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 And maybe, if the planets happen to align, a sheet may contain a card that was withdrawn from the set altogether; undocumented cards of this nature are a "holy grail" for a small segment of hardcore collectors.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.

Click here to find 1987 Bills Police Cards on eBay

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.

Click here to find On Deck Cookie Discs on eBay

(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

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

1975 Cramer Circle K Phoenix Giants

The 1975 Phoenix Giants team set was sponsored by Circle K Food Stores and produced by 22 year-old card collector Michael J. Cramer, the founder of Pacific Trading Cards. Pacific would go on to release numerous non-sports sets, as well as issues for the Major Indoor Soccer League, the National Football League and Major League Baseball. 

A complete set features 26 cards, including a card of PCL Manager of the Year Rocky Bridges, team General Manager Ethan Blackaby and a card of Cramer himself. As was typical for minor league cards at the time, they were printed in black and white and featured a simple design on the fronts. Backs were uncluttered yet informative, featuring both minor league and major league statistics for the players. Cards are numbered on the lower fronts, and also feature each player's uniform number on the back (information that is difficult to find even today on the internet). 

A slew of soon-to-be and already-were major leaguers appear in this issue. Of note, catcher Mike Sadek would spend parts of eight seasons with the parent Giants club. Fan-favorite Greg Minton would pitch in the majors for 16 seasons, including an All-Star appearance with the Giants in 1982. Lefty hurler Bob Knepper would spend 15 years in the big show, grabbing two All-Star appearances with the Astros in 1981 and 1988. Outfielder Larry Herndon would play in 1,537 MLB contests, amassing 5,319 plate appearances along the way.

I can't recall ever hearing of the number of '75 Phoenix sets produced, but I'd venture to guess that no more than 5,000 were printed -- I could be wrong and on the low side with my estimate, but minor league team sets were not widely collected in the mid-1970s. As a matter of fact, these types of sets were usually printed in quantities of 1,000 or less! With that being said, the value of the '75 Phoenix set is considerably lower than other minor league sets of the day, which leads me to believe that more copies of the Phoenix set exist.

A copy of the set is indeed easy to find today (as of this writing several sets are available on eBay at reasonable Buy It Now prices). Sets are valued in the $10 to $15 range. 

Click here to find Phoenix Giants Sets on eBay

1. Rocky Bridges, Manager (Unif. #26)
2. Jack Mull, Catcher (10)
3. Mike Sadek, Catcher (20)
4. Bob Nolan, Pitcher (18)
5. Tony Gonzalez, Pitcher (22)
6. Ed Sukla, Pitcher (27)
7. Don Rose, Pitcher (30)
8. Greg Minton, Pitcher (31)
9. Tom Bradley, Pitcher (33)
10. Bob Knepper, Pitcher (34)
11. Rob Dressler, Pitcher (37)
12. Johnny Lemaster, Infield (2)
13. Glen Redmon, Infield (12)
14. Skip James, Infield (15)
15. Bruce Christensen, Infield  (17)
16. Mike Eden, Infield (19)
17. Tom Heintzelman, Infield (23)
18. Tony Pepper, Infield (35)
19. Jim Williams, Outfield (9)
20. Larry Herndon, Outfield (11)
21. Leon Brown, Outfield (16)
22. Horace Speed, Outfield (20)
23. Frank Johnson, Outfield (24)
24. Harry K. Jordan, Trainer
25. Ethan Blackaby, General Manager
26. Michael J. Cramer, Sports Collector

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

1988/89 B.Y.U. Cougars Basketball

The Oddball Card Collector gets excited when he finds serial numbered sets from the 1980s. He gets equally excited when he finds sets from the 1980s that had a limited run of 5,000 or less. When he finds a set from that decade that is serial numbered and limited to 5,000 or less, he buys early and buys often.

The 1988/89 Brigham Young University Cougars basketball issue is of course one of these forementioned sets. Featuring 25 cards and sold in a clear PVC pack, a serial number is found on the backside of the packaging header (as pictured). The last card in the set states that "BYU has authorized 5,000 sets printed for the 1988-1989 season." The cards are numbered on the backs, along with a substantial amount of personal info, statistics and a team schedule. We assume these sets were sold on the B.Y.U. campus and basketball games, and possibly through local-area card shops.

Pretty much all of the bases are covered with this issue as the players, coaches, a team photo and several action cards add to the 25-card roster. Star Michael Smith can be found on fours cards; his "regular" card, two action cards and the team photo. He would go on to play for the Celtics and Clippers in the NBA, and today is a color commentator for the Clippers with fellow announcer Ralph Lawler.

Junior guard Marty Haws is featured on five cards, thanks to his inclusion on three action cards. Heavily recruited by several football schools, the talented Haws ran the 40-yard in 4.4 seconds. His son, Tyler, recently finished his junior season with the Cougars and has passed his dad on the B.Y.U. all-time scoring list.

Ladell Andersen is represented during his final year as the head coach, a position he held since the 1983/84 season. A card is also here for longtime assistant Roger Reid, who would succeed Andersen as head coach the following year and hold the position for the next seven seasons.

This set does not appear very often; but like most sets of this nature, the waiting game usually pays off with a little patience and regular searching. Our educated guess puts the value of an unopened set in the $10 to $15 range.

Click here to find BYU Cougar Cards on eBay

1. Team Photo
2. Michael Smith, Fwd/Ctr
3. Alan Frampton, Guard
4. Alan Astle, Guard/Fwd
5. Mike Herring, Guard
6. Mark Heslop, Guard
7. Steve Andrus, Ctr/Fwd
8. Steve Schreiner, Fwd/Ctr
9. Andy Toolsen, Guard/Fwd
10. Vince Bryan, Forward
11. Marty Haws, Guard
12. Kevin Santiago, Guard
13. David Wolfe, Fwd/Ctr
14. John Fish, Fwd/Ctr
15. Carl Ingersoll, Asst. Coach
16. Roger Reid, Head Coach
17. Ladell Andersen, Asst. Coach
18. Alan Astle (Action)
19. Marty Haws (Action)
20. Michael Smith (Action)
21. Michael Smith (Action)
22. Marty Haws (Action)
23. Andy Toolsen (Action)
24. Marty Haws (Action)
25. 1988/89 BYU Basketball Header

Friday, January 3, 2014

On Schedule(s): 1980-85 Los Angeles Rams

You may not have an interest in collecting examples of every sports schedule ever printed (a true fool's errand, indeed), but you can certainly have success -- and show steady, measurable progress -- while collecting the schedules of your favorite team or league. Pulled from the depths of our shoebox, we hereby randomly present a consecutive run of Los Angeles Rams pocket schedules, printed for the 1980 through 1985 seasons.

Beautiful, colorful, borderless photos are the trademark of these issues. The 1980 schedule features a painting of 1,000 yard rusher Wendell Tyler, inexplicably trying to avoid being tackled by a member of the USFL's New Jersey Generals (a team that would not exist for another three years). 

Actual game photos were used on the fronts from 1981 onward. The '81 release shows linebacker Jim Andrews (52), with a host of other Rams defenders, coming out of their stances for an all-out blitz. 

Hall of Fame Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett is tackled for a loss on the '82 sked, with defensive tackle Phil Murphy (95) and linebacker Howard Carson (54) getting their time in the spotlight. 

Starting quarterback Vince Ferragamo (15) is pictured on the '83, with Dennis Harrah (60), Hall of Famer Jackie Slater (78) and Preston Dennard (88, far left) lining up for a play against the Saints. 

All-world running back Eric Dickerson earns his place as the lone player on the 1984 schedule.

Finally, the '85 release pictures three Rams defenders preparing for the next down. Nose tackle Greg Meisner (69), linebacker Jim Collins (50) and linebacker Mel Owens (58) get the nod this year.

And now for the backs:

Three of the schedules (1980, 1984, 1985) feature sponsors whose advertising does not mention a specific location, while the other three do. The 1981 schedule mentions Toyota dealerships in Santa Ana and Anaheim, and the 1982 version lists three branches of Heritage Bank. The 1983 schedule is a bit puzzling, as the sponsor on the back is located in Orlando, Florida! (but their skin care products were sold in Southern California). 

Schedules such as these often have a variety of different sponsors printed on the backs, with many variations escaping detection by the hardcore collectors who are attempting to checklist them. The seemingly endless variations, and the inability to catalogue them, are why many team collectors aren't concerned with collecting schedules.

All of the schedules pictured above were folded in half (bi-fold) except for the 1984, which was longer and folded into thirds (tri-fold). The third panel on that 1984 sked is a Ralph's coupon that could be used to save 25 cents on Chunk Cheese at the deli! The photo above pictures the inside of the 1982 schedule, which wound up being a strike-shortened season.

Click here to find Rams Schedules on eBay