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Monthly Archives: July 2011

Memory Lane showcases million-dollar Mickey Mantle collection at National Sports Collectors Convention

By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor

A big-time auction house like Memory Lane Inc. may not have something for everyone in its booth at this year’s National Sports Collectors Convention which begins next week in Chicago.

But it will have something everyone should see — and a little something everyone can take home with them.

The Tustin, Calif.-based auction house will have on display the multi-million dollar Mickey Mantle collection of Don Spence, who has amassed all of The Mick’s base cards from 1951 to 1969 in PSA 10 or PSA 9 condition — a stash that carries an estimated value of as much as $3 million. Six of the cards, according to population reports, are the highest-graded specimens in existence.

Collectors who stop by the booth to see the cards can take with them a memento of their visit — a poster that shows the collection.

For more information, visit the links above.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball magazine. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an email to him at colds@beckett.com. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

Colorado-based dealer raises hobby’s profile through publicity stunt purchase

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By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor

Remember the Balloon Boy? If not, you might have forgotten about the hoax from a couple of years ago like many of us.

But if you live in Colorado where it happened, it might resonate more — and if you’re a Colorado-based sports card dealer like Mike Fruitman it’s resonating quite well as a publicity stunt to get people into his shop and do some good for charity, too.

You see, Fruitman recently bought what’s left of “Flimflam One” at auction — proceeds went to benefit Japan earthquake relief — for $2,502 and has it on display at his Aurora-based shop, Mike’s Stadium Sportscards.

“I thought, let’s have some fun with this,” said the 41-year-old dealer. “So, I bought Flimflam One for our customers to enjoy. Then, we’ll slice into authenticated chunks of collectible Americana to raise money for the Thanksgiving food project. It’s a win-win, no matter what, providing my 3- and 8-year-olds don’t get any clever ideas.”

The balloon was put on display late last week and it will be cut up on Oct. 15 — the second anniversary of its maiden voyage that happened without a passenger.

But, for Fruitman, this publicity stunt wasn’t just about possibly selling some cards in his shop — but rather getting people re-acquainted with the hobby when they come to see the weird relic.

Guess what? It’s worked.

One collector and Twitter follower of mine, Digi Jeff, realized that was his hometown card shop when he heard the news. That’s when he armed himself with a video camera and headed to the shop to see it all for himself and ask Fruitman some questions. See the video above for more … it’s worth a look.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball magazine. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an email to him at colds@beckett.com. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

COLLECTOR BOX BUSTERS: 2010-11 Panini Gold Standard

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Beckett Basketball Editor Chris Olds stopped by Nick’s Sports Cards in Dallas (for supplies!) and caught one collector ripping 2010-11 Panini Gold Standard.

What will he find inside? Watch and find out …

Ripping Retail Retro Edition: A lesson in collation that only a Houston Astros fan could love

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Join Beckett Baseball Editor Chris Olds as he rips into another box of a once-popular 1990s baseball card set in this episode of Ripping Retail.

What’s the brand? What will he find inside?

Watch and find out … it’s one hot mess.

Weekly Highlights (July 18 – July 22)

(Still) MEGA-HUGE, IMPORTANT thing to know of the week

This week in sports movies

First looks and sneak peeks of the week

This week in lawsuits, new hobby figureheads and more

This week in weird memorabilia

This week in comics and cardboard colliding

  • Upper Deck partners with Marvel to make an Avengers comic book … on trading cards

Box Busters and other videos

Box Busters: 2010-11 Panini Season Update basketball

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Join Beckett Basketball’s Chris Olds and Rob Springs as they rip into a pair of 2010-11 Panini Season Update basketball boxes in this latest episode of Box Busters.

What will they find inside? Watch and find out …

Box Busters: 2010-11 Panini Gold Standard Basketball

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Join Beckett Basketball’s Chris Olds and Rob Springs as they rip into a pair of 2010-11 Panini Gold Standard boxes in this latest episode of Box Busters.

What will they find? Watch and find out …

Coming soon … Moneyball and its memorabilia

By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor | Commentary

The one-sheet for the latest baseball movie on the horizon — Moneyball, starring Brad Pitt — has arrived, and it perhaps carries a non-traditional feel for what should be a less-than traditional sports film.

Based on the 2003 best-selling book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, the film will dramatize the story of Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane and his non-traditional ways of trying to build a competitive team with the small-market, low-budget Athletics fighting the behemoths of Major League Baseball such as the New York Yankees.

“There are rich teams, and there are poor teams. Then there’s 50 feet of crap. And then there’s us.”

Moneyball‘s central theme is that gut feeling, rather than analytical thought, had permeated throughout baseball and its scouting departments — and that because of its immense disadvantage financially, Beane’s team needed to think, build and draft differently to outsmart their competition. That included statistical analysis — sabermetrics — instead of instinct. (See the trailer after the jump.)

The film stars Pitt as Beane, Jonah Hill as Assistant GM Peter Brand (Paul DePodesta, now with the Mets requested his name not be used for the role), Philip Seymour Hoffman as manager Art Howe and Robin Wright as Beane’s ex-wife, Sharon.

With any new release, there will be marketing campaigns, which, in the past, meant materials that ultimately become memorabilia for many popular movies. While most promotion these days is done online or in digital form via press kits on CD — we’ll see what kind of materials arrive in the coming weeks to promote Moneyball before its Sept. 23 release — there’s still one king of the movie memorabilia world … well, at least not including movie-used props.

And that’s the one-sheet.

Read More »

First look: 2011 TRISTAR Obak baseball cards

By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor

TRISTAR will have plenty of things in store at this year’s National Sports Collectors Convention just two weeks away in Chicago and one of them is the debut of its latest baseball card set, 2011 Obak, which also is known as “A History of the Game.”

The third edition of the retro-styled set based on early 1900s tobacco cards of the same name will include four autographs — one of those guaranteed to be a cut autograph — in every 24-pack hobby box with two parallels numbered to 25 or fewer copies, one T212 mini parallel, three additional short-prints and one T4 cabinet card.

Among the biggest highlights is a dual-cut autograph pairing Babe Ruth with Charlie Root, the Chicago Cubs pitcher who gave up the called shot in the 1932 World Series. Other cut autographs will include Joe DiMaggio paired with Ken Keltner, Ichiro Suzuki paired with George Sisler, and there will be cuts of Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Hank Greenberg and Lefty Grove. All cuts will be numbered to 75 or fewer copies.

Among some of the signers for the product are Cal Ripken Jr., Mike Trout, Ken Griffey Jr., Whitey Ford, Manny Banuelos and Nolan Ryan.

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Blowout Cards’ parent company sues Upper Deck over distribution policy

By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor

Blowout Cards‘ parent company, Frontline Collectibles Inc., counter-sued Upper Deck in a U.S. District Court on Wednesday, alleging that the Carlsbad, Calif.-based card company’s distribution policies introduced earlier this year are illegal under antitrust laws and have “manipulated the pricing of its products” and “have harmed and continue to harm competition for the sale of hobby sports trading cards.”

Frontline claims that Upper Deck’s limited selection of distributors in the United States and Canada — which does not include it, despite an 18-year history of selling in the industry — is an “unlawful campaign to erect artificial barriers to entry, restrict output and maintain its monopoly power” with a select few licenses (NCAA, MLS) and a roster of exclusive athletes whose autographs can only be found in Upper Deck products such as Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Landon Donovan.

In March, Upper Deck Sports Marketing and Social Media Manager Chris Carlin wrote on UD’s blog about the genesis of its program, saying “this course of action was important in order to strengthen and protect the company’s brands, while also streamlining and better-defining the company’s channels of distribution. UD crafted this program by working in collaboration with our Certified Diamond Dealers (hobby shops), Authorized Distributors and legal team.”

On Thursday, Carlin said Upper Deck declined to comment on the case.

“We cannot comment on any ongoing litigation,” he said, “[nor] can I share information regarding how we select our business partners.”

Frontline, which in its court filing readily admits its business strategy is to sell more volume at a lower profit as “of one of the largest volume and the lowest-cost providers of hobby sports trading cards,” cannot purchase UD products from any other authorized dealers, who aren’t allowed to sell to those who would re-sell the products, as part of its agreement.  Specifically, it contends that “Upper Deck intended to specifically exclude or reduce competition from Frontline because Frontline was engaged in price-cutting to offer the best prices to its customers.”

Specifically, Frontline contends that Upper Deck is in violation of Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Antitrust Act and Section 3 of the Clayton Act with its policy.

Previously, Frontline had been a direct buyer of product from Upper Deck since it opened for business, according to the court filing. In an April meeting between Frontline’s Thomas Fish and Upper Deck, Fish was told, according to the filing, that Upper Deck would not recognize its Virginia retail location as a storefront and that enhancements would not help.

Furthermore, Frontline claims that “for pretextural and factually unsupportable reasons” Upper Deck refused to grant it status as an authorized Internet retailer, which has “severely damaged Frontline through lost sales and profits.” Frontline has been an online seller since at least 2004.

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For the New York Yankees fan who has it all …

By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor

If you know a New York Yankees fan who has it all, you might need to see this.

Why? Because it’s just weird — and it’s available from Steiner Sports as part of its Yankee Stadium Artifacts line … and it’s marked down to just $49.99.

What is it?

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Ripping Retail: 2011 Topps Allen & Ginter baseball

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Join Beckett Baseball’s Chris Olds as he rips into a pair of 2011 Topps Allen & Ginter blaster boxes in this latest episode of Ripping Retail.

What’d he find? Watch and find out …

‘The Avengers: Kree-Skrull War’ set hits stores today

By Andrew Tolentino | BSCM Editor

Riding the wave of recently released (and soon to release) Marvel blockbusters,  Upper Deck is causing a collision between comic books and trading cards.

Another byproduct of Upper Deck’s partnership with Marvel Entertainment, “The Avengers: Kree-Skrull War” set hits hobby stores today. Under normal circumstances, this kind of release could be summed up with a tidy list of per-pack odds and box hits — but this one tells another tale.

In fact, the experimental endeavor spins a whole new Marvel story altogether … card, by card. Departing from hit quantities and checklist finds, the set offers a new experience in comic consumption.

In a phone interview (coming soon, in full) Upper Deck’s Marvel Product Manager Bubby Johanson explained, “We tried to find a way to be innovative and what we wanted to do was try to see if we could merge both the card collector and the comic collector in the same kind of venue.” Thus far, the merger has already made a splash, causing speculation and excitement in the greater superhero hemisphere.

With a classic storyline re-imagined by Marvel writer Sean McKeever, the product is a comic book composed of cards. Much like a traditional comic, the story reads left to right, top to bottom, front to back, page to page. In this case though, each page of  “Sacrifice” — the primary story — consists of nine cards with story components on both sides of the card (90 cards assembled in order for the 20-page adventure).

But wait, there’s more.

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Topps readies Heritage rookie redemptions for NSCC

By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor

As previously reported, Topps will be giving away five cards as part of a wrapper redemption program during the National Sports Collectors Convention next month in Chicago — and on Wednesday it confirmed who the cards will feature.

The company will release five 1962 Topps-inspired 2011 Heritage cards of notable rookies with each card limited to just 299 copies. (They wouldn’t be tagged as RC’s under traditional hobby guidelines because they are show promos, not part of a standard release.)

To obtain a card, a collector must open five packs of 2011 Topps or Bowman-branded packs at the Topps booth. There’s a limit of one card per day per person.

The rookie rundown:
Aug. 3 — Dustin Ackley, Mariners
Aug. 4 — Dee Gordon, Dodgers
Aug. 5 – Mike Moustakas, Royals
Aug. 6 — Michael Pineda, Mariners
Aug. 7 — Zach Britton, Orioles

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball magazine. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an email to him at colds@beckett.com. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

TRISTAR bringing “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair, other TNA stars, to The National

By Chris Olds | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor


The Naitchonal, err National, Sports Collectors Convention got a little bit cooler following the announcement that TRISTAR will be bringing “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair to the show next month in Chicago as an autograph guest along with three other stars from TNA Wrestling.

The 16-time world heavyweight champ will be joined by Kurt Angle, a former Olympic gold medalist for the United States-turned pro, former two-time TNA champ Mr. Anderson and former TNA and WWE women’s champion Tara.

Each of them will be appearing for two hours on Aug. 6, with Flair the most-expensive autograph at $49. Angle is $29, while Anderson and Tara are $25. Photo opportunities with each star are the same price — fans will receive a 5×7 photo print within minutes of meeting them.

However if a collector buys a 2011 Signature Impact Championship Package — $99 — they will get a box of the newest TNA trading cards, a bonus NSCC autograph card and one free autograph (on any item) as well as a photo op with each star.

Only 400 of the packages are available. More details can be found by clicking here.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball magazine. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an email to him at colds@beckett.com. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

July is Customer Appreciation Month at Beckett.com … a contest a day!

July is Customer Appreciation Month at Beckett Media … a contest a day beginning today!

How do you enter? Click here on Beckett.com, log in and that’s it.

Today’s prize? A 2008 Leaf Certified Materials Printing Plates Magenta #246 John Elway AU 1/1.

See a list of each day’s prizes after the jump.

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Johnny Bench is the first Topps Prime 9 player

By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor

Cincinnati Reds legend and Hall of Famer Johnny Bench is the first Topps Prime 9 player as announced Tuesday.

Each week, Topps will announce which players can be redeemed for Prime 9 cards found in packs of 2011 Topps Series 2.

Collectors can bring their Week 1 redemption cards to their participating hobby shops to turn them in for a card and be entered for a chance to win a trip to the World Series as long as they fill out the form on the back.

Each card is a Refractor and the cards can be found two per hobby (or jumbo) box.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball magazine. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an email to him at colds@beckett.com. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

Topps names new Vice President for Digital

By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor

Topps will have a new leader in its efforts to bring trading cards and confections to the digital world, according to an announcement made Tuesday.

It has appointed former Nokia product director Michael Bramlage as its Vice President, Digital. He will oversee and develop Topps’ digital strategy and report to CEO and President Ryan O’Hara.

“Michael’s terrific background in the mobile, Internet and social spaces combined with his innovation bent and strategies for developing online content makes him an ideal fit at Topps,” O’Hara said in a prepared statement. “We’re excited for Michael to join Topps and take us to the next level in delivering our consumers new and innovative experiences.”

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TRISTAR readies Obak promo cards for The National

By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor

This year’s National Sports Collectors Convention is just a couple of weeks away and TRISTAR is the latest to unveil special cards that can be found at this year’s show in Chicago.

And it’s a set that turns back the clock to the early 1900s while previewing two products set to come from the company — TRISTAR Obak Baseball 2011: History of the Game and the debut edition of Obak Football coming this fall.

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Upper Deck announces plans for the National filled with autographs and giveaways

By Susan Lulgjuraj | Contributing Editor

VIPs and other collectors can land some great exclusive Upper Deck products at the National Sports Collectors Convention from August 3-7.

First up, collectors who come to the VIP sneak peek on Wednesday will be able to get a special card set found only in Chicago. The set six-card set features superstars with Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Sidney Crosby, LeBron James, Bobby Orr and Landon Donovan.

After that, Upper Deck will have something for every collector. There will be four different five-card pack in its wrapper redemption program.

Fans need to purchase five packs of specified Upper Deck products from Certified Diamond Dealers. They will receive a voucher to bring to the Upper Deck booth where they will receive one of four 2011 National event-exclusive packs. Each day there will be a different five-card collection redeemed and they will be available while supplies last. Cards must be opened at the Upper Deck booth. To find out which Upper Deck products are eligible, visit the booth at the show.

“We are pulling out all the stops to make Upper Deck’s presence at the 32nd National Sports Collectors Convention a memorable one for our fans in attendance,” said Mike Phillips, Upper Deck’s director of hobby sales in a release. “By creating promotions that help support the efforts of our Certified Diamond Dealers, we can help create a situation where fans are seeing real value in purchasing through the right channels. Being able to provide so many unique giveaways and promotions during this show is also a great way to give back to our fans who have always been very engaged with our brand and products. We can’t wait to get out there and have the chance to interact more with them.”

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Panini offering instant autographed prizes at NSCC

By Susan Lulgjuraj | Contributing Editor

If you think Panini America is going to just stop at giving away cards in a wrapper redemption at The National Sports Collectors Convention, think again.

The card company is using the popular process as shows and events to give fans a way to get more goodies and prizes – instantly.

Panini is giving away nearly 2,000 autographed items at the year’s National in Chicago on August 3-7. These instant redemption cards – which is really the only way collectors like to have redemptions – will be inserted into packs that are redeemed at Panini’s corporate booth at the National.

Some of the autographed prizes include mini helmets, hockey pucks and oversize trading cards. Pictures on Panini’s blog revealed unique items such as an Adrian Peterson autographed 2007 Donruss Elite card with the Minnesota Vikings star in an Oklahoma Sooners uniform and signed banners from Scottie Pippen, Karl Malone and Cynthia Cooper, the newest inductees into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

See more of what Panini has planned in its wrapper redemptions after the jump:

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An early look at 2011 Panini Crown Royale Football

By Susan Lulgjuraj | Contributing Editor

Panini America is bringing back Crown Royale Football for its second installment under the re-branding of the set.

What started with Pacific in the 1990s, Panini has added new elements to make the product its own.
One of the big successes from last year’s product were the Rookie Silhouettes, which returns with all on-card autographs.

Due out in October, Crown Royale Football will have a hit – autograph or memorabilia card – in each of the four packs. In addition, there should be four Rookie Cards, one parallel numbered to 100 or less and seven inserts in each hobby-exclusive box.

“The Rookie Silhouettes design that debuted in Crown Royale Football last year really helped re-launch the brand with a huge bang,” said Ben Ecklar, Panini America’s Director of Product Development in a release. “When the 2010 product season ended, those cards stood tall as some of the most striking of the entire year – not just in football, but across all sports. This year we’ve managed to significantly improve on what many collectors thought was pretty close to perfection.”

See a complete gallery after the jump.

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Ripping Retail Retro: An oldschool baseball box break

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Join Beckett Baseball Editor Chris Olds as he rips into a box of a once-popular 1990s baseball card set in this episode of Ripping Retail.

What’s the brand? What will he find inside?

Watch and find out …

Collector Box Busters: Two Ginter boxes at the shop

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Beckett Baseball’s Chris Olds was at Nick’s Sports Cards where he witnessed a collector rip open two boxes of 2011 Topps Allen & Ginter baseball.

What did he find? Watch and find out …

Weird baseball memorabilia is everywhere … here are two of the latest items

By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor

There are plenty of weird baseball cards and promotions these days — and here are just two of the latest.

First, yet another oddity from 2011 Topps Allen & Ginter … it’s a tribute to Brian Wilson‘s beard via a baseball card.

The card, showcasing “The Closer” not Wilson, is one of 10 Fabulous Face Flocculence minis — a previously unannounced insert set in the product that just might give the San Francisco Giants closer’s eccentricities a run for their money. The card has sold for as much as $19.50 on eBay, while the cheapest sale was $11.61.

What other types of facial hair made the cut? Check out the checklist here on Beckett.com.

The second hobby oddity worth checking out arrives Sunday in Oakland …

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