Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Great-Grand Gold Border

In the early 90's, I believe it was, a new, cutting edge type of comic book came out by the name of the Walking Dead.  It was a very limited run.  I was not into comics, nor am I now (though I do enjoy the thought of having them, plus, I've sold about 40,000 of them over the past 4 years or so.)

When the tv show hit, the prices sky-rocketed.  Whenever I would sell a lot of comics, the first question was "Got any Walking Dead?"  The answer would always be no.  Why?  Because they were very scarce ... EVERYBODY and their brother wants them!  Heck, even those who didn't ask, would go straight to the "W's", and thumb through them to see what there was.

Card companies have put out some pretty cool parallels.  Topps for instance, came out with the gold parallel.  It has taken on a number of forms - from the early 90's that was merely gold foil over the names, to the now-more standardized gold borders.

Did you know that 2001 wasn't the first time the gold border was used by Topps?  Sure, mainstream maybe, but did you know that they dabbled in it back in the 80's?

I have heard some stories about such a card before.  I have even seen a few, which I absolutely loved the look.  I keep thinking ... why on earth didn't they come out with these things before?  Apparently, there is one "SHEET" of these that is known in existence (by me anyway).  It is sheet "F" which means the Canseco All Star would have been on that sheet.  So, either 33 or 66 of these cards (different players) are possible, but in sheet form, many can get damaged over the years with wrinkles, or trying to cut them out of a sheet, etc.  So if we aren't looking at a 1/1 card, we are still looking at something incredibly scarce.

The other day, I was shown that the Canseco does truly exist!  It was in the hands of another collector whom I suspected had it, but heard it was offered up for a large amount of money.  After my first purchase with this seller, I asked again hoping to be offered it.  Sure enough ... he offered!

I got it!  I also got some other cool items.  My first pic of it was in a bgs slabbed holder, but the buyer took it out to put it in his Canseco binder.  I don't like that he did that, but honestly ... I'm not a fan of slabs anyway.

So, here it is:  the great-great-great grandfather of the topps gold border parallels ....



I truly love this card.  This is like the Topps version of the Aqueous, but I'd have to say cooler because not only may it be more rare; it is also significantly more different looking on the front instead of just a stamp on the back.

It is like the Walking Dead comics that were not popularized until the tv shows came along.  I wonder if Topps threw this concept around and perhaps the higher ups just didn't like the look because it was ahead of its time.  Perhaps it was too gaudy for them, I don't know.  I think it is cool that this may have been the birth piece of gold borders.

Out of all the amazing pickups I've made over the past few months, this ranks up there as one of my favorites, if not my favorite!

Adventures in Tech Support

Let me start off by saying #1stworldproblems

I've been having wifi connectivity issues for a while now, so I got comcast out here to take a look today.  We do not have tv or cable - just internet.  Our downstairs laptop runs through a projector so we watch our tv that way.

MLB.TV has been great!  But I really, realllly miss MLB Network - especially Quick Pitch in the morning.  The technician told me I could go on chat and ask if and how to watch MLB Network online.  Great!

Tonight, I hopped on and casually spoke with a support dude during the A's game tonight.  It quickly turned into your stereotypical comedy of events that you would expect from a phone tech guy.


After about an hour going back and forth with "John", I politely said we needed to wrap this up and I just needed to know if and how to be able to watch the MLB Network on the internet through xfinity, because we do not have television.  He said he had to disconnect and refresh.  Well, apparently he meant that he needed to disconnect me because once he said that, my connection was GONE.  I missed the entire end of the game.

After it finally got back online, he was no longer there.

Enter Rajani.

Rajani was a nice fellow, but I must admit, after an hour + of this, I was a little more short fused.  I told him up front I've been on for an hour and wanted a QUICK resolution.  I have no television and want to know if/how I can watch the MLB Network online through xfinity.

The same pleasantries I received from John were given by Rajani as well.  These niceties were stretched out way, way too long.  How are you?  So good of you to contact us.  How can I provide you with excellent service?  Is your day well?  I will be more than happy to help you.

Rajani starts using my name gratuitously ... in almost what seemed like a condescending manner.

Him: Tanner, I need your help in understanding something.
Him: Tanner, what browser are you using?
Me:  All of them - it doesn't matter though.  I just want access to the MLB Network online ... or even see if it is possible.
Him:  Tanner, it does matter.
Me:  Rajani, it does not - I'm trying to tell you I just want access to the MLB Network, or to see if it is even possible!

This went on for a while.  Then he said please wait until I check for you.

During our chat session, I requested him to NOT disconnect my modem for a refresh as it was not a technical issue.

Disconnected.

ARGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!



I got back online, and caught him just before he was heading out.

Me: "Why did you disconnect me when I asked you not to?"
Him:  "But sir, Tanner, I did not.  It was a technical issue."

After I told him one more time ... I just want to see if and how I can watch the MLB Network Online, he started asking me about the television.  I told him again for the 50th time ... me ... no ... tv have.

"OH!  Let me get you to another person."

'K.

Enter: Poppy.

For the third time, I am given the same treatment.  Gratuitous pleasantries ... at this point, I'm CERTAIN that they are doing this to spite me because I

have made it known that as it is well past mid-night, just need something simple.  I do not have television and I want to know if/how to watch the MLB

Network online through xfinity.

After telling Poppy what I needed, and giving him/her a full disclosure that I am VERY frustrated right now, Poppy decides it is a good idea to tell me what

the details of my current package are.

But why.  What was Poppy doing?  What is up Poppy's sleeve?  Did Poppy think that my simple request of watching MLB Network online was really a cleaverly

disguised question that actually meant that I needed to know what plan I had with them?  The world may never know.

I re-iterated what I wanted.  Say it with me people ...

I do not have televeision.  I want to see if and how I can watch the MLB Network online.

Poppy then directed me to the MLB website.

No, Poppy.  I want the MLB Network through xfinity.

Then Poppy offered the MLB package which is where I can see all games through xfinity.

No Poppy, I want the MLB network through xfinity.

Then she has a great idea - to transfer me!

Next up!  Amalia.

Amalia is a more to the point gal.  She tells me right up front that she is an App person after only 15 minutes, which is nice.  But then after I tell her

again what I need, she said "No need to repeat yourself."

LOLOLOL

"Amalia, unfortunately, I do need to ... I have needed to 20 times this evening."

Heh, I told her. But then again, she (along with everyone else was probably thinking ...



She then transfers me to the great and powerful JAM.

JAM asks how he can help, so I say ... Hi JAM! Congratulations!!! You have won the honor of being the 5th person I have been transferred to tonight.

JAM: I understand that you need access on viewing your favorite shows online, I know where you coming from as I also most of the time watch online shows.

Rest assured I'll help today.

(Note they all say I should rest assured they will help.)

ME: ok JAM, as sure as a fish flies in the north from the cold butterbee, all I want is to be able to watch the MLB Network online using my computer and the internet as I don't have television.

Dis...con...freaking...nected.

It is time to get serious now.  I go upstair to call because at this point, wifi is not coming up.  Forget MLB Network ... I just want my wifi back!  Then... guess what?

YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS IS NOT ACTIVE

Yes, friends.  Wifi is no longer working, and neither is my email address.  The phone tech gal said that it was due to an outtage, and it should be back up by the time I awake.

Really?  Is this true?  Was I becoming paranoid for nothing?  Did John, Rajani, Amalia, Poppy and JAM not have it out for me?  Was this all due to sporadic internet service?  But if so, how deep did this conspiracy run?   I asked the phone tech how it could be that my internet was up and wifi was not if there was an outtage.  She said that it can happen.

No sweat.  time to go to bed and have nightmares of the fearsome fivesome from comcast.

I wake up and guess what?  No wifi.  No email.

I call again, and I get what eerily sounds like the same woman from my dreams ... errr ... the tech support call the night before.  She ends up transferring me to another fella.  I don't remember names anymore, so I'll call him Edmund Buttersworth (5 points to those of you who know what that reference is from.)

Mr. Buttersworth mentions that wifi had been shut off, and my email had been deactivated!!!

WHAT?!!?!?!?

I told Mr. Buttersworth that I highly suspected that the fearsome fivesome may have maliciously done this to spite me amongst their ramblings in a concerted effort to drive me insane.  He then confirmed that he agreed with me that it very well likely happened that way.  When asked about any emails I may have received in the interim, Mr. Buttersworth reluctantly told me that they were lost forever.

In the end, I have lost a LOT of time dealing with this and a whole lot to complain about while blogging.  Mr. Buttersworth did also credit me $20, which was nice.  Stay tuned to find out what that $20 will be spent on ... hopefully a nice Canseco card that comes along today!

Oh, and a warning for everyone out there dealing with tech folks.  If they are:

1)  Named John, Rajani, Amalia, Poppy or JAM, run away screaming.
2)  If they assure you they will be able to help you, take it with a grain of salt and understand they probably will not.
3)  If they are being overly nice and complimentary, rest assure that they are probably shutting down your internet, stealing your identity and planning to run over your dog.

As for me, I suppose I'll have to survive without the MLB Network forever...but at least I do have email and wifi back!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Pacific Embossed Cards and the Incognito Effect

I've had a LOT of awesome pickups recently, but here is a more unique one. I was cruising online to see if anyone had a nice lot of Canseco I did not have, and lo & behold, someone had something that I hadn't ever seen before.

Pacific Show/Expo embossed cards. They are cool enough w/out a back story, but the history of them make them definitely worthwhile.

You cannot really tell they are embossed until you tilt them in the light, and then they pop.

Back in the 90's, Pacific setup at card shows with a promotion where you could bring any Pacific unopened pack of cards to them of any sport, and for $3, you could get ONE card per pack embossed.

They had shows in Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, Toronto, Montreal, NY/NJ and perhaps other places as well. Try as hard as I could, and I was simply dumbfounded at the lack of information on these events ... forget about finding any embossed Canseco cards!!! I simply could not find any at all.

I love these types of cards. I love the story of how you had to open the packs in front of Pacific and how their stamps were used to emboss. It is a mystery at how many are out there, but I have a strong feeling that the Canseco supply is very, very limited. Not just because I simply cannot find any, but because of putting two and two together. Here is an example:

Say you are a dealer and you bring a box of Pacific to the table. It is going to cost you $108 to get one card per pack. You were not guaranteed a single Canseco in one box - (500-550 cards per box, but 660 cards per set by using '93 as an example) and even then, his card would have to compete with the rest of the pack. If the pack with Canseco was in the same pack as Sosa, McGwire, Bonds, Ripken, Nolan, Jeter, Griffey, Thomas, etc. the odds are the dealer would pass on Jose and have the other bigger card from the pack embossed.

Something else to keep in mind as well is the limited number of boxes opened in front of Pacific representatives. We aren't talking like a print run of 75 that was scattered throughout an entire product. We are probably talking about a VERY small piece of the production pie that even had a chance to get embossed. Coupled with the fact that if an unknowing collector doesn't tilt the card in the light at the right time to see the difference, you have made a very rare card much, much rarer.

The incognito effect.

I was fortunate to talk at length with a dealer about this who basically stalked Pacific in the 90's to get a bunch of cards done. I was very thankful to have met him and learn the story from him. I was able to pick up something truly unique for my collection!



But not only that - he sold me 16 different others. As you can see, there are doubles, but the stamps are different.



He was kind enough to throw in several fliers from the card shows as well. They state that you can bring any 1998 product, but in the end, they allowed for a pacific product of any year and any sport as long as it was in fact from Pacific, and was opened in front of them.

Some of the coolest cards I got from him were the ones stamped with the Super Bowl 33 Logo. 33 of course, being Canseco's number makes the player collector in me jump for joy.

So, with all that said, I'm officially hooked on these, and will continue to be looking for more!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Help! The Hobby is DYINNGGG!!!!

Boy, have times changed.  As a kid who grew up in the 80's and 90's, when you would turn on an "oldies" radio station, you might hear songs from Elvis, the Temptations, the Beatles and Johnny Cash.  We thought we could re-live how life was for our parents growing up by watching sitcoms such as the Wonder Years.

Fun fact, did you know that THIS is the guy who was the narrator for The Wonder Years?!



Yeah, I know!  Blew my mind too.

Jokes would flow about asking your parents how it was to have a dinosaur for a pet, or if they could only see black and white back then (a reference to the lack of color television ... I'm proud of that one, thank you very much!)

Just recently, things have gotten real for me.  If we take the same time period difference, today's oldies stations would be playing Pearl Jam, Snoop Dogg, Metallica and the Backstreet Boys.  The Wonder Years would be about life growing up in the 90's.

The 90's Wonder Years would fondly reminisce about how we old fogies had to actually go to a library to look up information.  We would need to either find a pay-phone to make a call or wait until we got home.  Computers would be just getting into playing 2" x 2" grainy video in full color (and we would all think it was amazing.)

In a newspaper, you might find an advertisement like this:



The bizarre thing of it all is that every single one of these things can be done with a single cell phone that most of us have on us at all times.  Well...except for when driving, while at the dinner table, or when talking to others ... you aren't on your phone when driving or conversing with others, ARE YOU?!?!?!)

When watching today's movies, I see the "hot young stars" from my youth look not so hot and young anymore.  Brad Pitt is an old man, Jennifer Lopez is deeply engulfed into her 40's and many of our baseball heroes from the 80's can be found spouting off nonsensical things via twitter.

I have run into quite a few threads recently online about my beloved hobby - baseball card collecting. Many people online are saying that the hobby is DYING.  It is on life support.  It has been overtaken by people who want to make a quick buck, and will be cutthroats to get what they want.

Accusations are flying about how group breaks and card flippers are systematically destroying the hobby.

But are they really?

We have all heard it before - about how we got here.  Back in the 80's, if you didn't have a Beckett price guide, you were simply clueless.  I remember scoffing when someone offered me 25% book value for some cards I brought to them (highway robbery, I tell ya!)

Ebay comes along, and we collectors are met with our first healthy dose of supply and demand.  The 1989 Donruss Ken Griffey Jr. rated rookie may have had several price guides back then stating it is $10, but, if 1000 people have them at $10 online, and there are only 48 buyers, what happens to the other 952?  The prices drop ..... and drop ... and drop ... until they can be had for $1.50 each.

Boom.  "The bottom has dropped out of the card market, and all of our cards are worthless."

I still hear this time and time again from people, but to be perfectly honest, that line is tired.  Yeah, cards from 1989 are not worth what they were back in 1989, but get over it.  Don't throw the baby out with the '90 donruss.  Today's cards can have tremendous value.  Far more than what 1989 cards had back in 1989 even.

I know it isn't a popular thing to say, but I'll go ahead and say it:  Card companies have done a great job in bringing the hobby along to where it is now.  With die cut and insert innovations, to adding game used pieces and pack pulled autographs - brilliant!  (Now all they need to do is make some cards like the FOUR ONE release and we'll be all set!  :)

Look, 15 years after 1989, we all knew what junk wax was.  That is what happens when you produce BILLIONS of a certain set for a year.  This is NOT a death sentence for all cards going forward.  Today, in 2015, we still look back very fondly at cards from 15+ years ago - and there is still value.  Especially the inserts and parallels.  Some of the cards I dream of owning are from 15+ years ago.

Now that we have access to ebay, we are now able to get a better understanding of what things truly are worth in real-time.  I am not about to disrespect Beckett though - I'm merely saying it has gone from being the card value bible to what its name suggests it is:  a guide.  Just like ebay.

Ebay is certainly not the card value bible either, as I would venture to say card transactions that occur there are only a small piece of the pie.  One thing to realize is that there are still new collectors coming on board, and young adults that are coming back to the hobby as well, after a hiatus due to having a family and starting a career.

Nothing under the sun is new.

Yes, there are tons of people buying just to re-sell cards, and there are prospectors who hoard all of the latest Kris Bryant cards for profit, but that is okay.  Let them do their thing, and you do yours.  There are bad guys out there trying to put fake patches in cards, and even card companies that have recently come under fire due to the potential fake jersey pieces and autographs, but again - this is nothing new.

When all is said and done, I don't have any charts to prove my point that the hobby is not dying, but I do know that people aren't going to shops or shows as much anymore.  I don't think that is an accurate way to taking the pulse of the hobby, though.  I think people are just doing what people in 2015 do - they do things online!

There are TONS of people out there who do nothing but stay at their computers all day checking ebay for new treasures and chatting it up with other collectors on card forums.  I wouldn't say our hobby is dying.  I'd just say it is changing.  I do have fond memories of the simplicity of collecting back when I was a kid.  And while I sure do miss having my neighborhood friends coming over to trade their Canseco cards for my Will Clark cards, I am now okay with the fact that my new neighborhood trading buddies are thousands of miles away.  It may not be as cool as sitting down with someone, but it sure does make getting the mail fun, and takes the sting out of seeing what bills await me as well.

Agree? Disagree?  Opinions welcomed!


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Fantasy Baseball has a Whole New Meaning

Fantasy baseball.  A fairly recent past time for fans all over America - it is an obsession for many.  One that I have never indulged.  I've been told that since I'm such a baseball freak, I'd probably do pretty well, but I just never have gotten into it.

Whenever I think of Fantasy Baseball, visions of dragons breathing fire at baseball players come to mind.  Baseball players with swords instead of baseball bats.  Am I alone in this?  Probably.

But it gave me some ideas for my latest creation.  I've been thinking about it for a while now, and since someone had hired me recently to do a Magic the Gathering card, I thought now would be the time to try and come up with a cool Canseco MTG card.  I think it fits, because while my son is not into MTG, he does love Pokemon cards and dragons - same difference, right?

I'm sure I probably offended a good portion of my reading audience by that last sentence, so please forgive my ignorance on the subject.

For starters, I wanted a picture of Canseco who was not just in the typical green & gold.  No, I wanted something obscure.  Something with different colors.  Something with a double flap helmet.

Mission accomplished:



This picture is of him in his post MLB playing days, so it makes it extra unique.

Slap this baby on an MTG card, and put a catchy name on it and we are good to go!

Let's call him CANSECO THE CRUSHER!!!



A few things to be noted on this card.  All of the little things on an MTG card mean something.  I forget what the upper right circle areas are for, but for my card, I wanted it to be his home run total.
The bottom right number shows the # of hits in a game a user can sustain, followed by how much punishment he can dish out.  I was racking my brain a bit to see what I should put there.  Then ... duh!  40/40, of course since he hit 40 homers and stole 40 bags in the same season.

Note that is says leather spitting dragon.  I guess in the real fantasy baseball, a leather spitting dragon can be a pitcher.

Something about this card simply does not look ... "done" yet, so let's take this a little further.  I didn't just want a fantasy type MTG card with a regular photo, so I added some effects to Jose and cut out the background.



To give it more of a fantasy feel, I thought I'd add some more type of glowing effects.



We are getting close!  But no self-respecting leather spitting dragon slayer would come at one of those guys with a bat.  How about this instead?


Yeah, that should do it!



BOOM! But something still isn't quite right. Let's give him some other-worldly eyes...



Yeah, that's not working this side of toon-town. Let's give it another go, and make them glow subtly yet deviously (is that a word?)



Okay, THERE it is.  This dude looks bad to the bone.  However, I still feel like we need to add something.  Something in the background, something fierce and mystical.  Like DRAGONS!!!



Ehhh, no ... that isn't quite what I had imagined.  I said DRAGONS.  Bad to the bone, make you want to pee in your pants if you aren't Canseco the Crusher, heavy metal inducing DRAGONS.  This is probably better.



That's what I'm talkin' 'bout, Willis!  YEAHHHHH!

I ended up making two versions:  A base and a foil version.



For a goofy type of card, I think it turned out pretty slick!  These pics don't do them justice ... they look MUCH better in hand.

For those of you still reading along, I wanted to share a little bit of the story of how this whole thing came about:

The person that contacted me wanted to have me make a card of one of his co-worker's children.  The child passed away recently, and because his co-worker liked MTG, he thought it would be cool to be able to give him an MTG card of his child, so that is where I came in.

For anyone who wouldn't mind sending a few dollars there way, you can go to their gofundme website at http://www.gofundme.com/morganb - it is hard enough to deal with the loss of a child (words completely fail me at the very thought of this) - I couldn't imagine being thousands of dollars in debt because of it as well.  Anyway, just think about it.  They are currently at $8,950 and have $11,050 to go.


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

When cards serial #'ed to 100 might as well be #'ed to 1

In a quest to find more of the newer Canseco cards, I've found that many of the serial numbered stuff (as high as 100-200) are simply not available for sale online.

In the past few months, I have come a long way in understanding the twisted mind of a player collector. It isn't just a function of how much money you want to throw out there. That is far from reality. I thought if you had money, you could make quick work of your want list and stake your flag at the top of super-collector mountain, proclaiming you as the man.


Wrong.

Even though we have more avenues than ever to pick up our favorite cards in today's global marketplace, it can still be like finding a needle in a haystack.

Why is this?

A few theories:

1) A lot of product never got opened (I'd absolutely LOVE to know the numbers on various product print runs and how much was actually sold!)

2) Many serial #ed parallels look similar to their non-numbered counterparts and have been lost forever in the vast sea of base cards, rarely to be touched again.

I'm not sure if many people have seen this sort of thing before, but there are honestly millions upon millions of cards that literally may never even be thumbed through again ... let alone for a specific player for your needs. I've personally seen and heard of tons of stockpiles like this. Out of the millions of cards I have sold off in the past several years, I didn't look through the majority of them either - there simply isn't enough time in life to do this sort of thing.

3) They are slowly transforming into a brick-o-cards.



If you have had un-sleeved glossy cards in a box together in a non-climate controlled area, or any area that has stuff stacked on them, you are familiar with this.

Again, I sure wish there were a way to know print runs and how much went unsold. You never know when a card that was # to 100 only may only have 20-30 out there recognized for what they are.

An example is the 2002 Donruss Fan Club series. I thought I had all #/100 copies

2002 Donruss Fan Club Credits #/100 #121
2002 Donruss Fan Club Credits #/100 #282
2002 Donruss Best of Fan Club Spotlight #/100 #121
2002 Donruss Best of Fan Club Spotlight #/100 #282

As it turns out, I was wrong. I have NO credits versions, and THREE EACH of the best of!

What is going on? How did this happen???

I believe the 2010 Exquisite cards were #/75 or similar as well, and yet only a few exist.

This could get interesting, I think. Not all is as it seems. Heck, I'm seeing some serial numbered cards outselling the same card with a relic embedded on them.

Obviously, this isn't the norm, but it seems to be happening more and more these days. Never in a million years would I have ever thought this would have happened, but it does.

Relic cards have seemingly flooded the market, and while there will ALWAYS be a market for them (because let's face it ... they are awesome!) they were/are rarely, if ever overlooked like some serial numbered parallels are.

15 or more years have passed since the first relic card hit the market, and ever since, collectors have been grabbing them up like crazy. Nowadays, collectors are looking in their collections and saying...

"Wait a second - they made a blue, red and green version of the same card with no relic on it? Cool! Time to hit ebay and pick 'em up! The relic card was $20, so surely the non-relic versions are easy to find and only $1-5 each!"

So you hit ebay, and...



Days turn into weeks, and weeks into months.

Nothing.

Then finally one comes up - for higher than what you paid for your relic card. You have a choice of either waiting for the next version of it to pop up (which literally may not happen again) or cough up the extra dough. If you want to get almost all of the cards of the player you collect, this scenario could play out a hundred times over the next decade. Either you pay higher than you expect, or you simply don't get the card.



As a numbers guy, (I'm saying this in a roundabout way for the third time, I know) I sure would LOVE to know if there is a truly solid way to determine at least some sort of an idea ... not necessarily the print runs, because I think they are accurate ... but rather that availability of certain cards that have not been lost in the sea of base.

How would the value to you and others be changed if you found out that one mid 00's donruss insert had a print run of 100 but only 30 out there were "gettable"?

Don't get me started on the black hole of 90's cards that is pacific. They had so many parallels and some were not numbered, but INSANELY tough to grab, making even the most super of collectors fall to their knees and cry.

What higher serial numbered cards have you been chasing that might as well seem to be #/5 or less? I'm curious to hear your experiences and theories.

Monday, April 6, 2015

A Million Cards - $10,000 Worth of Cards in just 2 Boxes Alone!!!.

Today was destined to be a good day.

My taxes are done, and today is opening day.  Life is good.  Then, I got a note stating that our flood insurance went up by $250 and I was going to be charged for a server overage of $80.  D'oh!!!

It is ok though ... because it is still opening day.  Plus, I caught wind of a collection that was supposed to be pretty hot stuff.  There we a few pictures that accompanied the ad for the collection - the lead pic is shown below:



Pictures rarely, if ever, show the entire scope of the collection, so I read more about it.  It stated there were a MILLION cards total.  This piqued my interest enough to give the owner a call.

After speaking with him, it turns out he knows his way around ebay.  He spent hours upon hours searching ebay and checking SOLD listings - as a seller, you know that is the key when checking the value of cards.

He told me within just two boxes, the sold listings for THIS YEAR totaled up to $10,000 ... and he said he had a lot, lot, LOT more!  It was 45 minutes away, and I was hesitant, but decided to take the trek.  If anything, I was curious as to what the story was behind these.

Were these stolen?  Did he have psa graded Mantles?  OOOOH!!! Did he have uber rare 90's cards ... with <shudders> Cansecos I don't have?!?!  So you see, I just had to check it out.

I told my wife I would be leaving after dinner, which by the way ended up being her surprising me with a meal she brought home from LUPE TORTILLA ... the *BEST* mexican restaurant in the galaxy.  If you haven't been there ... go and buy the beef quesadillas...droooollll.

After I stuffed my face, I took the trip in the cardboard mobile.  I started thinking to myself what I would find, and how I would try to explain to the seller that these cards are NOT merely a commodity; they have a chunk of time attached to them - time that has a price to it, which in turn effectively lowers the value of the cards for the buyer.  It is one thing to buy one card for $100 and sell for $200.  It is quite another to buy 30 cards worth $3 each and sell for $6 each.

When I entered the neighborhood, it looked like I was in Beverly Hills.  The houses were gorgeous, and they were scattered among a very hilly landscape.  As I found the house, I pulled into a very nice driveway, almost wondering if my car was good enough to park there.  As I hopped out, I had a bit of difficulty determining where to go.  I then found a brick entrance that funneled into a terrace, or patio, which then finally led to the door.

I was let in, and greeted by a man and his father who was 78 years old.  They led me into the office where the cards were all over the floor, and before my eyes could take in everything, he handed me a pile of cards while saying "These cards alone have sold for $130 on ebay this year."

There were rubber bands around them.

While trying to educate them about the horrors of having cards held together by rubber bands, I carefully took them off, and shuffled through them.  Are these 90's inserts that I hadn't heard of?  Are these...wait ... 1985 Topps Tony LaRussa?  1986 Topps Jose Oquendo?  1996 Skybox Grant Hill!?!

Something wasn't right. I just stood there kind of dumbfounded.

"Hmmm...I'm a bit confused as to how these sold for $130 on ebay.  What is the hero card here?"

He was unable to tell me, and said many of them sold on ebay for $1.  At this point, I wanted to see the 2 boxes he was speaking of that went for $10,000 on ebay.  We spent quite a while searching for them, and meanwhile going through the other cards.

As I have seen before, LOTS of junk wax era cards. There were some 1985 Topps Mark McGwire cards mixed in, and heck ...even a Johnny Bench rookie, though it was in fairly rough shape.  Don't get me wrong, there were some nice cards, but anything I saw was a far, far cry from the visions of psa Mantles I had dancing in my head.

He had many gold plated type of cards too, but sadly, those only went for a few dollars each.  too bad, too - they looked nice!  I asked where they got these cards from, and as it turns out, they are resellers themselves.  These cards came from someone out of state who had inherited $5,000,000.00.  Yes, 5 million bucks.  He was a fellow who was addicted to collecting things and buying stuff from the home shopping network.  In doing so, he had amassed quite a collection of sports cards.  I was told that what was at their house was maybe 1/15th of what he had in total.

We finally found the boxes of goodies, and the majority of the cards were less valuable than the cards in the holders.  The guy was clearly a McGwire fan, as there were TONS of McGwire....like...the 1990 score and 1992 topps kind.

I was led out to the garage to see the cards in the trunk of their car, and it was the same kind of stuff.  As I took a knife to one of the boxes, I said "I predict that every single one of the cards in this box is from 1985 to 1995."  I was right!  Go figure.

During this time, I helped educate them by what ebay sales means, vs. the frequency of sales - for example, if you have 10 unopened boxes of a certain type/year of cards, just because one sold for $20, doesn't mean you have an easy $200.  If they sell at a frequency of 1 every 3 months, then it quickly becomes a 2 1/2 year endeavor.

I also told them how they can check to see what the best offers truly were on ebay, and various other little tricks to help them sell.  I told them if I didn't make the purchase, then at least they will be more knowledgeable for the next buyer.

At the very end, it was becoming painfully clear that  they didn't have tens of thousands of dollars worth of cards, nor did they have a million cards.  They had about 75,000 cards or so.  It was awkward, but after educating them on the value of the cards, I told them I would probably in it for $350, as would most other resellers.  I also mentioned i would probably hope to get $600-750 out of them.

I know this was way below what they were expecting, but I told them of the story about the man with the Nolan Ryan hoard.

A man came to me with 500 Nolan Ryan cards that were from a food chain in the area.  He wanted $500, and said they sold for $3 each, making the lot worth $1,500.  I told the man that they sold at a rate of one every 2 months, so while I would definitely triple my money, it probably wouldn't happen until about 212 years later!

I let the sellers know that they very well may have $3,000 worth of cards there, but it would probably take them 3 years to realize that profit.

They politely declined, and I fully understood.  Before I left, one card did catch my eye in the cache of McGwire cards.  A 1982 card of him playing in Alaska as a pitcher.  I inquired how much they wanted for it and they said since I came out and taught them a bit, it was mine for free!



I would have come out ahead had I just bought this on ebay, when considering the time and gas spent to go through this, but I never would have, so for now, it is a cool little piece to add to my collection and I guess it gave me something to blog about.

EDIT: So, apparently, there is more to this story than meets the eye! The 1982 McGwire was not actually made in 1982. Here is what Beckett says:

This blue-bordered card features a black and white photo of young Mark McGwire. Interestingly, McGwire was listed as both a first baseman and pitcher, and the card was issued to honor a no-hitter he threw in the American Legion finals against a Laramie, Wyoming team. The card was actually produced in two printings between 1988 and 1989. One printing for a California distributor resulted in mostly off-centered cards, while the second printing (for the team itself) was centered.

Now, to go even further with this ... the card was sealed in an huge holder with holograms on the top and bottom, and was sold for $1,000 when paired with his 1985 Topps McGwire card from the Shop at Home network back in the 90's. Here is an invoice I tracked down online:



Gosh, I love cards and their history - This stuff is really interesting to me!