Archive for Frank Thomas

Card show bargain bin find brings back a fond memory

Posted in Memory Lane with tags , , , , , on March 10, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

Last week I managed to make it to the first night of the annual GT Sports Marketing show in Santa Clara, California. One of my favorite things to do it dig through the bargain boxes while everyone else is clamoring over the newest, shiny cards in the show cases.

As I dug through one dealer’s dollar box, I stopped dead in my tracks when I came to a stack of Frank Thomas cards because there in my hands was a copy of a card that I honestly called the second best card — second only to my my 1993 Elite Eddie Murray — I had ever pulled to that point in my life.

In 1994, I was a freshman in high school and my parents had been separated for about five years. My father was living with his girlfriend in a city about 15 miles away and on the weekends I would go to his house and spent time fishing and just hanging out. In that small town there was a card shop run by a gentleman who smoked cigars while customers browsed the shelves and showcase.

That year 1994 Score caught my attention because for the first time the brand had created parallel cards (Gold Rush) that were seeded one per pack and at the time that was a big deal. I bought a fair amount of Series One and completed a base set and had a partial set, so when Series Two was released I was excited.

I had no money, but my cousin — who is a year younger than I — had $10 and said I could borrow it if I promised to pay her back. You know I was down for that deal, and so she gave it to me and I plunked the cash down on the counter and asked for nine packs of 1994 Score Series Two — it would have been 10 packs if not for taxes.

I ripped pack after pack and somewhere in the middle of the session came out a 1994 Score “The Cycle” Frank Thomas card. It was one of 20 cards on the checklist, and the cards were seeded 1:72 packs, which was a common ratio for rare inserts of the time. And Frank Thomas was no slouch — his popularity in the hobby was on par with Ken Griffey Jr. at the time; they often traded top positions as the top player on the Beckett Baseball’s monthly hot player list.

When the cards were priced in Beckett, that Thomas — and the Griffey — were listed at $75. The Thomas I owned went right into a four-screw, 1/4-inch screw case for maximum protection — sans penny sleeve of course.

That Thomas stoked a great passion of mine to chase that entire set. I spent much of the fall trading various football rookies — Heath Shuler and Trent Dilfer to be specific — for various cards on the checklist, mostly the lower end guys. Dealers were more than happy to take the hot quarterback rookies for these inserts.

I never did finish the set as a kid, but it is something I have half completed at present time and intend to finish at some point.

Although I already owned a copy of this Frank Thomas card — it’s not available even for $75 — I could not pass on the chance to obtain another at such a low price. It’s not that I needed the card for my collection, but I needed it for my collecting soul and so that I could revisit that story and share it with you.

200 1991 Topps Stadium Club packs for $16 shipped? Hell yeah!

Posted in Box / Pack Break with tags , , , , , on November 5, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

The other day a friend pointed out an item on eBay where a new seller was offering several lots of Medium Flat Rate boxes filled with 1991 Stadium Club packs for the mere price of 99 cents plus like $15 shipping.For a guy who collected when the product was brand new, and a person who loves the TSC line, you know I had to take a chance.

The box of packs arrived Monday night and the outer shipping box felt like it contained a load of bricks. And in a sense it did seeing as how many of these ultra premium, high-gloss full-bleed photo cards we’re stuck together.

No, literally, look …

There was very low expectation given the price point. And no, I’m not upset — the cards were practically free. Sure, it’d be great to build a high-quality set from the 200-plus packs inside the box (split almost evenly between the two series) but this was a cheap, fun way to experience a bit of my childhood that was ridiculously expensive at the time.

It took about four minutes to open and peel apart the contents of two packs. The first pack had a Nolan Ryan Tuxedo and I hit my first Frank Thomas only a few packs into it. But as I was reliving some of these memories, I decided to also have some fun.

First I stuck some packs in front of a space heater hoping that’d help loosen them up.

Nope. Didn’t work.

How about the old freezer truck?

Nope. That didn’t work either.

At this point I have opened about 30 packs of series one and have pulled two Nolan Ryan’s and four Frank Thomas cards, one of which came in an monster pack that also contained a classic Bo Jackson and a second-year Juan Gonzalez. Hell, such a pack in 1991 would have had about $50 worth of singles — remember, the Thomas was $25-$30, and Ryan wasn’t too far behind.

I plan to open the rest at some point this week. I still have low expectations, but if you’re so inclined you can follow the hashtag #91TSCBrickedBreak on Twitter to see some fun stuff. Perhaps I can build a set (albeit not even close to mint) and pull a half-dozen of each classic card from this iconic release.

Thrift Treasures 90: The Kid, The Big Hurt, and more

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , , on July 25, 2015 by Cardboard Icons

It’s kind of funny, for a long time the baggies of cards at my local thrift stores held nothing but base cards. But recently I have been finding baggies with autos and/or memorabilia, even even rookie cards of guys whose legacy’s have been cemented in stone.

Earlier this week I found two baggies, shown above, which intrigued me because one had a few Ken Griffey Jr. Cards showing and the other had the rear of 1990 Topps #414 easily visible.

What I found inside was actually much better than I expected.

First, there were three autographs. THREE!  One certified NBA auto, one certified basketball draft pick autograph and what appears to be an in-person signature of former Detroit Tigers third baseman Travis Fryman.

Oddly enough there was a good amount of basketbal items in the bag. Here’s a pair of Jason Kidd rookies, and a rookie-year Ultra series 2 card.

Here’s the left overs from a Hoops Draft Lottery Redemption Set.

And leftovers from a gutted Collector’s Choice Draft Lottery set.

Pretty cool to see some of the basketball redemption cards in the Baggie. Here’s a stick of football and baseball stars, including a few 1990 rookies of two-time American League MVP Juan Gonzalez and National League Rookie of the Year David Justice. 

  As a kid growing up in the Bay Area, Mark McGwire was always in demand. The 1989 Upper Deck card has alway been a favorite of mine.

Barry Bonds was also a HUGE draw in the Bay Area after he came to San Francisco. Here are some cards from his time before he became a Giant.

Remember how I mentioned the 1990 Topps card #414? Yeah, that’s Hall of Famer Frank Thomas’ rookie card.

Now, when I saw the Ken Griffey Jr. Cards peaking at me from inside the mag I could see the 1990 Bowman and 1990 Topps cards. What I didn’t see was this 1988 Donruss Rated Rookie rookie card.


I know baseball cards aren’t what they were in the 1990s, but I always feel it is my duty to save rookie cards like these, which might otherwise end up in a trash can.


Total cost of these treasures: $4.98

You can see more Thrift Treasures posts Here

Before they were great … They were unproven

Posted in Instagram Portraits with tags , , , , , , on January 10, 2013 by Cardboard Icons


Project Prism: The Quest For `The Elite Series’ Set

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , , , on May 16, 2012 by Cardboard Icons

(UPDATED 9/11/12)

Ever since I was a youngster, I’ve been fascinated with the flashiest insert set known to mankind:  The Elite Series.

When I was 13, I was fortunate enough to pull one of these seemingly impossible hits from a pack of Donruss at my local Target.

I remember picking three packs and handing them to my mother. After the cashier rang them up, I grabbed them back from her and started  ripping into them as my mother completed her transaction.

Seconds later, the neon lights struck the prismatic foil border of an Eddie Murray Elite card and the greatest sensation of a 13-year-old card collector came over me.  I yelled an expletive, one that caused multiple people to look at me.  I didn’t care. I was on top of the collecting world.

It may not be the best looking card in the set — actually, it might be the ugliest — but it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen to this point that didn’t have long hair, two legs and two … well, you get the point.

The Murray stayed with me for about a month or so.  I was offered $75 for it at a card show a week later but the deal never came to fruition.  I think the prospective buyer was reluctant to give me the cash.  I later traded it for a bunch of other nonsense.  Worst decision ever.

In recent years, I have my it my collecting goal — as if I really needed another — to acquire the 1992 and 1993 Elite Series sets.  I may chase the other years later.

If you’ve yet to see the most recent Beckett Sports Card Monthly (Pages 22-24 — that’s me!), you’ll notice that I listed this insert set as my favorite from the ’90s.  And while it goes against common knowledge to hype a set (which could drive up interest and prices) that I am still working on, it’d be a great disservice to everyone to forget the greatness of The Elite Series.

It is here that I will document my progress.  I’ve already acquired about two dozen from this legendary set.  And here they are. Remember, these rare inserts were limited to 10,000 copies of each. Way over-produced by today’s standards; super rare by those standards of the early 1990s.


1991 Donruss Elite Series Rickey Henderson #7

1991 Donruss Elite Series George Brett #2

1991 Donruss Elite Legends Series L1


1992 Donruss Elite Series Ken Griffey Jr.

1992 Donruss Elite Series Frank Thomas

1992 Donruss Elite Series Kirby Puckett

1992 Donruss Elite Series Tony Gwynn

1992 Donruss Elite Series Will Clark

1992 Donruss Elite Series Dwight Gooden

1992 Donruss Elite Series Howard Johnson


1993 Donruss Elite Series Ryne Sandberg #20

1993 Donruss Elite Series Eddie Murray #21

1993 Donruss Elite Series Paul Molitor #22

1993 Donruss Elite Series Barry Larkin #23

1993 Donruss Elite Series Don Mattingly #24

1993 Donruss Elite Series Dennis Eckersley #25

1993 Donruss Elite Series Roberto Alomar #26

1993 Donruss Elite Series Edgar Martinez #27

1993 Donruss Elite Series Darren Daulton #29

1993 Donruss Elite Series Larry Walker #30

1993 Elite Series Barry Bonds #31

1993 Donruss Elite Series Mark McGwire #33

1993 Donruss Elite Series Cecil Fielder #34

1993 Donruss Elite Series Dave Winfield #35

1993 Donruss Elite Series Juan Gonzalez #36

1993 Donruss Elite Series Legends Robin Yount L3