Archive for Ken Griffey Jr.

Thrift Treasures 99: An auto, a variation and the Heartbreak Kid

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , , on November 8, 2015 by Cardboard Icons

I don’t get out to flea markets as often as I’d like, but we managed to get out this weekend.

We took the kids and some other family members to the monthly flea market at the local community college and while the kids were racking up good deals, for a while the only thing I had scored was this 1997 Playmates Figure of Shawn Michaels, the Heartbreak Kid.  

I felt like I was searching high and low for sports stuff and it just wasn’t there … At least something worth buying.

At one space I located a binder of 400 NFL cards in a binder that didn’t really intrigue me much. And then a short while later I thought I hit the jackpot as a dealer had a dozen 5,000 count boxes on his table.  Unfortunately the dealer said the prices of the cards vary from a quarter to a dollar but most of the cards were commons and massive quantities of unlicensed reprints. PASS.

But I did find a legit card table. I talked to the two guys at the table for a while and wound up with a few deals:

2015 Topps Heritage High Numbers Raisel Iglesias auto. $3.  
2015 Topps Heritage High Numbers Black and White variation John Jaso.  $5. He added the base card for free.

A pair of stamped Topps Originals and a 2015 Stadium Club gold foil Javier Baez. 3 for $1  

 A 2015 Topps Chrome Pink Refractor Nick Swisher, 2015 Topps Tek Ken Griffey Jr., 2015 Topps First Pitch Jon Hamm. 3 for $1 
Total cost of these Treasures: $10.10

You can read more Thrift Treasures posts here.

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

Icon-O-Clasm: 1990 SI For Kids Ken Griffey Jr

Posted in Icon-O-Clasm with tags , , , , , on August 13, 2013 by Cardboard Icons


Kids point out previously unseen `boo boo’ on Griffey Jr. Topps card

Posted in Instagram Portraits with tags , , , , on February 5, 2013 by Cardboard Icons

GriffeyInstagramSo the other day I was tooling around the house before work and my daughter caught  me looking at baseball cards.  Normally when she and my son catch wind of me fidgeting with my cards, they both come over and start wanting to hold everything too.  Not a bad problem … if the kids are careful with the cards.  But my kids are 4 and 2 years old.  Cards are merely scrap paper to them, items that can be folded, torn and even colored on.  The cards usually get put away when they start wanting to grab them.

But on this morning I was in a good mood.  I placed a single 1990 Topps Ken Griffey Jr into a magnetic snap case and handed it to my daughter.  The reason for this was two-fold:  First, I was testing the durability of the magnetic snap cases (topic for another post). Secondly, I wanted to know what she (and my son) saw. I wanted to know what young kids see in this 23-year-old baseball, one featuring one of the greatest players to ever play the game, a card that I have many memories of, but one that is completely new to them.

I expected my daughter to point out the yellow “Rookie Cup Trophy.”

I expected my son to point out the bat on Griffey’s shoulder.

But they apparently both saw something that I had never seen before.

“What do you see?” I asked my daughter first.


“A boo boo,” she said.

“What?!  A boo boo?” I replied.

“Yes, right here,” she said as she pointed to Griffey’s left forearm.

My son then chimed in with the same answer: “Yeah, a boo boo!”


And there it was.  A boo boo, a patch of skin that had been rubbed off Griffey’s left forearm.  Something I had overlooked for two decades was immediately pointed out by my children.  Maybe I should let my kids handle my cards more often.


On a side note, I checked CheckOutMyCards to look at other examples of this card and it appears that on some versions of the card the red pigmentation to the injured area of Griffey’s arm has been muted.  Interesting. (H/T to Beckett Baseball Editor Chris Olds for pointing that out.)

Recapping The National — from Cardboard Icons’ perspective

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , , on August 7, 2012 by Cardboard Icons

I flew all the way across country for a four-day mini work-vacation and all I came back with was the shirt off someone else’s back and a piece of cardboard made in Japan.

OK, so I’m exaggerating a bit, but for the most part this is true.

Usually when someone travels so far to attend a collectors convention, they come home with a bunch of stuff.  Not me.  My luggage was actually 3 pounds lighter when I checked it Sunday night as I left Baltimore, home of the 33rd annual National Sports Collectors Convention.

So why did only come home with so little?

Because that’s all I needed to being home with me.

Don’t get me wrong, I did some spending.  I actually opened a box of cards each night that I was at the convention.

Thursday, Beckett Baseball Editor Chris Olds and I opened on camera a box of 1989 Upper Deck low numbers that I purchased from Baseball Card Exchange for the experience.  I wanted to pull a 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card for myself.

I’ve owned about a dozen of them over my 25 years of collecting, and even have one that is essentially gem mint except for the pesky hologram on the back.  As it turned out the box contained one alright … only I was not the one who pulled it.

On Friday, I purchased a box of 2012 Topps Mini, which was being sold exclusively through the Topps booth.  Along with the box, you got a five-card promotional set that includes Bryce Harper, Yu Darvish, Roy Halladay, Matt Kemp and Stephen Strasburg.  The sets were selling instantly on eBay for $25-$35.  I opened my box off camera because Beckett Football/Hockey editor Susan Lulgjuraj (@yanxchick) and Contributing Editor Dan Good (@Dgood73) were all ripping items they purchased with their own money from Blowout Cards.  My box was mediocre, but it was fun.  My hit was a Brandon Beachy relic.  But I did get five gold parallels (which are all serial numbered to 61 copies) and a Black/Platinum Scott Rolen, a parallel set that is limited to 5 copies each.

On Satuday, after I had an amazing experience meeting Earl Weaver – more on that in a bit – I decided to go buy another box of Topps Mini.  I figured I’d buy the box, throw the promo set on eBay and consider that a discount on the box price.  However, by the time I got to the booth, they were out of promo sets.  They said they’d get some more on Sunday.

But I did manage to find a box of cards to open that night … one dealer had random sports items priced relatively cheap.  Among his mound of treasures was a box of 1986 Donruss baseball.  It was $10.  I opened that on video as part of a Thrift Treasures post but truthfully, the box break was so long and uneventful I ended up scraping the video break.  You can all thank me now.  It’s called self editing, folks.

And of course on Sunday I woke up and walked over to The National early on to get another Topps Mini box since they promo sets were back in stock.  I bought box and proceeded to open it on video.  It was a damn good one, if I don’t say so myself.  No Harper or big autograph.  But my gold cards (remember, they are serial numbered to 61) were good – Stephen Strasburg, Alex Rodriguez, Freddie Freeman, Addison Reed and a Vladimir Guerrero checklist.  The Black/Platinum parallel serial numbered 5/5 was of one of the game’s biggest stars right now … Mark Trumbo.  That’s a big win considering that there are 661 cards in the set.

At this point you might be asking yourself: Now Ben … err, Cardboard Icons … how did you buy four boxes of cards this weekend and take so little home?

The Answer?  I stripped the 1989 Upper Deck and 1986 Donruss boxes of every star card and decent rookie card and left the commons in their prospective boxes for someone else to enjoy.

I then took said stars and rookies and added them to the contents of my two Topps Mini boxes and packed them into a 550-count box which I … submitted to Checkout My Cards.

Actually, that box was one of three that I submitted to COMC just before I left the Convention Center on Sunday.  I brought a 550-count box and a half of stuff to the show to submit to the consignment site (If you’re not using them, you should be …) and then managed to fill another box and a half with the contents of the aforementioned boxes and about 250 cards that I purchased as part of my Thrift Treasures series.

On that note, you should see the videos – all three of them: Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3.   I could have done a fourth video showcasing some of the items that I purchased on the last day, but I was running out of time.  I actually bought about 40 good rookies and refractors for $25.  I could have bought more, but my COMC boxes were so tight that I actually removed cards from penny sleeves so that I could get the last few in.

This is getting quite lengthy, so let me touch on a few bullet points:

Earl Weaver

So in the lede to this piece I spoke of the shirt off someone else’s back.  Well, the item I was referring to was my game-used Earl Weaver jersey.  I brought the item from the Bay Area to Baltimore just to have Earl sign this thing.  That experience was amazing.  I wrote a piece for   detailing the meeting. It was unbelievable.  And to add to this craziness, Yahoo Sports Blog “Big League Stew” linked to the Beckett piece.

Freedom Card Board

Big thanks to Chris Gilmore for inviting myself, Olds, Susan and Dan to the meet up dinner.  It was a pleasure meeting you.  I’m hoping to be more active on the boards there.  I know I signed up and posted a few times, but not so much over the last two years.  I’m rarely in front of an actual computer … most of my online interaction is via Twitter because I have access to that via my telephone.  But … there is an FCB App … downloaded. Done.

Topps  Q &A

I attended the annual question and answer session held by Topps.  It was interesting mix of folks and attitudes toward the hobby and each other. But the one thing that really sticks in my mind has to do with the Bowman brand.  Topps continued to praise itself for the Bowman brand which in all of its types (Chrome, Platinum, etc) has been welcomed by collectors.

But what kind of rubbed me the wrong way was the answer (or lack there of) to my simple question as to whether or not Topps had considered some sort of buy-back program in which they could re-acquired vintage Bowman rookies from the 1940s and 1950s.I didn’t really get a straight answer.  The product manager, who has only been around for six months, said “You’d know better than I.”

What does this mean?!  Does he not know that Topps spokesman (even posthumously) Mickey Mantle’s REAL rookie card hails from Bowman, which was a brand that was NOT under the umbrella of Topps at the time the card was produced in 1951?

If I do know more than he, then let me continue to teach.  Bowman was also home of rookie cards for Willie Mays, Jackie Robinson (also has a 1949 Leaf), Bob Feller, Warren Spahn, Phil Rizzuto, Stan Musial, Yogi Berra, Satchel Paige and a bunch of other legendary players whose existence on cardboard essentially assisted the hobby grow to insane heights in the 1980s and early 1990s.

It was a simple question.  And if you ask me, the product touted as “Home Of The Rookie Card” would have a MASSIVE swell – as if the brand could get any bigger – if the company re-purchased some of these iconic cards and re-distributed them to collectors through redemption or other means.

Big Purchase

I’ll wrap this lengthy commentary with addressing the second point I touched on at the beginning – the Japanese piece of cardboard.

For years I’d been seeking a decent priced Sadaharu Oh rookie card from 1959.  I’ve seen a few of them on eBay already slabbed and priced in the range of $275-$400. But I still hadn’t seen  one that I considered the one for me.

Well, as I meandered through the showroom floor on Friday I located Prestige Collectibles, which specializes in Japanese cards.  I asked the dealer how he has acquired so much  — damn near everything in the booth was Japanese – and he stated that he goes to Japan quite often.  During the conversation he revealed to me that Japanese baseball collectors don’t dabble a whole lot in vintage cards.  This initially amazed me.  Maybe because I am fascinated with the way baseball is revered in that country.  But in reality, the attitude, at least according to this dealer, is on par with  the way things work here.  A lot of people are just not turned on by old cardboard.

Anyway, the reason I stopped at Prestige Collectible was because as I was walking by, I happened to glance down and recognize a card.  It was a 1959 Murakami  JCM 31c Menko Sadaharu Oh rookie.  The card was ungraded – it has some creases – but I knew it was authentic.  And it had a price tag of $175.

I surveyed the card, looked it over once, twice or maybe five times.  And then handed it back to him.  I did not have $175 cash on me.  He of course advised me that he accepted credit cards.

I walked away from the table.  I advised him that I’d consider the purchase.  About 30 minutes later I returned.  The Oh HAD to be mine.  It’s a good thing that I returned when I did.  Apparently someone else had looked at it moments before and also needed some time to think about it.

And after a swipe of a credit card – I had built in some wiggle room in my personal National budget for a purchase like this — I became the proud owner of an authentic Sadaharu Oh rookie card.  LOVE THIS.

Lastly, I’ll just say I had a blast.  The only thing I would change is building in more time to be social.  I spent the after hours time writing so I didn’t really hang out with the other collectors.

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

I can’t believe it took 17 years …

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , on April 24, 2012 by Cardboard Icons

I can’t believe it took 17 years for this iconic image of Ken Griffey Jr. to me chronicled on cardboard.

Am I wrong?  Has this already been capture on a card?

I recently pulled this from a pack of 2012 Topps Gypsy Queen and was in awe when I saw it.  I remember being 15 when this play happened.  Griffey was probably the hobby’s biggest star and arguably the game’s top player when he went all-out and made one of the greatest catches I can remember, and probably of all time.

Griffey will be remembered for many things:

… being the face of Upper Deck for two decades.

… being one of the game’s greatest natural sluggers.

… being hurt in nearly every one of his final 10 seasons.

But this catch is his legacy.  THIS is what separates him from the rest of the games stars over the last 20 years.  Props to Topps for getting this documented on a card.