie Class returns with autographed nameplate letters of the featured newcomer’s surname numbered to 399 or less.

* Stay tuned to Beckett.com and The Beckett Blog for additional product information.

— Tracy Hackler

Caught on Video: Press Pass Premium & Fathead NHL Tradeables

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Join Beckett Media multitaskers Tim Trout and Tracy Hackler as they rip through a box of Press Pass Premium racing and a few packs of Fathead NHL Tradeables.

Did they pull anything worth screaming about? You’ll have to click here and here to find out.

First look: 2009 Bowman Chrome baseball

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Topps released the basic product information and images for its 2009 Bowman Chrome baseball set on Thursday, a product that includes one autographed prospect card per 18-pack hobby box.

AUsThe set will include 110 prospects on their first bowman cards and will arrive in hobby shops in early September.

Among the notable players included in the set are hard-hitting White Sox prospect Dayan Viciedo, Braves pitching prospect Tommy Hanson, Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello as well as Pittsburgh Pirates pitching prospects Dinish Patel and Rinku Singh who were signed from India.

Patel and Singh lead off the autograph checklist (right), which also includes ambidextrous Yankees pitching prospect Pat Venditte, Hanson, A’s starter Brett Anderson, Viciendo, Beckett Baseball prospect diary writer and Reds pitching prospect Juancarlos Sulbaran (good to see his name finally spelled correctly) and the familiarly named Ernie Banks, who’ll ultimately hope to play two for the Marlins in the future.

Also included in the product are 40 more World Baseball Classic cards as well as 220 base cards.

See more cards from  the set after the jump.

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Panini releases Prestige Rookie Card variation list

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Panini America confirmed on Wednesday that the  following rookies have variation cards  in 2009 Playoff Prestige showing them in college uniforms.

112 Brandon Pettigrew Oklahoma State – White
116 Brian Robiskie Ohio State – Red
119 Chase Coffman Missouri – Yellow
122 Chris Wells Ohio State – White
124 Clint Sintim Virginia – White
127 D.J. Moore Vanderbilt – Gold
130 Darrius Heyward-Bey Maryland – White
134 Derrick Williams Penn State – Blue
135 Donald Brown Uconn – Blue
140 Graham Harrell Texas Tech – Red
142 Hakeem Nicks North Carolina – White
146 James Casey Rice – White
148 James Laurinaitis Ohio State – Red
153 Jeremiah Johnson Oregon – Yellow
155 Jeremy Maclin Missouri – Yellow
159 Juaquin Iglesias Oklahoma – White
161 Kenny Britt Rutgers – Red
164 Knowshon Moreno Georgia – White
166 LeSean McCoy Pittsburgh – Blue
169 Louis Murphy Florida – White
170 Malcolm Jenkins Ohio State – Red
171 Mark Sanchez USC – White
181 Nate Davis Ball State – White
184 Pat White West Virginia – White
187 Percy Harvin Florida – White
194 Rey Maualuga USC – White
199 Shonn Greene Iowa – White

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Six other cards have variations showing the rookies holding up their new jerseys at the NFL Draft.

Draft-day variations
101     Aaron Curry             Seattle Seahawks
114     Brian Cushing           Houston Texans
115     Brian Orakpo            Washington Redskins
158     Josh Freeman            Tampa Bay Buccaneers
172     Matthew Stafford        Detroit Lions
174     Michael Crabtree        San Francisco 49ers

Chris Olds has collected sports cards and memorabilia since 1987. Before coming to Beckett Media, he wrote about the hobby for the Orlando Sentinel on his blog, SportsStuff, and for the San Antonio Express-News and The Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News. Do you have a comment, question or idea? Send e-mail to him at colds@beckett.com.

Now THAT is a loaded box …

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On the outside, the blaster box of 2009 Topps Heritage that Todd Neuman bought at a Walmart in Mayfield, Ky., probably looked like every other one that rolled off the assembly line and made its way to the shelf.

But on the inside it looked quite, quite different.

As in it had 51 of the set’s super-rare short-printed variations inside.

As in seven copies of Randy Winn.

As in seven Conor Jacksons.

As in seven Adrian Gonzalezes.

As in seven John Smoltzes and Hanley Ramirezes, too.

To top that, there were eight copies of the $200 “Thom” Glavine variation and eight copies of the Fred Lewis card featuring Winn on the front.

All told, that’s a $10,300 blaster box (high book) that cost just $19.99. There were just eight packs inside, but each and every one was loaded — that’s an average of $1,287 a pack.

“I have been collecting for a long time, but hadn’t bought any Topps Heritage this year yet. I bought the third box in the row and pulled 51 short-printed variations,” Neuman said. “I was just wondering if you had heard of anyone else having this luck on these this year?”

The answer on this is easy. That’s got to be the only one.

But don’t take our word for it. Here’s what Topps spokesman Clay Luraschi said: “Unfortunately, this is a major manufacturing error.”

Chris Olds has collected sports cards and memorabilia since 1987. Before coming to Beckett Media, he wrote about the hobby for the Orlando Sentinel on his blog, SportsStuff, and for the San Antonio Express-News and The Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News. Do you have a comment, question or idea? Send e-mail to him at colds@beckett.com.

Ric Flair card touches independent wrestler

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Tim "Tank" Robertson (left) with Jerry "The King" Lawler.

As many of you know, Beckett Media recently gave away 15 copies of the first certified autographed card of “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair, a Donruss Americana promo card from Panini.

But what you might not know (we didn’t) is that one of the winners was Tim Robertson of Caruthersville, Mo., an independent wrestler also known as “Tank.”

Robertson, a 29-year-old father of two, died last week from an apparent allergic reaction. Here’s what his wife, Helen, wrote in an e-mail to Beckett on Tuesday:

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Box Busters: 2009 Topps Series 2 baseball

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The latest installment of the collecting mainstay, the Topps baseball set, arrives on Wednesday with Series 2 hitting hobby shops.

Join Beckett Baseball’s Chris Olds and Tracy Hackler as they bust open a box of Topps.

What will they find? Click here.

The first two Matt Stafford autograph winners are …

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We’ve selected the first two winners of Panini‘s autographed 2009 Playoff Prestige Matt Stafford promo cards.

Oh, we forgot to previously mention that the cards are serial-numbered, so we’ve noted those here, too.

The first two winners are:

Card No. 1/7: Peter Epstein – Chatsworth, Calif.

Card No. 2/7: Steve Miller — Goshen, Ind.

Who will win the others, including Stafford’s uniform-matching 7/7?

It could be you. Find out how to enter in the July issue of Beckett Sports Card Monthly.

Chris Olds has collected sports cards and memorabilia since 1987. Before coming to Beckett Media, he wrote about the hobby for the Orlando Sentinel on his blog, SportsStuff, and for the San Antonio Express-News and The Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News. Do you have a comment, question or idea? Send e-mail to him at colds@beckett.com.