Friday, July 24, 2015

1989 Phoenix Cardinals Police Set

The Oddball Card Collector never stops scouring the web in search of police cards. On any given evening, I'll have one eye on Master Chef and the other eye on eBay... Or maybe one eye on a Love Boat re-run and the other eye on eBay... And if I've ever learned anything from Chef Gordon Ramsay and head purser Gopher Smith, it is this: the 1989 Phoenix Cardinals Police Set is pretty tough to find.

The era of the modern-day police set was turning twelve years old in 1989 (if you consider the 1977/78 Trailblazers set the first), and many card collectors were already beginning to lose interest in this type of card. Add to that the addition of two new nationally-distributed football card sets being released in 1989 -- Pro Set and Score -- along with a bevy of good but not great players on the Phoenix roster, and this nifty Cardinals set was all but guaranteed to be a cold release.

A release that continues to be cold to this very day.

A complete set features twelve player cards, which are not numbered except for uniform numbers. Slightly larger than the standard card size, each features a beautiful on-field color photo and short player bio. The historic year of 1989 was when Pro Set and Score blew the football "action shot" doors off the hinges, whereas police sets like this were once the best way to find such photos (especially for linemen). The '89 Cardinals set holds it's own here in all the classic police card aspects, including the expected action photography. The typical childhood safety tip is found on the back of each card.

The card featuring Derek Kennard was short printed, having been recalled from the set after his arrest for drunk driving. (You'll never guess the safety tip printed on the back of his card... "Don't ride in a car if you think the driver has had too much to drink. Call someone you trust for a ride.) In the world of scarce, short printed police cards, my guess is that Kennard ranks  somewhere in the middle. It's probably worth just as much, and probably more, than all the other cards in the set combined. Tight end Jay Novacek is represented during his rookie card year, and would go on the win three Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys. Roy Green, a true Cardinals legend, is also found in the set. (Green played everything from defensive back to wide receiver, to kick returner, to punt returner, to rusher.)

According to published sources, a total of 100,000 sets were printed. My question is simply, "Where are they?" I consistently see other sets, printed in much smaller quantities, showing up on the web much more often than this. At the time of this writing, eBay has less than ten singles available, and not even one complete set. As elusive as these cards may be, a complete set including Kennard is valued in the ten to fifteen dollar range. A set minus the Kennard short print would probably set you back about five bucks.
(5) Gary Hogeboom, QB
(24) Ron Wolfey, FB
(30) Stump Mitchell, RB
(31) Earl Ferrell, FB
(36) Via Sikahema, RB/KR
(43) Lonnie Young, FS
(46) Tim McDonald, SS
(65) David Galloway, DE
(67) Luis Sharpe, OT
(70) Derek Kennard, C (SP)
(79) Bob Clasby, DT
(80) Rob Awalt, TE
(81) Roy Green, WR
(84) J.T. Smith, WR
(85) Jay Novacek, TE

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