Archive for Beckett Grading

Mint and slabbed: 1985 Clemens Topps rookie finds new home

Posted in New Addition with tags , , , , , on January 14, 2018 by Cardboard Icons

True story: When I was 11 years old I entered the sixth grade with a binder decorated in Roger Clemens pictures. I was that hardcore of a fan. And my collection at the time consisted of damn near every copy of every Roger Clemens card I could find.

Hell, during one trip to card show in the mall I purchased some 60 copies of a 1989 Classic Travel Orange Clemens card one dealer had for sale.

I digress, one of my prized possessions was a single 1985 Topps Clemens rookie card I purchased from a local card shop in 1990. I forget how much the card cost me, but surely it was in the $15 range — which was about the same price as a box of packs from the current year at the time. So there was a debate: a single card versus a whole box of cards.

That card was THE Clemens card for me. The 1984 Fleer Update XRC was a figment of my imagination really. I figured there was no way on earth that I’d ever own the card as it was valued at the time in the $350 range.

So the Clemens Topps rookie was something I never wanted to let out of my sight. So what did I do? I placed it into a Card Saver I and taped the Card Saver to the inside of my binder.

And so there it sat every day. When I got sick of listening to the teacher I opened my binder and looked at the Clemens, an escape from school work and a journey to baseball card land, where all things were positive and fun.

Fast forward to 2018. I have the Clemens Fleer Update rookie — two in fact; although it should be noted they’re worth about a third of what they went for in 1990. But I hadn’t owned a GRADED version of that beloved 1985 Topps Clemens.

The original one I owned is still in my collection. Remarkably it isn’t thrashed, but it was never mint, always near-mint at best.

And so one day recently while perusing the Clemens stuff on eBay I came upon a BGS Topps Clemens rookie, a solid Mint 9. It’s not rare, but I had to make this one mine. And so I did — for a whopping $15, the same price I paid for my original Clemens rookie.

Ben Aguirre, Jr.

Former Beckett Baseball columnist and writer.

Collector of Hall of Fame tobacco era and Rookie cards.

Collector of Roger Clemens and Clayton Kershaw.

You can reach me on Twitter and Instagram @cardboardicons. You can also e-mail me at cardboardicons@yahoo.com

Some things should never be slabbed

Posted in Hall of Famers, Newspaperman with tags , , , , , on July 30, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

Earlier this year I was on a quest to acquire a relic card of one of the hobby’s biggest names: Honus Wagner. During my search I found a relic of Wagner at a fairly decent price, but it maybe because the card was in a Beckett Grading slab, and was stuck with an 8.5 label.

 photo AEAA0C4E-CE82-42FC-B722-88B54DA22CD5_zpsof3wvn15.jpgA lot of graded card collectors see 8.5 on a modern card and run away. The card obviously isn’t mint, leaving it in a state of uncertainty for collectors who are real sticklers on condition.

I’m OK with 8.5 sometimes. It just depends.

I digress. While the grade may have turned people away in this case, I saw this as an opportunity to swoop up a card that would satisfy my particular collecting goal at the moment. So I bought it for less than the price of two retail blasters.

The card arrived and it has been sitting in a box for months as I sort out stuff in my life.

Alas here I am, card in hand thinking about the acquisition and how the card fits into my collection. But then it hit me. It doesn’t fit. I mean physically.

Relic cards do not belong in slabs. Period.

I know I am not the only collector who  has received a relic card of a legend and instantly touched the piece of material, whether it be part of a jersey, pants or bat.

Honus shall be no different.

 photo 654A9AFF-C657-4C23-8308-8C268FBEC5DC_zpsyrmmtinf.jpg

Why I choose BGS/BVG instead of PSA

Posted in Misc. with tags , , , , , , on May 22, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

 photo FC045908-2FD4-4B88-836B-DEBEEDC688B4_zpsmtwxgi5c.jpg
It’s been asked of me many times: Why do you choose BGS/BVG instead of PSA?

The reason might be simpler than you think.

Sunday morning I posted the attached picture to my Twitter account. I had been trying for a long time to take a decent picture of my “Card Wall” display case which contains many of the jewels of my rookie/vintage collection. 

The case contains 55 cards, all of which are graded by Beckett (Vintage) Grading. And the question about my grading preferences was asked again. And then it dawned on me that I never really explained here on my blog why I choose BGS/BVG instead of PSA.

One look at my bio may lead you to believe that my former affiliation with Beckett Media may have something to do with it, but in reality my loyalty to Beckett Grading began more than a decade before I penned anything for Beckett.

It started in 1999 during the grading card craze. PSA at the time was the big boy in the grading industry and many other small “grading” companies came along, most of which offered nothing more than slabbing your card for some fee. The quality of work really didn’t matter. They all had some fancy three-letter abbreviation and offered some plastic encapsulation, but the reputation of grading companies is built on one main thing: trustworthiness. In other words, does the grade you issue a card carry any value among collectors?

As you can guess, many of those fly-by-night operations didn’t last long as their services really offered nothing to collectors but a special plastic holder. Beckett started the Beckett Grading Services branch of the company right about that same time and to me, their product caught my eye for two reasons: First, the holders seemed superior to the PSA ones. Second, I didn’t have to join a club to get my cards graded.

The belief in my mind at the time was that I had to pay money to join the PSA club in order to even have the opportunity to get my cards graded. I also didn’t like the fact that the cost of services varied depending on the value of the card.

With BGS it was simple. You want cards graded? Package them up, fill out a form, pay a flat fee per card regardless of value and wait. There were no clubs. No hoops to jump through. It seemed simple. And it was.

Oddly enough my first order was a bag of mixed results. I got solid grades on my key submissions (1997-98 Topps Chrome Refractor RC Tim Duncan (9); 1998-99 Topps Chrome Refractors RC Vince Carter (9) and 1998 SP Authentic RC Randy Moss (9)) but there were some quality control issues. I had two cards in that first batch that came back damaged. Not the cases, but the actual cards! At some point during the encapsulation process, the edge of the card got caught in the area of the inner plastic sleeve where the plastic is heat sealed closed.

I complained and basically got the cold shoulder. It left a bad taste in my mouth, but I sent another submission a year later and had no problems. And truthfully, I have now sent dozens of orders in over the last 17 years and have not had any issues.

When it comes to grading, PSA and BGS are the two authorities. And everyone has their own opinion as to which is better for certain cards and why. Each also has a loyal following. Most modern stuff gets slabbed by BGS, likely because of the superior (in my opinion) cases and the existence of sub grades, whereas PSA continues to have a large market share of the vintage slabs.

On the resale market PSA still draws better for vintage cards which of course leaves me in an interesting predicament as it pertains to my collection. While I have a fair amount of modern stuff graded by Beckett Grading, I also choose BVG for all of my vintage cards. And I do this knowing that the cards might be “worth more” if they were in PSA holders, if for no other reason collectors of vintage seem to prefer PSA’s services.

What it all really comes down to is what you like. If you are a collector – and not a reseller, flipper, investor, etc. – you buy what you like, not what the next guy likes. Because really the only person you need to impress with your collection is the person you look at in the mirror.

Rookie Card Upgrade: 1972 Topps Carlton Fisk / Cecil Cooper 

Posted in Rookie Card Upgrade, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on February 25, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

Since my last post was a Red Sox rookie upgrade, I may was well follow it up with another. 

Carlton Fisk had one of the most memorable home runs in baseball history while with Boston. Here is the raw copy of his 1972 Topps rookie card, which is also the rookie card of another solid player, Cecil Cooper. Like many of the raw vintage rookies in my collection they were a bit soft.
 photo CF85FE2E-D062-4258-A7F4-173412335272_zpsbpfnbgdr.jpg

For the price of two retail blasters I managed to acquire a gorgeous copy of this card, one that I can now proudly display with my other HOF rookie cards.
 photo EDD00E70-D407-4598-838B-A5CAAFAE699D_zpskna8ujsk.jpg

Rookie Card Upgrade: 1971 Topps Dave Concepcion

Posted in Rookie Card Upgrade with tags , , , , , on February 14, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

I’ve been doing quite a bit of upgrading over the last few months. One of the cards I upgraded somewhat recently was m 1971 Topps Dave Concepcion rookie card.  The 1971 set is a really tough set to get in good condition.  Those black borders make the cards susceptible to chipping, which was a major problem for my original Concepcion:

 photo ED0AD10B-D185-432D-BCBF-DB8EEE7560CA_zpsjlwyzvqh.jpg
I didn’t pay much for the raw conception, but was always open for an upgrade. And then came along an opportunity for a Beckett Graded slabbed copy that looked really nice. The cost was actually not much more than what it would have cost just to have any card graded. That’s a big win for a key member of those great Reds teams of the 1970s.
 photo CEE741CE-0DE4-48E0-9672-6145FAEB680B_zpsouesd90x.jpg

Rookie Card Upgrade 8: 2011 Topps Chrome Rookie Autographs Refractor Craig Kimbrel (BGS 9)

Posted in Rookie Card Upgrade with tags , , , , on November 25, 2015 by Cardboard Icons

I have a thing for electric closers. Kimbrel definitely fits the mold and about three years ago I bought this raw 2011 Topps Chrome Rookie Autograph for my collection.

  
Kimbrel has been a stud ever since, but demand for his cards decreased due in part to the fact that he had since been traded to the San Diego Padres. About a month ago a BGS graded refractor version of the card hit COMC at less than the price of a blaster box. Needless to say I popped on it.  

And then as the card was being shipped to me, Kimbrel was traded to the Boston Red Sox, my favorite team. Timing was perfect for this acquisition. 

Rookie Card Upgrade 6: 1994 SP Alex Rodriguez

Posted in Rookie Card Upgrade with tags , , , , , on August 15, 2015 by Cardboard Icons

For the longest time I considered myself lucky to own a BGS 8 copy of the 1994 SP Alex Rodriguez.

It’s probably hard to remember now just how hot this card was in this hobby, but believe me, once grades get above an 8, things got pretty expensive. 

So when I scored an 8 on a copy I submitted to Beckett Grading about a half decade ago I was pretty happy.

  
Well, we know that A-Rod’s legacy has taken a major hit a few times since then and the value of his SP rookie has plummeted. And even with his resurgence this year, mint copies are now fairly affordable.

  
A few weeks ago while writing my column for Beckett Baseball, the one on stands now, I considered whether or not it was time for me to seek a rock solid mint copy of this iconic rookie for my collection. 

After moving a few extra pieces in my collection I found a nice copy to replace my BGS 8. Even with his checkered history, this is still a must-own card for rookie card collectors.