Archive for Greats of the Game

The one 2000 GOTG auto I wished I kept – Tom Seaver

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , on March 7, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

News came out today about Major League pitching legend Tom Seaver and his family making a decision for him to step out of the public spotlight due to his diagnosis with dementia.

I’ll admit, I was sad when I saw the statement. And I’ll be honest, I was half expecting there to be a bigger announcement about him — because in some ways we’ve trained ourselves to think that way in this age of social media — but I’m glad that was not the case and I do wish Mr. Seaver and his family well going forward.

In my eyes, Seaver has always felt like a bigger legend than Nolan Ryan. Sure, Seaver had long held the record until recently for highest vote percentage by a player elected to the Hall of Fame on their first ballot — so his value was appreciated by voters. But in many ways it seems as though he had been overshadowed by his former teammate because Ryan had seven no-hitters and still holds the record for strikeouts.

Aside from Seaver’s Rookie Card, the secondary market for his relics and autos have paled by comparison to Ryan, and even some others from the same era.

Personally, I’ve always loved Seaver’s signature. And my favorite was his 2000 Greats of the Game, which I owned until last year.

That 2000 set was such an iconic release, and several years ago I managed to finish the entire set — which I chronicled both here and in Beckett Baseball Monthly. In fact I still have all the images listed on this page here. But last year I sold the set, except for one card — the Nolan Ryan, which I decided to keep because I personally pulled that from a pack in 2000. Kind of ironic given how I feel about Seaver, his signature and this specific card.

And then … there was one. Another big 2000 GOTG SP Auto acquired

Posted in Mail Day with tags , , , , , on March 23, 2015 by Cardboard Icons

Never did I ever think I would get so close to finishing one of the greatest sets of all time. The 2000 Greats of the Game autograph set has been one of the top sets I have ever seen and over the last two years I have spent time and money trying to finish this thing.  I have bought cards locally, I have purchased cards at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Cleveland in 2014, and I waited nearly a month for a card to arrive from New York after some snafu with the Postal Service. And now … I have brought a card back to the United States of America from Tokyo, Japan.

Behold, the second to last card for the set, the George Brett certified autograph from Fleer.

IMG_0819I’ve noted before that the George Brett autograph was one of the hardest to acquire and over the last few months a few have popped up on eBay with Buy-It-Now prices that would make some heads spin. And even though some of those sellers take offers, none of them would come down to a price range I was happy with.

And then IT happened … one was put up for auction by a seller in Japan.  After a week of bids, and many last-minute ones, I managed to win the card and today it arrived at home in less than two weeks from the date of purchase.

This acquisition leaves me ONE card shy of the set.  You can see 91 of the 92 cards here.

2000 GOTG Baseball autograph set down to just TWO …

Posted in Mail Day, Misc. with tags , , , , , on February 2, 2015 by Cardboard Icons

Entering 2015, I was down to just four cards to complete the iconic 2000 Greats of the Game baseball autograph set. I was down to an Alan Trammel, and three very hard to find short prints that rarely pop up on ebay.

IMG_9061Then IT happened.  someone decided to break a set.  The Trammell was posted three times BV but I bit on it within 5 minutes of it being posted.  And then the Mike Schmidt showed up. George Brett too.  And of course Kirby Puckett.

Now, if I had the funds available I could have snagged the three SPs and celebrated completing this set — sans the Derek Jeter of course.  But I don’t roll like that.  The seller had them priced super high because they were the only ones on eBay.

Well, since then, three other George Bretts have appears, all over $500 each.  The Schmidt sold for an undisclosed amount — the seller wanted $799.  And a second Puckett appeared — which later became mine.

The second Puckett wasn’t exactly mint.  The corners were white, which made it less appealing to others.  To me, it allowed me to negotiate with the seller.  And when all was said and done I got it for less than half of what the other was being offered for.

There is a side note to this Puckett.  I figured I would ask the seller if he had any more and the seller told me he didn’t. The reason, this Puckett reportedly comes from a collection of items OWNED by Puckett himself.  The seller has some 40,000-plus feedbacks and is based in Minneapolis. While there is not “proof” of this ownership, I only have his word and some circumstantial evidence.

TIMG_9062he condition of the card actually lends some — SOME — credibility to this.  Clearly a true collector didn’t own this card. Most knew that these cards did not belong in any sort of screw case or card protector without a penny sleeve. The white corners show that it was owned by a novice collector.

Now, whether or not this is true — the angle of Puckett owning this card — is almost impossible to prove, therefore not really adding any value to the card.  But it does make for an interesting story line.

It should be noted that this card arrived it was in a Card Saver I WITHOUT a penny sleeve. It was packed between two pieces of cardboard though.

I’ve now updated my 2000 Greats of the Game Autograph set with pictures.  There is no rush to complete this, but I’d love to find a  Schmidt and Brett to wrap this up.

2000 Fleer GOTG Baseball Autos: The Final Four

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , on November 13, 2014 by Cardboard Icons

When I opened my first pack of 2000 Fleer Greats of the Game baseball some 14 years ago, I was immediately drawn to the set.  The simplistic design and checklist appealed to me.  And of course there was the fact that I pulled the Nolan Ryan autograph on that first day, just as I wished.

IMG_6252Over the last 18 months, I casually started to gather other autographs from the certified set. And before I knew it I had made real progress toward achieving something I once thought was impossible — completing the autograph set.

Well, I’ve written here and in a Beckett Baseball Magazine column how far I had come and how I had met a pair of dealers at this year’s National in Cleveland who had some of the harder-to-find short printed autographs.  At the show I acquired two of the harder ones.  And then when I got back home I established contact and essentially agreed to purchase three others that they had that I needed.

The first that I acquired from the dealers after the show was Johnny Bench. I got a fantastic deal on the card, but as I documented about six weeks ago, the transaction was far from smooth.  The hang-up really happened with the United States Postal Service and the Bench card spent 19 days in Postal Purgatory.

When it came time to complete the transaction for the final two cards I was a bit reluctant.  Not because of anything the dealers had done. Rather I was a bit gun-shy due to the USPS service.  Would I really spend nearly three weeks on pins and needles waiting for my cards?

Well, much to my surprise, the second half of the transaction went down rather smoothly.  And in just three days (from New York to California) I had acquired two more short prints, cards of deceased Hall of Famers Phil Rizzuto and Warren Spahn.

IMG_6251

And so where does this leave me with my set? Down to the Final Four.

Yep. Four autograph cards stand between me and a complete set — minutes that Derek Jeter autographed card that, in my mind, does not count as it was not originally released with the set.

So who are these pesky four players whose signed cards have yet to find a home in a penny sleeve, black top loader and team bag in my collection?

Three of the players are Hall of Famers, and if you know a thing or two about this set, they are all probably the three hardest — and most expensive — cards to find in this set. They are George Brett, Mike Schmidt and Kirby Puckett.

And the fourth card? It’s not a short print. It shouldn’t cost me too much. Heck, the player on the card is not even a Hall of Famer.  It’s Alan Trammel, whose card I had seen long ago and decided to wait on since it was one of the “cheaper” ones in the set.

Nonetheless, it’s clear to me that the contact I made at The National — with a little help from Beckett Baseball Editor Chris Olds, who actually located the dealers while I was trudging through bargain bins — has been a vital contact point for getting this close. It just goes to show that while the world is at our fingertips via the Internet and our Smart Phones, personal contacts are still important.

You can see each of the 88 cards I have acquired thus far in this 92-card set HERE.

19 Days in Postal Purgatory — story of Johnny Bench SP Auto

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , on October 2, 2014 by Cardboard Icons

So, it’s no secret at this point — I am working feverishly on the 2000 Greats of the Game baseball autographs set.

IMG_4708This set, as I have said here and in one of my recent Beckett Baseball Monthly columns, is easily one of the most iconic sets of our hobby’s history. It is one of the best looking and boasts one of the strongest signature lineups. And even though it is nearly a decade and a half old, there is a loyalty to the brand as many of the harder-to-find autographs fetch a serious premium.

Well, in August at The National, I met two guys who formed a business relationship.  At their booth I spotted a handful of short prints that I needed for the set.  At the show I was able to nab two of the cards, Tommy Henrich and Dave Winfield.  But there were still at least three others that I needed that they had.

In the weeks after the show I reached out to the dealers and they still had the cards that I needed.  We struck a deal for the Johnny Bench, whom I think has one of the best-looking autographs in the sport.  And so I sent a money order to the dealers in exchange for the card. The card then was presumably stuffed into a padded envelope and mailed from New York — en route to me in California — on Sept. 13.

The seller sent me an e-mail advising as such and even provided the tracking number. The package was also insured. I checked the tracking info and it estimated that delivery would be made to me on Sept. 16. I was stoked.

Well, Sept. 16 came. No package.

Then Sept. 17 came. No package.

Sept. 18 came and went and still no package.

I feared that the package might be lost, but I waited a few more days knowing full-well that the package would have fallen behind a bin somewhere. After all, I had a deal just two weeks earlier in which I sent a card from California to Georgia and it took 10 days for it to arrive.  Frustrating, but I know things happen.

Well, I waited and after 10 days I reached out to the dealers to advise that the package had not arrived and that if there was anyway they could check with their post office.  After all, the last shipping information showed that the package had merely departed the post office. No further updates after that.

At this point I realized that I could receive text messages advising me of every time the package is scanned along the route so I signed up for that.

And then just hours after I sent the e-mail to the dealer, I received a text message advising that the package had departed from … New Jersey.

Perplexed I was. But hopeful I remained. (whattup, Yoda!)

So I sent an e-mail to the dealer advising of movement and we both were excited as it seemed that the package should be in my hands within just a few days and then w could proceed with a second purchase.

Well, guess what?  The trail went silent.  After departing New Jersey on Sept. 23, 2014, there was no update for a week. I had no card. I had no clue where the card really was. And on Sept. 30, a week after the last update, I spoke with the dealer by phone and he told me that he had spoken to the post office — they advised to wait another week and if the package had not arrived then to proceed with the insurance claim.

At this point I figured the card was at the bottom of the ocean, stick in the wheel well of some airplane or just sitting in some postal carriers home — theft does occur, we all know that.

And then lo and behold that same night, as I was preparing to put my kids to bed, I get a text message advising that the package was in California.

Overnight I receive multiple text messages advising that it had been scanned here, sent there and ultimately placed out for delivery.

IMG_4707And so, after 19 days in what I’ll call “Postal Purgatory” the card arrived. My 2000 Greats of the Game Johnny Bench short printed auto has arrived and taken its place along with the other legends of this set.

 

 

 

 

Mailday! But what’s wrong with this picture?

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2013 by Cardboard Icons

Just picked up my mail, and it was an awesome card day. But take a look at this picture and tell me what is wrong.

Hint, I’m NOT speaking of the scotch tape that was used.

See it yet?

If you answered yes. Good job. If you answered no, you’re technically right too. Where’s the penny sleeves, bro?!

This ain’t rocket science. It’s not hard to protect good cards. It’s as simple as making a hamburger — bun-meat-bun. Or in this case, card, penny sleeve Top loader.

Thrilled to have the cards, believe me. But as much as I paid for these — especially the short printed 2000 Greats of the Game Duke Snider auto — you’d think the seller could toss a few penny sleeves in here.

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Chasing dreams: the 2000 Greats of the Game autograph set

Posted in Hall of Famers with tags , , , , , , , on November 2, 2013 by Cardboard Icons

For more than a decade, I’ve been drawn to the greatness of the 2000 Greats of the Game autograph set.  I think I’ve shared the story before, but the very first pack of this product that I opened in 2000 contained the ONE card I really wanted from the set:  Nolan Ryan.  Yeah, I called my shot.  And yes, you’ve heard this before because I know for a fact that I’ve written about it before.

YazI toyed with the idea over the years of collecting the set.  It’s a gorgeous set, I know it’s highly collectible, and in my opinion, the checklist is absolutely stellar.  There are a few “duds” but that’s beside the point.  Most of the least-desirable cards can be had relatively cheap.

Well, it’s official, I’m declaring my war on the 2000 Greats of the Game gold-border auto set … with one exception, that Derek Jeter autograph that is limited to 150 copies.

Here’s my issue with the card:  It was a redemption only and was not released until 2001.  And not only is it a year older, it appears to have been made with a glossy card stock.  Eff that!  Part of the charm of the 2000 set is the smooth non-glossy texture.  It’s hard to describe, but it kind of feels like vellum paper.

Anyhow, I’ve added an updated list and made it public so that you can see what exactly I am missing.  Surprisingly, I am already more than half way to the set … although once I get to the short prints, I’ll be looking at some pretty pricey cards.  Lucky me.