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Monthly Archives: March 2010

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 colds@beckett.com. 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, millionpackmarch.com.

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 colds@beckett.com. 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.

Honest Abe's 2010 Topps cameo comes courtesy of Milton Bradley's card

Earlier this year, Topps teased the fact that a short-printed variation in its 2010 Baseball set included Abraham Lincoln.

And thanks to a 33-year-old New York collector one card has been confirmed.

Rare versions of card No. 306 in the set has “Baseball Abe” and Lincoln’s face on the scoreboard — instead of the standard card’s “baseball notes” on the scoreboard behind a diving Milton Bradley.

Brian Lalonde said he discovered the card in a jumbo pack he bought at a Walmart in Ogdensburg, N.Y.

“There are only two of these known in existence as of right now,” Lalonde wrote in an email to Beckett Media on Thursday. “Mine and one other that I found online.

“I have contacted Topps and they assured me that it is a super-rare card and they will not give me any more information about it.  They won’t give me a print run or anything.  It seems that they are being very secretive.”

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Tim Tebow's First Public Signing Attracts 1,500 Fans, Press Pass' Interest

Press Pass officials were watching intently last weekend when Tim Tebow, the superstar quarterback the company signed to a “draft picks” trading card exclusive just days earlier, conducted his first public signing.

They were no doubt thrilled by what they saw: More than 1,500 people descending upon Palm Beach Autographs in Jacksonville, Fla., willing to pay as much as $160 for Tebow’s signature and $75 for a picture with the former Florida Gators’ superstar.

Proceeds from the signing – which featured in attendance a father-son pair that traveled 800 miles from Pennsylvania in pursuit of a Tebow autograph – went toward the newly formed Tim Tebow Foundation.

“That’s special to have an opportunity to sign for people,” Tebow said afterward. “But it’s more special to be able to do things like we’re doing and being able to really just brighten kids’ days in really their darkest hour of need, which is a lot of what my foundation is about.”

Tebow’s first autographed trading cards will be included in 2010 Press Pass Football, due out March 31; the company will also include Tebow autographs in the inaugural Press Pass Portrait Edition that releases April 28.

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Merlin Olsen's career remembered on TV as well as cards

Pro Football Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen, who many might remember from the “Little House on the Prairie” and “Father Murphy” television shows, died after a battle with cancer on Wednesday night. He was 69.

Olsen, a 14-time Pro Bowl selection during his 15-year career with the Los Angeles Rams, was a part of the famed “Fearsome Foursome” and was later named to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary team as well as the 1960s and 1970s All-Decade Teams. Also a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Olsen was the winner of the 1961 Outland Trophy and a standout for Utah State.

Olsen appears on 338 football cards, with 93 of those being certified autographs and 104 of those being memorabilia cards. He has but one Rookie Card, which is found in the 1964 Philadelphia set (No. 91) and is worth just $50.

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MLBP settlement with Upper Deck settles RC tag issue

After following the secondary market and considering input on the subject from dealers and collectors, a determination has been made regarding the Beckett Rookie Card designation for applicable cards in the 2009 Ultimate Collection, 2009 Upper Deck Signature Stars and 2010 Upper Deck Series 1 baseball releases.

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Long-running legal feud over memorabilia cards ends

A long-running battle over patent infringement for memorabilia cards ended in a federal court this week as a case that had touched upon all of the major trading card companies, most recently Upper Deck, was dismissed.

How far back the do claims over memorabilia card concept go? In December of 1994, Adrian Gluck filed for a patent for a memorabilia card. At that time, the closest thing to what we know as a memorabilia card today was a trading card with a piece of a diamond embedded into it. After that a company called Media Tech, which licensed the patents, and Upper Deck have battled over the sports version of a memorabilia card.

In 2001, Media Tech accused Upper Deck of infringement, and in this, its most recent appeal, a pair of judges ruled the patents to be invalid based on the “obviousness” of the idea — the fact that someone could apply the previously established approach to other items.