Monthly Archives: March 2010

NHL's new card licensing structure changes role of exclusives

By CHRIS OLDS | Beckett Media

The National Hockey League‘s new card licensing agreement announced last week that allows Panini America to produce hockey cards along with previous exclusive licensee Upper Deck prevents exclusive autograph deals and nullifies past exclusives that players may have signed previously, according to a letter sent to NHL players and agents by an NHLPA official.

In his letter, Adam Larry, the Director of Licensing and Associate Counsel for the NHLPA, noted that “both Upper Deck and Panini will be permitted to use images of ALL NHL players in their products” — but also that those two manufacturers  “are the only trading card companies that players should sign autographs or appear on packaging for.”

The letter also notes that Upper Deck will not be producing as many NHL sets as it had in its previous five years as an exclusive but that the NHLPA expects “the shortfall to be more than made up for however by the new licensee Panini.”

The letter states that “Neither Upper Deck nor Panini can sign a player to an exclusive autograph deal” and that “Neither Panini nor Upper Deck can: (I) preclude a player’s image from appearing on trading cards made by the other company; or (II) prevent memorabilia (jerseys, equipment, etc.) of a player from being included in trading cards made by the other company.”

Interestingly, the only exclusives that can be signed are for packaging deals where the players can endorse a product by appearing on the boxes or wrappers of products.

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Yogi Berra's perfect game jersey already topping $240,000 on auction block

Years ago, one part of “The Price of Perfection” was established when former New York Yankees pitcher Don Larsen sold his perfect game memorabilia at auction.

Next month, Grey Flannel will help memorabilia collectors determine the price of the other half.

The jersey that Yogi Berra wore during Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series is up for grabs from the Westhampton, N.Y.-based auction house.

Bidding sits at $241,577 with more than two weeks to go before the April 14 closing date.

According to Grey Flannel, the uniform had been tucked away for years after it was issued to prospect Ron Stevenot when he reported to camp in 1959. (Uniforms were commonly re-used in the past.) It had the year “1956” sewn onto the No. 8 jersey along with Berra’s name.

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Beckett Media joins forces with ESPN's Page 2

It’s a busy time here at Beckett Media as we continue to prepare all of the sports card magazines and books you’ve come to expect — as well as a more than a few extra magazines here and there, too — but we’re not done there.

Beckett’s Tracy Hackler and Chris Olds have signed on to provide occasional sports card and memorabilia items to’s Page 2. So in case you haven’t bounced around online to see what’s going on in the hobby enough, now there’s another possible destination.

Why? It’s a chance to get the hobby some added widespread exposure, perhaps drawing back some of those collectors who’ve left cards behind and forgotten the likes of Topps, Upper Deck, Panini, Press Pass and others.

Here’s a quick rundown of what we’ve done for Page 2 so far …

We’ll update this list every so often after additional items are published.

Dec. 29Justin Bieber featured in Donruss hockey set

Dec. 25Tebow, now starting, racking up football cards

Dec. 21 Brett Favre’s memorabilia surely grabbing attention

Dec. 12Wonder Years‘ Jason Hervey is on wrestling cards

Dec. 1Unlike fakes, Derek Jeter already has Red Sox card

Nov. 30Leslie Nielsen appeared on 2009 Upper Deck card

Nov. 20Football pioneer has first memorabilia card made

Nov. 18Bryce Harper’s first pro jersey up for auction

Nov. 12Help Topps pick 60 greatest baseball cards

Nov. 4With passing of Andy Irons, interest in card rises

Oct. 30How about a Yankee Stadium office chair?

Oct. 27Collectors eye first LeBron James card with Heat

Oct. 19Rookies & legends set to appear on hockey cards

Oct. 9Bryce Harper card sells to investment banker

Oct. 3Topps to give away diamonds with baseball cards

Sept. 27 Logan Morrison goes from card shop to majors

Sept. 26Topps readies for 60th anniversary

Sept. 11Robert Horry signs 1st NBA card

Sept. 5 Yes, that Pamela Anderson has a baseball card

Aug. 31 – Tim Tebow, John Elway join up for trading card

Aug. 29Strasburg created buzz on cards

Aug. 27MMA announcer Bruce Buffer makes name for himself

Aug. 16New Obak set looks at game changers

Aug. 1 Alex Rodriguez appears on nearly 18,000 cards

July 29Tim Tebow’s name is on everything

July 20 LeBron James’ first Heat card

July 19“Major League” manager Lou Brown passes away

July 18James-Wade-Bosh card surges in value

July 11 Even Bob Sheppard had a baseball card

July 10 Jordin Sparks, Stuart Scott in card set

July 3Kobayashi beats Chestnut! — in trading cards

June 28Baseball fan cracks code, gets card

June 23Landon Donovan’s trading card value rises

June 22For Tim Tebow, it’s the sign of the times

June 16Strasburg card buyer is sold on pitcher

June 8Harper, Strasburg see cards rise

June 4Tim Tebow trading cards rise in value

May 31Pat Tillman’s football cards not forgotten

May 29Is this Stephen Strasburg card really worth it?

May 22 – Fans can draw their own trading cards

May 15Athletes marketing own memorabilia

May 8Tony Hawk jumps into the trading card game

May 5In NHRA, Forces to be Reckoned

May 2Even celebrities have trading cards

April 23Tim Tebow’s first “card” in NFL is valuable

April 21Hogan, Flair autograph cards for TRISTAR

April 16UFC interim champ Shane Carwin collects cards

April 12You can have a piece of Texas Stadium

April 6So glad Arena League has returned

March 29 Cards correctly predicted WrestleMania winners

March 27 Kobe loves trading cards … seriously

March 27 WrestleMania winners in the cards

March 19 Abraham Lincoln appears on a baseball card

March 17UFC cards are all the rage

March 9No bull here as you can get PBR trading cards

March 7 “Blind Side” heats up Michael Oher’s cards

March 2 —  Apolo Anton Ohno’s baseball card takes off

March 1You’ll be bugged by these baseball cards

Tracy Hackler is the Editorial Director at Beckett Media, while Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to Hackler at or Olds Follow Olds on Twitter by clicking here. Follow Hackler on Twitter by clicking here.

First Look: 2010 Donruss Elite Football

Panini America officials today released images and preliminary product information on 2010 Donruss Elite Football, a longtime portfolio staple slated to release in June 16 packing four hits  (with at least one autograph guaranteed), four Rookies and 10 other inserts or parallels per box.

Elite loyalists can rest easy knowing that the product’s calling cards — Throwback Threads memorabilia cards and Passing the Torch Autographs — return in full force. The company also has secured autographs and memorabilia from some of the key contributors of New Orleans Saints’ Super Bowl XLIV victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

Each case of the product should deliver at least one autograph from a group that includes Peyton Manning, Joe Namath, Brett Favre, Emmitt Smith, Drew Brees, Jimmy Clausen, Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, Tim Tebow, C.J. Spiller, Ryan Mathews and Jonathan Dwyer.

Check out the preview images after the jump.

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First look: 2010 Topps Tribute Dynasies & Rivalries Edition

Topps unveiled on Friday its plans for 2010 Topps Tribute Dynasties & Rivalries Edition baseball, which will include six autographed or Relic cards in every box (one per pack) as it focuses on some of the stories teams and showdowns in MLB.

There also will be six parallel cards in every box of the hobby-exclusive product when it arrives in late July (“the week of July 19″ for you who want something more specific).

What’s the big, big, big card unveiled so far? Try a multi-card cut autograph booklet with autographs for the lineup of the 1927 New York Yankees. See it after the jump.

Among the autograph lineups are the Legendary Lineups booklet cards, Rivalries Revisited cuts — which will even include political foes such as John F. Kennedy and Fidel Castro — Franchise Cuts, Tribute Cuts, and three types of autographed Relic cards (single, double and triple).

Among the Relic lineups are Franchise Feats Relics (booklet cards), Franchise Feats BuyBack Relics (past Tribute cards) as well as standard, dual and triple Relics.

All autographs and Relics have parallels — Red (1/1), Gold (1/1), Black (50) and Blue (75).

Read more and see a full batch of preview images after the jump.

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Topps set to produce Indian Premier League cricket products

Topps Vice President Chris Rodman (left) with IPL Chief Executive Sundar Raman (center) and Topps CEO Ryan O'Hara celebrate the Topps-IPL deal.

Topps is taking yet another step in establishing its presence globally.

Its next venture? Professional cricket collectibles.

Topps announced Friday that it joined forces with the Indian Premier League to launch a range of new products for the IPL beginning in 2011.

Topps will produce stickers, albums and trading cards that will be sold both at retail and online. A substantial marketing campaign is planned that includes television and sampling initiatives as well as a nationwide “Game Play demonstration tour” to help children learn how to play and swap their IPL collectibles.

“This alliance with Topps – the world leader in collectibles, is part of our effort to actively engage IPL fans across multiple platforms,” said Sundar Raman the IPL’s Chief Operating Officer. “Collectable trading cards are an integral part of any fan experience globally and through this partnership we are happy to introduce Indian fans to this unique and exciting global concept.”

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Box Busters: 2009-10 Panini Classics Basketball

Classically trained box busters Tracy Hackler and Keith Hower get cozy with a box of 2009-10 Panini Classics Basketball.

What did they pull? What can you wn? Watch right now and find out.

Dallas Collector Gets His Day in the Sun (in the Snow)

Not even a freak March Texas snowstorm could freeze the spirits of 14-year-old Dallas collector Ryan Wolfson last Saturday. Not with 15 of his closest buddies around to keep him warm until Cowboys receiver Patrick Crayton arrived at his front door.

Indeed, that’s how last weekend started for Wolfson, the grand prize winner in the 2009 NFL Players Player of the Day contest. Following an informal shindig with Crayton, Wolfson and his buddies at the Wolfson family home, the party moved – via limousine – to Nick and Debbie Redwine’s Dallas-based Nick’s Sports Cards.

Once there, the party grew to more than 200 guests, all of whom received free autographs from Crayton and otherwise made themselves comfortable with hobby heat while Wolfson received a $250 shopping spree.

“I am thrilled for Ryan and his family,” said namesake owner Nick Redwine. “He is a regular customer at my shop and a big football card collector and Cowboys fan.  I’m glad to be a part of his special day.”

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NHL Executive: 'This Was a Difficult Decision'


While the move may have lacked the controversy and surprise of other trading card announcements in recent months, the NHL’s decision to add Panini as a second licensee beginning with the 2010-11 season was a headline-maker.

Today’s news signaled the effective end to Upper Deck’s five-year exclusive on the category and turned Panini into a three-sport manufacturer.

In this exclusive interview, Dave McCarthy, NHL Enterprises’ Vice President of Integrated Marketing, addresses, among other things, Upper Deck’s exclusivity, Panini’s potential and the 10 things that helped shape the decision.

Beckett Media: What does adding a second manufacturer say about the vibrancy or popularity of the NHL as a “trading card sport?”
Dave McCarthy: The NHL brand has tremendous momentum behind it, and all of our vital signs are good – attendance, TV ratings, web traffic to the network, corporate sponsor appeal and, ultimately, consumer product sales. This decision will allow two companies the opportunity to put their resources to work to fully capitalize on this momentum while offering both passionate and new collectors products that appeal to them.

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Card Gallery: 2009 Goodwin Champions Entomology cards

We’ve gotten a sneak peek at more of the 2009 Goodwin Champions Entomology cards from Upper Deck – and the Beckett Baseball Best Gimmick Set of 2009 winner definitely delivers the weird.

While we’re saving the nastiest of the creepy crawlers for the next issue of Beckett Baseball, here are a few more to check out. Learn more about the cards here and here.

See them all after the jump …

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How many inscriptions can Tim Tebow fit on a football card?

We all know that Tim Tebow is the Chuck Norris of football — the player who did no wrong and did it all mythically well (well, unless playing Alabama last year) with his loyal followings of fans and media members behind him.

And that means that Norris, err Tebow, won’t be constrained by the limits of a football card when signing inscriptions, either. He won’t be limited to just one.

We’ve gotten a sneak peek at some of the always popular inscriptions autographs to come in 2010 Press Pass Football – where Tebow is an exclusive signee for draft picks products — and couldn’t help but notice that the former Gator didn’t just sign one popular phrase. (And unlike many other players, he signed his name as well as the phrase.)

Will these cards be more popular than his initial autographs from other companies when Tebow starts showing up in NFL sets? Perhaps — but Press Pass will have the edge because of the exclusive deal and the fact that they’ll be out first as they arrive in hobby shops next week.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

See a small gallery of inscriptions autographs after the jump.

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Breaking News: Panini to Join Upper Deck in the Hockey Card Market Beginning Next Season

The National Hockey League and NHLPA announced Wednesday that Panini America will join Upper Deck as licensed trading card manufacturers for the 2010-11 season and possibly beyond.

“The NHLPA is excited to renew our long-term partnership with Upper Deck and to welcome Panini into the hockey trading card marketplace,” said Adam Larry, the NHLPA Director of Licensing.  “We look forward to working with both of these companies to provide quality NHL player products and exciting new choices for fans and collectors of all ages.”

The NHL said it felt a move away from an exclusive license would benefit the hockey card industry.

“Having considered the input from all stakeholders, we have concluded that a semi-exclusive model would bring customer choice, revive legacy brands and add new and innovative products and marketing initiatives that appeal to all consumer segments,” said Dave McCarthy, NHL Vice President of Integrated Marketing.

The move has been rumored for months and is another in a long line of licensing decisions that has dramatically reshaped the sports trading card industry in the last 14 months.

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2010 Topps Finest Baseball: What'd they pull at The Rip Party?

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The Rip Master and crew are back for another season of Topps baseball cards and The Rip Party action isn’t stopping.

What  will they find inside their boxes of 2010 Topps Finest Baseball?

Watch and find out …

TRISTAR releases more details on "TNA: The New Era" card set

The TNA Wrestling card news from Monday had plenty of impact, but here’s more.

TRISTAR‘s upcoming TNA: The New Era set won’t just be packing the greatest wrestling card ever made, but it will be packing plenty more where that came from.

There will be two autographs and one memorabilia card per 20-pack box with one parallel card and two Obak cards also along for the ride, but the real highlights will be the autograph and memorabilia cards that can be found.

The product will include the first wrestling cards signed by “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair and several signed cards for Hulk Hogan, who appears on more than 30 different cards in the product.

There will be a Hogan-Flair dual, a Hogan-Sting dual, a Hogan-Dixie Carter dual, a Hogan-Mick Foley dual, a Hogan-Kevin Nash dual …get the picture?

There also will be variation autographs with differing photos as well as autographed memorabilia cards and multiple-piece memorabilia cards, too. The memorabilia checklists are small, but there will be autographed memorabilia cards for Hogan, Flair, Sting, Foley and more.

And even the standard autograph checklist has plenty of first-time signers — Lacey Von Erich (the daughter of Texas wrestling icon Kerry Von Erich), Brian Knobs, Jerry Sags and even controversial radio host Bubba The Love Sponge, who has had a small — and controversial — role in TNA.

As with other TRISTAR hobby runs, the product will be somewhat limited. There will be only 100 cases created, with each box serial-numbered. You can read more about the product — and get checklists — by clicking here.

See more images after the jump. (Click for a closer look.)

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Panini's CEO & Kobe Bryant bust some boxes

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What will be found inside packs of Panini basketball cards when CEO Mark Warsop and company spokesman Kobe Bryant sit down and bust some boxes?

You’ll just have to watch and find out …

Card gallery: 2009-10 Panini Classics basketball

Panini America’s 2009-10 Classics basketball set doesn’t arrive for another week or so, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get you a glimpse of what’s to come.

Each 18-pack box will include four autograph or memorabilia cards (one autograph guaranteed), with a mix of basketball’s past as well as its present included. Each 16-box case will include an autograph from either Panini spokesman Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Blake Griffin, Elvin Hayes, Isiah Thomas or Jerry West.

Five-card packs will carry a suggested retail price of $6.  See a gallery of images after the jump.

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Topps brings minor leagues into eTopps fold

With Topps’ first official minor league baseball card release set to arrive this week, the company helped usher in its MiLB cards with its announcement that it is adding eTopps to the fold as well.

The first public offerings for eTopps minor league cards are of New York Yankees prospect Jesus Montero and Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Pedro Alvarez. Each card will be limited to just 749 cards with an IPO price of $4 per card.

Topps will only issue a player on a minor league card once and will award eTopps users who own eTopps Minor League cards of players who are named the MVP of their respective league’s 2010 All-Star Game with reward points which can be used to receive other prizes. The eTopps users who own a card of a player who is called up to the majors for the first time between April and August will receive points, too. Backs Shane Carwin at UFC 111

When the massive Shane Carwin enters the Octagon for Saturday’s interim heavyweight championship fight against veteran Frank Mir at UFC 111, he’ll do so with devastating punching power in both hands and a logo on his shirt and shorts.

Less than 24 hours after Blowout’s two-fight sponsorship of fast-rising Jonny “Bones” Jones ended with Jones’ face-breaking first-round stoppage of Brandon Vera, the trading card distributor announced a deal with Carwin, a top-of-the-heap heavyweight who’s 11-0 with five knockouts in his last six fights.

“I’m very excited to be working with Shane Carwin and I look forward to bringing more awareness to Topps UFC trading cards and MMA collectibles,” said Thomas Fish, Blowout’s president and co-owner. “Shane has a huge fan base and is a social networking master. Today we added an area to our site dedicated to MMA in the forum section of our website. I look forward to sharing our passion for the sport with others.”

As part of the agreement, Blowout will receive memorabilia worn by Carwin in Saturday’s fight as well as autographed promotional items from the fighter.

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Upper Deck awards will salute collecting communities & more

Upper Deck unveiled Monday its plans for a series of awards showcasing the best in the hobby when it comes to everything online.

The Upper Deck Social Media Awards will be voted on by collectors via an online poll. Nominations begin today on Upper Deck’s Facebook page (get direct nomination links below) and voting will begin on Monday. Upper Deck will announce the winners on April 7 with plans to recognize them at the 2010 Las Vegas Industry Summit the following week.

“It’s pretty difficult for collectors to work their way through cyberspace to find the online trading card community, informed opinions or videos they are looking for,” said Chris Carlin, sports marketing manager for Upper Deck. “We felt that creating an award program that helps collectors find the best sites on the web would be a win-win for our collectors and for those who have put so much into these communities, blogs and videos. No other manufacturer has done what we have in terms of creating ways to engage our collectors through social media. So it only makes sense that Upper Deck should be the company that takes the lead in helping collectors find what it is they’re looking for online.”

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How hot are Jason Heyward's baseball cards?

Atlanta Braves outfielder Jason Heyward’s baseball cards have been among the hottest in the hobby for the last month or so and an apparent eBay sale this weekend shows that once again.

His 2008 Bowman Chrome Prospects SuperFractor reportedly sold for $7,000 on Sunday, a transaction that has not yet been verified on eBay.

While that’s some substantial money for a hot rookie’s card, it’s not the most ever paid for a SuperFractor. Here’s a rundown of the 30 previous most-expensive Beckett-documented sales (note that the 2005 Ryan Braun has reportedly changed hands a few times) of Bowman Chrome SuperFractors as tracked by Beckett Baseball Senior Market Analyst Brian Fleischer

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TNA's New Era takes wrestling cards to new heights

Cue up “Sprach Zarathustra” (aka “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair‘s theme music) because that’s the greatest professional wrestling card ever made.

Without question — at least in this writer’s mind.

The Hulk Hogan-Flair-Sting-Kevin Nash autograph card above is among some of the highlights that will be found in TRISTAR‘s forthcoming TNA: The New Era professional wrestling card set.

Hogan is the biggest household name in the modern era. Flair is considered by purists to be the greatest wrestler ever. Sting is one of the most charismatic performers ever, while Nash is perhaps among some of the best big men in wrestling history.

And they’re all found on one card.

The product, which will arrive next month, reflects a new time in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling as the company has changed its face to compete with World Wrestling Entertainment in several ways.

Flair, who has appeared on only one other pack-released certified autograph — a Donruss Americana non-sport autograph released last year — will have his first autographed wrestling cards found in these packs, while new faces to TNA like Hogan, Jeff Hardy and Rob Van Dam also will have prominent places in the forthcoming set.

TNA: The New Era will arrive on April 28.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

See more images from the set after the jump …

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We go behind the scenes with WWE Magazine as it offers up 26 ways to celebrate WrestleMania

By CHRIS OLDS | Beckett Media

With the world’s biggest stage for sports entertainment — WrestleMania XXVI — just nine days away, the staff of WWE Magazine opted for something special with its latest issue, a project that shows just how big the “grandest stage of them all” really is.

It’s not quite an irresistible force or an immovable object a la WrestleMania III with Hulk Hogan and Andre The Giant, but it’s pretty darn close — and it’s something that fans and collectors should enjoy.

What is it?

There are 26 different covers for the April issue, which will be on newsstands by March 23, just days before WrestleMania takes over Glendale, Ariz., on March 28.

Subscribers will get copies with “Mr. WrestleMania,” Shawn Michaels, on the cover, a fitting selection since his career will be on the line at the event. If Michaels loses his re-match against Undertaker, who has never lost in 17 career bouts at ‘Mania, then he will retire, ending his 25-year career.

We caught up with WWE Magazine Assistant Editor Jeff Ashworth via Twitter and lined up some behind-the-scenes information about how this project came about.

Read all about who appears on the covers, see a full gallery of images and get the dirt-sheet defeating inside scoop on the project after the jump.

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PSA certified more than 7,500 cuts for upcoming Upper Deck product

The long-delayed Upper Deck Prominent Cuts product which is now arriving in hobby shops has nearly all of its autographs certified by PSA/DNA.

More than 7,500 signatures will be found in the release, which includes signatures from athletes in several sports as well as historic figures, and there will be a Prominent Cuts category created in the popular PSA/DNA Autograph Set Registry.

“The signatures in this extensive autograph collection series include some of the greatest entertainers, athletes and historical figures of the 20th century, and each was certified genuine by PSA/DNA,” said Joe Orlando, President of PSA/DNA.  “The Upper Deck Prominent Cuts is an exciting product that will give collectors an easy opportunity to own an assortment of great signatures, all with the assurance of PSA/DNA authentication.”

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Card Gallery: 2009-10 Upper Deck NHL Champ's hockey

Upper Deck‘s popular Champ’s hockey set has arrived with its eclectic mix of past and present hockey and sports stars, historical figures, landmarks and much more that help bring the old-school tobacco card aesthetic to the ice.

Champ’s packs four autographs or memorabilia cards per 20-pack hobby box with names like Michael Jordan, Dan Marino, LeBron James and Tiger Woods alongside guys like Sidney Crosby.

Among the inserts are “Wonders of the World,” which focuses on famous landmarks like the Taj Mahal or the Great Wall of China, “Natural History,” which focuses on endangered species and extinct creatures.

Of course, also included are “Museum Pieces,” which include fossils, teeth and tools from prehistoric times embedded into the cards.

See more from the set after the jump.

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The Hobby Rumor Mill … March 17, 2010

Here’s a little something that should get the card collectors abuzz … a little something we’ll throw out there from time to time called The Hobby Rumor Mill.

Are all of the items legit? Maybe not, but even the ones we think are true haven’t yet been confirmed or officially unveiled. In some cases, the companies ain’t talking, either.

Until then, chew on these …

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Panini revives Pacific line for upcoming basketball set

The die-cut crowd will be proud.

Panini America is set to revive a memorable line of trading cards, Crown Royale, as one of its basketball products later this summer.

Crown Royale was a staple of Pacific‘s card lineups for football, baseball and hockey — a sport which has its official licensing announcement coming any day now — and now fans of the hardcourt can enjoy the diecut look with 2010 Crown Royale Basketball, which will arrive in late-June.

The $25-per pack product will include seven cards per pack four packs per box and 12 boxes in each case when it arrives on June 23.

Among the highlights will be Rookie Autographs (limited to 449 on-card autographs per player)  as well as Majestic Signatures autographs and a 10-card LeBron James “King On His Court” insert set that will highlight notable moments in his career with material and prime material versions of those cards.

See more images after the jump.

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Box Busters On Location: 2010 Press Pass 8 Seconds

The Professional Bull Riders came through Dallas in late February for the massive Dickies Iron Cowboy Invitational at Cowboys Stadium. We know what you’re thinking: Why didn’t you take the opportunity of their proximity to ask some of the riders about the new Press Pass 8 Seconds PBR trading cards? You’re in luck. We did.

And in this history-making, on-location edition of Box Busters, not only do we talk to PBR superstars J.B. Mauney and Brian Canter, we also end up in the kitchen of 2004 PBR World Champion Mike Lee. How? Watch and find out.

Special thanks to Brad Herbert for his award-worthy cinematography.

Ron Washington’s type of apology should get noticed in MLB

By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor | Commentary

Ron Washington‘s career and his image within Major League Baseball changed forever on Wednesday as he apologized for using cocaine one time while manager of the Texas Rangers last season.

He’s the first MLB manager known to fail a drug test, something he’ll now always be known for, despite a career beginning its fifth decade as a player, coach and manager this season.

Why was the revelation made public?

Because Washington has completed completed MLB’s drug rehab program and passed all subsequent drug tests. Remarkably, Washington admitted his mistake even before his drug test, which he was randomly selected for by MLB, took place. He offered his resignation right then and there last summer — which the Rangers didn’t take him up on — and he admitted his wrongdoings in a public manner multiple times on Wednesday.

There was no finger-pointing denial followed by a subsequent failed test. There was no sudden lack of speaking ability. There was no Ari Fleischer-coached tear-enhanced, rhetoric-laced sit-down with Bob Costas.

Instead, the 57-year-old manager — a career baseball guy who made his big-league debut as a Los Angeles Dodger nearly 33 years ago — doffed his cap and addressed his family, the media, his bosses, the fans and all of baseball. He wasn’t hiding behind prepared phrases, he wasn’t hiding behind a pair of designer sunglasses like some star slugger.

“I’ve learned a lot about myself personally, and I recognize that this episode was an attempt to dodge personal anxieties and personal issues I needed to confront,” he said. “That was the wrong way to do it. It was self-serving, and believe me, not worth it. I know you will ask, and so here’s the answer: this was the one and only time I used this drug.

“I made a huge mistake, and it almost caused me to lose everything I have worked for all of my life.”

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Happy St. Patrick's Day from Beckett's Biggest Green-Clad Geeks

First of all, Happy St. Patrick’s Day from all of us at Beckett Media. Here’s hoping the day is everything you want it to be.

Oh, and know this: No matter how many times you get pinched today because you forgot to wear green, your day can’t possibly be any dorkier than the one Beckett Senior Market Analysts Tim Trout and Brian Fleischer are enduring.

For the record, Trout had his Celtic FC jersey first; in his defense, Fleischer sent a preemptive text last night to claim Wednesday wearing rights. Trout didn’t care, we get priceless images like this one. Everybody wins.

Should someone tell them that the jerseys they’re wearing to celebrate this ballyhooed Irish holiday actually honor a soccer team from Scotland? Nah . . .

— Tracy Hackler

Upper Deck continues its Million Pack March for the Troops

Upper Deck‘s “Million Pack March for the Troops” program, which aims to get packs of trading cards into the hands of U.S. service members, has had more than 100,000 packs donated to the cause with the goal of one million by Veterans Day.

It has launched a new website for the program,

The company is working with “Operation Gratitude,” a non-profit organization that sends care packages to service members around the world. Upper Deck will hold donation drives at the National Sports Collectors Convention in August, as well as other shows, and work with its network of Diamond Dealers and hobby shops to establish drop-off points. A list of current sites can be found here.

“It’s an honor for us to partner with a dignified organization like Operation Gratitude,” said Chris Carlin, Upper Deck’s Manager of Sports Marketing. “The brave U.S. military men and women serving overseas certainly deserve a well-needed distraction and we’ve heard from them that opening up a pack of trading cards can make them feel a little bit closer to home.”

Collectors can also send packs to the following address:

Operation Gratitude/California Army National Guard
Attn. Upper Deck’s Million Pack Drive to Support the Troops
17330 Victory Boulevard
Van Nuys, CA 91406

Live from the Production Line: 2009 Exquisite Collection Football (updated)

Upper Deck officials are on location in North Carolina this week packing out one of the most anticipated trading card products of 2009: Exquisite Collection Football (never mind that were almost three months into 2010).

While it’s a shame we couldn’t be there with them, UD officials today are whetting collector appetites for the product’s March 30 release by posting real-time images of some of the product’s sweetest eye candy on Facebook.

See more mesmerizing memorabilia cards after the jump. It’s almost like you’re there. Almost . . .

— Tracy Hackler

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The Card of the Day on Pi Day is …

Today, March 14, is Pi Day.

No, not apple, pumpkin or lemon. It’s Pi as in 3.14159265…

Don’t believe us? CNN even has a story.

All of that fascinating trivia naturally leads us back to a baseball card that appears in the 2009 Topps Allen and Ginter Mini World’s Biggest Hoaxes set. Card No. HHB2 is “Alabama changes value of Pi.”

That set, which recaps some famous hoaxes from the past touches on the “story” from 1998 that the state’s legislature was intending to drop Pi to its Biblical value of 3.

It never happened, but it was celebrated on a baseball card.

Ironically, the card books for $3.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

Sneak peek: Jason Heyward graces the cover of Beckett Baseball No. 51

Coming soon in your hobby shop and on newsstands everywhere near you will be Beckett Baseball No. 51, which is graced by red-hot Atlanta Braves rookie Jason Heyward.

He’s one of our 10 prospects to watch in 2010.

It’s been awhile since we’ve had an Atlanta Brave with a main cover presence — though Tommy Hanson did play a prominent role on the Rookie Rolodex issue’s cover, which out now.

A pricey autographed Bryce Harper USA Baseball patch card is up for grabs in issue 51 — it’s the only place you’ll get the chance to win it from us, so you’ll have to get the details in the magazine once it arrives.

Upper Deck names two card shops Hockey Card Heaven

Upper Deck‘s mission to dub a pair of Canadian sports card shops as “Hockey Card Heaven” is complete — the divine locales are Comic Connection in Hamilton, Ontario, and Wayne’s Sports Cards in Edmonton, Alberta.

Here are the details from Upper Deck …

Comic Connection created a window display using 1990-91 Upper Deck Hockey Cards (Upper Deck’s first NHL release) that spelled out “HOCKEY CARD HEAVEN” to help get the word out and ran different specials every day during the promotion to thank customers for their support. To engage kids, they designated every Saturday as “Kids Day” and offered a variety of specials to make the shop more family-friendly. They also tied in some of their larger promotions, including charities such as the Canadian National Autism Foundation.

“We’re extremely excited,” said Ted Krieg, owner of Comic Connection. “We’re big hockey fans and it’s fantastic to have something like this happen for us. We thought it was a great promotion and all of our staff just jumped at the opportunity. We worked really hard for this, but it’s also been a lot of fun, especially for our customers!”

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Box Busters: 2010 Topps WWE Slam Attax cards

What happens when three self-confessed WWE geeks open a box of the new 2010 Topps WWE Slam Attax cards?

In the words of Gorilla Monsoon, “Pandemonium.”

Will there be any chair shots or steel cage matches stemming from this latest episode of Box Busters with with Bryan Hornbeck, Tracy Hackler and Chris Olds? Watch and find out by clicking here.