Archive for Upper Deck

Everyone remember’s their first …

Posted in Collcting Clemens with tags , , , , , , , , on January 26, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

If you started collecting cards before the late 1990s, there is a good chance you remember the first autograph or relic card you obtained featuring a player you really liked.

Certified autographs started hitting the hobby in the early 1990s and really became more prevalent in the middle of the decade with a slew of Donruss releases featuring not only the major stars, but also a bunch of others. Of course these came on the heels of the Upper Deck releases featuring Reggie Jackson, Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan, Hank Aaron, Nolan Ryan and Ted Williams.

But there was a time when as a teenager I would have given anything to own a certified autograph card of my favorite player, Roger Clemens.

In 1995, Upper Deck ran a promotion in which you could get an autograph of the Rocket by sending in 36 empty packs and they’d mail one back to you. I was 15 at the time and it took be a little while to accumulate the required number of packs. When I met the quota, I mailed the wrappers off in a PWE. I couldn’t wait to get my first Clemens autograph. As fate would have it, no such card would arrive for me. My envelope with all of the wrappers was returned and the outside of the envelope stamped with something along the lines of “Promotion Expired.” What I think really happened is they had run out of autographs.

And so for three more years I went without owning a Clemens auto. There were releases in 1996 and 1997 Donruss brands, but they were too expensive for me. But in 1998, I would get my very first.

At the time I was a member of the America Online message boards and at the time I was a heavy buyer of football products. Hell, I had just gotten my first job at Target and a lot of my income was being out toward cards of all brands. In a Donruss pack I received a redemption card for some NFL Europe guy. I mailed it off and several months passed and nothing came back — remember, we didn’t understand how long redemption cards would take at the time.

While checking the message boards one night I came upon a thread in which folks were complaining about redemption cards, and I got a message from a guy who supposedly worked for Donruss, Leaf, Playoff (DLP) at the time. The guy asked what sport, team or players I liked. Of course I shot for the moon and said “Roger Clemens.”

About a week passed and lo and behold in my mailbox I received a small padded envelope sent from some place in Texas. Inside was a 1998 Donruss Signature Millennium Marks SAMPLE card signed by The Rocket, who was a member of the Toronto Blue Jays at the time.

The mailday blew my mind and I decided that this Clemens autograph card would never leave my collection as I figured it must be way rarer than the regular Millennium Mark card, which was numbered to 1,000 copies.

Flashforward to today and it is still here in all it’s glory, only it is now one of about 50 Clemens signatures I own. Also among the signed cards is the traditional 1998 Donruss Millennium Mark card numbered 0398 on the back.

While the signature cards still mesmerize me, it should be noted that I also remember my first Clemens relic. The first piece of Clemens game-worn memorabilia came to me in 2000 via eBay. Relic cards were still relatively new at the time, and I had owned a few, but never had I owned one of anyone I actually cared about.

I recall paying about $45 for this 2000 Upper Deck Legends relic, and when it arrived it did not disappoint, save for it’s condition. I immediately removed the card from the case in which it was shipped and placed my finger on the swatch. I remember what a big deal that was for me given that I had been following Clemens since I was about 8 years old. And then I looked closer at the card and realized it was creased.

I wondered: Why would someone crease such a card. And then the notion of card thickness in relation to base cards and it dawned on me the seller had likely searched the packs in a box that contained this card,

Nonetheless, crease or not, the card was not going to leave my collection. And like the autographs, this is now one of several I own — I’m over 100 Clemens relics at the moment.

eBay Bucks purchase arrives; cracked from slab after 16 years

Posted in Mail Day with tags , , , , , , , on January 13, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Last week I chronicled here what I did with my eBay Bucks: I turned the bonus funds into a card I wanted for nearly two decades, the 1998 Upper Deck SP Authentic Chirography Roger Clemens autograph, limited to a reported 400 copies.

The card arrived Friday and I was anxious to see how bad the edges on this card were — the card was graded a 7.5 by Beckett Grading in October 2002, hammered significantly for edges.

When I opened the box I could see the issue, two finger nail digs near the top left border. I’m not sure how that happened. Maybe someone tried too hard to get it into a Card Saver II, or used their finger names to remove the card from a Top Loader? Either way, the grade was justified. But that, of course, didn’t mean I had to stare at that hideous 7.5 grade every time I wanted to look at the card.

And so I cracked it from it’s case. I broke off the top right corner of the BGS case with a pair of pliers, then slid a butter knife between the two parts of the slab and twisted the knife, to create separation. And then pried the top and bottom apart to free the card. This process is usually neater than what occurred here, but the card came out safe.

I often say Ultra Pro One-Touches are overrated — and I still feel that way, especially if you’re using them to secure cards during transport. I still believe top loader and penny sleeve are still the best for that.

But I do think One Touches serve as a nice case for display — they’re the new school version of my old favorite, the single-screw recessed screw down.

Thrift Treasures 114: Two Minute Minor

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

I had a vision on Saturday night. I had a vision that after I dropped my kids with their mom, I would find a box, or multiple boxes, of baseball cards in one of the local thrift stores. It had been a while since I’d checked for cards in thrift stores, and truthfully, it’s been a while since I’ve seen cards at said stores – a bit uncharacteristic given my past success.

I digress. My vision included me locating boxes filled with low-level items that others deemed not worthy of purchase, but would fulfill my desire for the time being.

As it turned out, the vision was somewhat accurate.

I walked into a Goodwill and as I was walking past the linens I saw a familiar sight: a 500-count box sitting on the shelf – the sticker price was $3.15.  I opened the top and inside was a partial 1992 Stadium Club baseball set. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect as I’ve been building Stadium Club sets recently and figured that somewhere I would uncover such a collection of seemingly worthless cards that I could start that set. And here it was.  The 1992 set is the sophomore Stadium Club release, which is somewhat disappointing, if not only for the fact that the clean 1991 design set the bar so damn high. Nonetheless, there are some fun images in the release. Including this classic Ruben Sierra, which oddly enough I featured almost 10 years ago to the day on this very blog. (Post)

I usually subscribe to theory that if there is one box sitting on the shelf, then there must be, or must have been at one point, at least one other. I checked another aisle and … jackpot.  There was a 5,000 box, a 4,000 count box, and multiple smaller 100- to 400-count boxes.  I quickly opened all of them and sadly it was all hockey, which I do not collect. BUT, I was in need of a 5,000 count box and the contents of the 5,000-count box sitting here seemed to be some higher-end brands from the mid to late 1990s, and I could see a small stack of Pacific bran releases.  I checked the lid for the price. When I saw $8.75 printed there, the purchase was a no-brainer as the box itself would be $5 at the LCS.

So, what’s in the box? Short answer: Nothing major.

But, I enjoy nuance, so here goes nothing:

There was a complete 1996-97 Leaf Limited 90-card set, and a ton of extras, enough to be close to a second set.

There were several Pacific branded cards as mentioned above.  A lot of these releases were sold as three-card packs, two standard size cards, and then one premium prism holographic card, gold, or lenticular style card. Of course there are the Crown Royale cards which are some of my favorites. Given that there were some two or three dozen here, I could see the value.

I was stunned by some of the quality of these releases. The Flair sets is akin to the baseball sets but these look far superior. And the Upper Deck McDonald’s release is very appealing.:

Of course there were classic hockey stars such as Gretzky, Lemieux, Hull, Roy, Fedorov, Yzerman, Jagr and more.

And parallels upon parallels.  There were more than 100 1997-98 Leaf “International Stars.”  The quality of these is pretty awesome. The car fronts feature a foil overlay map with the photo of the player emblazoned on top.

And whenever there are Pinnacle brands, you know we’re always looking for Dufex parallels (Rink Collection) and those pesky Artist Proofs which typically fell one every 36 packs, or one every 1.5 boxes.

The value of the items within these boxes will pale by comparison to some of my other finds, but this is hardly anything to scoff at. It was definitely better than finding a box chock full of say 1990 Donruss with stars, rookies and Hall of Famers stripped from the rows.

Total cost of the Thrift Treasures: $11.90.

You can read more Thrift Treasures posts Here.

eBay Bucks are Great: my January 2019 purchase

Posted in Misc. with tags , , , , , , on January 6, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

If you’re not enrolled in eBay’s eBay Bucks program, and you’re a frequent user of the auction site/app, then you’re missing out.

For the uninitiated, here is the deal:  You get 1% eBay bucks on all of your purchases, which may not seem like a big deal. But several times a quarter eBay runs specials in which you can get 8%-10% eBay bucks – usually available to those using the eBay app — which some of us collectors treat like a holiday. That’s when you pull out all the tricks and hit that PC card and enjoy the reward. See a card you like for $70, buy it and get $5.60-$7 in eBay bucks later.  The eBay bucks add up for three months, and then each quarter eBay presents you with your digital eBay bucks, which are essentially used like a gift card on the site.

Obviously the more you buy, the more you accumulate.  I have gone quarters where I have tallied just a few dollars, and other times where I’ve approached $70.  This quarter, I was pretty much right in the middle at about $37.

I’m funny when it comes to free stuff, sales and gift cards, or in this case eBay Bucks, because I’m always looking for a “deal.”  I’m such a cheap-ass sometimes that I am looking to make a one-for-one transaction just so that I can say I got a particular item for free – even if it matters to no one but myself.

And so this week, after receiving my eBay Bucks, I spent four days looking for the item I wanted to obtain.  And Sunday I found it … although it was not a perfect “for free” item as I hoped.

For several weeks I’d been watching a 1998 SP Authentic Roger Clemens autograph slabbed a low grade by BGS.  The grade doesn’t matter to me, I wanted the damn signed card!

For so long Roger Clemens autographs were like unicorns to me, not like they are today where you can routinely find them in the $30-$60 range. And the 1998 SP Authentic Clemens, limited to some 400 non-serial numbered copies, is a classic as it is one of his cards signed while shown as a Blue Jays player.

The card sat for almost a month at $49.99 and then it ended early this morning with no buyers.  It was re-posted at $47.99 and I knew I had to hit it before someone else did.  The Mint graded versions are posted for the $90 range, and I have not seen any raw copies.

And so, with my eBay Bucks, I essentially got the card for about $10, plus $3 shipping of course.  Is it the most-savvy purchase ever?  No.  But it’s a big deal for me since I’d been eyeing this card for two decades, and been on the fence for about a month as to whether or not to buy this copy.

As mentioned above the grade leaves much to be desired, it’s slabbed a 7.5 — the card was nailed for “edges.”  I love BGS graded cards, but this one will be cracked and placed in some other type of holder to go along with my other Clemens autographs.

 

Another iconic card added to the Icons collection

Posted in New Addition with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

Additions to my personal collection have slowed down in recent months, so when I make an acquisition that fits into that “PC” category, I shall share it.

Like many of you I have an addiction, a true sickness for cardboard. I say this somewhat in jest, but there is some truth to it. I spend more money on cards than I should; I even find myself buying stuff just for the sake of buying. Don’t laugh, you might be in the same boat but just not willing to admit it.

But rather than walk away from the hobby that has been a part of my life since I was 7 years old, the way I “right the ship” so to say is to find one card to add to my collection; one that i can point to and say, “THAT is why I collect.”

img_0879And today that card is the 2001 SP Legendary Cuts Game-Used bat card of the one and only “Shoeless” Joe Jackson.

When it comes to memorabilia cards I have many of the greats.

I have Mantle. I have Mays. I have Aaron.

I have Ruth. I have Gehrig. I have DiMaggio.

I have Mathewson. I have Cobb. I have Wagner.

And the list goes on …

But there has always been one player whose memorabilia card that has taunted me from a  distance. And now I can look at Joe Jackson eye to eye and clutch his card between my thumb and index finger like it were a big ol’ bass and say, “Gotcha!”

For a long time Jackson, the controversial baseball player whose legendary playing career is forever tied to the gambling scandal of the “Black Sox,” really only had one licensed memorabilia card, this 2001 Upper Deck release. More than a half-decade after the card’s release, Donruss (then owned by the company known as Donruss Playoff) lost its MLB license and with that came the release of various logo-less products. This “free reign” seemingly allowed them to produce cards of Jackson, base and insert cards, as well as memorabilia cards. Panini America, who now owns the Donruss name, continues to produce Jackson cards in all forms under various brand names.There now are several options for collectors when it comes to Jackson memorabilia cards.

Meanwhile, Topps, the only company with the MLB license, has not produced any cards, likely because Jackson has been blackballed — not unlike Pete Rose — from licensed products. His name is often met with a head tilt and a grimace as Jackson’s actions in the gambling scandal are still somewhat debatable, although time has shown that he may have been the good guy in all of it.

Nonetheless, Jackson is still a baseball icon. Over his 13-year career he notched a .356 batting average and tallied 1,772 hits. And while I don’t own any of his older cards, at least I can say that I now own a piece of Jackson’s bat and it’s not just on any card. It’s THE Jackson memorabilia card, which is one of the most recognizable in our hobby.

A 20-year-old NFL retail break 

Posted in Box / Pack Break with tags , , , , , , , , on September 12, 2015 by Cardboard Icons

A few months ago a co-worker brought me a gift, a four-pack blister of 1995 Upper Deck football that had a commemorative Joe Montana Super Bowl card.  

This co-worker is a big San Francisco 49ers fan and at one point he bought this for his man cave. He’s not really a card guy, but more of a game-used 49ers jersey collector.  So he decided to gift this blister to me.

I opened a good amount of this product in 1995, as we as the SP brand, which was high-end at the time and was one of the first sets I completed.

I digress.  Yesterday during my lunch break I stopped by my locker and noticed that I still had this thing sitting on my top shelf.  With the NFL kicking off this week I decided to open it for fun.  There really are no hits in here, just base cards, parallels and the occasional insert. 

So, the Montana C-card was cool.  It shows Montana and the 49ers against the Miami Dolphins jn Super Bowl XIX, which is the last Super Bowl to be held in the San Francisco Bay Area. that Super Bowl was held at Stanford University in Palo Alro. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl and will again be in the Bay Area.

 
And now for the packs.

The first pack had a card that literally made me laugh out loud.  I mean check out this seductive rookie card of former Jets draft pick Kyle Brady.

   
 
Pack two wasn’t quite as awesome, but it had a card if one of the newest Hall of Famers, Charles Haley, and a good-looking rookie card of Michael Westbrook. Oh, and it had TWO silver parallels. Money!  

 
Pack three  features a rookie card of a very good linebacker from the late 1990s and early 2000s, one Derrick Brooks.

   
And the final pack featured a dud rookie QB card, but the last card in the pack was none other than hall of fame 49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice. Heck, my co-worker might even have this Rice jersey shown on this card.  

 Al, if you’re reading this, the Niner cards are all yours if you want them back. That Kyle Brady card is mine though. It’s priceless.

Rookie Card Upgrade 6: 1994 SP Alex Rodriguez

Posted in Rookie Card Upgrade with tags , , , , , on August 15, 2015 by Cardboard Icons

For the longest time I considered myself lucky to own a BGS 8 copy of the 1994 SP Alex Rodriguez.

It’s probably hard to remember now just how hot this card was in this hobby, but believe me, once grades get above an 8, things got pretty expensive. 

So when I scored an 8 on a copy I submitted to Beckett Grading about a half decade ago I was pretty happy.

  
Well, we know that A-Rod’s legacy has taken a major hit a few times since then and the value of his SP rookie has plummeted. And even with his resurgence this year, mint copies are now fairly affordable.

  
A few weeks ago while writing my column for Beckett Baseball, the one on stands now, I considered whether or not it was time for me to seek a rock solid mint copy of this iconic rookie for my collection. 

After moving a few extra pieces in my collection I found a nice copy to replace my BGS 8. Even with his checkered history, this is still a must-own card for rookie card collectors.