Sunday, March 13, 2016

1996 Bolton-Teague Celebrity Softball Challenge Set


With his distinctive, heartfelt style of crooning, singer Michael Bolton has attracted more than his share of music fans over the years. I'm not one of them (I will admit, however, that the TV and radio commercials he's done these past couple of years are pretty funny). 

At the peak of his popularity in the 1990s, Bolton was also playing more than his share of celebrity softball. For example, one surreal game in 1993 pitted Bolton and his band mates against the Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Evander Holyfield, Tom Selleck and M.C. Hammer (Bolton and his crew won the game, in true softball-shark fashion). These games were held under "The Michael Bolton Charities" banner, an organization that was formed in 1993 to benefit at-risk children and women.

Some time ago, my daily search for the oddball and unusual uncovered an interesting set of cards that was released back in 1996 -- The Bolton-Teague Celebrity Softball Challenge set. Further research would show that the two teams tussled yearly from 1994 through 1998, and additional Bolton-Teague card sets were also released in 1997 and 1998.

The 1996 set featured here contains 34 glossy, borderless photo cards that are of the highest quality (except, perhaps, for some of the photography), and they measure the standard card size of 2 1/2 by 3 1/2 inches. Player names are stamped in gold foil along the front card bottoms, and the cards are not numbered. The game was played on July 13, 1996. I'm unsure of when and how the cards were issued, but the back of one card notes that the game was filmed by The Disney Channel, and highlights were shown during the airing of Bolton's "Coming Home" concert.

Michael Bolton is found on three cards, including one that he shares with rival captain George Teague of the Green Bay Packers. It's actually Teague's team that is of interest to most collectors, as it was packed with sports stars of the past and present. Baseball Hall of Famer Robin Yount, Football Hall of Famer Reggie White and U.S. gold medalist speed skater Dan Jansen each have cards in the set. Other Green Bay Packers include Robert Brooks, Mike Prior, Gilbert Brown and Mark Chmura. Former Brewer Charlie Moore makes an appearance in the set, though he was unable to play because of a prior injury.

Other Milwaukee-area celebrities represented in the set include Bill Jartz, news anchor for WBAY-TV and current announcer at Lambeau Field; Tom Mulhern, a longtime Wisconsin State Journal sports reporter; and Murphy in the Morning of WIXX 101 Radio. Bruce Meade, arguably the greatest softballer ever to play the sport, is also represented on Teague's team.

I wasn't kidding when I referred to Bolton and his players as a team of sharks... They went on to trounce Teague and crew by a score of 38-18. Three years before this contest was played, Bolton and his teammates filmed a bizarre video titled "Michael Bolton's Winning Softball." The entire 52 minutes of singin' and swingin', in all it's douche-chilling glory, can be found right on YouTube. I personally challenge anyone reading this to make it halfway through the video.

This is easily one of the rarest sets I've mentioned since starting the blog three years ago. I'd put these cards in the same ballpark as the 1985 Chicago Renaissance Society White Sox Set, both in terms of scarcity and the fact that the cards weren't really marketed towards collectors at the time of their release. Unopened sets are all but impossible to find today. My educated guess would put the value of a complete set in the $50 range, but a keen collector can probably add one to the archives for less with a bit of patience.

Random Fact: The '96 Bolton-Teague matchup raised about $30,000 for charity.

(1) The Michael Bolton Foundation Logo Card
 (2) The Rebecca Fund Logo Card
(3) Michael Bolton, Rebecca Slye, George Teague
(4) Check Presentation Card
(5) George Teague
(6) Robert Brooks
(7) Gilbert Brown
(8) Mark Chmura
(9) Dan Jansen
(10) Bill Jartz
(11) Bruce Meade
(12) Charlie Moore
(13) Tom Mulhern
(14) Murphy in the Morning
(15) Mike Prior
(16) Jimmy Slye
(17) Quinn Teague
(18) Reggie White
(19) Robin Yount
(20) Michael Bolton
(21) Michael Bolton
(22) Mike Bolen
(23) Mugs Cain
(24) Johnny Dodd
(25) Bucky Ford
(26) Phil Higgins
(27) Jerry Mele
(28) Louis Levin
(29) Bobby Olah
(30) Donnie Slye
(31) Rebecca Slye
(32) Kim Turner
(33) Richie Vaughn
(34) Gary Whitefield

4 comments:

  1. Wow, this is what I call obscure!

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    Replies
    1. I agree... I'm not even sure what my search parameters were when I stumbled on it, but I'm glad I did. Can never get enough Michael Bolton cards in one's collection.

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  2. I have several unopened packs

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  3. I have several unopened packs

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