Hobby challenge: Build an autographed card set

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By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor

We all want the best player possible as the autograph every single time we open a box, but we should realize that’s not possible.

Why? Simple economics.

Every time a card company puts a card of The Iconic Veteran Player into a pack of cards that sells for $5, it’s actually losing money on that pack and the box that it’s in. Why? Because the player dictates his cost of signing — you take it or leave it — and that’s got nothing to do with how much the card will sell for on eBay or what your product might cost.

What do you do? Who makes it onto your checklist and who doesn’t? That’s up to you as the brand manager — but your goal is to hit your production numbers while also creating the best lineup you can that will appeal to the most people.

Do you load up on quality bargain players? Do you go for the big chase cards? Do you create a balanced product that would appeal to more people but not necessarily draw in the gambler types hoping for a crazy find?

Take our challenge … after the jump.

Your challenge … build a set with the needs below. 

Total cards: 12

Total volume of cards: 300

Your autograph cost budget: $10,000 (you can’t go over; you can be under)

 

—-

You can use any of these players below. Their hypothetical cost is listed after their name. This is their cost per autograph. No added inscriptions on combo cards are allowed — that only raises costs and complicates the signing process when it comes to deadlines.

Player, hypothetical cost (per signature)

Derek Jeter, $300 (minimum 10)

Reggie Jackson, $17.50

Pete Rose, $15

Jose Canseco, $5

Bo Jackson, $75

Hank Aaron, $100

Sandy Koufax, $120

Ken Griffey Jr. $110

Frank Thomas, $65

Cal Ripken Jr., $50

Nolan Ryan, $55

Dave Parker, $12

Al Kaline, $50

Albert Belle, $18

Omar Vizquel, $9

Frank Robinson, $65

Carl Yastrzemski, $100

Johnny Bench, $42.50

Fergie Jenkins, $10

Jim Abbott, $7

Will Clark, $22

Will Ferrell, $250

Rob Manfred, free (limit 50 from the MLB commissioner)

Randy Johnson, $100

Greg Maddux, $110

Tom Glavine, $25

Wade Boggs, $30

Tommy Lasorda, $12

Tony LaRussa, $7

Juan Gonzalez, $5

Chris Sabo, $4

Herb Washington, $3

Dave Justice, $5

Ryne Sandberg, $50

Dennis Eckersley, $12

Mariano Rivera, $90

Willie Mays $200 (maximum 10)

Just to show that it’s do-able to build a set — and come in under cost — using these hypothetical numbers, here is an example:

Cost

Presuming my math is correct (B = number of cards, C = cost per card, D = total cost … if it’s wrong I blame some dude in accounting), here’s my lineup. It came in under budget.

In the comments below, give us your checklist of 12 players and their quantity/cost.

And, remember, you can’t go over budget — if you do, you’ll be fired. The same could happen if you put out an awful set, too. (How do they package and sell these 300 cards? Well, that’s another piece for another day.)

How will your checklist look if you opt to take the challenge? Show us below.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball and Beckett Sports Card Monthly magazines. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an email to him at colds@beckett.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrisolds2009.

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12 comments

  1. Richard 14 May, 2015 at 18:02

    It’s not JUST the autograph.
    I’d rather see a balanced approach.
    Start with lots of rookies and legitimate prospects.
    These would be first round draft pics and guys in the minors that have done something of note.
    Add to that a limited selection of autographs that are relevant.
    So, last years award winners (ROY, CY, MVP), newly retired future HOF members and their induction into the Hall.

    And reduce the number of sets created so their is at least a base level of demand.
    Too many products kill value.
    “Memorabilia” with COA’s that promise nothing, kill value.
    There really is no excuse for stickers except possibly for replacement card purposes.
    Redemption cards should only be issued for things you know will be available and any product
    with a redemption card in it should publish an expiration date warning on the boxes.
    “Warning, this product may contain redemption cards which expire on 1/1/2016”
    Rookies appeal to gamblers and support the box prices for at least a few years.
    A limit on parallels would help a lot. They keep taking good ideas and running them into the ground.

  2. Erik Bennett 14 May, 2015 at 20:53

    Reggie Jackson, $17.50 $17.50 $0.00
    Jose Canseco, $5.00 40 $200.00
    Bo Jackson, $75.00 10 $750.00
    Ken Griffey Jr. $110.00 10 $1,100.00
    Frank Thomas, $65.00 10 $650.00
    Cal Ripken Jr., $50.00 10 $500.00
    Nolan Ryan, $55.00 10 $550.00
    Omar Vizquel, $9.00 30 $270.00
    Randy Johnson, $100.00 5 $500.00
    Greg Maddux, $110.00 5 $550.00
    Wade Boggs, $30.00 45 $1,350.00
    Ryne Sandberg, $50.00 50 $2,500.00
    Dennis Eckersley, $12.00 75 $900.00

  3. David J 14 May, 2015 at 22:14

    That was fun, here are my choices:
    Reggie Jackson – Qty 30
    Pete Rose – Qty 50
    Jose Canseco – Qty 50
    Sandy Koufax – Qty 10
    Ken Griffy Jr – Qty 10
    Cal Ripken Jr – Qty 15
    Nolan Ryan – Qty 15
    Will Clark – Qty 25
    Randy Johnson – Qty 10
    Wade Boggs – Qty 25
    Dennis Eckerlsey – Qty 40
    Mariano Rivera – Qty 20
    TOTAL COST $9980

  4. David J 14 May, 2015 at 22:36

    For a real challenge I decided to see if I could include all the players with at least 2 of each player. I also wanted the added challenge of making the lesser players more desirable by making them have as few cards as possible. Here is what I came up with:
    Derek Jeter 10
    Reggie Jackson 15
    Pete Rose 15
    Jose Canseco 50
    Bo Jackson 2
    Hank Aaron 2
    Sandy Koufax 2
    Ken Griffey Jr 2
    Frank Thomas 2
    Cal Ripken Jr 2
    Nolan Ryan 2
    Dave Parker 10
    Al Kaline 2
    Albert Belle 2
    Omar Vizquel 10
    Frank Robinson 2
    Carl Yastrzemski 2
    Johnny Bench 2
    Fergie Jenkins 15
    Jim Abbott 10
    Will Clark 5
    Will Ferrell 2
    Randy Johnson 2
    Greg Maddux 2
    Tom Glavine 5
    Wade Boggs 5
    Tommy Lasorda 15
    Tony LaRussa 15
    Juan Gonzalez 2
    Chris Sabo 2
    Herb Washington 2
    Dave Justice 10
    Ryne Sandberg 2
    Dennis Eckersley 15
    Mariano Rivera 2
    Willie Mays 10
    Rob Manfred 45

    For a grand total of $9,992.50

    From Olds: You’re under budget … but you’re fired for not reading the instructions! 12 cards and 12 subjects only! Haha.

  5. Jason 15 May, 2015 at 00:55

    My theory is simple. All HOF players and one virtual HOF lock (because let’s face it, it’s tough to beat pulling a HOF autograph).

    Reggie Jackson $17.50 20 $350
    Frank Thomas $65 20 $1,300
    Cal Ripken Jr. $50 20 $1,000
    Nolan Ryan $55 20 $1,100
    Al Kaline $50 20 $1,000
    Omar Vizquel $9 20 $180
    Frank Robinson $65 20 $1,300
    Johnny Bench $42.50 20 $850
    Fergie Jenkins $10 20 $200
    Tom Glavine $25 20 $500
    Wade Boggs $30 20 $600
    Tommy Lasorda $12 20 $240
    Tony LaRussa $7 20 $140
    Ryne Sandberg $50 20 $1,000
    Dennis Eckersley $12 20 $240

    Equal number of all autos should encourage collectors, because they would know that they have an equal shot at LaRussa as they do Frank Robinson. As a bonus, I would score the Rob Manfred autographs too and insert them as bonus cards in Hot Packs/Boxes.

    Total budget… $10,000

  6. NickM 15 May, 2015 at 01:14

    Fergie Jenkins – quantity 50, cost $500
    Tommy Lasorda – quantity 50, cost $600
    Tony LaRussa – quantity 50, cost $350
    Wade Boggs – quantity 30, cost $900
    Reggie Jackson – quantity 20, cost $350
    Tom Glavine – quantity 20, cost $500
    Dennis Eckersley – quantity 20, cost $240
    Rob Manfred – quantity 20, cost $0
    Nolan Ryan/Randy Johnson combo – quantity 10, cost $1550
    Greg Maddux/Tom Glavine combo – quantity 10, cost $1350
    Frank Robinson/Carl Yastrzemski – quantity 10, cost $1650
    Ken Griffey Jr./Frank Thomas – quantity 10, cost $1750

    Total: $9740

  7. Adam Williams 15 May, 2015 at 08:57

    Manfred 50 $0
    Jackson 25 $437.5
    Rose 25 $375
    Aaron 15 $1500
    Koufax 15 $1800
    Ferell 10 $2500
    Glavine 25 $625
    Mays 5 $1000
    Vizquel 25 $225
    Griffey Jr 10 $1100
    Canseco 50 $250
    Sabo 45 $180
    12 People 300 Cards $9992.5

    I feel like the best deal by far is Vizquel, he is crazy popular and sells extremely well.

  8. Jordan 15 May, 2015 at 11:07

    I always thought autographs sets should follow some sort of theme, so I’m presenting “End of the Century Stars”

    Dave Justice, $5 $5.00 15 $75.00
    Albert Belle, $18 $18.00 15 $270.00
    Juan Gonzalez, $5 $5.00 15 $75.00
    Omar Vizquel, $9 $9.00 15 $135.00
    Tom Glavine, $25 $25.00 15 $375.00
    Frank Thomas, $65 $65.00 15 $975.00
    Mariano Rivera, $90 $90.00 15 $1,350.00
    Randy Johnson, $100 $100.00 10 $1,000.00
    Greg Maddux, $110 $110.00 10 $1,100.00
    Ken Griffey Jr. $110 $110.00 10 $1,100.00
    Cal Ripken Jr., $50 $50.00 10 $500.00
    Derek Jeter, $300 $300.00 10 $3,000.00
    155 $9,955.00

    This is more of an exclusive offering you would find in a premium set with only a total of 155 autos available. But you’re just as about likely to find one star as another in this set. This veteran set would interest folks who grew up in the 90s and now have more disposable income on packs/boxes and want even odds on the player of their choice. On the secondary market given the low print runs player collectors would snap them up due to scarcity of the print runs.

    From Olds — you’re fired! We needed 300 autographs for the product! Ha.

  9. phillies_joe 15 May, 2015 at 12:26

    Here is my list – 150 packs . VERY High End online exclusive product………”2 Auto’s Per Pack. Look for special 1/1 HOF Gold Sparkle Purple Right Border White Ice parallel gum stained back, on-card auto flashback rookie cards!!!! ”

    Thanks Chris…this was really fun

    Aaron 15 1,500
    Koufax 16 1,920
    Griffey 15 1,650
    Ryan 15 825
    Ripken 15 750
    Mays 10 2,000
    Boggs 20 420
    Manfred 49 0
    Jenkins 25 250
    Gonzalez 40 200
    Canseco 40 200
    Abbott 40 280

    300 9,995

  10. David B 15 May, 2015 at 12:46

    So I generally went with a top-level approach with the majority based on baseball legend Pete Rose. Here is my set up:

    Hank Aaron 100.00 5 500
    Sandy Koufax 120.00 5 600
    Ken Griffey 110.00 5 550
    Willie Mays 200.00 5 1000
    Derek Jeter 300.00 10 3000
    Pete Rose 15.00 125 1875
    Reggie Jackson 17.50 90 1575
    Tom Glavine 25.00 10 250
    Wade Boggs 30.00 10 300
    Omar Vizquel 9.00 25 225
    T. Lasorda 12.00 5 60
    D. Eckersley 12.00 5 60

    12 Subjects with 300 Autos at $9,995.00

  11. Joe 16 May, 2015 at 20:14

    Ok lets have some fun. 300 Autos 10 grand 12 people.

    Manfred is a no brainier. Commish = Historical Auto. But I dont want to overkill on him so lets do 30

    1. Manfred 30 Free $0 = 1 Person 30 cards $0 Down $10000 Left

    Herb Washington is just a Fun Card. Only PR in history plus has the Charlie Finley connection. So I can go 30 on him.

    2. Washington 30 $3 $90 = 2 People 60 cards $90 Down $9910 Left

    Jim Abbott is the type of cards kids NEED to Pull. If they dont know him they can look him up for inspiration!
    Lets do 30 on him!

    3. Abbott 30 $7 $210 = 3 People 90 cards $300 Down $9700 Left

    Tony LaRussa 3rd All Time in wins But some find Manager Cards Boring. So lets do 15 on him.

    4. LaRussa 15 $7 $105 = 4 People 105 Cards $405 Down $9595 Left

    Hank Aaron 755 LEGIT & Check his hits total folks & he is half the price of Mays!

    5. Aaron 20 $100 $2000 = 5 People 125 Cards $2405 Down $7595 Left

    Tommy Lasorda is a value play. At shows he is a $99 Auto so for $12 I will take the value play. Will make his card a Brooklyn Dodgers card just to change it up & for the Brooklyn fans!

    6. Lasorda 30 $12 $360 = Halfway point 6 People 155 Cards $2765 Down $7235 Left

    Sandy Koufax is Expensive but people LOVE Sandy Autos & the Brooklyn Dodgers. So lets give them BOTH! Sandy as a Brooklynite Auto!

    7. Koufax 20 $120 $2400 = 7 People 175 Cards $5165 Down $4835 Left

    Nolan Ryan. Sandy is in so why not Nolan. All time No Hit & K king with over 300 wins as a bonus!

    8. Ryan 30 $55 $1650 = 8 People 205 Cards $6815 Down $3185 Left

    Mariano, All time Saves Leader + Modern Yankee

    9. Rivera 15 $90 $1350 = 9 People 220 Cards $8165 Down $1835 Left

    Eck. Nice tie in with Mo. HOF & cant hate an Eck.

    10. Eckersley 25 $12 $300 = 10 People 245 Cards $8465 Down $1535 Left

    Tom Glavine gets me a cheap 300 Game winner with a loyal following.

    11. Glavine 30 $25 $750 = 11 People 275 Cards $9215 Down $785 Left

    Wade Boggs is the hitting version of Glavine. 3000 Hits with a following so 30 more.

    12. Boggs 25 $30 $750 = 12 People 300 Cards $9965 Down $35 Left

    Nice mix of Legends, HOF, & Fun Pulls. NO ROSE too many out there. Lots of other ways to go but I went balance with so nice wows!

    Thanks for the fun challenge Chris!

  12. Zach T. 19 May, 2015 at 00:50

    1) Derek Jeter, 10 autos at $300 a piece, $3,000 total
    2) Hank Aaron, 15 at $100, $1,500 total
    3) Bo Jackson, 5 at $75, $375 total
    4) Tony LaRussa, 75 at $7, $525 total
    5) Pete Rose, 25 at $15, $375 total
    6) Jose Canseco, 20 at $5, $100 total
    7) Ken Griffey Jr., 10 at $110, $1,100 total
    8) Dave Justice, 40 at $5, $200 total
    9) Cal Ripken Jr., 20 at $50, $1,000 total
    10) Nolan Ryan, 15 at $55, $825 total
    11) Tommy Lasorda, 60 at $12, $720 total
    12) Reggie Jackson, 5 at $17.50, $87.50 total
    Totals: 300 cards for a total of $9,807.50

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