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Monthly Archives: December 2009

Bengals WR Chris Henry dies after auto accident (updated)

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry suffered “very serious injuries” Wednesday afternoon following a traffic accident in North Carolina and died on Thursday. He was 26.

The former West Virginia star was drafted by the Bengals in 2005 and had 119 receptions for 1,826 yards and 21 touchdowns in his career — his 2008 season being his most productive with nine TDs. His career was marred by several off-the-field incidents and this accident is believed to be tied to a domestic dispute.

Henry appears on 363 football cards, including 86 autographs and just 13 memorabilia cards. His most valuable autograph in the Beckett.com database is his 2005 Finest Black Xfractors (No. 165) card, which is valued at $60, while his most valuable Rookie Card is his 2005 Exquisite Collection autograph (No. 46) at $40.

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.

Box Busters preview: 2009 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects (updated)

We’ve busted the first box of 2009 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects in advance of a Box Busters episode to be filmed Thursday morning.

Although this box did include a Gold Refractor, we couldn’t help but notice the again-abundant presence of World Baseball Classic cards in the packs — some cards of players who already had Bowman cards this year — and that the back design had slightly changed for one of the sets found inside the mylar wrappers.

We’ve included scans of the checklist (front and back) where you can discover who made the final cut among the 21 Chrome Prospect Autographs and the 10 Prospect Autographs. (Click on the checklists for a closer look.)

For those wanting to know some odds, the Aflac autographs are 1:238, while Autographed Refractors are 1:71 followed by Xfractors (1:159), Blue (1:241), Gold (1:736), Orange (1:1,545), Red (1:6,378) and Autographed Superfractors are 1:31,900. Autographed printing plates are 1: 7,973.

For Refractors, the odds are: 1:11 for standard, 1:24 for Xfractor, 1:49 for Blue, 1:96 for Gold, 1:192 for Orange, 1:955 for Red and 1:4,266 for Superfractor.

Until then, feast on these highlights from the first box…

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First look: 2010 Press Pass Eclipse … The Art of Speed

Press Pass unveiled basic information and preview images for what it is touting as “the first artistic NASCAR trading card set” — its 2010 version of Eclipse – which will arrive in hobby shops in February.

Sales materials for the product are printed on flat matte paper — a likely aesthetic choice for the set, which will consist of 90 cards that “elegantly match various artistic techniques with the excitement of NASCAR.”

Each hobby box will include one autograph and three memorabilia cards, while the product also promises a code-cracking program to win prizes from the Press Pass Vault as well as the next selection of NASCAR Hall of Fame cards.

See more images after the jump.

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Preview Gallery: Famous Fabrics First Edition

Famous Fabrics First Edition is set to arrive on Feb. 24., while a few other products from Creative Cardboard Concepts are scheduled to arrive later in the year including Ringside boxing, Scoop and Famous Faces.

For more information on the product, visit the company’s website. See more images of cards from all three products after the jump.

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Upper Deck Stands By Tiger Woods


Upper Deck officials on Tuesday morning announced that the company stands in full support of the embattled Tiger Woods and will continue fulfilling an exclusive relationship with the golfing superstar that’s been in place since 2001.

“Upper Deck will maintain its exclusive agreement with Tiger in both our sports cards and memorabilia categories and we look forward to his eventual return to the PGA Tour,” said Richard McWilliam, Upper Deck’s CEO and Founder. “Tiger and his family have our full support.”

Woods alone helped Upper Deck launch the mainstream golf trading card category in 2001 and his signed memorabilia has been integral to the success of Upper Deck Authenticated in recent years.

For more on Tiger Woods, click here, here and here.

Stay tuned to Beckett.com for updates to this story.

First look: Danica Patrick's debut NASCAR cards from Press Pass

Press Pass unveiled its first NASCAR cards of Danica Patrick on Monday evening — cards which are set to arrive in  2010 Element in January.

As reported here on The Beckett Blog last week, Patrick will appear on a card in the base set as well as one insert set in Element. The company did not have enough time to secure autographs for inclusion in the product, however she will have autographed and race-used cards in future Press Pass products.

Patrick will make her debut in an ARCA race at Daytona International Speedway in February and run a limited schedule in the Nationwide Series while continuing to race on the IRL circuit.

Look for more on upcoming NASCAR cards right here in the coming weeks. See both forthcoming Patrick cards after the jump.

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Gem Mint George Mikan RC Eclipses $218K

In late October, we ran a story about the PSA 10 1948 Bowman George Mikan RC that was headlining Memory Lane’s December Hidden Treasures online auction.

Early Sunday morning, the auction ended in staggering fashion.

SCP Auctions officials revealed today that they purchased the card for the record-shattering sum of $218,550 — the most ever paid for a basketball card — on behalf of an anonymous client.

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Monday Morning Collector: NFL Week 14

Every Monday morning throughout the NFL season, we’ll select a rookie, veteran and breakout player of the week and provide a run down on why collectors should take notice. Here are our selections for Week 14.

By Dan Hitt

Veteran of the Week:
DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles
(178 yards receiving, 1 touchdown catch, 1 punt return TD)
Jackson had an incredible game Sunday to continue his incredible season. He tied the NFL record for 50+ yard plays in one season (eight) with three games still to play. Jackson scored on a 72-yard punt return, a 60-yard reception and finished the game with six catches for 178 yards. Jackson is on the verge of his first 1,000-yard season and sits high on the list of today’s best receivers. Collectors made Jackson one of the most collected receivers of the 2008 rookie class but hadn’t taken enough interest this year to send his card values upward. His best 2008 cards still are reasonably priced for a player of his caliber, but that should change this week as Jackson and the Eagles are rolling toward the playoffs.

Cards to Grab:
2008 Exquisite Collection #154 JSY AU/199 RC ($135)
2008 SP Authentic #290 JSY AU/999 RC ($100)
2008 Playoff Contenders #127 AU RC ($60)

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Upper Deck launches Holiday Hunt program

Upper Deck has hidden a dozen notable prizes at hobby shops throughout the United States and Canada as part of a Holiday Hunt promotion that it is launching today.

Among the items up for grabs are autographs from Joe DiMaggio, several top draft picks in hockey and football as well as an autographed LeBron James basketball.

Upper Deck will be releasing clues as to the items’ whereabouts on its Facebook and Twitter pages where once at the hobby shop they will need to buy a pack of a particular brand and say “I love Upper Deck’s Holiday Hunt!” to win the item.

“We’ve seen tremendous support for our social media initiatives from sports fans this year,” said Carrie Peterson, Upper Deck’s online marketing manager. “It will be interesting to see how long it takes people to find these prizes.”

Does the Heisman Trophy make Mark Ingram the greatest player in Alabama football history?

Alabama sophomore running back Mark Ingram became the first player in the storied history of Crimson Tide football to win the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night in New York City.

One now has to ask … does that make him Alabama’s greatest player ever?

It’s an easy question to answer as the Crimson Tide’s list of past legends is lengthy. It includes 20 members of the College Football Hall of Fame and seven members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Yet none of those other Alabama Crimson Tide players ever won the Heisman.

While most football fans who live south of the Mason-Dixon Line in Southeastern Conference territory know precisely who the legends produced by Alabama are, let’s quickly recap them … and see if we can answer that question.

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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 NFL.com 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 Beckett.com 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

By CHRIS OLDS

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 Beckett.com 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 www.jewishmajorleaguers.org.

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 colds@beckett.com.