Archive for Barry Bonds

Elite Status: Iconic 1991-1996 Donruss insert sets complete with autos

Posted in Completed Sets with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 15, 2017 by Cardboard Icons

EliteLogo It’s been three decades since I opened my first pack of baseball cards. And less than five years into my hobby career, cards went from being just cards to being chase-worthy investments — at least that’s what we the collectors were being sold.

At the front of this movement was the almighty Elite Series insert set, which started in 1991 as one of the hobby’s most iconic chase sets to date.

Imagine if you will opening dozens, hundreds or even thousands of packs and see nothing but blue and green borders and then … bam, a bronze foil border card with a marble-like design embedded within and a serial number on back.

By today’s standards, Elite cards wouldn’t be much to gloat about, but in 1991, it was something most would only dream of.

My dream of pulling an Elite Series card actually came true in 1993 when I fished an Eddie Murray out of a pack at Target. As I’ve told people before, the story goes that I was opening a pack while my mom was paying for it and other stuff.  When I saw the shiny foil, I dropped an f-bomb that made everyone from my mother to the people in line to the cashier stop what they were doing and look my way. Hey, I was 13.

Anyhow, i eventually made it a goal to complete the first three Elite Series (1991, 1992 and 1993) sets including the autographs — a feat that was accomplished a few years ago and documented in one of my Beckett Baseball columns.

I’ve since moved on to the next three years. And while the passion to finish it came and went over time, I got the itch recently to put those next three sets to rest and with a little help from Tanner at I was able to get the elusive 1995 Elite Series Jose Canseco that I couldn’t find.

And so, here is a visual look at the first six years of Elite Series Insert cards. You’ll notice that the dynamic of the set has changed over time. It started as an 8-card set with one legend and one autograph. Then next two years the base Elite set grew and continued to include a legend and autograph.  By 1994, the Elite Series set was scaled back to just 12 basic Elite cards — no more autographs or legends. Nonetheless, they were still special.

1991 Elite Series (base Elite’s /10,000; Legends Series /7,500; Signature Series /5,000)

1992 Elite Series (Base Elites /10,000; Legends /7,500; Signature Series /5,000)

1993 Elite Series (Base Elites /10,000; Legends Series /10,000; Signature Series /5,000)

1994 Elite Series (all /10,000)

1995 Elite Series (all /10,000)

1996 Elite Series (all /10,000)

Now that those sets are done, I’ll get to working eventually on 1997 and 1998, but I’m also turning my eyes to a few other insert sets from my youth that always intrigued me:

1992 Pinnacle – Team Pinnacle

1994 Score Cycle

1994 SP Holoview

1994 Flair Hot Glove

1996 Pacific Flame Throwers


Two for the Price of One

Posted in Misc. with tags , , , , , on August 18, 2015 by Cardboard Icons

I was just going through some of my recently obtained autographs and noticed something pretty cool on my 2014 Topps Hi-Tek Terry Pendleton autograph … He signed BOTH sides of the card. 

I added this Pendleton to my collection because he won the National League MVP Award in 1991, which is interesting because Barry Bonds won the award in 1990, and then again in 1992 and 1993.  Had Pendleton not won the award in 1991, Bonds would have won it four  consecutive times — Bonds was the run errands-up to Pendleton in 1991.

In case you’re interested in a dual-signed Pendleton card, there are still one or two left on COMC as of this writing.  Not all of the Tek autos were signed twice. 

Thrift Treasures 71: “They have a bunch of cards in boxes … and they are cheap.”

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2014 by Cardboard Icons

So, my intention was to hit you guys next with another short post about items that I found at The National.  But on this day, I actually have a fresh Thrift Treasures post based on items that I found just a few hours ago.

I made the rounds to one of the local thrift stores this morning and while looking at about a dozen baggies or so, some random guy walks up to me and asks if I’ve ever been to a nearby town, which is one of the rich cities in the neighborhood.  I give him a stare as if my eyes were saying “why the hell are you asking me this?’

A few seconds of silence pass and he says, ” well, they have this thrift store there. They have a bunch of cards in boxes … and they are cheap.” The man tells me baseball cards are not his thing, so he figured he’d let me know.

Five minutes later I’m on the freeway headed to said thrift store, which i did not know even existed.

Located in an old house turned into a store front, I located the cards he spoke of.


My jaw dropped and my heart skipped a beat because as you can see from the picture, they had multiple boxes marked as 1989 Upper Deck baseball sets.  I opened them and determined that all cards were in there … except for THE card, the Ken Griffey Jr.  Each box was priced at $4. Even at $4 those sets are decent.  There are some iconic cards and some good rookies.  The issue I had was that I already had three 1989 UD Sets.  I decided to pass.

What I did walk away with though was a complete 1987 Fleer baseball set, which had a Will Clark and Bo Jackson rookie card sitting in Top Loaders on top of the set inside the box.  I then checked to see if card 604 was there.  Barry Lamar Bonds was indeed there.  The Bonds single can be had for about $4, but I’ll take the whole set for this price.  I always liked this set anyway.


And secondly there was a box of 1989 Donruss baseball sitting there.  Wax packs completely and the box looking just as it did some 25 years ago when it came out of the case.


Well, I ripped the packs.  No Griffey. Insert fail horn here.

But I did get a Randy Johnson, two Curt Schillings and a Craig Biggio.  I also found a pack with a Don Mattingly Diamond King on the back,m so I kept that sealed. And I got to create these colorful pictures. Wee!



Total cost of these treasures: $8

To see more Thrift Treasures posts, click HERE

Semiannual Card Shop Tour: The Results (Part 2)

Posted in Semiannual Card Shop Tour with tags , , , , , , , , on October 17, 2011 by Cardboard Icons

I feel a bit like a troll breaking my Card Shop Tour purchases into two posts, but truth be told, the singles themselves are worthy of their own showcase.

As noted in Part One, I went through binders upon binders of discounted relics and autos, and scoured through a showcase of discounted “better” autos and relics.

In the end I walked out with six singles on top of the packs I discussed in the initial post.

The first card was a 2009 Topps American Heritage autograph of firefighter/writer Dennis Smith:

A high-dollar card?  Not really.  But it stood out to me among the dozens of autographs featuring failed baseball prospects.  Smith was a firefighter for the New York City Fire Department and is an accomplished author.  Here some backgroundCost: $5

There’s something neat about buying an autographed card of a player who has since passed away.  Even neater when the card is a hard-signed copy, like this 2005 Topps Johnny Podres:

Podres passed away in January 2008, yet his autographs are still being released today.  Why?  Because Podres signed a slew of stickers for Topps. Podres auto appeared in the 2010 Topps 206 set as part of the framed mini set.  His signatures are not rare.  But it’s always nice to know that the subject handled the card on which they placed their pen. Cost: $7.50 (Marked $15, with a 50 & off sticker)

I don’t do a whole lot of football. But this year I am catching the NFL bug with both of my local teams playing well and the recent death of Al Davis.  And when I saw this 2005 Leaf Certified Fabrics of the Game Cliff Branch patch card, it made me think of … “the greatness of the Raiders.”

That is a black jersey with a silver patch, and appears to be from one of the numbers. The card is mint and is serial numbered 20 of 25.  I did a bit of internet research before I bought this and there are almost no Branch jersey cards “available” on the market.  They exist, they just are not being offered for sale.  This one seemed like a no-brainer. Cost: $12 (Marked $24 with 50% off sticker)

Patches are a bit of a theme for the day.  Here is another no-brainer: 2004 Ultimate Collection Game Patch of Jim Catfish Hunter /75.

The card is a bit quirky … it’s Jim Hunter without a beard and sporting his 70s Oakland A’s jersey, yet the swatch and patch are from a New York Yankee jersey.  The back of the card even states this as such.  Either way, this card hailed from a product that I believe was some where in the neighborhood of $100 a pack.  Cost: $7.50 (Marked $15 with a 50% off sticker)

Bonds. Love him, hate him, he is the All-Time Home Run Champion.

Check out that sweet patch.  Yes, it is legit.  This is not an eBay special — concocted by some a-hole with nothing better to do than defraud unknowing buyers.  This is a prime swatch card featuring a black jersey with a black and orange patch, and the gold border of another patch.  Cost: $20 (Marked $40 with a 50 % off sticker)

Umpires.  Nobody wants a card of an umpire, especially one that was signed by one.  Um, I do.  I always thought the 2004 Bowman Heritage Autographs featuring umpires were some of the coolest and inexpensive cards made. On Monday I got THE card from the set that I always wanted, Steve Palermo.

Some of you younger baseball fans — those born after Upper Deck made its debut in 1989 — might not even know who this guy is. Palermo was a Major League umpire until July 7, 1991 when he was shot during a robbery at a restaurant after a Texas Rangers game.  Palermo had come to the aid of two restaurant waitresses who were being mugged in the parking lot.  During the struggle, Palermo was shot and the bullet severed his spinal cord, instantly leaving him paralyzed and effectively ending his career.

Palermo has recovered to some extent and is now a speaker.

With all that said, what the hell was this card doing in the bargain bin?  Instantly one of my favorite cards. Cost: $5

A completed set 10 years in the making: 2001 UD Gold Glove “Slugger’s Choice”

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , on October 4, 2011 by Cardboard Icons

For 10 years I’ve had a thing for batting glove cards.  We’ve all seen thousands of Game Used Jersey cards, and probably just as many bat cards.  The popularity of these items really has come and gone.  But all along, I’ve had an obsession with game-used batting glove cards.  Why?  Because of the 2001 Upper Deck Gold Glove “Slugger’s Choice” set.

In 2001 one I bought pack after pack of this product seeking something of great value.  In the end what I wound up pulling was a sweet looking, albeit relatively worthless, Ivan Rodriguez batting glove card.

Over the last decade I’ve had a ton of game-used cards pass through my collection, yet the one that I could not barter with was the Rodriguez.  Why?  Because the card has so much character.

The mere existence of this card in my collection set me into a frenzy over the last six months trying to complete this Slugger’s Choice set on the tenth anniversary of this sets release.  The checklist consists of 25 cards, although over the years the official checklist seemed to be a tad unreliable.  Initially there reportedly was a Jason Isringhausen card in this set, but that turned out to be false … even if it is STILL listed in Beckett.

So here we are, in October 2011, and my set is complete.  Some of these are more common than others, and some cost a pretty penny, but in the end they are all part of a completed set that was 10 years in the making.

Andres Galarraga

Alex Rodriguez - Mariners

Alex Rodriguez - Rangers

Bobby Abreu

Brady Anderson

Barry Bonds

Chipper Jones

Edgar Martinez

Gary Sheffield

Henry Rodriguez

Ivan Rodriguez

Jose Cruz Jr.

Juan Gonzalez

Ken Griffey Jr. - Mariners

Ken Griffey Jr. - Reds

Marty Cordova

Manny Ramirez

Miguel Tejada

Neifi Perez

Paul O'Neill

Rafael Furcal

Rafael Palmeiro

Sammy Sosa

Tony Bautista

A lot of cards that speaks volumes about baseball, our hobby

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , on December 30, 2010 by Cardboard Icons

Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds.

If there was a Mount Rushmore of the Steroid Era, these guys would take up three of the spots on the side of the mountain.   All three at one point were considered to be the greatest slugger in the game.  Sosa crushed more than 60 homers in three straight seasons, Mark McGwire broke Roger Maris’ single-season dinger mark (as did Sosa) and set the new mark at 70.  And then just a few years later, Barry Bonds came along and bested McGwire’s mark by pummeling 73 balls over the outfield fences at various ballparks throughout out the country.  Of course he later would surpass Hank Aaron’s all-time home run mark.

They were the best. They were the three guys whose baseball cards you wanted to own.  They were the three players whom even novice collectors wanted to invest.  And then things changed.

I came across this lot on eBay yesterday and it spoke to me like a whisper from down a dark alley reminding me of years past.  Not only reminding me of the recent history of the sport, but also of our hobby.

It’s a time capsule from when things were simpler. A time when everyone enjoyed the good and didn’t want to discuss the negativity.  Steroids? Pssssh, next question. A time when simple, meaningless rookie cards garnered attention. Not because they were signed or contained a swatch of game-used material, but simply because they were “rookie” cards featuring one of the game’s greats.

Sosa’s most desirable rookie card was/is his Leaf, but his Upper Deck garnered enough attention to pull close to $10 each.  The 1987 Donruss McGwire and Bonds cards are iconic of this mildly popular release.  The set features all dark borders, which caused fits among those looking for good-condition raw copies.  The McGwire is a rookie-year release — not an actual rookie card — featuring the “Rated Rookie” icon, which drew about $25 worth of attention to the scrawny slugger dressed in yellow.  And the Bonds was a solid true rookie that from time to time saw bursts in activity driving it to nearly $25.  And of course, all of the aforementioned cards were worth even more if they were graded high.

Which brings me to the next observation of this lot:  These three cards were graded by Beckett Grading Services under the guidance of the “old label” … and none of them earned high marks.

These cards were graded sometime before 2003, which I believe if when BGS changed their labels to feature the grades on front.  These cards were submitted by a collector who believed that their copies of well-cared-for but well-loved cards were worthy of slabbing, even if they had some chipping along the border, a slightly folded corner or a scratched hologram.  These cards were collected in a time when anything that was encapsulated by any company was thought to have increased in value, even if the grade was less than desirable.

A BGS 7 can carry a premium with older cards.  For those released within the last 20-25 years, all it means is that you’re admitting to the buyer that your card is not of mint quality. In some cases, the value of your raw card decreased because of the grade it received.  None of this mattered when these cards were submitted.

Now many years later with a clearer vision and a better understanding of the circumstances, collectors aren’t pouring money into any of these three players with the same fervor they once did. Even the most desirable rookie cards of these guys can be had at heavily discounted levels.

Nonetheless, the three cards offered for sale in this auction are iconic of the era when the players depicted on them were giants, a time when the hobby was simpler. A time when the sport was much more innocent. Or so we thought.

Think “cheaters” don’t get into the Hall of Fame? Guess again.

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , , on August 9, 2010 by Cardboard Icons

Let me preface this by saying I have nothing against Mr. Red Faber. Because technically speaking he was not a cheater — he was simply playing within the rules of the game. By all accounts, Faber threw a spitball — now an illegal pitch — en route to winning 250-plus games during his career and guess where he ended up? Yep. Cooperstown.

In addition to his compiled statistics, Faber is credited as being the last American League pitcher to legally throw a spitball, which as the name suggests, is a ball lubed with the pitcher’s saliva in order to give it more movement. The pitch was outlawed after 1920, partly because the pitcher was seen to be cheating. The pitch was also banned because the ball often became discolored and presented a risk to batters. A spitball is what killed Ray Chapman, whom I referenced a few weeks ago in this post.

Faber is not a cheater. He was simply playing within the rules of the game and actually was one of two dozen or so known spitball pitchers of his time, which has been dubbed as the “Dead Ball Era.”

Now let’s draw this parallel to modern times.

Many players from the 1980s through late 2000s are now coming up for consideration for election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, an exclusive club to which Mr. Faber was elected in 1964 — a dozen years before his death. A typical discussion nowadays begins and ends with “Yeah, but he played in the Steroid Era.”

Technically, steroids were not added to the banned substance list until 1991, and Major League Baseball didn’t even start testing for any performance enhancing drugs until 2002. So for a good 11 years or so players could have been cheating and there was no real way of telling who was doing what.

Furthermore, the whistleblowers proclaim that a vast number of players were using something to aid their performance, banned or not. So can’t we deduce from that that a good number of baseball players were playing on somewhat of a level playing field?

I understand the argument that some players, particularly superstars like Ken Griffey Jr. and Frank Thomas, were never linked to performance enhancing use and that their careers shouldn’t be tainted by the dirty acts of those who have been accused of “cheating.” And I’m not going to sit here and try to justify the use of substances that ultimately can have severe health side effects.

But what I’m saying is there is some precedent on “cheating” and players getting into the Hall of Fame. Whether or not proven to be guilty of using substances to aid their performance, some players from the “Steroid Era” are not unlike those from the early 20th century — they were playing the game within the parameters, or at least were not caught red-handed after said act was deemed illegal. Steroids are steroids, but not all performance enhancing drugs are. And because there was no testing in place to back up anyone’s claims or assertions, how can we seriously make the case that any of these stars suspected of “cheating” from the last two decades should never be in the Hall of Fame?

If a player falls under he umbrella of suspicion and sports writers want to make their opinions known by keeping said player from being elected on the first ballot, that’s fine. But don’t tell me that Roger Clemens or Barry Bonds are not a Hall of Famers. If they don’t get in the first time, they will eventually.