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Monthly Archives: March 2010

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.

Corey Haim's career also reflected on cardboard

Though some collectors might argue with the point, one of the good things about the trading card explosion of the last 20 years is that sports card sets aren’t the exclusive domain of just athletes any longer.

Actor Corey Haim, who was found dead on Wednesday at age 38, appeared in a pair of Upper Deck sports card sets  last year as a tribute to his role in “Lucas” — a film where he played an unlikely football player.

Now that fans of some 1980s teen movies (and more) look back at a career that also included “The Lost Boys” and “License to Drive” they might be looking for a piece of memorabilia. Why? Just because. It happens all of the time.

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Upper Deck Cancels 2010 Draft Edition Football

Citing time constraints and an inability to execute the product the way it wanted to, Upper Deck officials on Wednesday confirmed that the company will not produce 2010 Draft Edition Football, an NFL Draft-centered product originally slated to release next month.

“One of the key drivers for this product is Upper Deck’s ability to deliver the set before the NFL Draft occurs in April and when it became clear that our production schedule would not allow for that to happen this time around, we had no choice but to remove it from the packout calendar,” the company said in a statement released to Beckett Media.

“Another issue was that to hit this time line, we were going to have to use label autographs on this product like many early collegiate football products feature. We were very apprehensive about going that route since this product had a history of hard-signed cards.”

Upper Deck’s first 2010 NFL product will now be Legacy Collection, due out May 16.

— Tracy Hackler

Calling all supercollectors … Beckett Baseball wants you!

By CHRIS OLDS | Beckett Baseball Editor

It’s been awhile since we last dedicated an issue of Beckett Baseball to the player collector — in fact it was April 2007 — but we’re confident that there are supercollectors out there who haven’t been found.

Why? Because we keep hearing about you guys in the pages of Beckett Sports Card Monthly where we profile supercollectors each and every month.

But the collections we want to showcase in a future Beckett Baseball issue — or perhaps issues — (later this summer) are a bit different. You see, the bar was set pretty high last time around. For example, the Ichiro Suzuki supercollector from that issue owned more than 4,100 cards valued at more than $97,000 at the time. Bruce’s goal? “To have an Ichiro collection like no other.”

It was that then as it probably is now — and we’ll check in with some of those past supercollectors to see how things look in 2010.

But it’s not about the money as we search for the latest batch of baseball supercollectors for Beckett Baseball in 2010. We want to see the most outrageous collections — perhaps it’s your stash of some prospect gone awry that you still keep up with for some odd reason or perhaps it’s your stash of 47 of 50 Gold Refractors of “Player X.” Or perhaps it’s your collection of 97.3 percent of all Brook Jacoby cards that exist … we want to know about it.

I’ve always had rules about my collecting habits and my very different collections for two players — a pair of former Oakland A’s outfielders who wore No. 33, Jose Canseco and Nick Swisher — reflect that. They also reflect how my rules of collecting have changed over time as well.

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Box Busters: 2009-10 Panini Studio Basketball

Join the ballyhooed Beckett Basketball team of Keith Hower and an allergy-riddled Tracy Hackler as they ravage a box of 2009-10 Panini Studio Basketball.

The good news for viewers? The one box they didn’t ravage that will be given away to one lucky collector.

Watch now for all the fun . . .

Topps readies Cabinet Relics for 2010 Allen & Ginter

Just when you think that you’ve seen it all in Topps‘ popular Allen & Ginter baseball card set comes this.

That’s am oversized Cabinet Relic card featuring the nameplate off of one of Tony Hawk‘s event-used skateboards.

What else will collectors find? Topps is promising the same approach with baseball Cabinet Relics that will include the whole nameplates from game-used jerseys or complete uniform numbers. (That could be quite interesting, there… )

Topps’ fifth-annual release in its tribute to the multi-sport tobacco cards of the 1880s of the same name will also include booklet cards this year, which will pair autographs and memorabilia pieces for more than one player into one collectible volume.

Also back will be some prehistoric Relics, this time the Monsters of the Mesozoic, which will be limited to 10 copies apiece.

What else does Topps have in store? Find out with a product breakdown after the jump …

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Diamond Kings take to the basketball court in June

The famed line of Diamond Kings paintings cards, which Donruss debuted in 1982 have had a rich and memorable place in the hobby but they’ve never hit the basketball court.

Until now.

Panini America unveiled on Monday plans for 2009-10 Court Kings, a high-end art-driven basketball set that will arrive on June 2 packing 11 cards per pack and a $100-per pack suggested retail price.

Each pack will include four autograph or memorabilia cards (a minimum of one autograph), three base cards  (all limited to 325) one bronze parallel, one 5×7 Box Topper and three other cards.

Among the highlights for this one? Redemptions for one of 120 16×20 lithographs signed by Panini spokesman Kobe Bryant.

See more after the jump.

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TRISTAR reaps the rewards of new Monday-night "wrestling wars"

Total Nonstop Action Wrestling makes a permanent move to Monday nights with its live broadcast of iMPACT! tonight on Spike TV — and what does that new influx of talent mean to wrestling card collectors?

Some big names will be in the next TRISTAR wrestling card set, which the Houston-based TNA licensee announced on Monday.

The TNA 2010: The New Era will arrive in April packing memorabilia cards and autographs from Hulk Hogan as well as cards of “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair (a tough autograph), who also made his TNA debut on Jan. 4. Also included in the product will be the first TNA cards of Jeff Hardy, Scott Hall, Eric Bischoff, Jimmy Hart, Mr. Anderson, D’Angelo Dinero, Desmond Wolfe and others.

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Dallas Collector Wins a Day with the Cowboys' Patrick Crayton

Fourteen-year-old Dallas collector Ryan Wolfson turned one lucky pack of NFL trading cards into a fantastic grand prize.  Wolfson and his friends and family will spend a day with Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Patrick Crayton on March 20.

Wolfson is one of the more than 200,000 NFL card collectors who participated in the 2009 NFL Player of the Day contest, which was conducted at more than 600 hobby shops nationwide.  He is among the thousands who earned prizes, but as the grand prize winner, the 14-year-old Cowboys fan will be the only one with the chance to spend a day with an NFL player.

The day will begin when Crayton attends a private party for Wolfson’s friends and family.  After the party, the family will take a limousine with the Cowboys’ star to their favorite hobby shop, Nick’s Sports Cards.  There, the community will join Ryan as winners when Crayton spends an hour signing free autographs and posing for photos.

At least 200 fans will collect a free autograph from Crayton at the event.  Collectors can “reserve” a spot at the front of the line in advance by visiting Nick’s Sports Cards before March 19.  All other autographs will be awarded on a first-come first-served basis.

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Guest commentary: Spotlighting 1980 Topps baseball cards

By Chris Kunkel

Each of us has a trigger that trips a memory or perhaps a measuring point. I knew I was old when all of a sudden I was older than all of the ballplayers.  Around 1980, I became a vintage fan.

That’s why, during a recent visit to the card shop to buy a 1956 Hank Aaron, when  I came across a beautifully bound near-mint 1980 Topps set, my vintage baseball pheromones were triggered.  I purchased it immediately for $120 without even dickering with the owner.

Driving home, I remembered why I collect vintage cards.  Vintage evokes deep memories.  The memories need only be recalled, not re-lived.

I began to remember the 1980 sports scene — the Summer and Winter  Olympics. We boycotted the Moscow Summer Olympics because the Russians invaded Afghanistan.  We took glory in the Winter Olympics with hockey’s “Miracle on Ice.”  The Phillies and Mike Schmidt out-manned the Royals in the World Series.

I couldn’t wait to get home ad see what that 1980 Topps set would have to offer.

The aesthetics of the set can only compared to the models of the era. The modest photography doesn’t capture the details of the uniforms or equipment.  Likewise, the graphics are constrained by the use of team colors;  some color choices are horrible.  But, put those two characteristics together and add consistently stellar stats and facts, and you’ve got a fine vintage card.

Browsing through the set reveals characters and brilliant players.  And the hair.  And polyester unis.  Yeah, these oddities solidify this set as vintage.  A clean-shaven Bruce Sutter. A  tired looking Ted Sizemore winding down his career in a Boston uniform.  Lou Pinella looks fit.  Bill Buckner looks happy.

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Guest Commentary: Steven Judd Examines the Buy/Sell Psyche

Steven Judd is a lifelong, often-outspoken collector who has worked as a Price Guide Analyst for Beckett Media and in the product development arena for Donruss, Topps and Upper Deck. Read his occasional random ramblings here at The Beckett Blog and on Beckett.com.

By Steven Judd

Regardless of what you think you might know about me (and depending on how long you’ve been in the industry, that might be a lot or a little), what you might not know is that buying and selling sports cards has always been my true passion in the hobby.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the years I spent working on the corporate side of the business. I always loved the process of building card products and I miss not being involved in it.

However, nothing gets my hobby juices going like buy/sell action. Nothing. For me, it’s the ultimate form of entertainment and, at certain times in my life, has been my only means of self preservation. When all else fails, I always end up going back to selling cards.

I put myself through college selling cards. I sold full-time on eBay for a couple of years after I left Beckett in 1999. I started Syndicate Sports Cards, a Beckett Marketplace storefront, in 2006 after leaving Donruss Playoff.  (I sold my half of the company in 2007 before going to Upper Deck.)

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