Monthly Archives: November 2009

Finally Digging Dirk


It occurred to me during a recent “Box Busters” episode – as I stared longingly into the vibrant fibers of the sweetest Technicolor patch card I’d ever seen – that I’ve wasted almost 12 years not collecting Dirk Nowitzki.

I’m a darn fool.

How else to explain collectibly ignoring one of the most athletic big men in NBA history? He’s been plying his extraordinary wares right here in my backyard since the Dallas Mavericks landed the little-known German with high upside in 1998; yet it took a mesmerizing, majestic piece of memorabilia from 2009-10 Exquisite Collection for my new mission to materialize.

I must start collecting Dirk.

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2009 and the Changing Face of our Hobby

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By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor

The trading card landscape has changed dramatically in 2009 as business decisions, legal challenges and the struggling economy have altered what collectors will find on store shelves.

Here’s a look at some of the notable events of the year so far …

January 27: The NBA selects Panini as its sole licensee of basketball cards beginning this fall.

January 27: MLB sues Donruss over unauthorized trademark use in its 2008 baseball sets.

March 13: Panini buys Donruss and forms Panini America.

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Breaking News: Topps Loses Players Inc License


Players Inc, the marketing and licensing arm of the NFL Players Association, confirmed on Monday afternoon that it will not renew Topps’ trading card license for 2010.

The move to reduce football manufacturers has been rumored for months and will take place officially when Players Inc’s current agreements with Panini, Topps and Upper Deck expire at the end of February.

Multiple attempts to contact NFL Properties regarding its plans for 2010 and beyond have so far been unsuccessful.

toppsPlayers Inc’s decision to move forward with just Panini and Upper Deck comes after months of thorough investigation and evaluation of a current football card marketplace still reeling from the troubled economy. The move also represents the latest bombshell in a continued streamlining of the overall sports collectibles industry that has seemingly seen a life’s worth of monumental licensing changes in 2009 alone.

Topps officials were not immediately available for comment. Just three months ago, Topps secured a Major League Baseball Properties exclusive beginning next season.

Stay tuned to for additional details on this breaking story.

— Tracy Hackler

Preview Gallery: Dave Hobrecht's paintings for 2009 Topps National Chicle Football

chicle3Noted sports artist Dave Hobrecht is one of several creators whose works will be showcased in the forthcoming 2009 Topps National Chicle football card set. (A little more info can be found by clicking here.)

Want to see more from the set well before it’s January release? Hobrecht figured Beckett Media’s readers did, so he sent us images of all of his paintings in the set.

See them all after the jump …

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Do You Like Your Hamburger with Mayo?


Here’s some food for thought: Can the hamburger have a Rookie Card? Heck, for that matter, should the hamburger even have a trading card, period? And if so, should that card be inserted into a football set?

That’s a lot to digest, I know. But while you’re chewing on it, know this: 2009 Topps Mayo includes what is believed to be the first sports trading card featuring a piece of food, the iconic, American-as-red-white-and-blue hamburger.

As part of Mayo’s 14-card World’s Fair Attractions insert set, Topps officials produced cards for such eye-catching checklist inclusions as the Ferris Wheel, Buffalo Bill (not the Buffalo Bills), the Idaho Building and the John Bull Locomotive. And then there’s savory card #12, devoted to the hamburger.

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Box Busters: 2009 Donruss Gridiron Gear Football


Tim Trout and Tracy Hackler are joined by special guest busters Doug Kale and Todd Westover in an efficiently fun, hits-revealing episode of Box Busters. What did they pull? What can you win? Stay tuned and you’ll see.

Box Busters: 2009 Topps Mayo Football


Join Tim Trout, Chris Olds and Tracy Hackler as they rip through 24 packs of 2009 Topps Mayo. What did they pull? Watch and find out.

Panini Reveals New Rookies & Stars Basketball Images


Panini officials on Friday morning released a handful of appetite-whetting images from the forthcoming 2009-10 Rookies & Stars Basketball.

The product, which releases Nov. 18, carries over the refreshing new design elements utilized for the first time in 2009 Rookies & Stars Football. The average 24-pack hobby box will deliver two autograph cards and two memorabilia cards.

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What a difference three days make


Fact: Only 15 copies of this 2009 SP Authentic Dual Signatures card exist, each signed by New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter and Yankees newcomer Nick Swisher.

Fact: Three days ago (Nov. 2), one of these Upper Deck cards sold on eBay for $173.50 after 14 bids. (Not bad.)

Fact: On Thursday evening, another copy of the card ended on the auction block. And after 18 bids, the dust settled at $304.99.

What a difference three days make. Well, that and a World Series title…

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

Team-signed New York Yankees memorabilia tops Steiner Sports' new offerings


Want yet another way to quantify just how dedicated and passionate New York Yankees fans can be?

Look no further than Steiner Sports’ Yankees World Series collection, which includes several limited edition team-signed items from this year’s championship team.

Some might say they’re pricey — and they are — but without someone to buy them Steiner couldn’t sell them. There’s undoubtedly interest in those powerful pinstripes so much so that a $20 baseball above once signed by a team (how much does ink cost these days?) will run $3,499.

Here’s a rundown of what can be found in Steiner’s Yankees section:

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Revealing Pics: ITG Unwraps More Ultimate Memorabilia 9 Eye Candy


With the ninth – and most limited – installment of In the Game’s Ultimate Memorabilia product set for release in just days, ITG revealed additional images this week of what quickly have become the product’s calling cards: The ridiculously sweet Ultimate Emblem, Number, Tag and Glove singles.

Check out the eye candy after the jump.

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Howe, Gretzky, Tavares Highlight UD Priority Signings Roster

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When the puck drops next Friday on the NHL Fall Expo at the Toronto International Centre, Upper Deck’s booth is sure to be a collector magnet thanks to the company’s continuing and popular Priority Signings wrapper redemption program.

A UD staple at the Expo (one of the world’s largest hockey-centric collectibles shows), this year’s Priority Signings autograph checklist includes the likes of Phil Esposito, Gordie Howe, Wayne Gretzky and 2009 No. 1 overall pick John Tavares, whose Priority Signings card will be his first live UD autograph.

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The first of a few New York Yankees World Series commemorative items …


The first in what should be a healthy line of New York Yankees memorabilia offerings celebrating the Bronx Bombers’ 27th World Series title was unveiled on Thursday — a highlight card from eTopps.

The card, which will be limited to a maximum of 999 copies,  will cost $7 at the site, which is Topps’ online trading card venture.

The initial public offering closes on Monday (Nov. 9) with the allocation to follow soon thereafter.

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


Coming to newsstands next week … The New York Yankees


The champagne bottles are probably still flowing for the New York Yankees as they prepare for the championship parade on Friday, but that doesn’t mean that the celebration is over.

Now that the Yanks have won their 27th World Series title, fans and collectors alike can recap the postseason and get all the basics on the members of the championship squad in the latest Beckett Presents issue.

It’s an 88-page full-color look at the 2009 world champions, and it’s heading to the printers right as we speak.

It’s set to arrive on newsstands next week.

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: 2009 Topps WWE wrestling cards


Join Beckett Media’s Bryan Hornbeck, Tracy Hackler and Chris Olds as they tear into boxes of the long-awaited 2009 Topps WWE cards.

What will they find inside? Watch and see by clicking here.

Contest: You can become the face of Upper Deck SPx Baseball


Update: Get in on this now as the five finalists will be unveiled on Tuesday!

Upper Deck and Beckett Media are joining forces to find a collector to be the face of new 2010 SPx Baseball product.

During the past few months Upper Deck has introduced collectors to some interesting characters through a series of print ads running in Beckett Media’s magazines that center around its SPx brand.

First, readers met the “Case-Breaker” in an ad touting 2009 SPx Football – a loyal Upper Deck collector named Greg Casper from Ohio. Next, collectors will be introduced to the “Hit-Man” in an ad for 2009-10 SPx Hockey — an Upper Deck collector named R.C. Bessire from California.

Now, Upper Deck and Beckett want to find the face of 2010 SPx Baseball with an contest among collectors of the brand. Not only will the winner be included in the ad, but they also will receive complimentary baseball cards from Upper Deck.

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Topps and Minor League Baseball name league Players of the Year

This one’s for the prospectors …

The Topps Player of the Year honors for Minor League Baseball were announced on Thursday with two New York Yankees prospects taking top honors in their respective leagues.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre outfielder Shelley Duncan won the honors for the International League after leading the circuit with 30 home runs and 99 RBI, while Tampa catcher Austin Romine won the honors for the Florida State League. Here’s a rundown of all the leagues …

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Press Pass hopes to hook Professional Bull Riding fans with new card set


Press Pass has announced that it will release a professional rodeo trading card set featuring stars of the Professional Bull Riders circuit.

Set to arrive in January, the 8 Seconds set will include three rider/bullfighter autograph cards and three rider/bullfighter-worn memorabilia cards in every 24-pack hobby box.

The base set will include 100 cards, including top bulls, riders and bullfighters, while the memorabilia checklist will include cards featuring rider-worn gloves, shirts, jeans and cowboy hats for the riders. There also will be memorabilia pieces for the bullfighters.

See more images after the jump.

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Impressive First Impression: 2009 Topps Mayo Football


So often in the sports card hobby the most promising products in the preview stage morph into mundane disappointments by the time release day rolls around, unable – for any number of reasons – to meet lofty expectations.

2009 Topps Mayo Football is not one of those products.

What it is, instead, is a breath of fresh air in a been-there, done-that world; a rare gem likely to exceed even the most ambitious pre-release projections.

Am I gushing? Yeah, I guess I am . . . but for good reason. From the way it looks to the way it feels to the way the box is oddly heavier than you’d expect, 2009 Topps Mayo is not so much a football card product as it is a football card experience.

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The Empire Strikes Back: New York Yankees win 27th World Series title … as well as …


The empire strikes back.

With a nod to George Lucas, it’s those four famous words that sum up the 2009 baseball season for the New York Yankees who knocked off the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 6 of the World Series Wednesday night to win the championship.

The Bronx Bombers ended last season by failing to make the postseason for the first time since 1994, a low-point for the all-powerful (or at least all-spending) franchise — the Evil Empire. The failure extended the franchise’s relative misery that included four consecutive exits from the postseason before that with its last World Series appearance (a loss) coming in 2003. The Yankees’ last championship? An “eternity” ago back in 2000.

Hardly acceptable for a franchise that now has 27 championships — a record — coming in 40 World Series appearances (another record). But this title comes in the first season of the team’s billion-dollar stadium, with a trio of big-dollar free agents at the start of long-term deals while dispatching a dynasty-in-the-making in the defending World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies.

The empire strikes back. Indeed.

What does the World Series title mean for the hobby, for the baseball card collecting masses?

Well, in some ways the rich get richer — one of baseball’s most-dedicated and deep-pocketed fan bases gets a reward for its fanaticism, an already intense group of followers who’ll pay quite well for many of the 126,615 baseball cards that show players in pinstripes. That’s a collection that’ll cost you $3,546,942 — that’s right, more than $3.5 million — and the scarcest Yankees card values (those limited to fewer than 25 copies) aren’t even included in that dollar amount.

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Product Review: 2009 Donruss Gridiron Gear


Donruss Gridiron Gear celebrates its fifth birthday this year by staying true to its four-year-deep roots and providing a product that is steeped in rookies, rookie memorabilia and rookie autographs.

It’s a product that has struggled at times to find a definitive identity in a football market packed with options, but with a bold base design that provides a distinct departure from the company’s foil-board fallback, and a clever new-look NFL Gridiron Signatures, the 2009 edition should find its share of devotees when it releases next week.

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Coming Soon to a Box Busters Epsiode . . .


This just in: Boxes of 2009 Topps Mayo Football and 2009 Donruss Gridiron Gear Football. We’ll have preliminary box breaks online this afternoon and must-see episodes of Box Busters for both in the coming days.

Stay tuned . . .

— Tracy Hackler

First Look: 2009-10 Upper Deck Champ's Hockey


Upper Deck officials on Wednesday released preliminary product information and card images for 2009-10 Upper Deck Champ’s Hockey, the highly anticipated follow-up to one of last season’s most successful new products.

Last year, the product introduced such relatively radical hockey concepts as bones and fossils and the occasional Tiger Woods autograph. This year it promises even more off-the-wall collectibility, including Museum Pieces (more bones, more teeth) and cards featuring dinosaurs.

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The 2009 Topps UFC Arianny Celeste autograph anomaly


Beckett Media’s Bryan Hornbeck has it tough these days as he’s busy tracking the sales of 2009 Topps UFC cards, particularly the autographed cards of Octagon Girl Arianny Celeste.

But, while crunching the numbers and examining past sales figures, he noticed an an autograph anomaly among the Ariannys.

She signed her cards three different ways.

Now it’s common for an athlete’s signature to change over the years — see Andruw Jones, Vladimir Guerrero and Mark McGwire for example — it’s relatively unusual to find this many autograph changes through an entire product (presume she signed a few hundred cards).

See all of the autographs — and hear more from Hornbeck — after the jump.

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First 2009 Topps WWE Sketch Card hits auction block


The first of just 31 Sketch Cards hand-drawn  by three World Wrestling Entertainment superstars from the newly released 2009 Topps WWE set  has hit the eBay auction block — and the ultra-rare cards will have an added surprise in store for those who find them.

evefrontIt’s a simple, but effective bonus — one that Sketch Card makers in the non-sports realm as well as other areas might consider.

What is it?

Each card will be autographed on the back by the performer/artist.

The first card to hit the block is drawn by WWE Diva Eve Torres and is one of just four she drew for inclusion in hobby packs. (Read more about the cards here.)

The Nebraska-based seller is taking offers on the card, which was found in a case break and appears to be drawn with colored pencils. The artwork also has a Buy it Now price of $2,000.

Will it sell at that price? Perhaps not, but the Sketch Cards of accomplished wrestler and former Andy Kaufman foe Jerry “The King” Lawler just might rival that.

Once, of course, they are found …

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

Press Pass readies Komplete KISS box set


How well has Press Pass‘ latest non-sport venture, trading cards for the band KISS, gone over?

Well enough that the company is creating yet another product.

We don’t have the full details just yet, but it appears that Komplete KISS — a boxed set with the complete KISS Ikons and KISS 360 sets as well as bonus cards — is on the way.

The two sets will carry a special blue UV “KISS” exclusive parallel (all cards), while the set will include a five-card holofoil insert that’s unique to the set.

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UFC Stars Busy Signing for Next Topps Release


While most hardcore collectors continue to track down their favorite singles from 2009 Topps UFC, company officials are hard at work tracking down signatures from MMA’s top fighters for 2010 Topps Uncaged, the company’s third UFC product due out early next year.

In the last week, Topps has tweeted pictures from signing sessions with such UFC headliners as heavyweight title contender Shane Carwin, former middleweight champion Rich Franklin, current light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida and explosive welterweight (and first-time signer) Anthony Johnson.

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Panini America enters baseball card market with 2009 Elite Extra Edition


Panini America revealed on Tuesday the basic product information and preview images for its debut in the baseball card market with 2009 Elite Extra Edition, which will arrive in January.

The set marks the first baseball card set produced in the Arlington, Texas-based facility since the release of the unlicensed Threads, Prime Cuts (the 2008 Beckett Baseball Product of the Year) and Elite Extra Edition sets last year under the Donruss ownership, which sold the company to Panini in March.

The set, which appears to be licensed by the Collegiate Licensing Company, will include more than 40 first-round and supplemental first-round draft picks, and each hobby box will include four autographs as well as eight insert cards.

Among those scheduled to appear in the set are No. 2 pick Dustin Ackley, No. 3 draft pick Donavan Tate. The base set will include 150 players — 50 base cards and 100 autographed rookies. Every player in the set will have an autographed card.

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Card gallery: 2009 Topps WWE wrestling cards


We’ve got a Box Busters video in the microwave right now, but until then we’ve put together a gallery of several base cards from the new 2009 WWE set from Topps.

What makes this selection of wrestlers’ cards interesting besides the photography? Well, it just so happens all of them can be found on Twitter.

That’s our sports entertainment trivia for the day. See them all after the jump.

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Upper Deck's Goodwin inserts a hair above the rest


The inclusions in the 2009 Goodwin Champions baseball card set from Upper Deck have been well documented, but some of the most interesting cards from the product — the Entomology cards and the Thoroughbred Hair Cuts — were issued as redemptions.

While the “bug cards” have yet to be unveiled, the horse-hair cards are now out there. Upper Deck unveiled the images for the three cards on Tuesday.

See them all after the jump.

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Did you know Donruss created Cliff Lee's lone autographed Major League Baseball cards in 2002?


Here’s an interesting hobby fact after the first five games of the World Series …

Did you know that Donruss was the only company to issue fully licensed autographed MLB cards of current Philadelphia Phillies ace Cliff Lee back in 2002?

Lee appeared on six autographed cards in the company’s products, each presently valued at somewhere between $40-80, but there just might be just a little more interest after his two dominant outings in the Series.

And it goes without saying that having a relatively small crop of autographed cards — just under 1,000 total autographs — to choose from won’t make those final prices any softer.

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Mistakes happen: Which Matsui is this again? (updated)


A sweet bat barrel card from the newly released 2009 Sweet Spot baseball card set from Upper Deck has arrived on the auction block.

It’s one of only seven barrel cards for New York Yankees DH Hideki Matsui and the seller wants a cool $1,250 for it, Buy It Now, on eBay.

What makes this one more interesting?

Matsui has never worn No. 25 in the majors — Godzilla’s number has always been 55 with the Yanks — and he’s a Mizuno guy when it comes to his bats.

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Baseball's latest champions commemorated on cardboard

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While the big-leaguers are still playing, trying to will themselves to a championship. another title-winning team had its achievements commemorated on cardboard this past Friday night.

Not the New York Yankees or the Philadelphia Phillies. Nah, they’ve already got plenty of baseball cards and plenty more on the way.

But the 2009 Little League World Series champion Park View (Calif.) All-Stars? That’s a different story.

Upper Deck recently hosted the team for a tour of its Carlsbad, Calif., facility and on Friday night the team reunited at the San Diego Hall of Champions to receive their baseball cards and have a signing for their friends and family.

No word on whether any signed Andy Rios cards like the one above have made it to the secondary market just yet, but we’ve turned our attention away from that Bryce Harper kid (for now). We know talent — Rios went 3-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored in the title game.

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