Card of the Day: 1989 Upper Deck High Series Nolan Ryan Football Card

This hobby is so full of gimmicks. We’ve got base cards, parallels of base cards, inserts, parallels of inserts, parallels of parallels, and then the supreme parallel of the parallel of the parallel, which of course is limited to just one. And then we have products like Topps Moments where there are literally 30 different cards of each players within a set; Topps Heritage and Allen & Ginters where star players are shortprinted so you’re left with a bunch of commons, and Bowman Chrome, where a complete set features 300-plus cards, but you only get three or five cards per pack, and one autograph — the real shortprint — per box. Go figure.


But this is notion of gimmicks is not a new phenomenon. And sometimes the gimmicks themselves are inadvertent. Take for instance this 1989 Upper Deck High Series Nolan Ryan card. Here we’re basically looking at the Upper Deck update version of Nolan Ryan’s base card. In the main set, UD featured a pretty cool looking Nolan Ryan triple exposure card that showed him in his Houston Astros jersey. In the update set they found an image of Ryan donning the Ranger blue. But this is not your typical image, and the initial interest in the card was anything but typical. Why, you ask. Because Nolan Ryan is throwing a football in the picture.  

 Yes, folks, collectors found it highly unusual that one of the best pitchers in the history of the game was throwing a football. This oddity translated into curiosity, curiosity led to more spending to get the coveted Nolan Ryan “Football” card, and that led to a relatively high price tag. If memory serves me correctly, this Ryan at times fetched as much as $15, with price guide listings in the same neighborhood. Now this piece of collecting history books at just $4 and probably could be had for less than $1.

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