Archive for Topps Million Giveaway

A 1958 Topps Mickey Mantle for $5? Whaaaat

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 11, 2010 by Cardboard Icons

For weeks, I’d been itching to get back to one of my local card shops to dig through their vintage bargain bins. The Topps Million Giveaway promotion has rejuvenated my love for the old, smelly cards. So instead of paying inflated prices for a cardboard lottery ticket hoping to get something made before 1970, I decided to call the shots — I was going to chose what I wanted. And so I did. In the end I came away with five cards for $14.

The first  is a 1954 Bowman rookie of St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Memo Luna. Luna is a Mexican Baseball Hall of Famer. Born Guillermo Romero Luna, the lefty played in all of one game in his major league career. On April 20, 1954, Memo pitched just two-thirds of an inning, giving up six hits and two earned runs. And then poof, it was over; his Major League Dreams snuffed out. While his MLB numbers aren’t anything to gawk at, Luna actually played professional ball for 20 years What I have not figured out is how he got the nickname “Memo.”

I actually wish that I had gone to this card shop a week earlier. Nine days ago I paid $1 for a 1955 Topps Harvey Haddix card just to say I owned one of the guy who threw 12 perfect innings in a losing effort. And then lo and behold I found this 1961 Topps card yesterday commemorating that occasion. It still boggles my mind that Haddix tossed the equivalent of 1 1/4 of a perfect game and still came out on the losing end. This card is awesome, by the way. Very timely considering it is a “Baseball Thrills” subset, just like the ones that are in the 2010 Topps Heritage set.

I thought I bought a Milt Pappas rookie before, but a quick check of my blog via my cell phone was showing no signs of it. I would have posted it in my Rookie Card Showcase.  Anyhow, for $2 I was not going to pass on this 1958 Topps card. Pappas tossed a no-hitter (almost a perfect game) with the Cubs late in his career. And although he was not a HOFer, he remains one of the best pitchers of his era, tallying more than 200 wins and 1,700-plus strikeouts. Solid career.

And from one Oriole to another who had a slightly more decorated career. OK,  who am I kidding, this guy had a much more accomplished career. Brooks Robinson is one of the best third basemen to ever play the game and there was no way I was going to pass on a third-year card of a guy like that for $5. Yes, the card has some issues. There is a crease down the middle, but it’s really not as bad as it looks. And for the price, there was nothing to quibble about.

And lastly, the 1958 Topps Mickey Mantle card to which the headline alludes. Yes, this is a Yankee team checklist card, but it does feature some of legendary names: Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Casey Stengel, Whitey Ford, Sal Maglie, Tony Kubek, Elston Howard, Hank Bauer and more. Want to guess where Mantle is? He’s the shortest guy on the top row. Awesome, right? Oh, and don’t harass me about the card’s condition. If it looked any better than this, I wouldn’t own it because it would have cost me more than the $5 I paid.

Shameless Plug: Don’t miss your chance to win a 1958 Topps Mickey Mantle / Hank Aaron card.

Sad reality for the vintage Topps Million Giveaway

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , , on March 5, 2010 by Cardboard Icons

So the other day I made a stop at my local card shop to dig through the bargain vintage boxes. It had been a few months since I dug through these so I figured it was worth a shot since I was craving some old cardboard. As I thumbed through the decades-old cards encased in Card Saver I holders, I came upon a stack of 1955 and 1956 Topps cards and immediately thought of one of my best Topps Million redemption cards — 1956 Bob Friend.

I’ve redeemed about 15  of the Topps Million Giveaway redemptions and the first two cards I got were from the 1950s. I was proud to have pulled them. And then of course came this dose of reality at my local card shop. In the stack of 1956s was a copy of the same Bob Friend card I had pulled in my redemption. The price? $2. Yes, two freakin’ dollars!

I knew the Friend would not fetch me much if I wanted to sell it, but holding the same card in hand and knowing that it would cost me less than a pack of top loaders or 2010 Topps baseball (packs are up to $3 now at my LCS) was even further proof of how crazy things have gotten with this giveaway. If anyone pulls anything made before 1980, it seems like collectors rejoice. And if the card is from the 1950s, then the collector has struck virtual gold. Of course reality will show us that unless you’ve got a star card or a high number short print, the overwhelming majority of cards from even the 1950s can be had for just a few dollars.

I half contemplated buying the Friend but figured that would cheapen the experience of actually receiving the card from Topps sometime in the next two months. Instead I elected to buy two 1955 Topps cards for a buck each — Harvey Haddix and Dick Groat.

Neither of these cards are mint or worth a ton. But I figured that if I had pulled these through the Topps Million Giveaway I would be elated.

Haddix is the guy who lost a perfect game in the 13th inning of a 1959 game against the Braves. He also was a 20-game winner in 1953, a season in which he also threw 19 complete games.

Groat was the 1960 National League Most Valuable Player and is a member of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. Yes, basketball. Groat arguably had a more accomplished basketball career than baseball. He was a stud at Duke University and was elected a United Press International Player of the Year in 1952. He was the third pick overall that same year, taken by the Fort Wayne Pistons of the NBA.

A little perspective for the Topps Million Giveaway fanatics

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , on February 19, 2010 by Cardboard Icons

The hobby has been set ablaze again by Topps.

The company’s Million Card Giveaway has gained national media attention which has driven up the prices of unused redemption cards on eBay. One lot of 120 codes recently sold for nearly $300.

If you’re new to the Topps Million Card Giveaway, basically Topps inserted code cards one in every six packs, and each code is redeemable on the Topps Million Web site for one previously released Topps card. The pool is vast, as it contains every card (sometimes in multiple quantities) from 1952 to 2009. Topps’ main selling point of course is the fact that you could pull a sweet vintage card, like the ones your mother’s threw away.

Now I’m not going to hate on anyone buying the codes. I had 11 of them and managed to get a pair of vintage cards, albeit not high dollar ones. The purpose of this post is to put things into prospective.

As others have noted before, this is essentially a lottery where everyone wins something, but the prize is not always one worth redeeming. Yes, you have a shot at a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle. The card has not been found yet, but a 1952 Topps Eddie Mathews rookie — the second best card in the iconic ’52 set — has, which no doubt has made some collectors want to buy even more packs.

I love the idea of the giveaway. But what I can’t get over is the reaction from people who get vintage cards that are pretty common place in today’s hobby. For example these three cards:

If you opened three 2010 Topps baseball packs and pulled three code cards that ultimately led you to these three vintage cards, what would your reaction be? Probably pretty damn happy.

While it seems that hundreds of collectors are coming away with 1987 Topps cards of Pete Rose, you would have wound up with a 1963 Joe Pepitone (second year), a 1968 League Leader featuring Hank Aaron and Willie McCovey, and a 1968 World Series card commemorating Lou Brock’s four hits. In a vacuum, those are pretty cool cards.

But consider this, all of those cards can be had on ebay for just a couple of dollars each when you factor in shipping. In my case, I found these at an antique shop for a buck apiece.

As noted earlier, I am not chastising anyone for getting caught up in the hoopla. I, too, want to have a shot at obtaining vintage cards that are often out of the price range for many collectors. But one must exercise caution and think before they act. With few exceptions, all of the vintage cards being given away can be purchased on the secondary market for merely pennies on the dollar — or possibly less than what you pay for a lot of 10 or 20 unused codes. Granted condition of the card may vary, but one must remember that Topps also has made no guarantee about the condition of the cards they are giving away. Heck, they basically hit eBay and bought back a bunch of vintage, the same thing you could have done for yourself at a much cheaper rate.

On a side note, check out this awesome breakdown at Freedom Cardboard of what has been redeemed in the first four days.