A 17-Year Search Comes to an End



By Ryan Cracknell | Hobby Editor

As collectors, the thrill of the hunt can sometimes be more exciting than actually landing that coveted cardboard treasure. But in this online age, it’s usually not too hard to find something within a few days or, maybe, weeks unless it’s ridiculously low-numbered.

How about 17 years?

Last week, a search finally came to a close. Since it released, I’ve had a 2000 Topps MVP Promotion John Jaha on my wantlist. Outside of one-of-ones, a couple phantom cards that may not even exist and a marbles checklist, I have virtually every other card featuring the retired slugger.

Yet, the 2000 Topps MVP Promotion card eluded me.

Around the time the search began, the world was recovering from Y2K hysteria.


Bill Clinton was President.

Bill Clinton

 Everyone Loves Raymond was one of the top-rated shows on television.

Everybody Loves Raymond

We were debating the fate of young Elián González.

Personally, I was wrapping up university and readying to get married.

Much has changed except the fact that I’ve still never seen an episode of Everyone Loves Raymond.

Not only did I not own one of the 2000 Topps MVP Jahas, I’d never seen a picture of one to confirm it wasn’t some sort of mythical baseball card unicorn sacrificed to the checklist error gods.

For a little background on the card, from the front it’s basically a parallel of the regular 2000 Topps John Jaha. The only difference is a big foil stamp. The back outlines the promotion the card was tied to.

2000 Topps MVP Promotion John Jaha Reverse

Throughout the season, Topps named a player of the week. If you had that player’s MVP card, you could redeem it for an exclusive set of winners cards.

According to Topps, 100 copies of each contest card were included in packs. In the case of Jaha, I have my doubts.

The hobby was in a different place in 2000. The Internet was around, but it didn’t have quite the same reach. I was doing virtually all of my collecting through eBay and online trades. Those, too, were still relatively new concepts.

Still, it was pretty easy to at least see things and confirm they were real. I was checking eBay several times a day, active on several forums and old-school Usenet newsgroups (RIP rec.collecting.cards.discuss) and in contact with another Jaha collector (yes, there were a couple of us back then).

By comparison, I had an easy time tracking down copies of parallels numbered much smaller than 100 and have seen many copies of those over the years. But never a 2000 Topps MVP Jaha.

I thought I’d won one once. But it turned out there was a listing mistake. And there was no image to go with it.

Honestly, I’ve largely given up on filling in any existing gaps in my Jaha collection. I abandoned daily eBay searches a couple of years ago. I only casually check now, usually scrolling past the same listings I saw when I stopped doing daily searches.

It had been years since I’d added a new card to my collection. A couple of oddball memorabilia items were all that I’d found. But I’m a card guy first. High school football press photos of a professional baseball player are interesting but not the same.

While the regular searches were gone, I still have the search bookmarked in my browser sidebar. For whatever reason I decided to click it a few weeks ago.

Could it be? Were my eyes playing tricks on me?

Was I getting it mixed up with the similar 1999 Topps MVP Promotion John Jaha?

No, no and no. The card was real. It existed.

2000 Topps MVP Promotion John Jaha Front

It had been listed very recently. And it was only $6 plus eBay’s ridiculous shipping fees to Canada, which was about twice the price of the card.

But when you’re searching for a card for 17 years, the dollar amount doesn’t really matter. I would make sacrifices elsewhere if need be.

Thankfully, the Buy It Now was more than reasonable and it didn’t result in any internal debates what to do.

It was possible that this was still some cruel trick. The gremlins lurking in the postal system could have eaten it. One of my kids — who weren’t even on the radar 17 years ago — could have intercepted it and buried it in the yard. Or something much worse could have happened resulting in my untimely demise.

This time, the baseball card gods were merciful. The transaction went smoothly and a major hole in my John Jaha collection has been filled.


At this point, it’s possible it could be the final hole.

One-of-ones from almost 20 years ago are usually in personal collections or sitting forgotten somewhere. I know the marble checklist exists but it’s both extremely rare and features a bunch of other big-name players I can’t compete with price-wise (or wish to for a card-sized marble checklist).

And maybe that’s not a bad thing to have a few gaps. As long as there’s a wantlist, there are things to be on the hunt for. And it’s in that hunt that a lot of the fun of collecting comes from.

Comments? Questions? Contact Ryan Cracknell on Twitter @tradercracks.


Ryan Cracknell

A collector for much of his life, Ryan focuses primarily on building sets, Montreal Expos and interesting cards. He's also got one of the most comprehensive collections of John Jaha cards in existence (not that there are a lot of them). Got a question, story idea or want to get in touch? You can reach him by email and through Twitter @tradercracks.

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  1. Billy Kingsley 22 May, 2017 at 20:31

    Congratulations! I’ve been trying to replace the only card I ever had and no longer do since 1996 when I foolishly traded it, and it’s not even as rare.

  2. Jeff White 22 May, 2017 at 20:38

    I hear ya! Ever since its release in 2002, I have been a huge fan of the 2002 Upper Deck Vintage set. My ultimate goal was to complete a master set. For the past several years, I was one card short of completing my set. The card that eluded me was the Signature Combo John Olerud/Edgar Martinez (numbered to 100). I scoured ebay and countless shows throughout the years searching for this one card. A few months ago, I got desperate enough to begin buying all the unopened boxes that were available on ebay. Halfway through the seventh factory box and my white whale appeared. It was a truly magical moment. After 17 years of searching, I finally found my card.

  3. Chris 23 May, 2017 at 01:38

    I had been wanting a Jerry Rice rookie without having to buy it on Ebay or have to buy a box of 1986 Topps, I finally had a Customer of mine at my local grocery store give me 6 binders of cards. In one of the binders, I not only found a Jerry Rice rookie, but the whole 1986 Topps set. It took me 25 years to get that card.

  4. Larry Lutz 23 May, 2017 at 07:56

    Congrats! I too have been looking for a couple of cards for quite some time so I can relate.

    By the way, you’re not missing much with “Everyone loves Raymond”. I hate that show & Ray Romano plays the main character like a 6 year old child.

  5. CJ 23 May, 2017 at 11:44

    Good stuff. Sets with a retail component naturally have cards that are disproportionately more difficult to locate than their hobby-only peers – it makes complete sense that a card #’d to 100 is tougher to find from flagship/base Topps than Topps Museum, for instance.

  6. Richard 23 May, 2017 at 11:59

    I’m still searching for a 2001 Donruss Signature Proofs card of Junior Spivey /25. Oddly enough, I easily found the Hawaii promo one /10.

  7. Chris Myers 23 May, 2017 at 13:37

    I was the seller of this card! I always try to list cards like this regardless of the name because you never know when someone like yourself will need it for their collection.. Glad to see it arrived safely and you are happy with it!

  8. IAmNotARobot 23 May, 2017 at 16:03

    When a search like this ends, it’s bittersweet. The journey to obtain the last item can be very rewarding and kind of sad. The years spent hunting every nook and cranny of the collector’s universe ends with a question: Now what?

    • Ryan Cracknell 24 May, 2017 at 04:07

      @IAmNotARobot One journey may be ending for me here, but still plenty of others to spread my wings on. I love the sense of completion, but always have more going on. And that probably applies to most of us for life outside of collecting, too.

  9. Mark 24 May, 2017 at 01:04

    Great story and congrats. I 100 % agree about the E Bay Global Shipping program, it is such a ripoff. I just received 5 magazines and had to pay $35 USD to ship them to Canada. The actual shipping for those is around $12 on a bad day. E Bay is ruining a whole wider market for US sellers who are tied to this scam. Shameful really.

  10. Billy Moreau 26 May, 2017 at 06:46

    I’m a Brian Johnson (Red Sox) collector (The worlds largest unique collection) and one day may be in your shoes trying to find my white whale. I’ve found it easier to find 1/1’s and printing plates than some cards numbered to /25! I’ve been outbid on cards that now I would have paid double for and I can remember all 6 of them!!

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