Card of the Day: 2004 Sweet Spot Signatures Ichiro autograph

I’ve finally netted myself an Ichiro autograph. The card featured here, 2004 Sweet Spot autograph, has been in my collection now for four days and I am still in awe staring at it. Since Ichiro broke into the Big Leagues in 2001, I’d always wondered if one day I would own one of his signatures. He’s a great player with a world-wide fan base, and because of this transcontinental love fest for Ichiro, the prices of his collectibles are nearly higher than anyone else. And when it comes to autographs, we’re talking a whole different ballgame, which makes this acquisition of mine even finer. Ichiro had an exclusive autograph deal with Upper Deck during the early years of his MLB career. Neither Topps, nor Donruss, nor Fleer could produce an Ichiro card baring his signature.

But by the end of 2004, that exclusive contract was gone and no brand since has made an Ichiro autograph card because the Japanese star has signed a different exclusive deal, this time with a memorabilia shop near Seattle. If you do a search on eBay for Ichiro autographs, there is no shortage of them. There are authentic signed photos, balls, and other items — all of which cost more than twice what this card cost me. But when it comes to authenticated signed baseball cards there seems to be a finite supply. And because of this many collectors are opting to hold onto them, which in turn further drives up the price of the ones offered for sale. That’s where this one comes in. It took some finagling — sold a pair of Ken Griffey Jr. autographs and a few other items — but I finally acquired an Ichiro at a below-market level rate, and to top it off this one comes from one of the most desired sets produced in recent memory: Sweet Spot, the Upper Deck brand that features signatures on baseball leather embedded in a baseball card. This is the newest addition to the RAM Project, which I hope to update sometime this weekend.

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