Sports movies: Where are those props now?

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By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor | Commentary

One of my hobbies when not documenting things in the hobby for a Beckett magazine or right here on Beckett.com is searching for sports cards and memorabilia tangentially related to the stuff we see every day — in particular, seeking out stuff related to sports movies.

Why? Well, there are a few reasons.

One? The chase. Sometimes movie memorabilia just isn’t plentiful, meaning you can’t find it just by a simple, single online search. Often times, spur-of-the-moment ideas yield nothing after countless searches on countless websites.

Two? Stuff isn’t always expensive — because it’s not on the minds of many a fan, nor is it the en vogue item of the week before the next Next Big Thing arrives at every local hobby shop and retail store aisle.

Three? It’s a seemingly never-ending search — yet it doesn’t seem impossible, either, because there aren’t 1/1s that show up in online auctions and then are never seen again afterward.

Then, there are situations where, unlike in the modern card market, answers can be elusive.

Take, for example, the image above … it’s a scene from a pretty forgettable early 1990s movie but it’s got a whole lot of cardboard enigma going on, unlike much of the stuff produced at that time that we almost all own in bulk.

The 1991 Upper Deck card seen there may — or may not — exist these days but it’s from a scene in the 1992 film Mr. Baseball starring Tom Selleck as Jack Elliot, a former New York Yankee who ends up playing for the Chunichi Dragons of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball.

In one scene, he’s meeting several executives who offer him their cards. As he collects ’em all, he remembers he has a card, too. It’s a business card befitting a baseball player, of course, and he hands them out to those before him.

If you collected cards at the time, you might own the 1992 Upper Deck insert card showing Selleck fielding a ball at first base with an imposing MLB “rookie” for the Yankees behind him, a guy known as “The Big Hurt” or Frank Thomas. It was a relatively easy pull — but it’s not styled after anything in the movie, really. The back is perhaps even more interesting as it shows him in his Dragons uniform and tells a bit about the production.

The baseball card seen on the big screen? I’m not sure if it exists, but it sure does interest me — and it’s the kind of “what-if” that keeps me wondering and keeps me searching for that next big thing that’s not brand new.

So, I say all that to ask these questions …

What “other” type of sports items do you collect?

What sports movie props do you think would be the coolest to own?

Tell us in the comments below.

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.

11 Comments

  1. Dan
    Posted Wednesday August 22nd, 2012 at 10:13 PM | Permalink

    One of the most frustrating TV scenes I’ve watched recently came from a “Wonder Years” rerun. The scene shows Kevin and Paul haggling over baseball cards, and the camera goes in for a close-up, and you can tell that the card backs are from 1989 Topps, and not the 1960s. For shame!

  2. George McFly
    Posted Thursday August 23rd, 2012 at 07:25 AM | Permalink

    I remember watching an episode of MacGyver, where they featured 1990 Donruss cards…The episode focused on a retired baseball player by the name of Novas Riley and on criminals that were producing counterfeit cards.

  3. KZed
    Posted Thursday August 23rd, 2012 at 08:24 AM | Permalink

    As for what oddball items I have, I have a few wrestling pieces that are truly one-of-a-kind event used pieces, as well as a few large auto’d pieces (chairs, kendo sticks, frying pans)

    Every once in a while I see some of the cardboard “extras” from “The Natural” for sale locally. Most are damaged now from either being in a smoker’s home, or water from someone’s basement.. Personally, I’d love a Roy Hobbs card, or even more one of the jerseys from the movie.

    P.S. – Mr. Baseball ROCKS!! HAPPY BODY!!!!

  4. Don
    Posted Thursday August 23rd, 2012 at 11:42 AM | Permalink

    Chris, I’ve seen the card pictured in the Mr Baseball movie before at a card show at Moscone Center in San Francisco back in the 90s. While I can’t speak for the authenticity of the card but I do know I’ve seen it. The dealer had quite the stack of them (100+) and was touting himself as the only person to have access to them and was asking I want to say $50 for them at the time (they were not selling as he had hoped). Happy hunting.

  5. Jeff B
    Posted Thursday August 23rd, 2012 at 01:32 PM | Permalink

    I remember watching that Wonder Years at the time and had the same reaction. I mentioned it to one of my card collecting friends at the time and he said that his 7yr old son pointed that out as well. Pretty smart kid.

  6. Richard
    Posted Thursday August 23rd, 2012 at 01:35 PM | Permalink

    I remember a movie, Blast from the Past, which had the main character played by Brendan Fraser
    going to a baseball card shop looking to convert his cards to cash. This is after he had been raised
    in a buried fallout shelter for 30 years.

    Well, the dealer is about to rip him off (or at least take advantage of his lack of knowledge) and he
    is saved by Alicia Silverstone who eventually takes him around to various stores to negotiate a
    better price. This came out in 1999 when the card collecting craze was still fairly strong and card
    stores were much more plentiful than today.

    He was walking around with a collection that would still sell for millions today, though I’m sure all
    the cards shown were reprints.

  7. John Russell
    Posted Thursday August 23rd, 2012 at 01:48 PM | Permalink

    If money and location were no option, I would love to have the Jobu (spelling?) voodoo doll in Cerano’s locker in Major League

  8. Andy
    Posted Thursday August 23rd, 2012 at 03:32 PM | Permalink

    I just got a Charleston Chiefs jersey signed by all 3 Hanson Brothers. Slap Shot is one of my favorites, I would love any props I could get from it.
    It would be really cool for some relic cards to be made from screen worn jerseys.

  9. Jon Waldman
    Posted Friday August 24th, 2012 at 12:14 PM | Permalink

    Andy, there was a screen worn jersey from Wayne’s World in one of UD’s A Piece of History series. If I recall, it was Dana Carvey’s Tony Esposito jersey. Still one of my favourite cards, hands down

  10. chrisolds
    Posted Friday August 24th, 2012 at 02:28 PM | Permalink

    Actually, we recap a LOT of stuff about sports movies in a past issue of BSCM — the Sports Movies Issue:

    http://www.beckettmedia.com/sports/magazine-specials/sports-card-monthly/scm-319-october-2011

  11. mlbscout
    Posted Friday August 24th, 2012 at 08:09 PM | Permalink

    I’ve seen that MacGyver episode, too.

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