By Chris Olds | Editor
One of the great things about the hobby of collecting sports cards and memorabilia is that there’s almost always a surprise to be found.
And, in my 20-plus years of collecting — and nearly a decade of writing about the hobby — there aren’t too many sets that I haven’t at least seen in passing or heard something, a nugget, about in the past.
Until earlier this year.
There’s one set firmly atop my want-list (I need a set, or two, or three …) these days — one that’s nowhere to be found in the inventory of any major dealer I have contacted, one that is nowhere to be found online (eBay, Beckett Marketplace or otherwise), one that’s eluded pretty much anyone who has a scanner nearby because even images of these cards are nowhere to be found. Anywhere.
It’s not an expensive set — in fact not one of the people pictured in the set have appeared in an official Major League Baseball game, yet they are all legends of the game, true Major Leaguers.
What? Keep reading…
I stumbled upon the set’s listing doing some research in the Beckett Database. It’s an 11-card set of slightly oversized photos featuring the stars of David S. Ward‘s Major League, the greatest baseball movie ever made. (That’s right, I said it.)
All I’ve ever seen for this set, the 1989 Major League Movie release, is what’s above — the listing in the Beckett Almanac. That’s it’ a stamp-sized black-and-white fuzzy image of what looks like a 1974 Topps knockoff design with a Super Bubble bubble gum logo.
All the legends of what’s, hands down, my favorite baseball movie are in there — just not by their reel names. Pedro Cerrano? Check. Ricky Vaughn? Yep. Willie Mays Hays. Uh-huh. Instead it’s Dennis Haysbert, Charlie Sheen, Wesley Snipes and so on …
Only one of the dealers I contacted said they had previously had the set in stock, but don’t right now — but none of the others (several of the big names you probably already know) have it. How about a place like moviegoods.com, which has pretty much everything one could expect to find for movie memorabilia? Nope.
This is the hobby version of the old question “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Instead, it’s “If a Willie Mays Hayes card is nowhere to be found, does it really exist?”
Of course they exist, but apparently they’re not plentiful right now — and given the time-frame that these cards were produced they shouldn’t be nearly as rare as most of the stuff being made today. And, yet, they’re nowhere to be found. (That’s a thought many collectors should consider for their rarer 1980s and 1990s inserts and other oddities. You never know what could interest other collectors.)
Just think, this is merely a 20-year-old food issue set. It’s not like it’s a 1937-38 Zeenuts minor league card of Floyd Olds (No. 37) or his 1938 Oakland Oaks Signal Oil Stamp (No. 15).
Those would be tough finds.
Then again, now that I think about it, I haven’t even seen those, either.
Chris Olds has collected sports cards and memorabilia since 1987. Before coming to Beckett Media, he wrote about the hobby for the Orlando Sentinel on his blog, SportsStuff, and for the San Antonio Express-News and The Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News. Do you have a comment, question or idea? Send e-mail to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.