Monthly Archives: February 2011

First look: 2011 Topps Allen & Ginter baseball cards

By Chris Olds | Editor

It’s back, and it looks to be packing more punch than ever.

Well, at least with an autograph card of boxer Manny Pacquiao.

Topps unveiled on Monday evening the first look at 2011 Allen & Ginter, the sixth installment of the popular baseball card series with the retro tobacco card design and the world’s greatest athletes in several sports.

Set to arrive in mid-July, Ginter will include what Topps is touting as the “most-exciting and wide-ranging autograph list in its history.” Each 24-pack hobby box will include three hits — a selection of framed mini autographs, Relics and more that has been found in recent years. The base set will consist of 350 cards (six cards per pack) with 270 veterans, 30 rookies, 15 historic fugures and 35 world’s champions — the staple of the “other sport” inclusions since 2006.

A new line of inserts will be included, featuring such things as “Animals in Peril,” Uninvited Guests” and “Flora of the World” along with diecut cabinet cards that form a map of the United States.

Also back will be the Ginter Code.

But, as with its debut set in 2006, the real power of Ginter comes via its autograph checklist. Among this year’s inclusions?

Former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz.

“Raging Bull” boxer Jake LaMotta.

Tennis mouthpiece John McEnroe.

LPGA great Annika Sorenstam.

That’s just for starters.

See more — including images — after the jump.

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Peja SuperCollector gets our Kobe Bryant autograph

We’re a little behind awarding our three end-of-2010 SuperCollector prizes, but here goes with No.  1 …

We’ve awarded our specially slabbed Kobe Bryant 2009-10 Court Kings autograph — No. 8/24 — to Michael Larsen.

What made his collection — which got a little bit of real estate in Beckett Sports Card Monthly No. 312 (The Autograph Issue) — so special?

He’s a Peja Stojakovic collector who owns more than 100 Peja cards that are 1/1, along with more than 300 autographed cards as well.  Want something even more interesting?

“Although I don’t chase them,” he notes, “I have 47 cards that are serially numbered to his jersey number (16/XXX).”

We’ll have our picks for our hockey and football winners very soon.

I have the ultimate Peja Stojakovic collection.  I currently have close to 300 autographed cards and too many jerseys, serially numbered, inserts, parallels, and base cards to count.  Although I don’t chase them, I have 47 cards that are serially numbered to his jersey number (16/XXX).

I have 102 one of ones, including 57 printing plates and 45 non-printing plate one of ones.  11 of the printing plates are autographed.  I have the complete set of 4 printing plates (black, cyan, magenta, and yellow) for 2 cards.  I have 3 logoman NBA logo one of ones and 8 Etched in Time one of ones from 04-05 Upper Deck Hardcourt.  I also own 6 of the 10 Lettermen cards from 03-04 Flair Final Edition, 2 of the 3 Tag Men cards from 05-06 SP Game Used, and all 3 of the Tag Men cards from 06-07 SP Game Used.

In addition to cards, I have several autographed pictures and 4 full sized autographed jerseys.  I have met Peja a couple of times at local signings while he was with the Kings.

I have attached a couple pictures of my favorite cards, but I have most of the more valuable part of the collection scanned at the following address:

Thought I would finally officially share my collection with the rest of the hobby.

Michael Larsen

eTopps starts it MILB campaign with one of the hottest prospects

By Susan Lulgjuraj | Contributing Editor

Minor League baseball players are back on eTopps cards this week. Topps kicks off the series off with two of the most talked about prospects in the game.

The week’s allocation include Los Angeles Angels farmhand Mike Trout and Minnesota Twins infield prospect Miguel Sano.

Trout’s cards are limited to 799 copies are are $5.50 each. Sano’s cards are limited to 740 and run $3.50.

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First look: 2011 Topps Rising Rookies Football

By Susan Lulgjuraj | Contributing Editor

More and more these days football products are featuring the top rookies of the game, even before the rookies have made it. Topps is releasing a new product this year with 2011 Topps Rising Rookies Football.

The name says it all with this set. There will be four hits – at least two autographs – in every 24-pack hobby box with half of the cards in each 10-card pack being rookies. Hobby boxes will features on-card rookie autograph NFL Shield and Draft logo patch cards as well as autograph jumbo relics, autograph jumbo patch cards and 1/1 rookie parallels.

A pack should costs fans somewhere around $3 and is set to be released the week of June 7.

See a gallery after the jump:

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First Look: 2011 TRISTAR Pursuit baseball cards

By Chris Olds | Editor

TRISTAR unveiled its latest baseball card release, 2011 Pursuit, recently and it appears that the format for last year’s boxed set release is back for another season.

Set to arrive on April 15, Pursuit  will include a 75-card base set made up of promising prospects along with 18 additional bonus cards per box. Six of those will be autograph cards limited to 111 or fewer copies. Five of those will be parallel cards limited to 99 or less, five of those will be short-printed cards and two will be 2011 Obak preview cards.

The product is not licensed by any league or governing sports entity, so the photographs will be airbrushed or be high school uniforms, depending on the player’s level. There will be 92 total cards in the set (Nos. 76-92 being SPs) with some of the notable prospects to be found inside including: Mike Trout, Jameson Taillon, Manny Machado, Christian Colon, Dustin Ackley, Wil Myers, Brandon Belt and Jonathan Singleton to name a few.

The Obak preview set is highlighted by Whitey Ford, Taillon, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Cap Anson, Bobby Thomson and Billy “White Shoes” Johnson.The Obak autograph cards will all be signed on-card.

While there will be plenty of autograph cards to be found (again, six per set), the real highlight here are the five-autograph cards that feature exactly what you might think — five autographs on the front of each card. A few of the groupings? How about a “catching stars” card with Johnny Bench, Frank Cervelli, Buster Posey, Carlos Santana and Matt Wieters? Or how about an “outfield futures” card with John Mayberry, Jay Bruce, Jason Heyward, Austin Jackson and Desmond Jennings? In all, there are 10 five-auto cards to be found.

As with past TRISTAR products, the print run will be limited. There are only 75 serial-numbered cases of the product to be found.

See more images from the set after the jump.

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Brooklyn Dodgers legend Duke Snider dies at age 84

By Chris Olds | Editor

Edwin “Duke” Snider, a Hall of Famer who was once one of the kings of New York when it came to talkin’ baseball in the 1950s, died on Sunday. He was 84.

Snider hit 407 home runs during his 18-year big-league career with the Dodgers, Mets and Giants. He played 16 seasons for the Dodgers, making his debut for Brooklyn in 1947. He powered the Dodgers to their only World Series crown in Brooklyn in 1955 — a year in which he hit 42 home runs and drove in a league-leading 136 RBIs — before making the move to Los Angeles where he helped win another Series in 1959.

Snider, an eight-time All-Star, was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1980, the year after Willie Mays and six years after Mickey Mantle. “Willie, Mickey and The Duke” each patrolled center field in New York during the 1950s. Though Snider wasn’t a first-ballot Hall of Famer, he did hit 40 or more home runs five consecutive seasons and led all major-leaguers in home runs and RBIs during the 1950s. He finished his career playing a season apiece in New York and San Francisco, ending with a .295 average, 2,116 hits and 1,333 RBIs.

On cardboard, “The Silver Fox” made his debut in the 1949 Bowman set. His lone Rookie Card is one that can fetch as much as $1,000. In all, he appears on just 2,755 cards with a total value of $62,397.66 — an average value of $22.65 per card of those priced in the database. Snider appears on just 999 different certified autograph cards and 1,135 memorabilia cards.

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Box Busters: 2010 Playoff Contenders Football

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Join Beckett Football’s Dan Hitt and Andrew Tolentino as they rip into a pair of 2010 Playoff Contenders boxes from Panini America in this latest edition of Box Busters.

What will they find inside? Watch and find out.

Box Busters: 2010-11 Playoff Contenders Patches Basketball

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Join Beckett Basketball’s Chris Olds and Rob Springs as they rip into a pair of 2010-11 Playoff Contenders Patches Basketball from Panini America in this latest edition of Box Busters.

What will they find inside? Watch and find out.

Topps Attax returns to baseball diamond with new look for 2011

By Chris Olds | Editor

Topps Attax is returning to the baseball diamond once again in 2011 but this time, Topps says the trading card game will be a little different.

There will be more cards in every pack, a new game format, a new design, new packaging, a “new marketing plan” and, in short, it’s “a whole new ballgame,” according to the company.

Attax will arrive in April with $7.99 starter kits that will consist of a 29-card deck, two foil cards and one ToppsTown card. Attax also will be found in “hanger packs” — jumbo/rack packs for the typical card collectors. Each of those contains 24 batter cards, three pitchers cards and a Mascot card. In addition, each will include a Stadium card, a foil batter card, a ToppsTown and a rules sheet and playmat. There also will be 24-pack standard pack boxes as well.

Really, though, it appears that the rules and game-play are the biggest changes — there’s now a specific baseball-focused format for the game rather than a blanket format similar to Attax in other sports.

To see more of the cards, click below.

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Hank Aaron to appear on Letterman tonight

By Susan Lulgjuraj | Contributing Editor

By now, most collectors know it’s the 60th anniversary for Topps baseball trading cards. Now, the rest of the country will find out.

Topps kicks off a media blitz this week when legendary baseball player Hank Aaron appears on The Late Show with David Letterman tonight. He gives Letterman a one-of-a-kind David Letterman card with a diamond embossed on to the card. These are the types of cards collectors can get in the Diamond Giveaway dig game.

Several media outlets will have stories on the 60th anniversary and Aaron’s appearance including USA Today, New York Post and New York Daily News. Former Chicago White Sox slugger Frank Thomas will join Aaron this week as Topps spokesmen to promote the diamond anniversary.

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A football card that exudes confidence … and more

By Chris Olds | Editor | Commentary

Topps‘ highest-end product ever made — 2011 Topps Five Star Football — is a five-card per pack, $500-per-pack product that’s packing some cards with special touches inside.

There are autograph cards, there are booklet cards, there are patch cards inside each and every box.

But not all of them include an inscription quite as special — quite as confident — as this one from Houston Texans running back Ben Tate, a second-round draft pick who ran for 1,362 yards and 10 touchdowns as a college senior in 2009.

You know, it’s the same Tate who was medically cleared on Tuesday as recovered from a broken right fibula and torn ankle ligaments. The same Tate who hasn’t played a down in the NFL yet. The same Tate who, if healthy, will be fighting for playing time against the NFL’s leading rusher last season, Arian Foster.

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Panini brings back Zenith hockey including rip cards

By Susan Lulgjuraj | Contributing Editor

When 2011 Zenith Hockey comes out on May 11, the question collectors will find themselves asking isn’t whether to buy, but “Should I rip?”

Panini America is resurrecting Zenith Hockey and bringing back the product that started the trend of over-sized rip box-toppers. Some of the goodies collectors can find inside the Dare to Tear box toppers are Epix inserts, exclusive National Treasures and Donruss Elite Rookie Cards.

Each box ($10 SRP per pack) should yield three autographs or memorabilia cards with at least one autograph guaranteed, one Zenith-RC, four short-printed Legends, one Hot-Red parallel and one card of each insert: Gifted Grinders and Crease is the Word.

“The key to making this work is to force collectors to make a tough decision,” said Al Muir, Panini America NHL Brand Manager. “Each Dare to Tear jumbo will feature either a true RC or one of hockey’s greatest legends and it will be fairly limited. If you tear one, you’re destroying a sure thing . . . but what you find inside might just make it worthwhile.”

See a gallery after the jump:

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Topps aims to bring in collectors via books & more

By Chris Olds | Editor

Are you ready for the Tales of Bazooka Joe?

That’s just one of the possibilities as Topps, the longest-running manufacturer of baseball cards, announced on Wednesday that it has entered into a publishing agreement with Abrams, a leading publisher of illustrated books.

The exclusive multi-year deal may include non-fiction and fiction sports books, entertainment-themed books and calendars. The first books will be released in spring of 2012.

“The word ‘Topps’ conjures up memories of collecting sports heroes and chronicling pop culture phenomena,” said Michael Jacobs, Abrams President and CEO. “We look forward to working with the Topps team to capitalize on the appeal of their iconic brand in all kinds of book formats, and look to provide great reading experiences for adults and kids of all ages.”

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First look: 2011 Topps WWE Champions cards

By Chris Olds | Editor

Topps is ready to get in the ring once again as it unveiled it’s latest World Wrestling Entertainment card set on Wednesday morning.

A new line, Topps WWE Champions, features full-bleed photography — but no blood because that’s not kosher in the WWE these days — and highlights from notable matches throughout the WWE years.

Set to arrive in early June, Champions will include 100 base cards in the set and Foil Champions insert cards one in every three packs. There also will be autograph cards to be found, though they will be rarer as odds were not mentioned on the sales materials.

See more images from the set after the jump.

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Box Busters: 2010-11 Upper Deck Hockey Series 2

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Join Beckett Hockey’s Andrew Tolentino and Tim Trout as they rip into a box of 2010-11 Upper Deck Series 2 hockey cards in this latest edition of Box Busters.

What will they find inside? Watch and find out …

Box Busters: 2011 Upper Deck World of Sport

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Join Beckett Media’s Chris Olds and Bryan Hornbeck as they rip into a pair of 2011 Upper Deck World of Sport boxes in this latest edition of Box Busters.

What will they find inside? Watch and find out.

Box Busters: 2011 Press Pass Eclipse

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Join Beckett Media’s Tim Trout and Andrew Tolentino as they rip into a box of 2011 Press Pass Eclipse in this latest edition of Box Busters.

What will they find inside? Watch and find out …

Box Busters: 2011 In The Game Heroes & Prospects Baseball Hits

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Join Beckett Baseball‘s Chris Olds and Brian Fleischer as they rip into two boxes of 2011 In The Game Heroes & Prospects Baseball Hits in this latest edition of Box Busters.

What will they find inside?

Watch and find out …

Unconfirmed short-prints in 2010 Contenders

Dan Hitt | Sports Data Publishing Manager

Collectors have become accustomed to identifying and chasing the short-printed autographed Rookie Cards from Playoff Contenders and for the past four to five years it has almost become an obsession for some.

Closing in on the first full week of 2010 Contenders being out on shelves, the market has a sample size large enough now to fully analyze. Based upon our research of available single cards on the market, below is our list of believed, but unconfirmed short-prints in 2010 Contenders.

Since the definition of “SP” is all a matter of degree, we’ve divided what seems to be the toughest cards into three tiers with Tier 1 being the most difficult to pull from packs.

Tier 1 (Scarce, Extremely low print run)
112    Carlos Dunlap AU RC
130    Dominique Curry AU RC
148    Jeremy Williams AU RC
156    Joique Bell AU RC
157    Kareem Jackson AU RC EXCH
179    Preston Parker AU RC
184    Rusty Smith AU RC
194    Thaddeus Lewis AU RC Read More »

First look: 2011 Press Pass Football

By Susan Lulgjuraj | Contributing Editor

Press Pass is getting the jump on the NFL Draft releasing its 2011 football product next month making it the first football product on the market for the 2011 season.

The 28-pack box will feature five on-card autographs in 2011 Press Pass Football with a price point around $88.

Some of the names included in the set are Ryan Mallet, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, Julio Jones and Nick Fairly. Press Pass also features eight different autograph levels for set collectors to chase.

2011 Press Pass Football is set to be released March 23.

Take a peek at the gallery after the jump.

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Ever wanted a T206 Honus Wagner? It can be yours for $325,000 …

By Chris Olds | Editor

Few of us have the means to purchase a T206 Honus Wagner — there’s something about a six-figure price tag — but often those who do can’t find one.

Now, they can — and there’s no auction block necessary, either. It can be purchased — straight up — for $325,000.

The PSA Authentic specimen of the hobby’s Holy Grail — a card limited to roughly 60 copies — is up for grabs in Memory Lane Inc.‘s Own It Now event that launched on Friday.

The auction house has plenty of other treasures up for grabs — a Babe Ruth autographed baseball ($160,000), a 1911 T201 Hassan set ($90,000), a PSA 8 1948 Leaf Sid Luckman rookie ($70,000) and a PSA 8 1952 Topps Eddie Mathews ($39,500). Memory Lane will offer this type of sale four times this year — a first-come, first-served format that will also allow for offers to be made on the items in coming weeks.

For more information — and to see more of what’s up for grabs — visit Memory Lane’s site here.

Buyer Beware: Contenders Inscriptions Raising Eyebrows

By Andrew Tolentino | Assistant Editor

Since going live, 2010 Contenders Football has hit the secondary market with anticipated excitement and commotion. The on-card autographs from this set are among the most hotly pursued rookie signatures of the season, but some — featuring inscriptions — seem to be raising a few eyebrows as of late.

Eager to get their hands on specially-signed cards, some collectors have  recently paid premium prices for a few extra words from their favorite players.  While this isn’t an uncommon phenomenon, buyers should proceed with caution before breaking the bank on anything exceeding the cursive.

For instance, a Tim Tebow with ‘Go Broncos’ below his signature recently sold for $600 on eBay.

“I don’t question whether or not Tebow wrote the inscription but keep in mind that anyone with a blue sharpie and a little creativity can write nearly anything they want above or below a player’s signature and try to pass that off as an inscription,” said Beckett Sports Data Publishing Manager Dan Hitt Read More »

Panini America teases return of iconic NBA Hoops line

By Chris Olds | Editor

With the NBA All-Star Game this weekend in Los Angeles, the folks at Panini America – the NBA’s lone trading card licensee — are busy promoting their products at the NBA Jam Session this weekend and there’s already a nugget of news.

The late 1980s and 1990s staple — NBA Hoops – will be returning next season, news noted by four 2011-12 promo cards available at the Panini booth.

As you can see above, the cards feature three of Panini’s spokesmen — John Wall, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant — and a fourth guy you might have heard a little bit about this season, Blake Griffin. (How long until he’s part of the Panini lineup?)

The inaugural NBA Hoops set arrived in 1989-90 — a year marked by the arrival of David Robinson‘s highly sought-after Rookie Card — and ran continuously until the 1999-2000 season. Fleer revived the name for the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons before it closed its doors.

We’ll have more on this as soon as it’s available.

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.

Cleveland Indians closer Chris Perez purchased 1927 Yankees Legendary Lineup autograph card

By Chris Olds | Editor

It’s often a story when a baseball card has an autograph of Babe Ruth or Lou Gehrig attached. It’s an even bigger story when it’s a card that has the autographs of all nine starters from the 1927 New York Yankees … and it sells for $20,000.

But the even bigger story here?

Cleveland Indians closer Chris Perez bought it.

You see, the fourth-year big-leaguer out of the University of Miami is a long-time fan and collector of the sport that he has made his life. And when he recently signed his first million-dollar big-league contract, it was time to splurge on something special.

“This is definitely a nice little gift I’m giving myself for my new contract,” said Perez on Friday from spring training in Goodyear, Ariz. “Some people buy cars, jewelry, houses. I wanted to buy something a little different.”

That something different was a one-of-one 2010 Topps Tribute Legendary Lineup Cuts booklet card with the signatures of Earle Combs, Mark Koenig, Ruth, Gehrig, Bob Meusel, Tony Lazzeri, Joe Dugan, Pat Collins and Waite Hoyt – all in one place. It was sold by Beckett Select Auctions the auction consignment division of Beckett Media, after it was found in a pack by a collector in Missouri.

“I have made some big purchases before,” he said. “But nothing of this magnitude.”

For an extensive interview with Perez about his new card — and his collecting habits — look for the April 2011 issue of Beckett Sports Card Monthly — “The Auction Issue” — in hobby shops next month.

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.

Topps confirms 60 sparkles in Series 1 baseball set

By Chris Olds | Editor

Topps confirmed on Friday morning that 60 cards in the first series of its flagship 2011 baseball set have sparkle variations.

As previously reported here, there is a sparkle — or twinkle — of a diamond digitally placed into the photograph on the short-printed cards. While Topps did not announce how scarce the cards are, they have been falling roughly one per case in hobby and also have been found in retail packs.

Get the full list of 60 after the jump.

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Grand Slam patches from In The Game Baseball

By Susan Lulgjuraj | Contributing Editor

With In the Game‘s baseball product coming out next week, the company couldn’t help but tease just a few more Grand Slam pieces collectors will be able to find in 2011 ITG Heroes and Prospects Baseball.

This time it was all heroes.

This massive patch cards appeal to many different types of collectors. Player collectors will likely want to get a hold of these beauties. These are the kind of patches player collectors dream about when they get to add a new piece to their collection.

Set collectors might fancy these as well when they pictures what the entire set would look in one place.

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Panini America signs Kevin Durant as spokesman

By Chris Olds | Editor

Panini America took a third step toward building a strong starting five of spokesmen on Thursday, adding Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant to its roster.

The former Texas Longhorn joins Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant and No. 1 draft pick John Wall of the Washington Wizards as a spokesman and trading card ambassador.

He’ll be an exclusive to Panini and will apepar on the packaging for Absolute Memorabilia when it arrives in March — and based on the row of signed shoes in the background of the image seen here, he’ll be a likely candidate for signed memorabilia pieces as part of Panini America’s forthcoming autographed memorabilia line.

“I’m very excited to be a part of the Panini family and join great players like Kobe Bryant and John Wall for this partnership,” Durant said. “The idea of being on a trading card with Kobe is an amazing opportunity and I can’t wait to see it happen.”

Panini CEO Mark Warsop said he was excited by the signing.

“Kevin is one of those dynamic players that is fun to watch and is a player that excites collectors,” he said. “We are pleased that Kevin has now joined the Panini family, he will be a pillar of Panini’s NBA business for years to come.”

Panini is the exclusive NBA card licensee and also holds an exclusive marketing and advertising deal with the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Here’s more … straight from Durant himself.

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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.

Sanchez Golden Ticket card redeemed in north Texas

By Andrew Tolentino | Assistant Editor

Panini America is causing a Willy Wonka-esque stir in the hobby.

Found in the recently released 2010 Playoff Contenders product, groundbreaking Golden Ticket cards are slowly surfacing throughout the collecting universe. One such card happened to be pulled right here in North Texas — smack-dab in the backyard of both Panini America and Beckett Media.

This morning, I had the pleasure of watching the jaw-dropped face of Michael Keller from Lewisville, Texas as he redeemed  — in person — his pure-gold Mark Sanchez one-of-one.

“I was actually pretty calm, just very excited”  said Keller, describing his pull. “It’s better than you could imagine.” Read More »

First look: 2011 Panini Prestige Football

By Susan Lulgjuraj | Contributing Editor

Football fans have settled in to reflect on the 2010 football season – even for a short amount of time. We all had our favorite moments from the past season and collectively watched the Green Bay Packers win the Super Bowl.

So, what’s next?

More football, of course.

The 2011 football season starts soon enough for Panini America. Hardcore football fans are going through prospects and mock drafts, thinking about where players could possibly end up.

The card companies are waiting too, but Panini just needs a team to go with its players to complete its Rookie Cards.

2011 Panini Prestige Football is scheduled to release May 11 with some of the earliest Rookie Cards including quarterback Cam Newton.

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2010 Playoff Contenders Football reveal Rookie Ticket autograph variations

By Susan Lulgjuraj | Contributing Editor

2010 Playoff Contenders Football is live with a few surprises for collectors. Panini has snuck in Rookie Ticket autograph variations.

There are two different cards for all 33 of the young players that were at the 2010 NFL Players Rookie Premiere.

The variations are just with the photo used on the card. In the Sam Bradford example, he is looking down field where in the other he is cocking his arm back for a throw. While there are these variants, there is still no word on whether they are short-prints.

Right now, we just know there are two of these on-card autographs to look for.

See a gallery of the variations after the jump.

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New Upper Deck Authenticated Michael Jordan items have personal touch

By Chris Olds | Editor

Collectors say they want memorabilia with a personal touch, and the latest from Upper Deck Authenticated does just that … and more … with a new Michael Jordan item.

UDA unveiled on Wednesday a line of Japanese Tegata — or inked handprints — of Jordan. Each piece has a print from Jordan’s left hand and is limited to 23 copies. The tradition is one typically used for sumo wrestlers or elite athletes, and it’s this international flavor that UDA clearly hopes will interest fans.

“This is another first for Upper Deck Authenticated and it is only fitting that we would christen this unique process with our longest-tenured exclusive athlete, Michael Jordan,” said Steve Sloan, director of Upper Deck Authenticated. “Tegata is a highly respected form of recognition for Japan’s best sumo wrestlers and so we’ve decided to create a variation of this coveted show of admiration for one of our best-selling athletes of all time.”

Each piece measures 30-by-40 inches and is signed and double-matted with a showcase of action photography from Jordan’s career around the piece.

Find images and a video showing details of the piece after the jump.

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Topps puts modern-day monster — Albert Pujols’ Chrome RC — in 2011 Tribute

By Chris Olds | Editor

The most sought-after modern day Rookie Card — the $4,000 2001 Bowman Chrome Albert Pujols — will be found in packs of 2011 Topps Tribute as a buyback, the company announced on Wednesday morning.

There will be 30 copies of three different Pujols 2001 autograph cards — the big one is limited to just 500 hand-numbered copies — to be found via an autograph redemption card.

The redemptions will not say which card they are good for until the code is input online. A collector could land a 2001 Bowman Chrome or a 2001 Topps Finest autograph or a 2011 Topps Reserve autograph. The Reserve card sells for as much as $1,500, while the Finest card sells for $450.

The company did not disclose how many of each card will be made available.

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.

Can’t afford Blake Griffin? Look for these up-and-comers

By Susan Lulgjuraj | Contributing Editor

With the way Blake Griffin’s cards have skyrocketed this season, collectors are hard-pressed to find reasonably-priced cards of his. Ya know, cards that won’t leave you eating tuna out of the can for a week.

Many young NBA players have the potential to be good. They probably won’t hit the heights of Griffin, but could become serviceable players with a little star power in the future.

Here’s a look at three guys you might want to consider:

Nick Young: The 25-year-old is finally putting together a solid season.  In his previous three years, Young has been a solid contributor, but didn’t have star power. This season, his role has changed and he’s averaging 17.6 points in 31.6 minutes for the Washington Wizards.

Young’s Rookie Cards could be acquired for fairly cheap. If he continues with this type of success, collectors might have to start shelling out a little more for his cards.

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Are you digging Topps’ Diamond code cards? I am …

By Chris Olds | Editor

The 2011 edition of Topps’ code card madness has begun as the Topps Diamond Giveaway site opened on Tuesday with countless codes for free stuff being entered en masse.

You know, we’re all in search of those minty fresh 1988 Jody Reeds and 1983 John Dennys … right?

Well, a new part of the mix this year — to go with the heavy dose of vintage-flavor cardboard — are a few diamond-themed cards. There are die-cut cards which have a little less cardboard and then there are cards with a bit more inside … an actual diamond.

Topps’ promotional online presence began with last year’s popular Million Card Giveaway, and this year’s code cards are found one in every six packs.This year, though, each card also comes with a chance to “dig” for an additional prize as well.

After a long day of the typical to-do and a trip to Walmart for highlighters (that’s code for more packs of 2011 Topps), I settled down to rip into four jumbos and see what collectors were talking about on Twitter.

My packs were fruitless for new codes, so in the aftermath of many a code being redeemed, I decided it was time for my 19 code cards — all found in retail packs this year — to be unlocked.

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Finally, The Rock has come back to the WWE

By Chris Olds | Editor

After seven years away from the world of professional wrestling, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson returned to a World Wrestling Entertainment ring on Monday night in Anaheim, Calif., as he was unveiled as the guest host for WrestleMania XXVII in Atlanta.

His 20-minute in-ring promo capped Raw, with his attention particularly focused on John Cena, prompting a few to believe that he might be up for more than some host duties for the April pay-per-view. That got us thinking — there might be a few collectors out there looking for the star’s trading cards and memorabilia.

The Rock presently appears on 254 cards in the database — just one of them a certified autograph as a wrestler. (He does appear on non-sport autographed cards for The Mummy Returns, The Scorpion King and Doom.)

Johnson’s earliest trading card appearance comes as a member of the University of Miami football team. He was included in a school-produced set in 1994, and that card can sell for $50.

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