Saturday, May 31, 2008

1997 Stadium Club Firebrand

Cards made of wood!

For whatever reason, wood was popular in baseball cards. I've got several different types. This is my favorite. I got this with a redemption card. It is actually made of wood with some sort of non-glossy finish on the back.

It also is laser cut at the top around the "Firebrand". I think it's laser cut rather than die cut. Topps had several cards in the mid-1990s that were laser cut. They must have gotten a new toy down at the printing shop. The card also features gold foil on the player name and Stadium Club logo. Topps was playing around with various materials for baseball cards in those years. I've got another Stadium Club insert from 1997 which is made of leather (or maybe faux leather) with a card stock backing. I'll feature that one later. Wood and leather, two natural materials associated with baseball.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Shameless self promotion

In addition to occasionally writing for this blog, I do my own blog called Capewood's Collections. But you already know this because my blog is listed in the side bar.

I've been toying with doing a baseball card only blog of my own. I got some encouraging feedback on my idea from several bloggers (including Steve here) so I've gone forward with my idea of making what will essentially be an on-line encyclopedia of baseball cards. Some of the feedback I got suggested this would be better done as a wiki instead of a blog. I had no idea how to set up such a thing but it turned out to be easier than I thought. And this will work better as a wiki (after all a wiki is designed to be an on-line encyclopedia).

The site is ready for the public. It can be found at I'd appreciate it if you'd check it out and visit often. I am open to suggestions on how to make it better. At some point I may solicit other contributors but its too early for that.

I'm starting with cards from 1980. The Pete Rose card is the first card to be posted.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

1980 Topps Superstar Photo Cards

I was looking for images of 1980 Topps cards on and saw these cards listed. As I am wont to do when I hear about some odd-ball card, I went on eBay to see if I could get some. I snagged 5 packs for $0.99 and $5.00 for shipping.

The cards are billed as being 5x7 inches but are actually a bit smaller than that. According to the Sports Collector's Digest 2007 catalog these cards were produced as a test issue by Topps and most of the run was bought up by speculators. They feature a glossy photo of the player on the front with a facsimile signature in light blue ink. The back of the card just has the player's name and team and the card's number.

There were 2 versions issued. The more common gray back and a white back version. The white back version run about 3x the value of the gray. The ones I bought look to be white. The packs I bought don't seem to have been real well cared for. Although the cards are not damaged, they have a musty smell like they've been in someone's basement for the past 28 years.

The checklist is part of the packaging. This piece opens up and the cellophane wrapper is stapled in the fold, I got a good selection of 1980's players. In addition to Stargell I got Steve Garvey, Jim Palmer, Fred Lynn, Dave Winfield, Bruce Sutter, Cecil Cooper (currently the manager of the Astros), Jerry Koosman (I got 2 of these), Darrell Porter, Jason Thompson, Kent Tekulve, Rick Bosetti (??), Larry Parrish and Gary Carter.

If you act now you can still get these on eBay although the packs aren't available. Either loose cards or whole cases of cards (from former speculators, no doubt) are available. There are also similar football cards.

Friday, May 9, 2008

2000 Stadium Club Clear Shots Chrome

Transparent baseball cards.

Card companies have played around with different materials for many years. If you look around you can find baseball cards made of cloth, plastic, wood, tin, steel, and aluminum.

Clear acetate has been a popular medium. Think about Topps Tek and EX.

This card was an insert in 2000 Topps Stadium Club Chrome. There was a refractor version as well.

This is perhaps my favorite example of a clear card. Although it is hard to tell in the scan, the background of the card is transparent. The printed player photo and the black area with the player name at the bottom are printed on both sides, although they let the "Clear Shots" logo show through in reverse on the back.

What I really like is that the front of the card shows the front of Ken Griffey, Jr. and the back of the card shows his back.

There were 10 cards in the set. All have posed standing shots like this one. It takes a brave man to allow his butt to be plastered on a baseball card. I can think of some players who probably shouldn't appear on a card like this. Cecil Fielder comes to mind. Maybe Prince Fielder as well.

Someone recently posted another Griffey card where he was smiling. He's smiling here as well.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

2007 Topps WWE Wrestling Heritage III

I'll be the first to admit it. I'm not a big wrestling fan. I'm not even that much of a casual fan. Sometimes, I'd rather watch a test pattern than witness the average match on television. It plays out like some outlandish soap opera instead of an actual match.

One of my friends is so into WWE, that he can tell me who is going to win the match before it begins and do a blow by blow commentary before it happens on screen. I've never been a big fan of scripted "reality" shows. WWE seems like one of the worst offenders in that category.

But I still enjoy watching on the rare occasion. If that makes me seem like a hypocrite, then so be it. I enjoy watching the few wrestlers from my childhood era that are left and the few from the early nineties that I remember watching with my WWF addicted friend.

When I saw the pack opening on A Pack A Day in January, I fell in love with the idea of this set. Especially the Undertaker card. I used to love watching the Undertaker when he first started as that character. I would get caught up with the match and root for him draw power from his urn and win. It just goes to show you that anyone can get sucked into watching WWE.

I love the fact that this card set takes classic designs and incorporates them into the world of WWE. The designs are from 1980 Topps baseball, 1982 Topps baseball and 1987 Topps baseball. They work to varying degrees. The real clincher is the insert set, which borrows its design from the Allen & Ginter cards.

I really don't see the need for this set, but I love the idea of it. Plus, that card of the Undertaker is the coolest card I have seen in awhile.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Mount Rushmore Of Cuts

Just when I thought I had seen just about everything that can be done with a card, there appears to be a new wrinkle. A card featuring the cut autographs of the four presidents on Mount Rushmore.

I saw a post detailing this on Sports Cards Uncensored. The practice of including historical figures cut signatures is getting a bit out of hand. What exactly would a baseball fan do with this? The only real option would be to sell it on eBay to the highest bidder. What are the chances that this card will come out in a Beckett box break? Better than if I bought a box of 2008 Premier Baseball.

At first glance, this card seems cool. It hits all the right tones with a central theme that's easy to spot. That's all the trappings of a classic card that could skyrocket in value. The fact that this card is a 1/1 is just icing on the cake.

The more I think about this card, the more I feel cheated. For one, I would expect a baseball themed cut signature in a baseball card release. Secondly, where is Upper Deck getting these signatures. A 20th century president is probably more common, but when a card also has 19th and 18th century presidents, I start to wonder where these signatures are coming from.

George Washington died in 1797. How many pieces of paper still exist with his signature on it? I would think that there were very few left. What was left would be on important historical documents. I'm sure there would be a couple of handwritten letters that were saved, but wouldn't those be priceless as well? It's one thing to take a signature from a check. It's quite another to deface something of historical value for a pack thrill.

Thomas Jefferson died in 1809, 12 years to the day after George Washington passed. I would think there would be slightly more signatures available of Jefferson, since he died 12 years later and held several offices during his career, but not that many more.

I have reservations about cutting up signatures like this for cards. Don't get me wrong, I think it's fascinating and cool. I just think a little part of history dies each time a card like this is made.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

1994 Upper Deck Fun Pack

In the early 1990s there were several attempts to interest kids in collecting cards again. Topps had Topps Kids (1992), Donruss had Triple Play (1992-1994) and Upper Deck had Fun Pack (1993-1994).

These cards went in for cartoon images, popular players, trivia questions, pictures of players when they were kids, team mascots and bright colors. I think these cards are mostly forgotten now although I guess there are probably people in their early 20s who look back fondly on them. I look back fondly on them because I bought them even though I was far from being a kid in 1994.

This Ken Griffey, Jr. card was part of a subset in the 1994 Fun Pack set. The card background is a drab black color. But the coating is heat-activated. When you press your finger on it, the coating becomes clear and a cartoon stadium background appears. I suppose that this little piece of magic will only work so many times but my Griffey card still works after 14 years.

The back of the card explains that Ken is serious "when the game is on the line" but "is all fun beforehand". It appears that someone (Jay Bruner?) is throwing a pie ("one of the games oldest pranks") at Griffey. On the left side is a guy with a camera and another player busting a gut laughing.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

1996 Topps Laser

Steve posted a die cut card a few days ago and someone mentioned the Topps Laser cards as being an extreme example of cut cards. Topps issued just one year of these, in 1996. They came 4 to a pack for $5.00. Pretty pricey for 1996. I bought 1 pack. Looking on eBay just now it looks like they had Laser football cards as well. And someone is selling a Topps Laser cut card featuring Pam Anderson from her opus "Barb Wire". Only 4 days left on that auction so hurry and bid (the opening bid is only $0.99).

The whole baseball set can be had for $24.

I always kind of liked the cards but getting them into an album page or a penny sleeve without damaging them is challenging. The cards are very thin. There were 4 designs of which I have 2. The comment mentioned that the design for pitchers was very fragile but I don't have one of those. The other design I have features gold foil in the cut area. The back features a small photo of the player, personal data (weight, height, etc.) and "Spotlight Stats". On Clark's card it says "0 The number of Giants first basemen other than Clark with a Gold Glove".

Friday, May 2, 2008

1996 Topps Finest

From 1995 through 1999, Topps put a protective plastic film on the front of their Finest cards. I don't think the first few years of Finest had this and as near as I can tell they stopped doing it after the 1999 release.

I don't know how many other manufacturers did this. I do know that Pinnacle put out a set called Select Certified in 1996 which also had a protective film.

When these cards first appeared there was much debate among collectors. Was the film a part of the card and therefor shouldn't be removed? Wouldn't the card look better without the film? If the film wasn't part of the card and you wanted to remove it, how difficult would it be to remove as the card got older? Would removing it damage the card if it was on too long? And just how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

I can answer a few of these questions. The price guides don't mention anything about the film on these cards so I assume it doesn't matter to the price of the card if the film is removed or not. Does the card look better without the film? I think it does, but you can be the judge of that. The Select Certified cards look way better without the film. These cards have a bright mirror finish (which doesn't scan well) but the film makes them look dingy. I just peeled this Finest card and the film came off easily without any damage to the card. The film on the Select Certified cards is very difficult to remove now, you seriously risk bending the card in half. Also, the Select Certified cards have a quite a bow in them, I think due to the film. I believe that over time, as the cardboard has absorbed moisture it has expanded. The film has not expanded so the card bows inward on the front. The Finest cards are not bowed, maybe because they are thinner.