My Best Binder Page #1 – 1962 Topps Whitey Ford

1 02 2016

1962 Topps Whitey Ford signed

This card is from 1962, which is pretty old.  But it’s not all that old.  I have 30-40 cards in my collection older than this one.

It’s plenty beat up.  The corners are rounded.  It isn’t perfect on the face – you can see there’s a scratch on Whitey’s cap.  It’s cut OK, but not great.  Heck, it’s even been defaced with some writing :).  There aren’t any creases, so I guess the card has that going for it.

On the flip side, it’s from 1962.  That’s my favorite set.  Which is a bit of the chicken or the egg thing.  I think the reason I love the 1962 Topps set, and by extension the 1987 set, in large part comes back to this card.

It’s condition gives it character.  It’s rounded corners make it feel like it meant something to somebody before I found it.  It probably got moved around a bit, which is why it has a few small scratches.  It’s cut pretty well for a card that old.  And the way Ford signed it across his arm is perfect for the design of the card!

The reason this card is #1 in my collection isn’t because of the value.  I did some quick eBay research, and I’d be shocked if I could 50 bucks for this card.  I love this card because of the history behind it.  I am a bit hazy on the specific details, but I know that its history with me began in the late 1980’s.  I found the card at an antique show with my mom.  She used to go “antiquing” on the weekends and my brother and I would tag along because sometimes we could find baseball cards.  And I found this card on one of those trips.

At some point not so shortly thereafter, my dad took us to an autograph show where some baseball immortals were signing.  Eddie Mathews and Whitey Ford were the 2 autographs we picked up on.  Two guys from my dad’s childhood.  He told me the story over the holidays – he got a nickname Whitey when he was a kid because his hair was so light.  So he kind of liked Ford even though he despised the Yankees.  This card is from the year after the Yanks swept his (and now my) favorite team, the Reds, in the World Series.  So it’s quite possibly taken from that same season.  Anyway, we got Mathews to autograph a baseball. I still have that.  And we got Whitey to autograph this card.

This was my prize possession for a long time, but as time went by I found “cooler” cards like 1993 Upper Deck SP.  And then I didn’t collect cards for a while.  Long story short, I couldn’t find the damn thing for the longest time.  When this idea came up from Junior Junkie’s blog, I knew I couldn’t adequately put together a true top 9 if I didn’t know where this card was.  So when I went home for the holidays, I made it my mission to find the card.

That’s not easy to do.  If you’ve seen my parents’ 3rd floor, you’d understand.  That used to be my room in high school, but after the kids went to college, it became the “old hoarded stuff” room.  Among other things, the baseball cards that me, my brother, my mom, and even my little sister used to collect from 1993 to 1995.  And I can see now that we were ridiculous.  There’s more 1993 Leaf cards in that attic than there should be in any 10-mile radius.  And they’re not expertly organized.  I spent two pretty late nights trying to sift through those cards, and couldn’t find the card.  Just stuff I already knew was there.  At 2 AM on Saturday night / Sunday morning, I gave up.  I was dejected that I couldn’t find it and now I was depressed that I was going to have to drive back to Chicago with 2 young children in tow on far less sleep than I’d like.  Just before I was gonna go downstairs, I thought to look in the attic part of the 3rd floor.  There shouldn’t be any baseball cards in there, but it didn’t hurt to try.  What’s the difference of another half-hour when you’re already gonna get less than 5 hours of sleep?

Good move on my part.  There were 2 shoe boxes of cards, containing stuff from the late 80’s when I first started collecting.  From the time period when this card was obtained.  It didn’t take me long.  I found it, buried behind cards that were far less worthy.  But it was in a screw down case, which showed the prominence it was given at the time.

And now it’s back and truly in my collection!  I was so glad I found the card.  This card was one of my first card collection memories, and is also one of my first memories associated with baseball.  I got the card with my mom.  I got it signed with my dad.  They were both happy the next morning when I found it, so that all makes it pretty cool.  And the #1  card in my collection.

My Best Binder Page #2 – 1997 SP Buyback Autographs Ken Griffey Jr.

31 01 2016

1997 SP 96 Buyback Griffey Jr

It’s kind of amazing this isn’t the top card in my collection.  It’s close, but I think the story behind card #1 is pretty compelling.

This card is pretty amazing, too, however.

I’ve pulled a Jeter auto #’d to 5 out of 2008 Upper Deck Heroes, and a Prince Fielder SPX signed rookie card.  I’ve pulled a Hank Aaron autograph from 2012 Topps.  I’ve pulled a Nolan Ryan auto from 2001 Topps – and it made this top 9 countdown.

But nothing, and I mean nothing, beats pulling a rare card of your favorite player.  I found this card in 1997.  I had gone away from collecting for most of 1996 and 1997, however there was one exception.  I still collected Upper Deck SP.  I bought one box that year.  And I pulled this card.  Upper Deck had been inserting autographs into packs since 1990, but I had never pulled one.  And the buyback concept was very new.  It may have originated from this product, I’m not sure.  It was a good idea to me.  Unlike cards that were newly-made for the current product, buyback autographs seem more akin to getting an autograph at the ballpark.  If I could catch Griffey signing after batting practice – it would look something like this.

This card was from the year before – his ’96 SP card, and was #’d out of 312.  That was the highest print run of his buyback autos that year, but it is easily my favorite card I’ve ever pulled from a pack.

My Best Binder Page #8 – 2001 Topps Golden Anniversary Autographs Nolan Ryan

23 01 2016

2001 Topps s2 Nolan Ryan auto

Moving on to the 8th card in my “best binder page”.  If you’ll remember, Junior Junkie came up with a great idea – out of all the cards in your collection, what are your top 9?  What’s your best binder page?

Yesterday, I talked about the Tim Salmon insert card from 1993 SP and the nostalgia I can draw up by seeing that card.  This was another excellent pull – in fact, it was much rarer than the Salmon card.  I got this card in one of my 2001 Topps boxes, and it was a pleasant surprise since 80% of the box was damaged.  And while a 35-year-old can’t replicate the excitement of a 13-year-old kid, I was pretty damn excited about this card.  Plus, it was Nolan Ryan, who is kind of like my generation’s Mickey Mantle.  So that makes it approach the nostalgia.  I love that this card was a pull along the way while I’m doing this Lifetime Topps Project – sort of collateral addition to my collection.  And it’s an autograph of Nolan Ryan for Pete’s sake!

My 2nd Best Binder Page

19 01 2016

In November, the Junior Junkie came up with a great idea.

What’s your best binder page?

2nd best binder page

Well, this isn’t it for me.  But I digress.

The idea is – what are your favorite 9 cards in your collection?  List them, talk about why they made the cut, and then throw them in a binder page all together to show them off.  I’ve been wanting to do this ever since I read the idea, but I had to wait until after Christmas to do this.  My favorite card that I own was back at my parents’ house.  And then, when I got there, we had no idea where it was!  Well, I eventually found it, but that story is for a later post.  I’m going to do this one card at a time, because who doesn’t like to draw things out? 🙂

Once I had the card in question, I sat down over the New Year’s weekend and went through my collection.  I pulled any cards that I thought could make the cut.  I was very selective, but still came up with a total of 18 cards.  That’s too many!  Then I narrowed it down to 9 cards, which meant I had to cut 9 of them.  Then I realized, I basically had 2 binder pages, so I might as well put these cards in their own binder page.  Here are those cards, somewhat in the order of how close I was to including them.

2006 Upper Deck Artifacts Auto-facts Signatures – Ken Griffey Jr.

2006 Autofacts Griffey Jr

2012 Gypsy Queen Autographs – Ken Griffey Jr.

Griffey Jr Gypsy

Any Griffey autograph is really cool, but I have a different Griffey autograph that did make the top 9, and that made it hard to include these guys.  I paid for the Gypsy Queen card, and I got the Autofacts in a box break.  The one that did make the cut was one I pulled from a pack when I was 16, so it won out from the standpoint that it meant a lot personally to me.

2012 Topps Heritage Real One Autographs Red – Juan Marichal

2012 Heritage Marichal Auto

Unlike the 2 cards above, this was a card I pulled from a pack.  In fact, it was a card I pulled from a retail pack, which is really beating the odds.  While this was one of my best pulls – maybe the best from an odds standpoint – Marichal isn’t a favorite payer or anything.  So this card didn’t make the cut.

2008 Upper Deck Heroes Jersey Navy Blue – Yogi Berra, Reggie Jackson, Joe DiMaggio, Derek Jeter

2008 UD Heroes memorabilia Berra Reggie DiMaggio Jeter

2008 Upper Deck Heroes Autographs Purple – Derek Jeter

2008 UD Heroes auto Jeter

Way before I started doing this blog, I kind of got back into baseball cards by buying a box of 2008 Upper Deck Heroes.  It’s easily the best box I’ve ever purchased.  These were probably the best 2 cards in the box, but I got a Jeter memorabilia card and a few other really rare pulls.  I was shocked they could put together a card with a piece of jersey from Derek Jeter and Joe DiMaggio.  Add in Yogi and Reggie?  Wow!  And that wasn’t even the best card.  The Jeter #’d out of 5 is probably the most expensive card I own.  And it didn’t make the cut.

2012 Topps Golden Greats Autographs – Hank Aaron

2012 Topps Aaron Auto

These last 4 cards could all have made the cut.  They were particularly tough to exclude from the top 9, and all 4 had an argument.  This was a card that I pulled from 2012 Topps series 1, and aside from the Jeter autograph, it’s probably the rarest autograph card I own.  Honestly, the main reason it didn’t make the cut was how the signature fits on the sticker.  It always kind of bugged me.  Not a lot, but enough to keep it off the first page.

1994-95 SP Die-Cut – Jalen Rose

1994-95 SP Die-Cut Jalen Rose RC

1999-00 SP Premium Autographics Blue – Jalen Rose

1999-00 Skybox Autographics Blue Jalen

I collect Jalen Rose cards, and would pretty much consider myself a super-collector.  I almost never post about them because it’s not the premise of this blog.  These are 2 of my favorite Jalen Rose cards.  The first is the die-cut version of my favorite rookie card of his.  The second is basically his first autographs inserted into a mainstream product.  This one is the rarer version numbered to 50.

1994 Topps Golden Spikes Promo – Darren Dreifort

1994 Topps Golden Spikes Dreifort

This was the toughest one to exclude.  This is one of 4 promotional cards that Topps made for the 1991-1994 Golden Spikes award dinner.  Dreifort was the last one I found.  These were cards that I didn’t think I’d ever have in my collection, which is why I almost put this in the top 9.  It will have to settle for 10th.  Another reason this card was so tough – I don’t have any cards from this Lifetime Topps Project.  That’s not that surprising – it’s more about collecting a bunch of sets than individual cards.

My final All-Star adventure – the Nasty Boys!!!!!!

22 07 2015

2015 AS Game logo

This is my last post about the whole All-Star experience.  For my post last Friday – I pointed out that I got quite a few autographs on my 1990 Reds pennant.  I held off my last 3 autos because they were also the ones I was most excited about.  As you can tell from above, I’m talking about the Nasty Boys.  They signed at CEI’s Cincy Fest.

Nasty Boys at Fanfest

They were one of the big reasons the Reds did so well in 1990.  Unlike the team they swept in the World Series, the Reds needed a lock-down bullpen.  That bullpen also included guys like Tim Layana, Tim Birtsas and Scott Scudder, but its success was anchored by Norm Charlton, Rob Dibble and Randy Myers.

nasty boys

Here was my tease of the World Series pennant in my post last Friday.  No Nasty boys are seen.  Other than Jose Rijo (hard to see in this picture – but its the silver sharpie over the World Series logo), all of the autographs are in blue.

1990 World Series pennant - cropped

I had Rijo sign in silver, which shows up better on a dark background.  Same thing with the right side of the pennant, where I had the Nasty Boys sign.  This was a blue background, and it turned out great.  Inscriptions came with the price, so I had Dibble and Myers add NLCS MVP to theirs.  Randy had the idea to add “Nasty Boys” at the top – and who am I to argue!  More on that later.

1990 World Series pennant - Nasty Boys signatures

I still have some autographs to get – most notably Paul O’Neill, Hal Morris and Tony Perez (who was the hitting coach).  Rick Mahler and Tim Layana have passed away, so those are 2 guys I’ll never get.  Jack Armstrong may be the toughest – I’ve never heard of him signing.  But I got quite a few this week, and I am sort of running low on room!

But getting the autographs from the Nasty Boys and it turning out well wasn’t the best part about it.  These 3 guys were great to interact with.  They all signed together – Charlton first, Dibble next, Myers last.  All 3 of them shook my hand, asked my name and chatted for a few seconds.  Charlton said “nice to meet you, I’m Norm Charlton”, which was funny because, well, of course I know who he is!  I told Myers I was at game 2 of the 1990 Series, and he looked at me and said “Really?  So Was I!”  They’re a cast of characters for sure.  As I mentioned, Myers had the idea of putting the Nasty Boys above the spot they signed.

And they let each fan get a photo with them.  After getting your item signed, you could go to the side and wait.  They’d sign 15-20 items, then go take photos with those 15-20 people.  Charlton said they asked to do this because they wanted it to be a better experience for people than just walking through a line and leaving.  It certainly was for me.

Here’s the full pennant.  I have another pennant signed by the Big Red Machine.  It’s probably worth more, but they were for a different generation.  They were my dad’s team, or at least the team for someone in between the age of me and my dad.  This was my team, and this is my prized sports possession.

1990 World Series pennant

My other adventures in All-Star Weekend

17 07 2015

2015 AS Game logo


I’ve got two more posts about my experiences from All-Star weekend.  First, as I mentioned at the end of my post yesterday, I went to Mike and Mike Monday morning.  They broadcast from Moerlein Lager House, which is right next door to Great American Ballpark.  Coincidentally, I’ve done a Saturday Suds blog post about this establishment.

On the outside chance anyone reading this doesn’t know (it’s possible, but the demographics would surprise me), Mike and Mike is ESPN’s national morning sports talk show.  It’s the most popular sports talk show in the country.  And it showed on this day.

2015 All-Star Game Mike and Mike line

The Lager House opened at 5 in the morning for a breakfast buffet.  My dad and I left my parents’ house at 4:30 in the morning, and were parked downtown before 5 AM.  And the above picture was the line when we got there.  Now, when you wake up at 4:30 and see something like that – you immediately wonder if you made a mistake.  But we were already there so we waited in line.  We couldn’t get into the restaurant – they were over capacity and the line was only about halfway whittled down.  It worked out OK in the end.

2015 All-Star Game Mike and Mike

There was a good spot on the lawn to wait and watch their show, and you could even grab a 6 AM beer for your troubles.  Dad and I stood there until about 7:45 listening to the show.  I had one beer, and listened to them interview Barry Larkin and MLBPA president Tony Clark.  It was fun.  And when we left, we realized that plenty of people had left and it was now feasible to go into the restaurant to partake of the buffet.  I had another beer – this time one of the two special brews that Moerlein had made for the event.  I had the Mike Golic rye – which seemed more appropriate for breakfast than the Greeny light ale.  But those are for another Saturday Suds post!

2015 All-Star Game Mike and Mike break

So that was Mike and Mike.  We left to head back home around 9, and I was on less than 4 hours of sleep, so I took about an hour nap or so.  But I had to get up at 11 to head down to another event surrounding the Cincinnati extravaganza.  This was me doing some autograph seeking.  I got a few free ones at All-Star Fanfest, but CEI Sports was putting on something called Cincy Fest across the river in Covington.  This was of the “pay for it” variety, and I went a bit overboard.  I was trying to add to a 1990 Reds collection I have, and I also started a new one this past weekend.

The first collection is a World Series pennant where I’ve gotten as many guys on the team as possible.  I mentioned Chris Sabo in a previous post – he was the one guy I needed on the pennant that I was able to get at Fanfest.  Tom Browning and Ron Oester I had autograph their 1990 Topps card – which is the collection I’m just starting.  Every player from the postseason roster has a 1990 Topps card, if you factor in Traded and ML Debut.

At CEI’s Cincy Fest, I found a few more.  Billy Bates was the first one; I actually had to go down to Covington Sunday just to get his autograph.  It was worth it though.  Bates played a total of 29 regular season games in the Majors, with 3 more in the 1990 postseason.  In fact, his last appearance in the Majors was when he scored the winning run of World Series game 2.  That was the game I attended, and I told him as much when I got his autograph.  It was $40 for his autograph, which was well worth it in my opinion.  He’s hard to find – and he told me as much when I mentioned I’d been hoping to get his auto for quite a while.  I was excited to get his signature on my pennant.  Also, for on 10 bucks more he signed my card as well – which is from Topps ML Debut.  This is the only 1990 card for the 25 postseason players & manager that doesn’t feature a Reds uniform.

I forgot to scan Billy’s card – so I’ll post it another time.

On Monday, the first autograph I got was Danny Jackson.  I needed his signature on my pennant, and since I’ve read he doesn’t sign much either, I had him to sign his 1990 card.  That was $30 for each auto.  Jackson’s line was low by the time I got there, so I was able to chat with him for a minute.  I had seen him at the Futures game the night before, and assumed he was there with his family.  He said he was impressed with the seats at Great American, in that the seats were geared to face Home Plate so you don’t have to turn your head.  It was neat to know that a former player was enjoying himself as an All-Star spectator!

Cincyfest Auto - Danny Jackson

I also got Glenn Braggs autograph on his 1990 Topps Traded card.  He already signed my pennant, so I just wanted to get this since he was in town and it was only $20.  He’s a friendly guy as well – and is still clearly in phenomenal shape!

Cincy Fest autos Braggs

The next autograph was Jose Rijo.  I needed him for the pennant as well, and I thought about buying two of his autographs.  But his auto was $40, and getting two seemed more than I needed right now.  I had him sign the pennant in silver (the other autographs are in blue), and it honestly didn’t turn out as well as I’d have liked.  I’m starting to run out of room for it, so I had him sign over the World Series logo.  I should have had him do the upper right corner.  It’s not perfect, but it’s still great to get Rijo’s autograph!  He added an inscription “MVP 10/20/90”.

The next autograph I got was Luis Quinones.  He was a utility infielder for the Reds, and another guy who’s autograph I didn’t have yet.  He signed it on the underline portion of the World Series logo.

This is a picture of my pennant, though I’m not showing the last three autographs I got at Cincy Fest.  Those are for tomorrow’s post!

1990 World Series pennant - cropped

All-Star Game Fanfest #2a: day 2 autographs

13 07 2015

2015 AS Game logo

I didn’t go back to the All-Star Fanfest on Sunday.  I went to the futures game / celebrity softball game, and did a bit of hanging out with my son.  Tomorrow (well today – I wrote this last Sunday night) is a big day.  Unless my dad and I chicken out, we are going to Mike and Mike at 5 AM and plowing through until the end of the home run derby.

What I didn’t post about yet was the autographs I got on Saturday.  It was productive day.  In addition to walking around the Fanfest and reading what was there to be read – I got 4 autos.

I got there at 9:30, which is apparently not being on the ball if you are a Fanfest autograph hunter.  The gates opened at 9 AM, and the line for Eric Davis (who started signing at 10 AM) and Barry Larkin (who did so at 11 AM) were already hopelessly long.  The 3rd player was Tom Browning.  I sat at the end of the Davis line for about 30 seconds, then went to see about Browning.  It was a good idea.  I was told that I was about 15 people behind the “guaranteed” section, but it really didn’t seem that bad so I was willing to wait.  And by 10:45, I had an autograph of Mr. Perfect.

After that, I walked around, got something to eat and took in some of the Fanfest experience.  There was a “panel” discussion with some of the 1990 Reds players, including these 3 guys – the NASTY BOYS!

Nasty Boys at Fanfest

More on them in a later post.  But after that, I got some food and waited in line for one of the guys signing at 1:00.  Mario Soto and Bert Campaneris were the most popular options, but I got an autograph of Doug Flynn on his 1977 Topps card.  Flynn was a utility player on the 1975 and 1976 World Champion Reds team as a solid option at any infield position.  He was an all-glove-n0-hit kind of guy who is probably most famous for being in the trade for Tom Seaver.  He was also really nice and it was neat to get his signature.  His signature is still pretty close today to what it was nearly 40 years ago – pretty neat!

Fanfest auto 77 Topps Doug Flynn

After that, the next step was getting Spuds Mackenzie himself  – Chris Sabo.  He was signing for free, and I was again told I was just outside of the guaranteed spot.  I was a little more worried on this one – this was at 2:30 for a 4:00 schedule.  Sabo came at 3:30 instead, and all told I waited about 2 hours for his auto.  I read a little bit, listened to some podcasts, and talked with other people in line.  It was worth it in the end.  I have a 1990 World Series pennant, and his was an auto I have been missing.

Since I was done at about 4:30 for Sabo’s autograph, I went downstairs to see about Joe Oliver.  The Reds’ starting catcher was signing at the same time, and I was able to snag his autograph as well.  Both Browning and Oliver were already on my pennant, so I had them sign a 1990 Topps card like Ron Oester had done the day before.  This is another 1990 Reds quest of mine – but the pennant takes priority.

Fanfest auto 90 Topps Browning Oliver

Anyways, that’s the autos from 2 days ago.  Hopefully I’ll have time to post on my comings and goings on Monday!

All-Star Game Fanfest

11 07 2015

2015 AS Game logo

I’m down in Cincinnati this weekend and early next week to attend the All-Star game.  It’s really neat for me.  I went to the All-Star game back in 1988 as an 8 year-old kid.  My dad took me to that game.  27 years later, a lot of things have changed but some things are still the same.  My dad got season tickets last year and this year (40 games each year) so he had the right to buy the All-Star package.  So I drove down from Chicago to go to as many festivities as possible.  That meant All-Star Fanfest today.

Friday is “kids’ day” at the All-Star Fanfest, and we had a 3-generation trip down.  My dad, me and my (almost) 3-year old son spent the day walking around the Duke Energy Center in downtown Cincinnati.  We did a lot of the kid things, and it’s a great experience overall.  We got a picture by the World Series trophy, and one by the World’s biggest baseball.  He got to run the bases, hit off a tee, throw a ball against a sticky wall, see some mascots and of course eat a cookie.

I also got three autographs at the show.  The first one was Jim O’Toole, who was a pitcher from the 1960’s.  I ordered a card of his on eBay a week ago specifically for this show.  Cool to have one of the original Topps All-Star Rookie cards autographed.

Fanfest Auto - Jim O'Toole

O’Toole signed before lunch, but the other two autographs I was able to get in while Brady was either watching Cars 2 on a tablet, or asleep in his stroller.  The former was Reds Hall of Famer Ron Oester.  I got him to sign his 1990 Topps card, which was appropriate since he was on the 1990 World Series team.

Fanfest Auto - Ron Oester

I also got Tommy Helms, who replaced Pete Rose at 2nd base in 1966 (Pete moved to 3rd) and then briefly replace Pete as the Reds’ manager in 1989 (Rose moved to baseball’s ineligible list).  I got him to sign a 1975 Topps mini card, which was pretty cool.  His signature still looks the same as it did 40 years ago!

Fanfest Auto - Tommy Helms

I’m going back tomorrow by myself, and then going to a card show Sunday and Monday before I hit up the home run derby.  Should be a really fun week!

Good things come to those who wait

20 05 2014

Though the title could suggest it (in a somewhat pretentious way) – this isn’t a post saying “I’m back”.  I hope to be back posting regularly in a few weeks or so.

But I had an interesting thing show up in my mailbox tonight when I got home, and I thought it was worth a post.  Those of you who don’t know basketball cards – or those of you who do know basketball cards but get confused because all of the Panini card sets seem to run together – may recognize that this is from a 2012-2013 card set.

2012-13 Jalen Rose Historic auto

I bought this redemption on eBay in very early 2013.  I thought it was earlier than that, but I looked it up.  I’ve redeemed 3 Jalen Rose cards from Panini, and they’ve all been quite a while in getting redeemed.  I think two of the 3 have been over a year, and I opened up a “Query” on the website for all 3 back in 2013.  I’m confused, too – because this is a sticker autograph, and Jalen has had plenty of autographed cards come out in the past few years, so it seems that Panini could have stuck one onto this guy earlier than 1.5 years after the product release.  Regardless – I guess it’s good to receive it eventually!

Plus – this is a really nice card.

Wrapper Redemptions at the National

4 08 2013

I mentioned yesterday I did get some wrapper redemptions at the National.  This is different from the promo cards I got by paying for the VIP ticket.  The way this works, you buy a company’s product, go to their booth and open “X” number of packs (or a box) and they give you something in return.  Usually there is some sort of limit to the number of cards per day – though that depends on the company.  This can lead to pretty large lines early on.

I mentioned yesterday that on day #2 (Thursday), I got there just before 2:00 – so I wasn’t thinking I’d get too much in the way of these redemptions that day.  Except Panini doesn’t have a limit per day on theirs.  Basically, if you buy the product, you can get the redemption.  It’s a bit weird that the first one of these I did was Panini, considering the word Topps is in my blog name.  But I assumed Topps was maxed out on theirs for the day, and I liked Golden Age when I bought it in 2012.  I wasn’t going to buy any more retro sets after Archives, but as I mentioned, that’s out the window since I wanted to do some of this promo stuff since I was attending the NSCC.


My box of 2013 Golden Age (I think it cost me $65) netted me 5 wrapper redemption packs from Panini.  The box was $65 if I remember right.  After buying it from Dave and Adam’s Card World, I took it to their booth.  They actually don’t watch you open the box or anything – they just slit the top of the box topper and most of the packs so you can’t redeem it twice.  That’s fine by me – as I’ve mentioned, I’m in the midst of a move and I’m definitely going to be opening this and any other boxes at a later date.  I’ll post about them then.  For now – I will show one of the two “hits” I got from the wrapper redemption packs.  Those redemption packs are more focused on basketball and football, which is fine.  Here’s what I got:

Panini National Manti Te'o Auto

I had to pull this off the internet, because I was in Cincinnati Saturday and Sunday and I left the Panini cards at home – but the above are the two hits I got (with a different looking swatch on the Montee Ball card).

Montee Ball patch Panini national

After Panini, I bought a Topps series 2 box ($39 – the price has come down quickly).  I hadn’t bought one of those quite yet.  I usually buy HTA jumbo boxes of new Topps flagship, but this was cheap and it worked best with the Topps redemption.  I figured I’d buy it Thursday and hope to come back and get some of the cards tomorrow – since there was no line at Topps, I figured they were out.  Well, I went up and asked them, and they were out of 3 of the 8 cards – but still had all 4 football players and Ernie Banks left.  Funny how the NFL dominates the rest of the sports world – but sports card collectors will always go for the baseball guys first!

Opening 3 packs to gets you one card, so I opened half the box and got Banks and the 4 football guys – EJ Manuel, Geno Smith, Eddie Lacy and Tavon Austin.  The set is a remake of 1952 Bowman.  I actually got the last Banks card given out on Thursday.

On Friday, I got there in the morning and waited in line to get the rest of the set.  Or at least I hoped.  The day before, the guys at Topps said Harper, Trout and Frank Thomas had sold out around noon.  But the line was ridiculous even at 9:30.  You see, dealers can get in there before even us schmucks (I mean “VIPs”) – who paid extra to be able to get in a half-hour before the rest of the “bourgeoisie”.

Well, Topps has 2 other wrapper redemptions that are more expensive and even though they are all #’d to 500 – I learned that the others are the quicker “sellout”.  The big kahuna is to buy a box of Bowman Platinum (runs around $100) and you get a 25-card Bowman set that has Yasiel Puig.  This sold out real fast and seemed like it had a lot of pissed off people in the line.  One guy definitely caused a scene, though I was a bit further back in line to tell exactly what got him so worked up.  From what I could tell, Topps actually modified what they were doing and gave out tickets to make it more fair.  The one other, and second most popular in my estimation, is to buy a box of Topps Tribute WBC (~$150), and you get a Gypsy Queen Yasiel Puig card.

Regardless, I did get up in time to get the rest of the set.  I opened the second half of the box and got all 4 baseball players and dupes of 2 of the football guys.  Here’s the full set.

National - Topps wrapper redemption

I also bought a box of Goodwin Champions, but missed out on the redemption there.  This was just poor planning on my part – I bought it at 1 PM on Friday after walking around the floor and buying some single cards.  I could have gotten the redemptions easily, but they literally had just run out.  I didn’t get back to the National on Sunday, so that was that.

Sport Kings has a giveaway, too.  Buy a box and open it there, and you get a memorabilia or autograph card #’d to 20 or less.  I thought about doing that, but had spent enough already.

Thoughts on the process

Topps and Panini are very different in what they do.  Both have product that’s exclusive to the National, but Panini makes theirs a lot less exclusive and hands out packs.  There aren’t crazy lines, but I guess those crazy lines drum up interest.  However, as I mentioned, it makes for a lot of grumpy customers.  I waited in line from about 9 to 9:30 just to get into the National, and I was behind a bunch of VIPs just to get in to the event.  Then, to get in line for the Topps redemption, I was behind some of those VIPs ahead of me in line AND any dealers.  I then waited in line from 9:30 until about 10:45.  That’s 2 hours waiting, and if I hadn’t paid for the VIP ticket it would be longer!

I’m not complaining about waiting – I knew it was coming and I had the option to leave at any time.  I read some of the promotional materials that came in my VIP bag.  I read about a new book about the 1914-15 Cracker Jack sets that I may pick up at some point.  One  thing, though – it would stink if I bought the product from a dealer and then didn’t get the redemptions.  It just seems a good way to alienate customers – maybe that’s the way the consumer product industry works.  But Panini does it so differently, and while they don’t create the aura of exclusivity, they don’t have customers making a scene in line and leaving what’s supposed to be a promotional extra with a bad taste in their mouth.  For what it’s worth – it seems like Upper Deck is in between the two.  They do have create a max give-out per day, but it’s done with packs and in a way that finds a middle ground.

From what I heard, I do think Topps changed it up for Saturday.  I’m on my way back from Cincinnati now, so didn’t go, but I think they were doing something to start the line at 10 AM instead of 8:30.  This makes it more consumer driven at least – the dealers would have to leave their table to get in that line at 10 AM.  I think that’s an improvement, for sure.