Monthly Archives: September 2009

Press Pass ups the ante with Wheels Main Event

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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

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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

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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 Sports.com 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 colds@beckett.com.

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

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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

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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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Exclusive Ken Griffey Jr. figure, NFL series 22 coming from McFarlane Toys

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McFarlane Toys has plenty on tap soon with, most notably, a 6-inch Ken Griffey Jr. Seattle Mariners SportsPicks figure only available from one retailer.

The new Junior figure, which can only be had at ClarkToys.com, shows him swinging away while wearing his No. 24. It arrives in October.

Coming in December is the company’s 22nd line of SportsPicks NFL figures, a strong crop led by Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson.

See more after the jump.

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Baseball artist Monty Sheldon to commemorate 90th anniversary of Black Sox with eight sketch cards

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An example of Monty Sheldon's sketch cards -- a past Sheldon’s Sketch Card Champions card of "Shoeless" Joe Jackson.

Noted baseball artist Monty Sheldon is commemorating the 90th anniversary of the Black Sox scandal with a series of eight hand-drawn and intricately detailed pencil sketch cards that he will complete, unveil and sell on the anniversary of each game from the 1919 World Series.

His “Eight Men Out” concept is an interesting piece of self-promotion — he already sells his Sheldon’s Sketch Card Champions cards, which are part of a larger set weekly on eBay (user rube77) — but this project will acknowledge the history of the game and, with the auctions’ subjects and timing, also perhaps bring some attention to one of baseball’s more interesting stories.

But it’s also a project that ties into his creative past.

“When I first started painting on baseballs back in 1998, I knew the following year would be the 80th anniversary of the Black Sox scandal, and I finished painting a baseball of each player to correspond with each game’s date,” Sheldon said on Friday afternoon. “Back then, that group of baseballs proved to be quite popular when I would display them at the card shows.

“Now, it is 10 years later, and I wanted to add something special to my sketch card set, so the 90th anniversary set made perfect sense.”

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Stacy Keibler is cleaning out her closet again

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One of the ways that the Internet has helped change collectors’ buying habits is that it has helped memorabilia collectors find those more obscure or flat-out impossible items to add to their collections.

How’s that? By buying the stuff straight from the athletes or celebrities themselves.

Former WWE Diva and Baltimore Ravens cheerleader Stacy Keibler is one of the celebs who does just that via “Stacy Keibler’s Closet” on eBay.

While celebs selling stuff online or via other outlets is more commonplace these days, a decade or so ago it was much, much tougher. Fans of celebs or movies would have to await auction houses’ catalogs or know somebody who knows somebody to land an interesting item — or pay dearly if they could find a reputable dealer who specializes in memorabilia that’s not of the mass-marketed variety.

Now, it’s as easy as using Google to find official webpages, following celebs on Twitter or searching on eBay. Keibler is not the only celeb out there selling autographed items or other memorabilia, either.

Today Keibler’s closet has been uncluttered once more — and it’s a project that’s been relatively successful before with a portion of the proceeds going to charity — with a few more items up for grabs.

What’s for sale now? Click here to find out.

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 colds@beckett.com.

Exclusive First Look: 2009 Playoff Contenders Football

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Panini America officials late Thursday evening released to Beckett Media the first images of 2009 Playoff Contenders Football, annually one of the sport’s most popular releases since its groundbreaking 1998 edition first melded autographs with Rookie Cards.

The product releases in early January packing four autographs per box, an autographed Rookie Card checklist that boasts more than 100 subjects and on-card signatures from the 34 players who attended May’s NFL Players Rookie Premiere.

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A landmark autograph card in TRISTAR's new TNA's iMPACT! set?

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A dual autograph card in the recently released TRISTAR TNA iMPACT! set is the first of its kind — perhaps a landmark release for both wrestling cards and trading cards as a whole.

It’s not important because of some printing innovation or gimmickry or for being relatively rare.

It indirectly touches on one of pro wrestling’s more subtle charms — something that makes wrestling cards different than all other sports cards combined.

What makes this dual autograph of TNA Knockout Daffney and The Governor, a Sarah Palin lookalike who was part of some TNA broadcasts?

They are the same woman, Shannon Spruill, who has spent most of the last decade wrestling independents after a couple of years in World Championship Wrestling.

And, my friends, it’s the lone dual-signed autograph card penned by the same person … that we know of.

Any chance we can get a Mick Foley/Cactus Jack/Dude Love triple autograph anytime 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 colds@beckett.com.

First look: 2009-10 Upper Deck SP Game-Used hockey cards

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Upper Deck has released the basic product breakdown and preview images for its 2009-10 SP Game-used Hockey set, which will arrive early next year.

Each six-pack box will contain six memorabilia or signature cards (0ne per pack) as well as  one autographed card and one memorabilia card — each numbered to 100 copies or less. Every box also will include two Rookie Cards and a parallel card.

Every 12-box case will include two signed manufactured patches from the Between Letter Marks, Number Marks and the Marks of a Nation sets.

See more images from the set after the jump.

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Topps releases WWE sketch card preview images

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One of the items in Topps‘ forthcoming 2009 World Wrestling Entertainment card set are sketch cards created by the WWE stars themselves.

Topps released this sneak peek of three images to Beckett Media on Thursday — artwork that will be found in packs by Jerry “The King” Lawler, a rather accomplished artist (a portrait of WWE star Dave Bautista, aka Batista), the first second-generation WWE Diva Nattie Neidhart (aka Natalya) and the WWE’s version of comic relief, Anthony Carelli, aka Santino Marella (a self-portrait).

See more on the product here and here. Insertion ratios for the cards have not yet been announced.

See all of the preview images after the jump.

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Box Busters: 2009 Topps UFC

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The formidable Beckett MMA team of Bryan Hornbeck and Tracy Hackler bust an extremely early, punch-packing box of 2009 Topps UFC. Let’s go to the tape . . .

What makes the upcoming Topps WWE set unique?

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It’s been nearly a year since Topps released its last World Wrestling Entertainment card set and once this newest product arrives in October it will be one of the most unique WWE sets that Topps has released.

Why?

2005bulldogWell, it’s certainly not the inclusion of WWE Legends, which Topps has worked into its sets every year since its first release in 2005 — Topps Heritage —  and it’s not the basic checklist, which includes what one would expect from a wrestling set, though this one is improved with its focus on use of images from WrestleMania 25.

Instead, there are four moves that may make this set stand out to more non-wrestling collectors and those who buy looking for the thrill of a slightly bigger-ticket card.

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Thursday is Exquisite Pack-out Day and we've got a sneak peek at the six biggest cards

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Thursday marks a national holiday of sorts if you’re a high-end card collector as Upper Deck‘s recently announced 2009-10 Exquisite Basketball set will be packed out at the company’s printing facility.

Well, really, it’s more like a three-day holiday weekend that begins tomorrow as it will take that many days for the company to hand-package its final Exquisite set — which is already commanding top dollar just days after its unveiling and just days before its arrival next week.

Each five-card pack will be filled by hand and Upper Deck will take you there via its Facebook page found here. (We’ll post a few pics here, too, from throughout the “weekend.”)

But you don’t have to wait to see six of the best possible finds in the product as we have exclusive images of the entire runs of Tiger Woods-Michael Jordan autographs and LeBron James-Tiger Woods autographs — three cards apiece — right here.

It goes without saying the significance of these cards, which transcend just basketball as they are signed by three of the biggest-name athletes in the world.

What will they command? We’ll have to wait and see.

For now, though, they can all be seen after the jump.

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First look: 2009 Bowman Sterling baseball cards

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Topps released the basic product information and preview images for its 2009 Bowman Sterling baseball card set on Wednesday.

Every five-card pack (mini box) will include two autograph cards, one Relic, one rookie and one prospect when it arrives in late December.

Every six-pack box will include a total of six World Baseball Classic Relics, one WBC Relic box-topper (a Blue Refractor version) and one dual autograph card in addition to four rookie autographs and eight prospect autographs.

More to come — with a complete tentative checklist and images — after the jump.

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THREE WAYS TO WIN TNA wrestling autographs & more

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We know there are a lot of dedicated wrestling fans out there and we want to draw them into collecting and Beckett Media.

And here’s how we’re going to do it… with three ways to win TNA autographs & more for free as a reward to our readers.

See it all after the jump.

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First-Look Gallery: 2009 Topps UFC

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At long last, the highly anticipated, twice-delayed 2009 Topps UFC product shipped to retailers on Monday packing several instantly noticeable improvements from February’s wildly successful debut release, 2009 Topps UFC Round 1.

We were lucky enough to get our four-ounce-gloved hands on an early box, the key results of which you’ll find after the jump.

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Ever wonder what a player's autograph contract looks like?

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CNBC’s Darren Rovell takes us inside the particulars of a professional athlete’s autograph contract.

Why?

Because Brian Urlacher‘s deal with Dreams Inc. is being terminated after his season-ending injury.

Makes some sense as, after all, the demand for his memorabilia — and what’s not a very impressive autograph — won’t be on the rise.

For example, did you know that Urlacher gets $275,000 a year and must sign a minimum of $225,000 in merchandise per year and that he also gets $75 per signature on any item and an additional $15 per inscription?

And, if — a big if — the Bears won the Super Bowl, his price per autograph rose to $100 per signature?

Get all the details 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 colds@beckett.com.

First look: 2009 Panini Threads basketball

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Panini America unveiled its next basketball card product of the year on Tuesday — Panini Threads — which will arrive in mid-December.

Each 24-pack box (suggested retail price $4 per pack) will include two autographs — one of those a Rookie Class letter patch — and two memorabilia cards. Also inside each box will be 18 insert cards, three of which will be serial-numbered.

Each 12-box case will include an autograph from Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Willis Reed, Kareem Abdul-iabbar, John Havlicek, Isiah Thomas or No. 1 draft pick Blake Griffin.

Among the highlights are 15 Century Legends autographs, 50-card Team Threads Home and Away diecut jersey card sets and a 10-card ABA Legends autograph insert set.

See a full range of images after the jump.

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Detroit Free Press promotes newspaper sales with baseball cards

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The Detroit Free Press knows the allure of baseball cards.

tigers2The newspaper is promoting its single-copy sales on non-home-delivery days with an extra incentive — a Detroit Tigers baseball card. (That’s newspaper-speak for “found in the a copy you’d find in a newspaper box in and around Detroit.”)

It’s a project that’s been done by “The Freep” in the past — an oversized 5×7 (or so) set with a relatively deep checklist was produced during the club’s 2006 season saw them advance all the way to the World Series (but lose to the Cardinals, 4-1).

Sorry, Leyland. It must have been the baseball cards.

It’s definitely a promotion that will resonate with fans of the AL Central-leading club — and it’s a fun project for newspaper designer Ryan Ford, one of the guys who helps bring the news to the masses every day.

“We’ve also done Michigan State basketball cards, Pistons cards and Wings cards,” Ford said, “but people really seem to love the Tigers cards to the point that I still see them hung up around town at desks and in bars.”
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First look: 2009 Upper Deck Exquisite Basketball (and more)

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Upper Deck released preview images and basic product information on Monday for its finale in basketball cards — 2009-10 Exquisite Basketball.

The product is set to arrive next week — on Sept. 30 — and its production was kept a secret even at Upper Deck, according to Basketball Brand Manager Brandon Miller.

Exquisite has been perhaps the highest of the high-end products for any sport the last few years and Upper Deck promises this to be the most limited version of Exquisite Collection yet.

The standard set consists of 42 regular cards, 32 Exquisite Rookie Auto Cards and 18 Exquisite Rookie Auto Patch Flashback cards.

What does that mean? Some of the top stars in all of the sports world are coming to Exquisite.

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And the Paul Lempa painting card winners are …

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For Beckett Baseball No. 45, we had baseball artist Paul Lempa produce four baseball card-sized paintings of some memorable baseball cards to give away to our lucky readers.

And a fifth reader got to select a custom-painted card for the New Jersey-based artist to create.

All they had to do was tell us who their favorite sports artist is — and the winners were selected based on what they wrote.

Four winners will receive at random one of the cards shown after the jump, which are paintings of Ted Williams’ 1948-49 Leaf card, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson‘s 1915 Cracker Jack, Lou Gehrig‘s 1933 Goudey and Willie Mays‘ 1952 Bowman cards.

Lempa was profiled in a past issue of Beckett Baseball and has produced Sketch Cards for several Topps products in the last year or so. He also has signed on for Topps’ upcoming National Chicle football card set.

These intricately designed paintings take hours to complete and the scans do them no justice, but they’ll be joining the collections of a few lucky collectors.

And the winners are …

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Monday Morning Collector: NFL Week 2

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Every Monday morning throughout the NFL season, we’ll select our rookie, veteran and breakout player of the week and provide a run down on why collectors should take notice. Here are our selections for NFL Week 2.

By Dan Hitt

Breakout Player of the Week:
Mario Manningham, WR, Giants
(10 catches, 150 yards receiving, 1 touchdown)

Just two games into the season Manningham has far surpassed his 2008 rookie-year totals for catches, yardage and touchdowns. The Giants needed a receiver to step up and replace Plaxico Burress as Eli Manning’s go-to guy and Manningham appears to be the answer. He torched the Cowboys on the road Sunday night with 10 catches for 150 yards with a number of those coming on crucial third-down conversions. Collectors largely ignored Manningham’s 2008 Rookie Cards after it became apparent that he wasn’t ready. But they are quickly jumping on-board the bandwagon after this hot start, so don’t expect to pick off tons of cheap singles.

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First Look: 2009 eTopps Football Design

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Topps officials on Friday provided followers of the company’s Tweets with a sneak peek of the 2009 eTopps Football design. eTopps’ 2009 football season kicks off Monday.

UFC's Dana White, Rich Franklin Discuss 'Surreal' Trading Cards

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Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White has no idea what his best Topps trading card is worth. When he’s informed that it’s valued at $4, the gregarious master-marketer and promoter nonpareil responds with a question of his own.

“Is that good?” he quips rhetorically.

Absolutely it is.

It’s good when you consider that as recently as seven months ago the combined value of his zero cards was zero dollars.

It’s good in the sense that Topps, the granddaddy of its industry, thinks enough of your organization to ante up for a multiyear contract to become your exclusive manufacturer, and then proceeds to deliver one of the most successful sports card products in years.

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Box Busters: 2009 Playoff Absolute Memorabilia football cards

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Join Beckett Media’s Tracy Hackler and Dan Hitt as they bust boxes of 2009 Playoff Absolute Memorabilia football cards in this episode of Box Busters.

Absolute arrives next week, but what will they find in their boxes?

What can you win?

Watch and see by clicking here.

MLB reaches settlement in Donruss case

MLBMajor League Baseball Properties‘ suit against Donruss filed earlier this year concerning unauthorized use of MLB logos, trade dress and player likenesses has been settled out of court.

The agreement permanently prevents any company owned in part or full by former Donruss owner Ann Powell from creating any trading cards of MLB or MiLB players or producing any other product featuring those players.

Powell sold Donruss to The Panini Group in March.  The company’s Arlington, Texas, facility is now the home to Panini America, which is producing its new product lines as the exclusive manufacturer of NBA trading cards this fall as well as producing NFL trading cards.

According to a five-page document filed in a U.S. District Court, “Donruss and any of its subsidiaries or commonly owned entities and any entities or businesses that in the future may be owned in whole or substantially in part or directly controlled by Ann Powell (collectively, the ‘Donruss Entities’), are hereby permanently enjoined from manufacturing, selling, distributing advertising or promoting any items depicting Major League Baseball players or Minor League Baseball players in uniform, or with MLB marks, MLB team uniform trade dress Minor League Baseball marks or any component…”

The “Donruss Entities,” according to the documents, said that all merchandise and related materials named in the lawsuit has been sold or disposed of.

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 colds@beckett.com.

Panini America lands The Big O for Prestige Old School autographs

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Panini America has been slowly unveiling its Old School autographs for its forthcoming Prestige basketball set and one of its latest announcements isn’t an easy autograph.

The Big O, Oscar Robertson.

The Hall of Famer — and one of the NBA’s 50 greatest players — isn’t an easy autograph as he’s signed for just 52 certified autograph cards in the past, according to the Beckett database.

A majority of those cards has come since 2007, so his signatures aren’t as rare as they had been, but with so few cards signed overall there should continue to be interest in his items. Four of his first five autographed cards from 1999 to 2002 typically sell for more than $100.

But there’s a relative bonus with the Old School cards as well — they’re all signed on the cards, not stickers.

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First look: 2009 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects baseball cards

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Topps revealed basic product information and preview images for its 2009 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects baseball card set on Thursday.

Once again the set will include Bowman and Bowman Chrome cards and will be packing one autographed Chrome prospect card per 24-pack hobby box.

Also touted by Topps are 75 exclusive prospects and World Baseball Classic players.

Scheduled for an early December release, the set appears to be a bit smaller than past releases based on its preliminary checklist and, alas, does not include No. 1 overall draft pick Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals.

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 colds@beckett.com.

See more images and the full checklists after the jump.

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