Archive for Sammy Sosa

Thrift Treasures 120: The Best of the American League

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , on November 8, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Real quick hitter today. I had about an hour to spare on Wednesday between drop off time at school and an award assembly in which my son and nephew were receiving accolades in math so I make a quick run to a Goodwill I hadn’t been to in several months.

As I scoured the shelves, the word “Donruss” entered my brain. I admittedly bypassed it for about two seconds then I retraced my steps and lo and behold stuff between a various board games was this Boxes 1990 Donruss “The Best of the American League” set.The set isn’t rare, but its surely not as common as basic Donruss. The set was clearly unwrapped, but the box was taped shut. For $5 I figured ai’d take a shot. Sure enough the set was complete.

The blue is actually quite pleasing to the eye, not quite the eyesore that 1990 Donruss became.

Total cost of this Thrift Treasure: $4.99

You can seen more Thrift Treasures posts here

Thrift Treasures 105: Do UC3 what I see?

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , , on June 20, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

Collecting baseball cards is a funny hobby. If you’ve been in the game long enough you’ve seen how collectors latch onto certain things and then at some point they complete abandon them — the Sportflix/Sportflics technology.

In the mid 1980s Sportflics was a innovative brand that essentially made it possible to view three images with just a flick of the wrist. If you’re looking for me to explain it, you’re out of luck.  I understand it just enough to figure there are actually three pictures on the card and the plastic coating makes your eye only see one image at a time.

The brand disappeared after 1990, and then resumed in 1994 as it was produced by Pinnacle. And then in 1995, the brand morphed into Spotflix (notice the “x” instead of the “cs”) and the sister brand “UC3” was born that same year.  The sub brand was not quite as cool as the originals, but they had the same technology. In my opinion it was a bust.

But the cards were still different, and being a Pinnacle Brand, the set had inserts and parallel. The packs were a bit more pricey at the time and not everyone could afford them.  I know I certain veered away from them.

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Alas here we are in 2016 and one day recently I was lucky enough to find two plastic cases containing some 1995 UC3 cards. and with the price being $2.65 per plastic case (I’m pretty sure these cases cost about that much by themselves) I figured I’d snag them both to see what I was missing at the time.

These two cases were filled with stars as you can see here.

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And they contained the only two true rookie cards in the set, Hideo Nomo and Mark Grudzielanek.
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The cases also had their share of inserts. The Cyclone Squad inserts were 1:4 packs (Got two Ripkens, that’s cool); the UC3 In Motion were 1:18 and the Clear Shots were 1:24. To understand how cool this is you have to understand that the latter two insert sets were tougher to pull at the time.
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And then there were parallels, which in classic Pinnacle Brand fashion, were dubbed “Artist Proofs” and were inserted some one in every box and a half, or 1:36 packs. While neither of these three will break the bank to acquire, it’s hard to argue with the three guys who were hiding in theses cases: Sammy Sosa, Joe Carter and Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett. These parallels

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Total Cost of these Treasures: $5.30.


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.

Thrift Treasures Part XXVIII: If this were 1998 …

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , on September 23, 2010 by Cardboard Icons

… I would have struck it rich.

Welcome to the 28th edition of Thrift Treasures, the Cardboard Icons original series documenting dirt-cheap cardboard finds. In today’s edition we flash back some 12 years to celebrate a time when a fairly common rookie card became a hobby monster.

During my lunch break on Wednesday I stopped briefly at one of my local thrift stores to look for old sports jerseys, video games and baseball cards. And lo and behold they had cards for the first time in a month. There were maybe three dozen baggies of cards — about 50 in each — for sale for $1.99.

In one of the baggies was a stack of 1990 Leaf, a set that always makes me stop and think to a time two decades ago when the premium brand upped the ante for baseball cards just a year after the inaugural Upper Deck series. The product is pretty common these days, but when I was a kid, these were as good as gold.

So I bought a bag that had the most Leaf inside (about 15 cards it appeared) and look what was resting inside, just six cards past a really beat-up 1988 Donruss Luis Polonia — Sammy Sosa’s best rookie card.

Love him or hate him, there is no denying how much energy Sosa’s rookie cards brought to the hobby during the then-legendary, and now somewhat comical home run chase of 1998.

This Leaf card went from being a basic $5-$10 semi-star rookie from a premium set to a $150 eye-catcher and the center-piece for many novice collectors. I owned a copy when Sosa was redhot. It is a card I will cherish forever because it changed hands probably a dozen times between myself and a friend during poker games before The Chase. Despite being housed in a penny sleeve for five years, and then a top loader for a few more years, I sent that card in for grading during the height of the grading craze and it came back an 8.5. Pretty remarkable if I don’t say so myself.

What also was remarkable was the condition of the Sosa that was unearthed on Wednesday. The Polonia card I mentioned a moment ago looks like someone stepped on it, threw it against the wall and used it as target practice with a BB gun. The Sosa? Mint. Dead center.

What’s comical to me is that some kid had this card in their collection at the height of the Sosa craze and didn’t even know it. Now it is mine … FOR-EV-ER!

Side note, you gotta love that Slammin’ Sammy is shown bunting on his best rookie. FAIL.

The rest of the baggie was pretty typical junk wax era stuff. Here are a few of the treasures:

1990 Leaf Robin Ventura

I remember when this card was $9 high book. Yeah. $9, not $10.

1989 Donruss Roberto Alomar

The greatness of the 1989 Donruss diamond cut cards. Ugh.

1990 Bowman Sweepstakes Mark Davis

Does anyone actually own the original Mark Davis Bowman art that was being given away with this sweepstakes card? I HATED these things … and still do.

1981 Fleer Bake McBride

Bake McBride was one bad mother …

1991-1992 SkyBox Magic Johnson

There’s a really bad joke here, right?

1983 Fleer Bobby Castillo

Bobby Castillo got it … he stopped drawing long enough to give me this smirk.

1988 Topps Kenny Williams

Hey, look! It’s a rookie card of the Chicago White Sox General Manager. Awesome. Love that Beckett has the value in the range of a penny to a nickel.

1990 Upper Deck TC Ken Griffey Jr.

In case you forgot, Vernon Wells’ father is a renowned sports artist.

1990 Bowman Larry Anderson

The way things should have stayed …

1978 Topps Mork And Mindy #82

Um, random …