Monthly Archives: September 2009

Box Busters: 2009 Bowman Sterling Football


Dan Hitt and Tracy Hackler, Beckett’s less-than-sterling busters of football boxes, take a crack at 2009 Bowman Sterling Football, the season’s first high-end football product that’s loaded with bells and whistles.

Click here to watch and find out what they pull.

First Look: Kobe's Prestige Autographs


Long before Tuesday’s headline-making announcement that Panini America had inked Kobe Bryant to an exclusive multi-year contract, the company had conducted its first signing with the Los Angeles Lakers superstar.

The results of that premiere session — all on-card autographs — will first be unveiled in next week’s release of 2009 Prestige Basketball, a product that, according to company spokesman Scott Prusha, will have zero redemptions.

Until then, here’s a sneak peek at some of the Kobe autographs you’ll find (and a few images of his first Panini memorabilia cards).

— Tracy Hackler

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First look: 2009 National Treasures football


Panini America released this sneak preview image of a Stephen McGee jumbo patch autograph card from its forthcoming Playoff National Treasures football card set.

No word on when that highly anticipated set will arrive.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball and Beckett Graded Card Investor. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at

Panini basketball launch includes hobby shop party packs

Copy of prestige

Among the promotions that Panini America has planned for its NBA launch that coincides with 2009 Prestige Basketball are party packs that are set to go into collectors hands beginning on Oct. 7.

All hobby shops that pre-order the product will receive a selection of posters, Panini hats, t-shirts, swag bags, foam mini basketballs and promo cards.

The cards are Hardcourt Heroes promo cards featuring No. 1 draft pick Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies rookie Hasheem Thabeet.

Could more promotions be in the works after Tuesday’s big news? We’ll just have to wait and see …

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball and Beckett Graded Card Investor. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at

Upper Deck promises free baseball cards if Chicago lands 2016 Summer Olympics


Earlier this year, Upper Deck included the above card in its 2009 Baseball set as one of nine Historic Firsts Predictors insert cards.

And if the prediction comes true and the International Olympic Committee selects Chicago as the host city for the 2016 Summer Games on Friday, Upper Deck will be coughing up some cardboard.

As in a free pack of baseball cards to fans across the country.

Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo are in the running for the Games.

Details will be announced on the company’s website,, if Chicago wins.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball and Beckett Graded Card Investor. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at

Preview gallery: 2009 SP Authentic baseball cards


Upper Deck‘s 2009 SP Authentic baseball card set is primed for release next week, so we’ve decided to bring you back up to speed on what the product includes. (See previous images and info right here.)

Each 24-pack box will include 12 short-printed base set cards, six serial-numbered standard or or parallel cards, three insert cards, two By the Letter manufactured-patch autographed cards and one Future Watch Rookie autograph or SPA Signature insert.

Oh, and also among the inclusions will be a 1993 SP Derek Jeter autographed buyback Rookie Card limited to just 93 copies.

See more images from the set after the jump.

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Upper Deck is bringing Exquisite Collection to baseball for 2010


Although its plans have not yet been officially unveiled, Upper Deck is bringing its Exquisite Collection line of high-end cards to its 2010 baseball lineup.

The super-premium product revolutionized basketball cards in recent years but never was a full standalone product for baseball under that name. Instead, Exquisite cards were inserts in 2006 and then the brand morphed into Exquisite Collection Rookie Signatures in 2007.

In 2010, Exquisite Collection will be a component in each and every baseball set from the company, which will produce cards licensed by the MLB Players Association, but not Major League Baseball.

Look for more on Upper Deck’s 2010 plans right here very soon.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball and Beckett Graded Card Investor. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at

First look: 2010 Topps baseball cards


Topps unveiled its 2010 baseball design on Wednesday… soak it up.

It’s a design slightly reminiscent of the company’s 2002 Post cards, but with more photo bleed space at the bottom and what looks to be a slightly more prominent team logo and foil stamping.

Look for additional information on the first officially licensed baseball product of 2010 very, very soon.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball and Beckett Graded Card Investor. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at

The mystery of Nick Swisher's 2009 Bowman baseball card


Looking back at the history of Topps baseball cards, it’s always interesting to see the oddities that can be found from decades of sets.

You know, the players whose cards had the same photo for a couple straight years or unusual things like the 1985 Topps card of Gary Pettis which actually features his brother.

There are countless examples of these types of cards through the years — for all companies  (see Billy Ripken and his 1989 Fleer infamy) — which reaffirms that producing sports cards isn’t all mylar and bubble gum.

It’s hard work. (And the rigorous process of league approvals? We’ll leave that for another day.)

Sometimes things happen in the production process that provide collectors with some unusual cards.  Sometimes, it’s a mistake. Sometimes, it’s a requested change or a last-minute adjustment.

And sometimes it’s a mystery.

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Grey Flannel and Steiner Sports team up


Grey Flannel Auctions and Steiner Sports announced on Wednesday that the companies have established a marketing relationship that will mean that items from Steiner’s exclusive deal with the New York Yankees will get added attention on the auction block.

steinerThe Steiner portion of Grey Flannel’s upcoming sale will include game-used jerseys of Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez as well autographed items available only via Steiner.

“Grey Flannel Auctions and Steiner Sports are joining forces to cross-promote our respective sales taking place in early December,” said Richard E. Russek, Grey Flannel’s president, in a release. “In addition, Grey Flannel’s December sale, which will feature rare, game-used jerseys and memorabilia, will also include a special selection of approximately 200 tremendous lots from Steiner Sports. Wherever we go to publicize our sale, including shows, malls and other events, we’ll be bringing along choice highlights from the Steiner selection.”
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Topps' upcoming National Chicle set isn't just about the players… it's also about the artists


The forthcoming Topps National Chicle football card set is a nod to one of football’s most famed sets from the 1930s but it’s also one that has a modern-day nod as well.

Of the last few years, artists have had a growing influence on trading cards — from non-sports sets comprised solely of comic book art to Sketch Cards that have appeared in countless non-sports sets as well as more and more sports sets.

It’s a trend that seems to be growing in acceptance even though it’s really been there since the early days of Topps and the even earlier days of trading cards. It’s a trend that seems to indicate that collectors realize that it’s not all about a photograph and some certain design formula.

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Just in case you wanted to hear more from Kobe Bryant on his new Panini deal…

Kobe Bryant‘s signing with Panini America on Tuesday wasn’t without some fanfare as the deal was discussed on national television with CNBC’s Darren Rovell.

If the video found here just isn’t in-depth enough for you, there’s a little bit more that can be found below. A few words from Bryant himself to collectors…

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Preview gallery: 2009 Topps National Chicle football cards


Topps released a batch of preview images for its 2009 National Chicle football card set on Wednesday.

While no additional set details have been announced for the set scheduled to arrive this fall, you can check the the cards out after the jump.

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Strong to the Finnish: Upper Deck Hockey in Europe


In an effort to fuel the collecting passions of the NHL’s international following, Upper Deck recently made hockey and hobby history by producing its first-ever packs of Finnish- and Swedish-language Upper Deck Victory packs.

The cards were produced to take advantage of this week’s 2009-10 regular-season puck-droppers between the Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues in Stockholm, Sweden, and between the Chicago Blackhawks and Florida Panthers in Helsinki, Finland. The cards will be on sale both at those games and through off-site retailers in those respective markets.

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World-Premiere Box Busters: 2009 Prestige Basketball


Keith Hower and Tracy Hackler make hobby history by busting the first box of Panini America’s maiden basketball release, 2009 Prestige, due out Oct. 7.

What did they pull? Click here to watch the video and find out.

New UFC Gallery Includes Never-Before-Seen Lyoto Machida, Royce Gracie Gems


Last week Beckett Media had the distinct privilege of busting the first two boxes of 2009 Topps UFC — one was a world premiere Box Busters video, the other led to a gawk-worthy gallery of the product’s first live images.

This week, in honor of the product finally going live (it should start hitting shops and setting internet auctions ablaze on Wednesday), we thought we’d showcase some more awe-inspiring imagery from Topps’ second UFC-licensed product, including many images that are being seen here for the first time.

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Panini Aims to Keep Kobe On-Card


In an interview late Tuesday afternoon, Panini America Marketing Director Scott Prusha discussed his company’s headline-making exclusive agreement with NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, driving home a desire to have Kobe sign only on-card autographs for the basketball hobby.

“It is our sincere hope that Kobe does not sign any stickers for our hobby audience,” Prusha said late Tuesday afternoon from an airport in Los Angeles. “Touching the card, feeling the card, actually signing the card, those things are extremely important to Kobe. It’s going to take a lot of effort and coordination but that’s something he wants to do.”

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Heavy Anticipation: Brock Lesnar's First Autograph Card


The fact that 2009 Topps UFC shipped to distributors last week likely means the collecting world is now mere hours away from the history-making introduction of Brock Lesnar’s first certified autograph trading cards.

As of Tuesday afternoon, none had made their way to the secondary market.

Much has been made about the utter lack of Lesnar autographs, and there’s been a growing buzz around their debut ever since Topps first announced that it had secured the UFC heavyweight champion for the second installment of its UFC franchise.

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Do you know Masanori Murakami's story?


Although he shares his 1965 Topps Rookie Card (No. 282) with Dick Estelle, there’s more of a story behind Masanori Murakami than just another card in another baseball card set.

Long-time collectors may remember him from a 2002 Topps insert card set, but his place in hobby history is an interesting and largely unknown one even though he made baseball history 45 years ago this month. (Though it’s certainly known by some as that’s a $40 Rookie Card.)

Read all about this baseball pioneer right here.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball and Beckett Graded Card Investor. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at

Ichiro's hit record commemorated on baseball bats


Ichiro Suzuki‘s historic run of nine consecutive 200-hit seasons reached earlier this month is being commemorated in a limited edition bat.

Produced by Hampster Direct, there will be 5,000 numbered bats made with the graphic shown above wrapped around the barrel. (Well, actually 4,999 as Ichiro received the first one.)

The bats are $129.95 and can be ordered at

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball and Beckett Graded Card Investor. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at

Four Chicago Blackhawks lead way on ESPN's NHL preview


Autograph collectors should have a good time with this one.

The latest issue of ESPN The Magazine, its NHL preview issue, has a cover with Chicago Blackhawks Marian Hossa, Cristobal Huet, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.

While The Mag may not be as collected as, say, Sports Illustrated – its size a partial reason why — covers like this striking one will certainly have a place in the hobby.

Just like the Blackhawks.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball and Beckett Graded Card Investor. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at

Ric Flair's latest wrestling memorabilia?

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flairimage“The Nature Boy” Ric Flair may or may not be making a comeback soon, but that doesn’t matter in the case of his latest piece of memorabilia.

The Wooooooo! lottery ticket, which is available in North Carolina.

Tough call on whether or not to pick one up and leave it unscratched …

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball and Beckett Graded Card Investor. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at

Box Busters preview: 2009-10 Panini Prestige basketball cards


We’re about to rip into the first box of Panini America‘s 2009-10 Prestige basketball cards for Box Busters – and here’s what the outside of the first box looks like.

What will we find inside in the debut box?

Stay tuned … we’ll have it online very, very soon.

Panini's Official Announcement Regarding Kobe Signing


This just in from Panini . . .

The Panini Group, the NBA‘s exclusive trading card partner, has signed four-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers as its official company spokesman and global trading card ambassador.

Bryant’s exclusive multi-year agreement with Panini includes autographs, memorabilia, and a joint charitable component. The deal is a landmark one for the trading-card industry and will help to re-energize the basketball collectibles market both in the United States and Internationally.

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Upper Deck comments on Kobe signing and redemptions

Upper Deck issued the following statement on Kobe Bryant‘s signing with Panini America on Tuesday:

“Upper Deck  would like to wish Kobe Bryant all the best on and off the court in the future. We have a signing scheduled with him shortly to handle outstanding redemption cards. Look for his last UD cards in 09/10 NBA Exquisite releasing tomorrow.”

Stay tuned to The Beckett Blog and for more on Bryant and Panini’s plans later today…

New video game brings football fans into HBCU campuses


A new video game arrives in stores today that brings gamers an unprecedented look at football at historically black colleges and universities, or HCBUs, with former Washington Redskins quarterback Doug Williams leading the way.

BCFX — The Doug Williams Edition combines football action with the pageantry and energy of the famed marching bands which are part of two unique new rhythm games within the game — the interactive Halftime Show and Drum Line Challenge.

The game offers a lesson in HBCU football history with historical data in its Legacy Museum as well as licensed music performed by those famous marching bands.

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Kobe Bryant Set to Sign Exclusive Deal with Panini America


In a move that has been rumored within the trading card industry for weeks, Panini America later today will announce that it has reached an exclusive agreement with Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant.

The deal, alluded to early Tuesday morning in a tweet from CNBC Sports Business Reporter Darren Rovell, is expected to be a multiyear agreement that has international potential and ends Bryant’s longtime association with Panini America rival Upper Deck.

Stay tuned to today for additional details as they become available.

— Tracy Hackler

Card gallery: 2009-10 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection basketball cards

09-10 Exquisite 025

Last week, Upper Deck announced and packed out its last hurrah product for the basketball market, 2009-10 Exquisite Collection, and it showcased some of the impressive cards to be found online.

With the product’s release just a couple of days away, here’s a recap of those cards in some photographs taken by the company during the packaging stage.

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The Most Mysterious Memorabilia Card Ever?


Quick, a show of hands: How many hardcore baseball collectors have ever seen this 1999 Upper Deck A Piece of History 500 Home Run Club Hank Aaron/Babe Ruth/Willie Mays bat card?

Yeah, it was a new one on us, too. We’d never even heard of it until recently, when it was brought to our attention by a prominent East Coast dealer that there were at least four of these cards in existence.

It’s easily one of the most historic memorabilia cards ever produced. It’s also one of the most mysterious.

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Beckett's 2009 Card-Investment NFL Season Preview: An Update


Earlier this month, you may recall that we solicited submissions for a special 2009 NFL Season Preview card-investment contest. Essentially, we asked Beckett visitors how they would invest an imaginary $1,000 in at least five football cards for the 2009 season.

We selected 10 lucky respondents at random and the one whose collection appreciates the most in value throughout the 2009 season is the winner. It’s that simple.

What does the lucky winner receive, you ask? Well, specifics are still being hammered out. Just know that it’s a pigskin potpourri prize pack that includes an as-yet-undetermined array of 2009 football products.

Following are our 10 lucky contestants and their collections. We’ll track them – both in print and online – all season long and crown a winner after the Super Bowl.

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Press Pass ups the ante with Wheels Main Event


Sports card design is a subjective thing.

Some collectors insist that a card must have some of the basics on the front — a name and a logo and some color along with a photograph. And then, of course, images and stats on the back.

Other collectors balk at the idea of anything that’s not the standard vector art or identifiable sports-related texture even if it’s more organic and pushing the envelope to help redefine what a sports card design can include (see Rookies & Stars).

Others insist that there’s a reason retro sets have such staying power — the designs and the feel of the past.

But the rarity among current products is a new design that has a concept behind it.

Last year, Wheels Main Event relied on an Election Day feel to get the job done. This year, Press Pass has shuffled up and dealt what might be the most unique card set — for any sport — produced all year.

Some might not think poker and NASCAR have much in common — and the truth is they might not — but the touches applied to this card set, which arrives next week, are interesting to say the least.

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Preview gallery: 2009-10 Panini Prestige basketball cards


With little more than a week until Panini America‘s first officially licensed NBA set arrives, here’s a look at some of what can be found in boxes of Prestige.

Each box will include four autographs or memorabilia cards as well as 24 Rookies, four  Draft Pick Light Blue cards, one NBA Draft Class card, one Prestigious Pros Green insert and two additional inserts when it arrives on Oct. 7.

See more images after the jump.

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Game-used Navy football jerseys hit auction block


It’s not unusual for game-used college football jerseys to meet the auction block, but this just might be a record.

Ninety-six game-used jerseys from Saturday’s Navy-Western Kentucky game are on the auction block at CBS as the Midshipmen celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

The game, which ended in a 38-22 Navy victory, was highlighted by Navy’s use of throwback jerseys and dominated by quarterback Ricky Dobbs, who ran for four touchdowns and threw for another in the No. 4 jersey.

(It’s apparent that the images were taken before the game as the jersey does not show any damage.)

While bidding on that one has topped more than $400 so far — with more than 10 days remaining — with the entire team’s jerseys up for grabs there’s a good chance a collector can land one at a reasonable price. (Auction reserves are $150.)

To view the auctions, click here.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball and Beckett Graded Card Investor. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at

Autographed SportsPicks? McFarlane Toys' latest project takes things to another level


McFarlane Toys announced Friday evening that it is adding a new program that allows for a higher-end and specific chase aspect to its upcoming SportsPicks figure lines.

Its new “Collector Level” program has been created to give collectors something extra with the variant figures that they have come to expect with the popular toys. What’s that something extra? Anything from an alternative paint job to autographs or game-used memorabilia swatches included with the figure. As with past products, some type of variant or Collector Level figure will be found in every case.

“We’ve created this new program based on feedback we received from our fans over the years,” said Todd McFarlane, the company’s CEO. “The primary focus of this program is to create a line of collectibles that will excite you, the hard-core collector.”

There are six types of Collector Level figures  — Bronze, Silver, Gold, Premier, All-Star and MVP. Each Level matches to a limited production. Nearly every standard figure will have an alternative — a Collector Level or standard chase figure.

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Exclusive First Look: 2009 Press Pass Fusion Multi-Sport


Press Pass officials late Friday shared with Beckett Media preliminary details of the brand new 2009 Press Pass Fusion, a product that looks to be the company’s best possible first foot forward as they enter the multi-sport arena.

The 90-card Fusion base set incorporates athletes from baseball, basketball, football, NASCAR, MMA/wrestling and the Olympics and, from the looks of the stunning preview, appears to really distance itself from other similar products with compelling, rarely seen, photography.

“This product is going to include tons of players we’ve never featured before, many with unique images,” said Nick Matijevich, Press Pass’ Director of Product Development. “The box-to-box value on this product should be tremendous, and with our exclusive NASCAR agreements, we’ll be able to deliver a product mix that our competitors are unable to match.”

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