Monthly Archives: August 2010

Almost Live: 2010 Classics Football Hall of Fame Autographs

Panini America Football Brand Manager Carlos Torrez confirmed today that all seven subjects in the 2010 Classics Football Hall of Fame Autographs set (Emmitt Smith, Jerry Rice, Floyd Little, John Randle, Dick LeBeau, Rickey Jackson and Russ Grimm) have returned their on-card autographs to Panini headquarters.

Torrez said the outstanding redemption cards — released as part of 2010 Classics Football in early August — will begin being fulfilled “in the very near future.”

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USA Baseball deal lets Topps present top prospects earlier than ever

To collectors of USA Baseball cards this is nothing new, but Topps touted its crop of top 2011 draft picks that can already be found in its upcoming 2010 Bowman sets because of its deal as the exclusive manufacturer of USA cards.

Oh, and it also offered on Friday a sneak peek at the first USA Baseball cards for this year’s teams, which will be all over upcoming sets.

Here’s the info, straight from Topps:

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First Look: Leaf MMA Fedor Emelianenko & Brock Lesnar Autos

Leaf President Brian Gray on Monday afternoon released several images of autographed cards slated for the upcoming 2010 Leaf MMA product due out next month. Among them was the first certified autograph card of feared Russian heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko and a handful of cards bearing signatures from UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar.

See all the images after the jump and stay tuned to for additional information on 2010 Leaf MMA.

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Rippin' Retail: 2010 Topps 206 baseball cards

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Beckett Baseball‘s Chris Olds rips into a blaster box (and an extra jumbo pack) of 2010 Topps 206 baseball cards in this latest Rippin’ Retail video.

We’ll have a full Box Busters video here soon, but until then check this one out.

What will he find inside? Just watch …

First Look: 2010 Crown Royale Football

You can count on one hand the number of sports card products that are instantly recognizable from five feet away with just a glimpse of the base card. The rather regal Crown Royale is one of those products — and Panini America is giving the elaborate testament to mid-’90s technological decadence a full-blown football set for the first time since 2002.

Due out in late October, 2010 Crown Royale Football looks to be a true-to-its-roots updating of the trailblazing original, the creative, die-cut brainchild of former Pacific Trading Cards owner Michael Cramer. Panini has tinkered with the Crown Royale concept sporadically since acquiring the rights to it and other Pacific names and brands in 2004.

Until earlier this summer, that tinkering was confined to the occasional insert or promotional card. But in July the company released 2009-10 Crown Royale Basketball, setting the stage for its more deeply rooted football counterpart later this fall.

It’s a high-end product ($25 per five-card pack with an autograph or memorabilia card perk) with a familiarly non-traditional design sure to send longtime collectors immediately back in time to 1995, when the first Crown Royale arrived.

There’s something distinctly, refreshingly Chaucerian about the insert designs that makes me want to set out on a pilgrimage to the hobby shop. In a category often criticized for the perceived sameness from product to product and season to season, Crown Royale definitively bucks that trend despite being a 15-year-old idea.

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ITG President Dr. Brian Price's "Welcome Letter" to Panini

In The Game President Dr. Brian Price had an interesting post on his PrezSez blog Sunday regarding alleged language in Panini America‘s NHL player agreement letters that he finds rather objectionable.

Price cited specifically the following paragraph, which he says a player agent brought to his attention:

“Player shall be restricted from providing autographs on Cards for other comapanies unless such Cards are licensed by the National Hockey League Players’ Association (the “NHLPA”) at the time such autograph is provided.”

Price’s response?

“These agreements are being sent out to players who might be playing in the AHL and the CHL next year [and are] clearly trying to effect our contractual relationships with the AHL/PHPA and CHL. Since the NHLPA no longer permits exclusives, this clause is an attack against ITG.

“Is it legal? We certainly will find out very soon.

“Panini should worry about competing with Upper Deck but it seems they are more concerned with us, should I be flattered?”

For the full post, visit Dr. Price’s blog.

Tim Tebow 'Topps' John Elway in New Card Count

John Elway‘s first Topps card — a gem of a Rookie Card that’s No. 1 in my heart and No. 63 on your checklist — arrived in 1984. Elway’s 30th Topps card wouldn’t follow until nine years later, in 1993 Topps, after the Hall of Famer had already played in three Super Bowls and earned an NFL MVP Award.

Tim Tebow‘s first Topps card arrived earlier this week with the release of 2010 Topps Football. So did his 30th.

According to preliminary checklist data confirmed by Beckett Media, Tebow appears on 30 different trading cards in 2010 Topps. That brief but brazenly bulging checklist says as much about how dramatically the industry has changed in the last 25 years as it does about the headline-harvesting wunderkind looking to become the Denver Broncos‘ next great franchise quarterback.

For perspective, consider that Tebow appears on just 10 cards in 2010 Classics, 16 in 2010 Score, 17 in 2010 Prestige and 22 in 2010 Donruss Elite. The only 2010 NFL product released so far this season to include more Tebow cards than Topps’ 30 is Rookies and Stars, which boasts a staggering 38.

Tebow’s Topps total includes 13 cards limited to 25 copies or less and five 1/1s. He has 10 autographed cards in the set (the most plentiful is numbered to 90), four memorabilia cards and one autographed memorabilia card.

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Bustin' Wax: 1995 Signature Rookies football cards

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Beckett Media’s Chris Olds busts open a 15-year-old box of 1995 Signature Rookies International Edition football cards in this edition of Bustin’ Wax.

What will he find inside this gem, which includes an autograph in every pack and 18 sigs in every box?

Watch and find out …

Part 1 is above and Part 2 is after the jump.

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Panini reveals surprise in Elite Extra Edition baseball card set

Pamela Anderson throws a first pitch along with her son, Brandon, before a Los Angeles Dodgers game in 2008. AP image

Panini America officials revealed to Beckett Media on Friday a few of the surprises it has in store for the upcoming 2010 Donruss Elite Extra Edition baseball card set that arrives in late-September.

Perhaps the biggest surprise? A Pamela Anderson autographed baseball card.

You see, the 43-year-old former Playboy model and Baywatch star is a big fan of the Pepperdine University baseball team, so much so she’ll appear on card No. 100 in the set wearing a Pepperdine Wave jersey.

Oh, and she’ll be signing 35 cards — on-card, not stickers — for inclusion in packs.

Among the retired players and Hall of Famers signing for the set in their high school or college uniforms are Cal Ripken Jr., Randy Johnson, Reggie Jackson, Paul Molitor, Alan Trammell, Tom Seaver and Bob Gibson among others.

Among the 33 prospects who have signed on-card for DEEE are:

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The hobby's biggest story in years gets bigger — Stephen Strasburg needs Tommy John surgery


Anyone who doubts Stephen Strasburg‘s place in the hobby in 2010 hasn’t been paying attention to the stat sheets.

You know, his numbers on the field — and the sales of his baseball cards.

However, the biggest story in baseball in years got a little bit bigger on Friday morning as a Washington Nationals official said the highly touted hard-throwing right-handed rookie likely needs Tommy John surgery — ligament replacement in his right elbow. That means we may not see him on an MLB mound until 2012.

Cynics saw Strasburg’s high level of success on the field and predicted a downfall eventually — though one has to wonder where that particularly came from as he has been absolutely dominant in college and the minor leagues before becoming the spectacle of all spectacles in the big leagues this season. You can’t argue with his numbers — they were there and had been enough to justify his being the No. 1 pick, which came with a hefty $15-million record-setting contract.

However, one can never predict injuries — and the cynics got what they wanted; a quick downfall this season, an end to the biggest story MLB has had — especially when reflected on cardboard — in years. Some say Strasburg’s arrival challenges the impact of the arrivals of Ichiro Suzuki and Albert Pujols in 2001, but I’d say it might surpass them both and go even further back.

Now what, though? Let’s assess Strasburg’s performance as we look forward …

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Topps Offers An Exclusive Sneak Peek at 2010 Topps UFC

The doors opened this morning at the John B. Hynes Convention Center in Boston for the two-day 2010 UFC Fan Expo, held this year in conjunction with Saturday night’s UFC 118 event. The Expo — a sensory-overload combination of, among other things, collectibles, apparel, autograph signing sessions and martial arts demonstrations —  is nirvana for diehard MMA fans.

But one of the highlights for the card-minded enthusiasts among the throngs attending no doubt will be booth #2015. That’s where Topps officials are providing the first opportunity to view — and purchase — 2010 Topps UFC, the company’s hotly anticipated next product available everywhere else Sept. 15.

Topps’ Clay Luraschi and Jeremy Fullerton were nice enough to smuggle some first-look photos our way. Enjoy the images . . . and if you’re in the Boston area over the next two days and plan on attending the Expo, by all means give us a full show report.

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First look: 2010 Bowman Sterling baseball cards

Topps revealed its latest prospecting product on Friday morning, Bowman Sterling, which will arrive in late-December packing 20 hits in every six-pack box.

The hobby-exclusive product will include four autographed Rookie Cards, eight signed MLB Future Star Cards, six  USA Baseball  Star Autograph Relic or Relics, one dual autograph and one dual-Relic boxtopper.

The base set will consist of 50 rookies and 50 MLB Future Stars cards, a 20-card skip-numbered RC Autograph checklist, a 50-card Future Stars autograph checklist and a 32-card USA Baseball dual-autograph set. The remainder of the product is made up of a 42-card USA Baseball Relic contingent and 31 dual-Relic boxtoppers.

The Rookie and Future Stars sets will, of course, include Refractors — Reds, Blacks, Golds and standards — and the same for the dual-autograph cards.

The Relics will have Patch Red Refractor 1/1s, signed Relic Black Refractors, Triple Relic Gold Refractors and Dual Relic Refractors. The easiest of all Refractors — Relic or autograph — is just 199 copies.

Among those on the Rookie  autograph checklist are Stephen Strasburg, Ike Davis, Jose Tabata, Jason Heyward, Mike Minor, Domonic Brown, Logan Morrison, J.P. Arencibia and Brennan Boesch among others.

The Future Stars checklist includes Aroldis Chapman, Kolbrin Vitek, Matt Lipka, Bryce Brentz and several players to be determined.

See a gallery of images after the jump.

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Topps Offers Bounty for Rare Quad-Signed Rookie Premiere Auto

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A limited-edition 2010 Topps Rookie Premiere Autograph card signed by Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow, Dez Bryant and Jimmy Clausen will land one lucky collector a full-size NFL helmet signed by the same four rookie stars in Topps’ latest bounty program that was revealed to Beckett Media on Thursday evening.

It’s possible that up to nine other collectors could find the card that’s limited to just 10 copies. They’ll be eligible for prizes, too.

For more information on the bounty, watch the video that stars a most sensational special guest . . .

Complete Gallery: 2010 Topps Football Rookie Cards & Variations

Judging by the considerable buzz being created online and in hobby shops today, it’s pretty clear that 2010 Topps Football is starting to make its way across the country. The product trickled out at mass retail earlier this week and most hobby dealers have received their order of Jumbos. The standard hobby configuration product should arrive tomorrow.

Clearly, the frenzy is beginning.

In addition to the anticipated hype surrounding Topps’ first sequentially numbered Rookie Premiere Autographs cards (one Tim Tebow has already reached $200 with still more than two days remaining), there are quite a few collectors clearly enamored with chasing the 25 short-printed Rookie Card variations in the product.

While it’s unclear just how short the variations are, recent Price Guide history can shed a little light. The Matt Ryan base RC from 2008 is valued at $6 compared the variation’s $100. Last season’s Mark Sanchez base RC also is valued at $6; his variation is at $80.

We know many of you will no doubt embark on some hardcore sleuthing in the next day or so to determine exactly which version of each player card is the short print. In light of that, we reached out to Topps officials in an effort to save you some time. They were nice enough to provide us with this comprehensive 50-image visual road map of every RC and its variation.


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Box Busters Gallery: 2009-10 Panini NBA Season Update

We got an early glimpse at 2009-10 Panini NBA Season Update today and it appears that the autograph and memorabilia card odds are better than first reported. Like, two times better.

Preliminary information indicated that each 24-pack box would yield one autograph card and two memorabilia cards. But the box we opened earlier today included two autographs (including a redemption for a Patrick Mills Prestige Draft Picks Rights) and four memorabilia cards.

No word from Panini America officials yet on whether this is an across-the-board odds adjustment or if Hot Boxes exist.

The catch-all, season-in-review product includes updated photography from the NBA season’s second half, Highlights cards honoring team and individual milestones and Christmas Cards featuring pieces of game-worn jerseys from the NBA’s Christmas games last year. (While the Christmas Cards are actually a really nice touch, it seems a little odd pulling them from a new product in late August.)

The product also strives to provide checklist-finishing autographed “updates” to a handful of previous 2009-10 Panini NBA products, including Prestige, Threads and Rookies and Stars.

Stay tuned to Friday for what promises to be a scintillating Box Busters episode on the product, which release next Wednesday. For now, enjoy this image-heavy sneak peek:

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On the Front Lines: Tim Tebow Mania

Editor’s Note: For almost 20 years, Mike Fruitman has owned and operated Mike’s Stadium Sportscards in the Denver, Colo., suburb of Aurora. During that time, Fruitman admittedly has never seen anything quite like the frenzy that ensued beginning with the late-April day that Tim Tebow became a Denver Bronco. This is his summary.

Since opening Mike’s Stadium Sportscards in 1992, I’ve learned that, for the most part, as the Denver Broncos go, so goes my store.

Colorado Avalanche championships resulted in great interest, Denver Nuggets draft picks like Carmelo Anthony developed some hardcore collectors and the Colorado Rockies’ postseason run in 2007 helped us hit a few grand slams at the register. But all of that pales in significance to when the blue and orange are on fire.

Thinking back to April 22, 2010, the first day of the 2010 NFL Draft, Denver fans had numerous hopes for the Broncos. After last season, it was clear that the Broncos had many needs and that QB was not necessarily a priority. In 2009, Kyle Orton passed for 3,802 yards with 21 TDs and just 12 picks, his best season ever. Since second-year head coach Josh McDaniels traded away Brandon Marshall this off-season, getting a big wide receiver like Demaryius Thomas with the team’s first pick made perfect sense and, in most years, would have appeased Bronco Nation.
Imagine how floored the customers in my store were when the Broncos then traded up to pick again at No. 25 and Tim Tebow was shown putting on a Broncos cap. The Bronco fan in me knew we had other pressing needs, but the sports card store owner in me could not have been happier.

Any NFL card collector knows that there is no more collected position than quarterback. So while we expected to sell every Tebow card that my store could acquire this season, having him on the Broncos meant those sales would greatly exceed anything I had anticipated going into draft night.

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2010 Topps Football Finally Arrives . . .

The long-awaited and way-later-than-usual arrival of base-brand Topps Football this week is sure to be met with a widespread embrace and robust hobby-shop foot traffic across the country.

Indeed, the longest-running annual football card set of all time — believed as recently as late April to be gone forever — releases for the 56th consecutive year on Wednesday packing something borrowed (the popular Million Card Giveaway concept from 2010 Topps Baseball), something new (the industry’s first player-drawn Sketch Cards) and the always-popular Rookie Premiere Autographs, sequentially numbered this year for the first time.

Although it’s hard to gauge which inclusion collectors are most anticipating, there’s a good bet it’s the Topps Gridiron Giveaway, football’s equivalent to baseball’s successful pack-pushing promotion that’s still buzzing in hardcore collecting circles. The concept, equal parts nostalgia and new media, is universally appealing in its simplicity.

One in every six packs of 2010 Topps Football will include a Gridiron Giveaway Code Card that, when entered into a special website that’s slated to go live Wednesday, is redeemable for prizes ranging from original vintage Topps football cards to autographed footballs and helmets. Every code card in the product is a guaranteed winner.

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WHA Hall of Fame Hockey set rekindles interest

by Russ Cohen

The World Hockey Association was a star-studded league that ran from 1972-1979, a professional league that was genuine competition for the NHL.

It was a league that snagged quite a few stars in the process — like Bobby Hull, Gordie Howe and Mark Howe to name a few — and it was a place where some youngsters started their careers, including Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier.

In 2004-05 when the NHL had a lockout the WHA almost came back to life, but that dream fell short. But last week in Hartford, Conn., Whalers fans came out in droves to see Howe, Mike Rogers and many former players. This week, they were in Winnipeg, with two of their trading card sets, DVDs and the hope of rekindling interest in the defunct league.

A 10-card WHA Hall of Fame set can be picked up by fans wanting some additional memorabilia to go with their memories. The cards included are of Joe Daley, who has owned a card shop in Winnipeg for many years, Marty and Mark Howe, Robbie Ftorek, The Avco Cup (awarded to the playoff champion) and the first card ever produced for the “Winnipeg Hot Line” of Ulf Nilsson, Bobby Hull and Anders Hedberg.

If this set wasn’t enough, there is an uncut sheet available as well. There are only 40 of them and they sell for $29.95.  The website also offers autographed merchandise and much more.

The Hall of Fame is looking for a physical location and the two cities with the best chance of getting it are Hartford and Winnipeg.  Winnipeg should have the edge since its team won three championships – – the most in league history.

Amazing Dunks, Insane Trick Shots at the 2010 Panini NBA Rookie Photo Shoot

If you think all that went on at last week’s 2010 Panini NBA Rookie Photo Shoot was acquiring autographs, conducting interviews and snapping pictures for the express purpose of making 2010-11 NBA trading cards, well, do yourself a favor and devote less than three minutes to this must-see video.

From captivating trick shots to mesmerizing slam dunks, this behind-the-scenes video from the event must be seen to be believed. The highly entertaining footage promises to give hoops collectors a deeper appreciation for the 2010-11 rookie class.

Domonic Brown, Ryan Kalish finish off 2010 Finest Rookie Redemptions

Topps revealed its final two 2010 Finest Rookie Redemption cards on Monday, and the perhaps shocking revelation is that neither one was Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg.

No. 9 is Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown, while the final Finest card — a redemption that had been selling quite well because of speculation for a second Strasburg card, or perhaps a Strasburg autograph — is Red Sox outfielder Ryan Kalish. The No 10 redemption had been selling for as much as four times the price of previous redemptions.

Topps previously announced were White Sox infielder Dayan Viciedo (No 8), Cubs pitcher Andrew Cashner as No. 7 (autographed), Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg as No. 6,  Marlins outfielder Mike Stanton as No. 5, and that No. 4 was Reds pitcher Mike Leake. Topps’ other releases for the set include Cubs rookie Starlin Castro for rookie No. 3, while info on rookie No. 2 can be found here and rookie No. 1 can be found here.

Through the rest of the season, Topps will announce the remainder of the players in the 10-card set.  Each Finest Master Box includes one Rookie Redemption, which also can be found as Blue Refractors (199 copies) and Gold Refractors (limited to 50).

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.

Upper Deck Produces Thierry Henry's First MLS Trading Card

Upper Deck officials have produced the first Major League Soccer trading card of French superstar Thierry Henry and are distributing it free to those collectors who purchase two blaster boxes of 2010 Upper Deck Soccer at the company’s online store.

Henry, a headline-generating talent of international proportions, is the all-time leading scorer for Arsenal of the English Premier League and a member of France’s 1998 World Cup championship squad. He signed with the MLS’ Red Bulls less than five weeks ago and promptly scored a goal in his first game, on July 22.

The Upper Deck card features an image from that historic tally.

“There are few names associated with soccer right now that are bigger than Henry’s,” said Jason Masherah, Upper Deck’s Vice President of Marketing. “Since we were unable to include him in our original Upper Deck Soccer product this year, for the simply fact that he was not yet a member of the [MLS], this is a big coup for us. We’re extremely excited to get this card out into the marketplace.”

Card Gallery: 2010 Topps WWE Wrestling

We got our first look at the 2010 Topps WWE set on Wednesday and one of the things that stands out in this release are strong photographs cleanly showcased on the design for Topps’ 2010 baseball set.

From the WWE Divas to the brutes, the set of both past and present stars seems to carry a crisper and more energetic look than recent wrestling releases — even last year’s much- improved set — largely because of the photos, which are a mix of action and studio work.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that there are some pretty deep insert card sets to be found — and some autographs from guys who haven’t signed in years.

Get a closer look at the set with a 30-plus card gallery after the jump.

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Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain fuel $1.48M Grey Flannel's Basketball Hall of Fame auction

Grey Flannel‘s Basketball Hall of Fame Induction Auction netted $1.48 million recently — an average lot price of more than $6,600 — with some classic items helping lead the way.

The annual auction, which was held at the Hall of Fame, is in its fifth year and was topped by a 1968-69 Boston Celtics home warm-up jacket worn by Bill Russell and and a 1965-66 Wilt Chamberlain Philadelphia 76ers game-used home jersey. Each drew $84,000.

A collection of items from Hall of Famer Dennis Johnson was sold, including his 1984 Boston Celtics World Championship player’s ring, which went for $78,000. His 1980 Western Conference game-used All-Star uniform went for $24,000.

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First Look: 2010 Topps Magic Football

Topps officials on Thursday provided preliminary product information and images on 2010 Topps Magic Football, one of the company’s few throwback-inspired gridiron releases that arrives in late December yielding three autograph cards per box.

Magic is bolstered by the Magic Autographs, Magic Dual Autographs and Magic Dual Autographs signature inserts, and each includes a Chrome Refractor parallel version.

New this year for the brand are Gridiron Stamp of Approval and Historical Stamp of Approval stamp cards (think 2007 Leaf Certified Souvenir Stamps) numbered to 10 and 25, respectively, and hobby-exclusive Relic cards.

The product’s 250-card base set includes 50 short prints and a striking artistic aesthetic that should be well received by collectors. Mini parallel versions will fall one per pack in either base, black-bordered or Pigskin (numbered to 50) form.

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Rippin' Retail: 2010 Topps WWE wrestling cards

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Beckett Media’s Chris Olds rips into a blaster box of 2010 Topps WWE wrestling cards in this latest episode of Rippin’ Retail. (We’ll have a standard Box Busters video soon.)

What will he find inside? Watch and find out …

Daniel Bryan's WWE return was in the cards all along

Wrestling fans know all about the story of Daniel Bryan and his time with World Wrestling Entertainment.

First, he was a breakout star early on in the first season of WWE’s version of American Idol, a show called NXT. But couldn’t get a win to save himself and eventually he was eliminated.

Then, of course, he was fired from the company for choking out an announcer with his tie during a NXT melee — something apparently not kosher in today’s more kid-friendly WWE.

And, much to some fans’ surprise, Bryan was re-hired just this past Sunday to help combat his former NXT compatriots at SummerSlam, a return announced during the pay-per-view.

Did you get all that, non-wrestling fans?

Well, to some it was obviously a work — wrestling slang for storyline that misleads — but oddly Bryan, a long-time star on the indepdendent scene, was allowed to work for other companies during his non-compete time. (Typically, dismissed talents can’t go to work for competitors for a period of two to three months as part of their contractual obligations.)

But to truly know Bryan’s firing was a work — and that his return has been in the works for some time — one has to look no further than the brand new set of 2010 Topps WWE wrestling cards, which arrives in stores this week.

When the card set was announced, not long after Bryan’s firing a few months ago, the preliminary checklist did not include him. But ripping into a pack of cards today I made an interesting discovery — he appears on card No. 68 in the 110-card set.

According to Topps‘ compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act — information obtained by checking a code printed on the cards themselves — the cards were printed between July2 and July 16 — well before Sunday’s PPV.

So much for John Cena‘s recruiting him to help save “Team WWE” on Sunday …

Forget getting Vince McMahon on the phone all you dirt-sheet reporters. If you want the real scoop, everybody knows you have to rip into packs of 2010 Topps WWE trading cards.

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.

Rippin Retail: 2010 Topps Baseball Value Box

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Beckett Media’s Chris Olds rips into a 2010 Topps Baseball Value Box, a new item that hit retail shops this week.

What will he find inside? Watch and find out …

Gallery: Signature Moves at the 2010 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot

Despite the countless hours of behind-the-scenes legwork that go into preparing for any rookie photo shoot (let alone one that attracts more than 40 players like today’s just-completed 2010 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot), most collectors tend to strip the events down these days to two important questions: Will there be on-card autographs from the event and what do the photographs taken there look like?

In that order.

The captivating images that follow showcasing some of Panini America‘s 2010-11 NBA trading cards — and the young NBA superstars signing them — should provide some early answers to those two key questions.

Enjoy the gallery and stay tuned to for additional coverage of the 2010 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot.

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First look: 2010 Certified football cards

Panini America released the basic product information and preview images for one of its annual staples on Tuesday, 2010 Certified, which will arrive in late October.

The $10-a-pack product will include two autographs and two memorabilia cards in every 10-pack box and there also will be six insert cards per box — two each from Mirror Parallels, standard inserts and two rookies numbered to 999 or less.

Every 24-box case will be broken into three mini cases, each with one “Platinum Hot Box” inside with all base cards inside numbered to 999 or less.

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Sneak Peek: 2010-11 Limited Basketball Same Day Rookie Signatures (Unsigned)

Panini America officials are taking advantage of the unprecedented access provided by today’s 2010 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot to acquire as many on-card autographs for the 2010-11 NBA card season as possible.

Some of the cards being signed, perhaps as you read this, are these 2010-11 Limited Same Day Rookie Signatures.

Although the cards shown here haven’t been signed yet, we thought they were worth a first look.

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New York Giants legend Bobby Thomson dies at 86

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Bobby Thomson, whose dramatic home run gave the New York Giants the NL pennant in 1951 and inspired one of the most memorable calls in baseball history, has died. He was 86.

“The Shot Heard ‘Round the World” came off Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca in a playoff game to determine who would face the New York Yankees in the World Series, forever linking the duo in baseball lore and on baseball memorabilia.

Thomson, who also played for the Milwaukee Braves, Cubs, Red Sox and Orioles, played 15 seasons in the bigs, hitting .270 with 264 home runs and 1,026 RBI.

The three-time All-Star appeared on just 219 baseball cards during his career, just 25 of those certified autographs and 17 of them featuring memorabilia swatches. His Rookie Card appears in the 1948 Bowman set, which can be found for $100 or less.

Thomson was a prolific signer for baseball fans through the mail over the years and his autograph can often be found in tandem with Branca.

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.

Beckett On Location: The 2010 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot

Beckett correspondent Michael Eisner (no, not that Michael Eisner) is on location today inside the MSG Training Center in Tarrytown, N.Y., covering the 2010 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot and Panini America‘s cardmaking exploits there.

The big news of the day so far: Panini America President Mark Warsop confirmed to MSNBC’s Darren Rovell that the company has signed No. 1 overall pick John Wall to a one-year exclusive.

Eisner’s got his hands full attempting to track down, interview and photograph more than 40 of the NBA’s brightest young players, but he managed to file a few quick snapshots during a harried lunch break.

His task this afternoon is to get as many close-up card pics as possible. So stay tuned . . .

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Round 5 Readies New-Line Sneak Peek for UFC Fan Expo

Renowned UFC figure-maker Round 5 has a surprise for those MMA fans attending the UFC Fan Expo in conjunction with UFC 118 later this month in Boston: A sneak peek at the company’s Ultimate Collector Series 4 line.

Due out in time for the 2010 holiday shopping season, the new lineup incorporates one legendary fighter (UFC Hall of Famer Royce Gracie), two current champions (heavyweight Brock Lesnar, light heavyweight Mauricio “Shogun” Rua), one former champion (light heavyweight Quinton “Rampage” Jackson), one up-and-comer (heavyweight contender Cain Velasquez) and two larger-than-life UFC personalities (president Dana White and “Veteran Voice of the Octagon” Bruce Buffer).

“We are pleased to be introducing our latest series of new figurines to fans at UFC Fan Expo,” said Damon Lau, Round 5 president and co-founder. “There are some completely new athletes, including Royce Gracie and Cain Velasquez, and our first ‘Ultimate Collector’ non-fighters in Dana White and Bruce Buffer.”

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In the Minors: But will they get baseball cards?

This one’s definitely from the “kids, don’t try this at home” category.

You might know the Savannah Sand Gnats for having one of the coolest logos in baseball, but it was pretty hot on the basepaths Saturday night in Georgia.

That’s because stuntman Ted Batchelor rounded the bases … on fire.

I’m not going to even try to make sense of this minor league publicity stunt … but all I can say is if this doesn’t get him a baseball card in the Sand Gnats’ team set, I don’t know what would.

But we’re not done there …

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First look: 2010 Bowman Sterling football cards

Topps unveiled its latest football offering, 2010 Bowman Sterling, on Monday, a rookie-loaded high-end product chock-full of autographs and memorabilia cards.

Set to arrive in mid-December, Sterling will include 12 Rookie Cards, four autographs, two autographed Relics and a dozen more Relics in every six-pack box. Also included will be a dual Relic box-topper card.

Every five-card pack will include two RCs, one autograph and two Relics, while every eight-box case includes one dual autograph.

As with most Topps products, and past editions of Bowman Sterling, there are several parallels of each card to be found — SuperFractors and printing plates as well as Refractors (Gold, Black, Blue and standard).

Among the notable rookies on the autograph checklist are Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford, Jimmy Clausen, Colt McCoy, Jordan Shipley, C.J. Spiller, Ndamukong Suh and others, while the veteran autograph lineup includes Eli Manning, Percy Harvin, Chris “Beanie” Wells, Ray Rice, Drew Brees and others.

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