Tuesday, February 18, 2014

1980 81 82 Tampa Rowdies Police Sets - How to Tell the Difference

The Tampa Rowdies soccer club was the subject of three police sets in the early 1980s. All three sets utilized a design format that was typical for safety sets of the time, with the fronts of all three being exactly the same. Here's a look at a card front from each:

I don't know about you, but I can't see much of a difference on the fronts. The key to discovering the year of issue lies on the backs of the cards, as there are subtle but unmistakeable differences. Each of the three years features a different set of sponsors listed on the back bottoms of the cards. Here they are:

You'll immediately notice that the 1980 set features two logos near the bottom, with the circular logo representing the Exchange Club of Tampa. This is the only year that the Exchange Club was a sponsor. In 1981, the two sponsors listed were the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and Law Enforcement Council. Luckily, between the printings of the 1981 and 1982 sets, the Law Enforcement Council changed their name to the Community Security Council, with the 1982 set reflecting the name change accordingly.

We will spend more time detailing these sets in the future. These really are some great oddball cards that feature cards for players, cheerleaders (Wowdies), the band (Loudies), the stadium, and even mascot "Krazy George."

Monday, February 17, 2014

sellhelper2012 on Ebay -- One of the Best?

It's no secret to collectors that Ebay is the online place to go to find stuff. The good, the bad, the ugly, the GREAT... All right there on Ebay, at any given time.

With my hours upon hours of weekly searching for oddball cards on the site, I have come across one particular seller repeatedly -- sellhelper2012. He always seems to have older oddball sets that are scarce, and many of his sets are the only ones to be found on the entire site. I have personally purchased more than a few sets from this seller, and every set has been in beautiful condition. They have always arrived quickly and positive feedback has always been left.

It was time to find out who this guy was, and where these incredible cards were coming from.

Well, the Ebay seller's real name is Neal Kublin. According to Neal, he is selling the cards for an elderly man who began collecting back in 1974. Diagnosed with cancer that year, the man's Oncologist recommended that he find a hobby. That he did, and having a true passion for baseball, began visiting Minor League ballparks across the United States. This was around the time that
Mike Aronstein (co-founder of TCMA) began producing Minor League baseball cards. The man met Aronstein, caught the oddball collecting bug, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Card collecting was still considered a juvenile pursuit in the mid-1970s, with few adult collectors taking the time, effort and money to build such a large and diverse oddball collection those many years ago. This gentleman, however, was an exception who collected anything and everything card-related he could find. He established relationships with teams and the card companies themselves, building a collecting network that was second to none in the era of stamped letters and long-distance phone calls (no collect calls, please!) Jefferson Burdick himself was probably smiling from the heavens.

So what does all of this mean to you?

Well, you'll have to visit Neal's store and find out for yourself. Don't hesitate to send him a message if you don't find what you're looking for, as Neal has told me that tons of sets are still unlisted. He responds very quickly and is a true pleasure to deal with.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

1982 Milwaukee Brewers Police Set

The endless sponsor variations of Milwaukee Brewers police sets released from 1982 to the present make it virtually impossible to collect the entire run. There's little to no chance of completing a master collection.

I'm not joking. You'd have a better shot at spending the weekend with Selena Gomez.

The promotion began in 1982, which is the year we will focus on in this post. This first year of 1982 saw the printing of five sponsor variations. But before we get into that, let me mention the basics...

Brewers police sets typically consisted of 30 cards (the first exception wasn't until 1995, when the set had 33). Even though there were several different sponsors listed on the cards each year, the player selection and photos were always the same among the sets. Because of this, only the most dedicated of collectors are interested in the different sponsor variations, with most of them being single-player specialists. 

I have personally never seen a complete checklist for this run of Brewers sets, and the couple of hardcore collectors I know who are working on this herculean task are in no danger of completing their collections anytime soon. The Milwaukee Police Department is always the easiest sponsor to find (sometimes having 100,000 sets or more printed), while some of the more obscure departments may have printed as few as 500. 

Needle in a haystack? At best.

Focusing in on 1982 again, I know of five departments that participated in the inaugural promotion: Milwaukee PD, New Berlin PD, Brookfield PD, Wauwatosa PD and the Wisconsin State Fair Park Police. As usual, the Milwaukee PD version is the easiest of the five to find, with New Berlin, Brookfield and Wauwatosa being somewhere in the middle. And finding the Wisconsin State Fair Park Police set, you ask?

You'd have a better shot at spending the weekend with the girl at your school (or office) who looks
like Selena Gomez.

The scans above show three Robin Yount cards, each with a different sponsor printed across the bottom. As noted before, the photo and player selection is the same in each of the sets. Also shown here is a New Berlin back, which is how most of the 1982 backs appear (the Milwaukee PD backs have an extra badge graphic on theirs, if anyone cares).

The 1982 Milwaukee PD set is valued in the $10 to $15 range. It's hard to put a price on the others, due to both the limited supply and limited collector demand. In this type of tricky scenario you might see a set appear with a $5 Buy It Now on Ebay, or the same set might appear (and be sold) with a $50 Buy It Now. All I know is that I like collecting these, and will continue hunting down Brewers Police Sets at prices I can live with on a case by case basis.

(4) Paul Molitor
(5) Ned Yost
(7) Don Money
(9) Larry Hisle
(10) Bob McClure
(11) Ed Romero
(13) Roy Howell
(15) Cecil Cooper
(17) Jim Gantner
(19) Robin Yount
(20) Gorman Thomas
(22) Charlie Moore
(23) Ted Simmons
(24) Ben Oglivie
(26) Kevin Bass
(28) Jamie Easterly
(29) Mark Brouhard
(30) Moose Haas
(34) Rollie Fingers
(35) Randy Lerch
(37) Buck Rodgers
(41) Jim Slaton
(45) Doug Jones
(46) Jerry Augustine
(47) Dwight Bernard
(48) Mike Caldwell
(50) Pete Vukovich
Team Photo/Roster
Harry Dalton, General Manager
Coaches (Pat Dobson, Larry Haney, Ron Hansen, Cal McLish, Buck Rodgers, Harry Warner)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

1987 Buffalo Bills Police Uncut Sheet

We love us some uncut sheets here at the Oddball Card Collector blog. These sheets allow us to see the details of a set that may have been previously unknown, such as which cards were double-printed. Sometimes sheets will feature scarce cards that were distributed in limited quantities (often because the player left the team). And maybe, if the planets happen to align, a sheet may contain a card that was withdrawn from the set altogether; undocumented cards of this nature are a "holy grail" for a small segment of hardcore collectors.

The uncut sheet we have chosen to highlight today contains the 1987 Buffalo Bills Police set. The sheet has nine rows of eight cards each, as shown below:

You can quickly see, based on the photo above, that each row contains an eight-card complete set. And what a great set this is. Defensive end Bruce Smith, head coach Marv Levy and quarterback Jim Kelly are enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and we have a feeling that wide receiver Andre Reed will be joining them shortly (Edit: he did). While not a superstar, tight end Pete Metzelaars played 16 seasons in the NFL, ten of them with the Bills, and retired with the most games played by a tight end in NFL history (235). Punter John Kidd lasted 15 years in the league, linebacker Eugene Marve eleven, and defensive tackle Joe Devlin thirteen (all with the Bills). 

Here's a look at the full sheet... And yes, those are cassette tapes holding down the corners:

Ok, wait a minute.... Did you see that? On the top row?

Yep, that is indeed a solid row of nothing but glorious Jim Kelly cards. So, on a sheet that has nine rows, eight rows each feature a complete eight-card set, while one row features eight additional Jim Kelly cards. This is a classic example of a star card being "double printed." A way to visualize this would be to take the row of eight Kelly cards from the top of the sheet, and drop it to the right of Pete Metzelaars. Each of the eight rows would now have two Kellys per set -- hence, the double print.

The Kelly card has always seemed to be more plentiful than the others in this set, and this sheet confirms why. (One can find numerous Kelly singles on Ebay now, even as I type this.) Another classic example of a double-printed card from a police set is the Hank Aaron found in the 1981 Atlanta Braves set.

The focus of this post has been split between the set and the sheet itself, so we won't go into all the fine details regarding these cards. We will say, however, that this was the first of several Bills Police sets and is a must-have for football collectors. Sets should sell in the $7 to $10 range.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

1982 On Deck Cookies Discs (MSA)

If you've collected baseball cards for any amount of time, chances are you've run across one or more small baseball "discs" featuring colorful borders and black and white photos of star players. This style of disc was issued countless times by a company called Michael Schechter Associates (MSA) between the years of 1975 and 1985, and while the design itself was largely unchanged during this time, the variety of sponsors found on the backs of these discs are what keep hardcore collectors searching on their never-ending hunts. MSA produced sets for baseball, football and even basketball during this eleven-year period. Some MSA disc issues are about as common as dirt (1976 Isaly's Baseball Discs), while others are notably scarce (1976 Coca-Cola Chicago Bears Discs). 

Featured here is a 32-disc effort released by MSA and a company called "On Deck Cookies" in 1982. Sold primarily on the East Coast, one card was randomly packaged with a large cookie and typically sold in the 25 to 29 cent range. Nearly a dozen Hall of Famers can be found within the set, as well as Pete Rose and many other fan favorites of the early 1980s. The discs are not numbered, and the backs do not feature any information regarding the player pictured on the front.

The set was endorsed by the MLB Players Association, but not Major League Baseball; accordingly, no team logos are found on the player ball caps. This worked well for MSA, as many players were photographed wearing the uniforms of their former teams. Many of the photos were used on multiple MSA issues and were several years old by the time they were recycled for use in the 1982 On Deck set. "Vintage" player pictures include George Brett, Johnny Bench and Reggie Jackson, who is pictured wearing his Baltimore Orioles uniform from 1976!

Regarding the scarcity of the various MSA baseball disc sets produced during this time, the 1982 On Deck set is one of the tougher ones to find. An Ebay seller auctioned off several uncirculated sets a few years ago (we grabbed three of them), but the hobby apparently absorbed them without decreasing the long-term value. While complete sets do appear on Ebay from time to time, it is much more common to find random singles. We'd estimate the current value of the set at $35 to $50.

(1) Buddy Bell, Rangers
(2) Johnny Bench, Reds
(3) Bruce Bochte, Mariners
(4) George Brett, Royals
(5) Bill Buckner, Cubs
(6) Rod Carew, Angels
(7) Steve Carlton, Phillies
(8) Cesar Cedeno, Reds
(9) Jack Clark, Giants
(10) Cecil Cooper, Brewers
(11) Bucky Dent, Yankees
(12) Carlton Fisk, White Sox
(13) Steve Garvey, Dodgers
(14) Rich Gossage, Yankees
(15) Mike Hargrove, Indians
(16) Keith Hernandez, Cardinals
(17) Bob Horner, Braves
(18) Reggie Jackson,Angels
(19) Steve Kemp, White Sox
(20) Ron LeFlore, White Sox
(21) Fred Lynn, Angels
(22) Lee Mazzilli, Rangers
(23) Eddie Murray, Orioles
(24) Mike Norris, A's
(25) Dave Parker, Pirates
(26) J.R. Richard, Astros
(27) Pete Rose, Phillies
(28) Mike Schmidt, Phillies
(29) Tom Seaver, Reds
(30) Willie Stargell, Pirates
(31) Roy Smalley, Yankees
(32) Garry Templeton, Cardinals