Monthly Archives: December 2009

Should Panini revive Fans of the Game cards for basketball?

Every once in awhile, whether it’s going through boxes of cards or files on the ol’ computer, I find a reminder of the past.

And while reading up on the latest gadget news — the headline being that entertainment icon Snoop Dogg has lent his voice to a GPS device (go watch the demo video, I’ll wait) — I was drawn to an image of him sitting courtside at a past Los Angeles Lakers game.

And that got me thinking about a past project.

A few years ago I used that same photo on a card mock-up project about Donruss Fans of the Game insert cards I’d want to see created. The celebrity fan sets included the likes of John Travolta, Charlie Sheen and others who were sports fans, but there were still more who I wanted to see on cardboard as it seemed there were always photos popping up of celebrities at sporting events.

I mocked up about a dozen of them for Page 2 of the San Antonio Express-News — where I worked at the time — and the rest is, well, newsprint history. (They’re out there somewhere … likely lining a landfill if I’m lucky.)

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Upper Deck's Ultimate Fan Inks New Deal

Last week,  Upper Deck declared Auburn, Ind., resident and avid Colts supporter Matt Ellis the winner of its season-long Ultimate NFL Fan contest.

As the victor, Ellis, who sports 33 tattooed facsimile Colts autographs on his body, won, among other things, 20 tickets to an NFL game, an shopping spree and the right to appear on his very own 2010 Upper Deck trading card.

Perhaps because he was so overcome with emotion, he agreed last week to have UD’s Ultimate NFL Fan logo tattooed on his body, too. True to his word, Ellis completed the feet – er, feat – this week.

Check out the before and after videos for verification.

— Tracy Hackler

Italian influence on MLB captured in new baseball card set

A richly painted set of baseball cards celebrating the legacy of Italian Americans in Major League Baseball is now available from the National Ethnic Heritage Foundation.

Italian American Baseball Heroes is a 100-card set comprised of paintings by a group of artists commissioned for the project and is available for a $49 donation to the NEHF or the Sons of Italy Foundation.

Only 10,000 sets will be produced with baseball executives, umpires, broadcasters, managers, coaches and players on its checklist. It’s a group that includes former commissioner Bart Giamatti, former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda and New York Yankees legend Joe DiMaggio along with more recent stars like Mike Piazza and Craig Biggio among others.

Read more about the project — and see an extensive gallery of the paintings used to make the set — after the jump.

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Exclusive Gallery: Pro Football Hall of Fame Set Autographs

Visitors to and the Beckett Blog have been abuzz in the two days since we reported on the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s new 253-card Bronze Bust Collector Card set, a super high-end product limited to 150 sets that includes more than 130 autographs and a $5,000 price tag.

Today, that buzzing is sure to intensify.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame provided Beckett Media with a handsome handful of images from the set, a stunning ensemble of on-card autographs sure to render even the most hardcore football collectors wobbly kneed.

But don’t take our word for it. See the images for yourself; oh, and grab a napkin . . . you know, for the drool.

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Danica Patrick's move to NASCAR means one thing to collectors — Press Pass trading cards


Whether Danica Patrick‘s foray into racing stock cars will ultimately mean much on the track or not, the move announced Tuesday already means one thing for collectors.

She will appear on NASCAR cards from Press Pass.

And the four-time Indy Racing League Most Popular Driver will make her NASCAR cardboard debut before she makes her scheduled entrance into professional stock car racing in an ARCA race on Feb. 6 at Daytona International Speedway.

Element will be the first program in which she’ll be included,” said Nick Matijevich, Press Pass Director of Product Development, on Thursday.

Element, which is scheduled to arrive in January, is the Charlotte, N.C.-based company’s “going green” concept set that consists of a 100-card base set printed on recycled card stock and a full array of inserts with recycling themes in mind.

Oh, and it also includes a special insert that’s about as green as it gets — cold, hard cash can also be found in the packs.

The 27-year-old one-time IRL race-winner will appear in the base set and in one insert set found in the product, Matijevich said.

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Heads Up on a Signed Hockey Helmet

Upper Deck is giving away this autographed helmet from the 2009 NHL Rookie Photo Shoot to one lucky collector. The company plans to release the pertinent details of how on Monday via its Facebook page. Until then, here’s a status report on some of the NHL’s top young superstars.

John Tavares – Islanders star is the early favorite to win the Calder Trophy.
Viktor Hedman – Logging heavy minutes on the blue line for the Lightning.
Matt Duchene – Closing in on double digit goals early in his rookie season in Colorado.
Cody Hodgson – He’s Canucks property, but he won’t play in the NHL for a few years.
Mikael Backlund – The Calgary Flames gave him a taste last year but he could be a late-season call up.
Tyler Bozak – He got his taste of the NHL and he’s now playing for the Toronto Marlies.
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Box Busters: 2009-10 Panini Threads basketball cards

Join Beckett Media’s Tracy Hackler and Keith Hower as they bust a box of 2009-10 Panini Threads basketball cards hot off the presses from Panini America.

What will they find inside?

Click here to find out.

Also be sure to watch the video for your chance to win a vintage-style leather basketball from Past Time Sports.

Box Busters: 2009 TRISTAR Prospects Plus baseball cards

Join Beckett Media’s Tracy Hackler, Chris Olds and Brian Fleischer as they bust open boxes of 2009 TRISTAR Prospects Plus baseball cards.

What will they find inside a standard and a Hot Box of the first baseball card set of the year to have 2009 draft picks inside?

Click here to find out.

Box Busters: 2010 Press Pass Racing

Beckett Racing brain trust (and we use that term loosely) Tim Trout and Tracy Hackler just can’t drive 55 with an early box of 2010 Press Pass Racing.

Run, don’t walk, to check out the video to see what they pulled.

Pro Football Hall of Fame Unveils High-End Card Set

Here’s betting that hard-to-shop-for football fan on your Christmas list doesn’t have this. The Pro Football Hall of Fame recently unveiled the extravagant Bronze Bust Collector Card set, a 253-card collection limited to an edition of just 150 sets.

Oh, and here’s the kicker: More than 130 cards in each set are autographed – by the likes of Joe Montana, John Elway, Barry Sanders, John Madden, Steve Young, Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Jack Lambert and Dan Marino.

“The bronze portrait busts, which we use to honor our Hall of Fame members, are often cited as something that separates the Pro Football Hall of Fame from other sports museums,” says Steve Strawbridge, the Hall of Fame’s Vice President Merchandising/Licensing. “With the Bronze Bust Collector Cards we feel that we have again created something that separates us from the norm.”

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2009-10 Heroes & Prospects Packs World Junior Championship Excitement

By Russ Cohen

The 2010 World Junior Hockey Championships will start and finish before 2009-10 ITG Heroes & Prospects is released on January 27, so the demand for some of the cards based on the key players’ on-ice performances could potentially skyrocket.

Two of the players most likely to reap the biggest benefits are Cody Hodgson and Oliver Roy.

I’ve been to the “Bunker,” home of the Brampton Battalion, and have seen firsthand how crazy the hometown fans are for Hodgson, the future Vancouver Canucks standout. A game-used fatigue/jersey of Hodgson will most certainly be a hot commodity. Although he’s coming off an injury, Hodgson is expected to play and have a sizable impact for Team Canada.

Roy is a solid goalie for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in the “Q.” He has a chance to make the World Junior squad but he did play in the “Subway Super Series” and ITG has acquired the jersey rights to the “fresh” game-used memorabilia from that tournament as well as the CHL Top Prospects Game. Future top-five picks in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Taylor Hall (Windsor) and Tyler Seguin (Plymouth Whalers) played in the Super Series.

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Preview gallery: Upcoming basketball and football card inserts from Panini America

Panini America is busy this time of the year prepping its upcoming basketball and football releases, but that hasn’t stopped them from pulling back the curtain some more on a trio of future releases.

Check out these cards to be found in the upcoming Contenders basketball and football sets as well as the always popular National Treasures football set.

National Treasures is set to arrive in late January, with both Contenders products will arrive earlier in the month.

See a full package of images after the jump.

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Topps Unique's bat knob cards add to short and unique niche

By CHRIS OLDS | Beckett Baseball Editor

While Billy Ripken still has the most memorable bat knob in hobby history, the latest baseball card set from Topps certainly is giving him some competition.

Among the tough-to-find insert cards in 2009 Topps Unique are Bat Knob Relics, which have a piece cut from a player’s game-used bat. (You can guess which part.)

Found at a rate of one in more than 50,000 packs, Unique has 110 knob cards to be found — all 1/1s — between the standard and autographed sets. But what’s interesting is how this release affects the total population of a very small niche in the hobby.

It raises the total number of bat knob cards listed in the database to just 551 different cards — and just 132 of those are autographed. How many of those 132 came from Unique? Just 95.

How many overall knob cards exist? A majority of them are 1/1s, while some — cards with knob-size cuts touted to be from the South end of a bat — have as many as 10 copies. And, in all, there are just 17 memorabilia card sets that include bat knob pieces — and most of them pale in comparison to Topps’ 2005 Pristine knob inserts, which was — and remains — the largest set of knob cards on the market, despite Unique’s arrival.

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What was pulled at the Topps Unique Rip Party?

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What did The Rip Master and crew find in the 2009 Topps Unique Baseball box-busting party? Watch this and find out …

Jewish Major Leaguers Inc. wants baseball fans to help select its Player of the Decade

With the decade winding down, Jewish Major Leaguers Inc. wants to know who has been the best Jewish player in the Major Leagues.

And they want you to vote.

The organization, which produces a set of baseball cards featuring Jewish players and their milestones nearly each year, has presented a ballot that can be found at

There were three players to have played the full decade — Brad Ausmus, Jason Marquis and Scott Schoeneweis – and five more played several seasons (John Grabow, Shawn Green, Gabe Kapler, Mike Lieberthal and Kevin Youkilis), but there’s also been a new crop of talent to emerge that includes Ryan Braun, Ian Kinsler, Craig Breslow, Scott Feldman and Adam Stern.

“One of the purposes of the contest,” said JML President Martin Abramowitz, “is to highlight the fact that this has been an extraordinary decade, perhaps the greatest ever.”

The organization’s 2010 “Deck of the Decade” baseball card collection, is set for release just after Opening Day.

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

Dave & Adam's launches 12 Days of Christmas deals

With just a dozen business days left until Christmas, Dave & Adam’s Card World has launched a 12 Days of Christmas promotion that will have several products with sale prices spotlighted each day.

It’s a move that the Amherst, N.Y.-based company is hoping will lead to more stockings bursting with sports cards.

“Each weekday there will be a handful of select boxes at special sale prices,” said Shawn Crandall. “Friday Specials will run through the weekend. We’re going to have plenty of boxes available at the sale prices, but the specials are while supplies last.”

To see the boxes that were launched as part of the first day of promotion today, click here.

Relic Wear lets collectors take their memorabilia everywhere

Every collector knows that storage and display of their prized memorabilia pieces presents challenges.

But there’s a new product that solves that and allows the owner to take their memorabilia with them anywhere they go.

Well, as long as they’re wearing it.

Relic Wear is a new line of limited-edition bracelets, keyrings and pendants which include at least one piece of game-used sports memorabilia from some of the biggest names in baseball and hockey.

“At the moment [we're] geared toward hockey and the Winter Olympics,” said Alex Malone, the founder of Relic Wear, via email. “[But] we will even be providing a service for collectors to send us their game used patches to be made into custom pendants for them.”

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Product Preview: 2010 Topps Pro Debut Minor League baseball cards

Just days after announcing that it will be the exclusive manufacturer of trading cards for Minor League Baseball, on Friday Topps released preview images and basic product information of what’s to be found in its first MiLB issue set to arrive early next year.

It appears that Topps Pro Debut will include some of the high-end inclusions that other products have had — something that should spark interest in the MiLB market — relying on its Futures Game access and apparently in the unfortunate case of one autograph cut — of Tim Beckham, who is under exclusive contract with another company — its Aflac program.

Each 24-pack box of the hobby-exclusive product will include two autographed cards and one Relic numbered to fewer than 99 copies.

Each 12-box case will include three Debut Cut Signature cards.

The first series base set will consist of 220 cards with Red, Gold and Blue parallels as well as printing plates.

There will be 32 players featured on autograph cards spread between Debut Prospect autographs — with a full run of parallels — as well as the Debut Cuts (20 players in that set alone). The Cuts will be limited to 100, while Blues are limited to 199, Golds limited to 50 and Reds being 1/1s.

The Relic sets will include 49 players — Futures Game participants — with Gold, Book Patch, MLB Logo Patch, Flag Patch and Red-bordered Patch parallels as well. Relics will be limited to 99 cards apiece, while Golds will be limited to 25, Reds limited to five and all others will be 1/1s.

There will be 100 players featured on insert cards in the product — 20 inserts per box — with All-Stars from Single A, Double A, Triple A and the Hall of Fame included.

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

More images to come, including a full preliminary checklist, after the jump.

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Former WWE star Umaga — aka Eddie Fatu — dies at 36 (updated)

Former World Wrestling Entertainment star Eddie Fatu, most recently known in the ring as “Umaga, The Samoan Bulldozer,” died Friday. He was 36.

Fatu, who also previously wrestled for WWE as “Jamal” from the bruising tag team Three-minute Warning, was a two-time former WWE Intercontinental champion. His most notable match might be his WrestleMania 23 bout against Bobby Lashley, which was dubbed the “Battle of the Billionaires” with Umaga representing WWE Chairman Vince McMahon and Lashley wrestling for Donald Trump. The losing wrestler’s billionaire (McMahon) had his head shaved after the match.

Fatu, a cousin of actor and former wrestling star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, was released from his WWE contract in June after declining rehabilitation for a reported second failed test under the company’s wellness policy.

For wrestling collectors, there is just one certified autograph of Umaga’s to chase — his card in the 2006 Topps Heritage II set valued at $15. He appears on just 30 other fully licensed WWE cards, according to the database.

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

See a few more card images after the jump.

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Kimbo Slice Has Much to Lose Against Houston Alexander

To be sure, there will be more than a handful of veteran card collectors among the millions of people expected to watch tomorrow night’s free Ultimate Fighter 10 Live Finale on Spike.

In theory, the primary objective of Saturday’s card is to crown the winner of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show’s 10th season in a match between Roy Nelson and Brendan Schaub. In reality, most folks will tune in to watch Kimbo Slice take on Houston Alexander, and then to see the main event between undefeated light heavyweight Jon “Bones” Jones and Matt “The Hammer” Hamill.

It is during that match when astute collectors will catch glimpse of a sight that has become near and dear to many of their hearts in the last few years: The logo.

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First look: 2010 Topps Pro Debut minor league baseball cards

A full preview was done later Friday after the full preview info was released. Click here for that item.

Just days after announcing that it will be the exclusive manufacturer of trading cards for Minor League Baseball, on Friday Topps released preview images of what’s to be found in its first MiLB issue set to arrive early next year.

It appears that Topps Pro Debut will include some of the high-end inclusions that other products have had — something that should spark interest in the MiLB market — relying on its Futures Game access and apparently in the unfortunate case of one autograph cut — of Tim Beckham, who is under exclusive contract with another company — its Aflac program.

See more images after the jump.

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PSA introduces new authentication sticker program

PSA/DNA recently introduced a new tamper-proof authentication sticker program that will specifically note which type of item was authenticated by the California-based company.

The stickers, which will break apart if tampered with, now carry a different look along with the notation of memorabilia type in red lettering. For example, the sticker above would be affixed to a game-used bat.

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Box Busters: 2009 UD Black Football

Check out the wholesome goodness — and some of the not-so-goodness — the Beckett Football team unearthed from four riveting boxes of 2009 UD Black Football.

The high-risk, high-reward product provided an exciting busting experience and led to some sweet cards that will be given away to a handful of lucky collectors.

Check out the video here.

Dedicated autograph collector is Upper Deck's Ultimate NFL Fan

This guy’s a true collector of ink.

While many a fan has collected an autograph, which will often get tucked away for safe keeping, Matt Ellis of Auburn, Ind., takes his collection with him everywhere he goes.

And that alone — his Indianapolis Colts autograph collection which are now tattoos — made him the winner in Upper Deck‘s Ultimate NFL Fan contest.

“I’ve been a Colts fan since the Jim Harbaugh day,” said Ellis, 38, in a release from the Carlsbad, Calif.-based company. “But it wasn’t until 2007 that I started collecting their signatures on my body.”

His collection includes 31 players and two Colts coaches — the first being former Colts punter Hunter Smith. As part of the contest, Ellis won 20 tickets to an NFL game, a shopping spree and will appear on a 2010 Upper Deck football card.

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First Look: 2010 Topps Finest Baseball

Topps officials on Wednesday afternoon revealed preliminary information and images for 2010 Finest Baseball, the hobby-only product due out in late March.

Each master box (two six-pack mini boxes) will deliver two numbered signed-on-patch Rookie Cards, 10 numbered parallels and one 2010 Rookie Card redemption.

New for 2010 are 1/1 signed-on-patch Letter in the Name X-Fractor Rookie Book Cards. Finest’s base set is comprised of 150 cards (125 veterans and 25 rookies).

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Is it time to buy or sell on Tiger Woods?


Few athletes have had as polished an image, a brand, as Tiger Woods.

And when it comes to sports cards and memorabilia, Woods is among a select few whose autographed items have been sure things if talking “investment” and future strength based on what’s been achieved and what should be to come.

Few autographs are in as much demand among living athletes than those penned by Tiger.

But prolonged silence after an auto accident last week and a subsequent apology today for “transgressions” — precisely what hasn’t been stated, but most of us can read between the lines — one thing’s for sure.

That image, that brand, is no longer as polished. And that, combined with injuries in recent years as well as the inevitable fact that his golf game will  diminish with age, one has to ask.

Is it time to buy or is it time to sell?

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Dallas Mavericks Guard Jason Terry Gets a Fathead

Less than 24 hours after his game-winning bucket against the feisty Philadelphia 76ers gave the Mavericks their 13th victory of the season, it would be excusable for Dallas guard Jason Terry to get a big head. Instead, he got a Fathead.

Indeed, on Tuesday afternoon, the company that made life-size adhesive graphics standard bedroom decor for sports-loving fans everywhere announced that Terry, the NBA’s 2008-09 Sixth Man of the Year, was its newest stickup man.

Terry, known as “The Jet,” is just the second Dallas Maverick to appear on the Fathead roster (former NBA MVP Dirk Nowitzki was the first.)

Click here for more information on the Terry Fathead, or here for the company’s full line of NBA products.

— Tracy Hackler

Upper Deck will debut "Shoeless" Joe cards in 2010 Goudey

This is one of those advantages of not being fully licensed.

Upper Deck announced Tuesday that it will include “Shoeless” Joe Jackson in its 2010 Goudey baseball card set, which is scheduled to arrive on March 16.

The set will include cards of Jackson as well as game-used bat cards and will be the first of a few 2010 Upper Deck products to include the disgraced star.

The highest-profile player in the 1919 Black Sox scandal where the Chicago White Sox threw the World Series, “Shoeless Joe,” appears on just 209 baseball cards and nearly a quarter of those were made unlicensed by Donruss in 2008.

Jackson and all other players on Major League Baseball’s ineligible list cannot appear on baseball cards licensed by MLB Properties. However, Upper Deck did include a bat card of Jackson (his first memorabilia card; above) in its 2001 SP Legendary Cuts set, which ruffled some MLB feathers at the time.

“The legend of Shoeless Joe Jackson grows every year,” said Gabriel Garcia, Upper Deck’s baseball brand manager, in a news release. “We are extremely excited to have reached an agreement with his estate that allows us to include this former baseball standout in many of our sets next year.”

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: 2009-10 SP Authentic Hockey

In a move that might be considered cruel and unusual punishment for hardcore hockey collectors, Upper Deck on Monday released a handful of drool-worthy images from 2009-10 SP Authentic.

The cruel and unusual part? The product doesn’t release until around April 1, 2010 — no fooling. The good news, though, is that the product appears to be well worth the wait based on the following images.

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Box Busters Preview: 2009 UD Black Football

The Beckett Football team had the opportunity to spend some quality time with the high-risk, high-reward proposition known as 2009 UD Black Football on Monday afternoon.

As is so often the case with these big-ticket products, our four-box, eight-pack, 16-card romp was akin to a theme-park roller coaster ride: Quick, thrilling and sure to leave passengers either smiling or with an upset stomach.

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