Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Collecting Odell Beckham Jr.

I've decided to start collecting Odell Beckham Jr. Cards. We share our hometown of New Orleans, and I've been an LSU fan since I can remember. Some of my earliest football memories include Hall of Fame wide receiver Lynn Swann, and in my opinion both players display exceptional grace and style when a football is lobbed in their direction. Beckham probably has more raw talent than Swann did, if I dare say so, and will probably wind up with numbers much bigger than Swann because of the many changes occurring to the modern-day passing game these past 35 years.

There's a certain excitement associated with collecting current players. Though I've never collected cards for investment purposes, there's an undeniable rush when a player does well on the field and you have several of his cards tucked away in your collection. I'm looking forward to having this feeling for many years to come with the Beckham collection.

Now a few words regarding dollars and sense. Odell's rookie cards were released during the 2014 NFL season, and as of this writing, pretty much all of the 2015 cards have been released. The first thing I noticed when monitoring his rookie cards was the fact that they are very reasonably priced on eBay; his base rookies from sets like Bowman, Topps, Strata and Score can be had for a couple of bucks apiece. Even serial numbered jersey cards start at ten dollars or so. Beckham's autographed rookies start near the $50 range, once again usually selling considerably below "book" value. It's amazing to compare these prices to the 1986 Donruss Jose Canseco rookie card, which was selling for $60 or more back in 1990. My oh my, how this hobby has changed since then. 

Beckham's 2015 cards are even cheaper, with his base cards virtually being given away. Inserts from 2015 aren't far behind, with the Panini Clear Vision jersey card pictured below being snagged for less than the price of a cup of Starbuck's coffee. I will admit that I'm concentrating on his 2014 rookie cards, but seem to be obtaining a steady stream of the '15s as they are often included in the large player lots I like to buy. 

Collect what you like; that's always the golden rule. I'm liking me some Odell B. these days, and I may even have a slight case of the rookie hoarding syndrome -- but hey, work with me here.  When I can buy 25 to 30 Beckham rookies for the same price that one '86 Donruss Canseco cost back in 1990, why wouldn't I?

Click here to find Odell Beckham Cards on eBay

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Collecting Andy Pettitte

Of course I collect oddball cards. I love 'em. 

Oddball cards have been the focus of my collection for many years now, and will continue to be so. Researching and locating these food, police and SGA issues are a fun challenge... And there are always plenty of cards waiting to be found -- it's just a matter of the direction you wish to take.

In addition to collecting oddball cards of all kinds, I have also collected Andy Pettitte cards for a long time. I went to high school with Andy in Deer Park, Texas, then left for the Army after my graduation in 1989. Andy graduated the following year and was drafted by the Yankees. 

I wouldn't describe myself as an Andy Pettitte super collector because I lack most of his high-end cards. His rookie card, found in the 1993 Bowman set, is inexpensive enough. His minor league cards are also cheap; one that is probably undervalued is Andy's 1993 South Atlantic League All-Stars card, of which only 2,000 were printed.

Some of the most expensive Pettitte cards are pack-pulled autographs shared with other players. The 1997 Stadium Club Co-Signers card comes to mind, with Pettitte's signature on one side and Derek Jeter's on the other (these days the card will set you back around $250 or so). Topps released an Andy Pettitte/Paul O'Neill laundry tag/patch folding card in 2012, autographed by both and serial numbered to 10, which also sells in the $250 range. Needless to say, I don't own either of these!

Of the 550-plus different Pettitte cards that I do own, the most unique one probably comes from the infamous 2008 Topps Moments and Milestones set. For those who don't know, this set was a horrible idea. For EACH of Pettitte's 201 wins at the time, cards serial numbered to 150 were printed. In addition, chase cards numbered to 25, 10 and 1 of 1 were also issued -- once again for EACH of the 201 wins! What was Topps thinking? Anyhow, I managed to get the 1 of 1 card commemorating Andy's first victory. I also snagged the 001/150 card commemorating his first victory, for what it's worth. 

I still do the occasional search for unique Pettitte cards, and recently acquired one of his game used Astros alternate jerseys from the 2006 season. It was originally purchased from one of the big Minute Maid Park memorabilia sales by a local fan, who later sold it to me for a very fair price. It certainly beats the price of a game used Yankees shirt!

Damn, I'm getting old. Andy retired for good after the 2013 season, with a few additional cards of him being issued in some of the 2014 sets. Now that the Pettitte collecting has inevitably slowed down this past year, it was time to make a hobby-altering personal decision. I have decided to start collecting a young, fresh football player who I believe is destined to become one of the all-time greats. Understand that this decision will be controversial... Discussions will be heated. But it's time to move on and focus on a new single-player collection that I believe will be an interesting one to build. I'll reveal the name of this new collecting subject in my next post, but here's a hint... Know that I was born in New Orleans and have been an LSU fan most of my life.

Click here to find Andy Pettitte Cards on eBay

Friday, December 25, 2015

1974 Marc's Big Boy Milwaukee Brewers Team Photo

Every now and then, a sharp-eyed collector will find a scarce (or formerly scarce) item that surfaces in quantity on eBay. Often, the item will be quietly absorbed into the collections of hobbyists, with a minimal effect on the value. Other times, the newfound quantities will be large enough to lower the value of the item, as the supply vs. demand ratio has been permanently skewed. 

Which of these two situations will occur is yet to be seen for the 1974 Marc's Big Boy Milwaukee Brewers Team Photo, which showed up in quantity this past month or two through the Kruk Cards store on eBay. 

From what I can tell, this "card" has never been documented in any of the hobby reference books. FYI, I refer to this oversized  9" x 12 1/4" issue as a card, because it is printed on white, medium-weight cardstock. While this was apparently a premium for the local Big Boy restaurants in the Milwaukee area, little else in known. Restaurants were known to release sports-themed placemats during this era, but they were usually printed on paper versus the cardstock seen here. 

What makes this issue important to Brewers and Hall of Fame collectors alike is the fact that a young Robin Yount is pictured during his rookie season with Milwaukee -- a full year before the release of his first Topps card. Though Yount played in only 104 games with the club that year, he was fortunately included in the team photo shoot. And for those geeky collectors who are always on the lookout for scarce photos (I may or may not be one of those geeks), it is worth noting that the pic used on this Big Boy issue varies ever so slightly from the one found most often elsewhere. The biggest difference at a glance is of slugger George Scott, found in the upper left corner, who has his hand on his hip in the Big Boy photo. The more common version of the team photo shows Scott with his hand down at his side. Right below Scott is equipment manager Bob Sullivan, who is wearing a scowl in the Big Boy photo versus a smile in the common photo.

I won't speculate on the value here, but it's safe to say that Kruk Cards is virtually giving these away right now. I've seen Kruk buy large collections in the past, then turn around and unload unique items at very reasonable prices. I'm not sure how many '74 Big Boy Brewers photos were purchased by Kruk, but they seem to have more than a few in stock. Not knowing what they may or may not be worth in the future, I'll say as a collector to just grab 'em while you can at a reasonable price!

Click here to find 1974 Brewers Photos on eBay

Sunday, October 4, 2015

1981/82 Georgetown Hoyas Basketball Police Set

The Georgetown Hoyas basketball team was the subject of yearly police card sets that were first issued during the 1981/82 season, and continued through the late 1990s (up to the 1996/97 season, I believe). Quick backstory: The modern police card era began with the NBA's 1977/78 Portland Trailblazers set, while with college basketball the first modern examples were released in 1980/81 for both the Arizona Wildcats and Wichita State Shockers; Georgetown followed with their first set a year later.

The 1981/82 Hoyas police set consists of 20 cards, and consists of fourteen players, four coaches, a team photo, and a mascot card. Card fronts feature black and white portraits, flanked by a dark, large blue border with white edges. Each player's name, uniform number, position, height, college year and home town are listed across the bottom fronts. Each card back features a basketball term and safety tip, as well as a Safeway sponsor logo across the bottom. Sets were printed on very thin white cardboard stock, which makes them very condition sensitive to corner wear and "toning" on the backs.

Whether by design or luck, Georgetown's first police set has the distinction of featuring a card of freshman center Patrick Ewing, who would of course go on to make eleven All-Star appearances in the NBA, be a two-time inductee into the Basketball Hall of Fame, and be voted to the NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team (Ewing is also featured in the next three Georgetown police sets). Senior Eric "Sleepy" Floyd, who is also represented, went on to play thirteen productive seasons in the NBA. Another card of note is that of legendary head coach and Hall of Famer John Thompson, who guided the team quite successfully from 1972 through 1999.

These 80/81 cards seem to be pretty scarce. I have been on the police card prowl for many years, and rarely do I see these sets hit the market; even on eBay at the time of this writing, only one incomplete set and two graded Ewing singles are to be found on the entire site. I'm not sure if the production numbers were ever released for any of the Georgetown cards, but later Hoyas issues are certainly much easier to find than this inaugural set. 

The next year's 1982/83 set is very similar in appearance, but lacks "GEORGETOWN BASKETBALL" across the top fronts of the cards. On the lower backs of the 1982/83 cards, the "GAMES PRODUCTION, Inc." name is found in the place of Safeway.

At one time, during the glory years of Patrick Ewing as well as the glory years of speculative card collecting, this 1981/82 set was known to sell in the $100 to $120 range. Today's value is more likely in the neighborhood of $75 to $100.

Random Fact: According to the back of the mascot card, collecting a complete set of these cards would have won two free tickets to a Georgetown basketball game. 

1. Jack the Bulldog
2. Elvado Smith, G, Freshman
3. Eric Smith, F, Senior
4. Pat Ewing, C, Freshman
5. Anthony Jones, F, Freshman
6. Bill Martin, F, Freshman
7. Bill Stein, Asst. Coach
8. Norman Washington, Grad. Asst. Coach
9. Ed Spriggs, C, Senior
10. Eric Floyd, G, Senior
11. Gene Smith, G, Sophomore
12. Fred Brown, G, Sophomore
13. Mike Hancock, F, Senior
14. Kurt Kaull, G, Junior
15. Ed Meyers, Asst. Coach
16. Ron Blaylock, G, Senior
17. David Blue, F, Junior
18. John Thompson, Head Coach
19. Ralph Dalton, C, Freshman
20. Team Photo

Sunday, September 27, 2015

2011 DAV Cedar Rapids Kernels Set

Let's be clear about one thing... This set is ruled by a king boss, and his name is Mike Trout.

The DAV (Disabled American Veterans) organization began sponsoring stadium giveaway sets some time in the early 2000s. While the DAV cards given away at Major League parks typically feature current Major League players, the sets given away at Minor League parks usually feature current MiLB players in their Minors unis. In the case of the 2011 Cedar Rapids set, we are presented with a "hybrid" issue, as this set of fifteen cards showcases Kernels alumni who went on to play at the Major League level. Each player is pictured as a Kernel during their time with the A-level club.

The Kernels have been an Angels affiliate since 1993, the year after the Reds organization left town. Over the past 20 or so years an impressive number of future Major League All-Stars have worn the Kernels uniform, as this set attests. Mike Trout is doubtlessly the greatest Kernel player to date, and might even be the reason that an alumni-style set was chosen (he played for the club briefly in 2009, and in 81 games in 2010). On a side note, Trout was also featured in the 2010 DAV Kernels set as an active player. 

Card fronts are colorful and unique, which has been a trademark look for most DAV sets over the years. All card backs in the set are similar, with no specific details relating to the players pictured on the fronts. Each is numbered between 80 and 94, as the cards are sequentially numbered with the other Minor League sets released by the DAV that season.

The Minor League DAV sets always have modest print runs. This 2011 Kernels set was given out on Monday, May 30 (Memorial Day) at Veterans Memorial Stadium. Only 1,000 sets were printed, making this a fairly scarce prize for collectors of Trout, Kendrick, Aybar and company. Sets were originally packaged in sealed, clear plastic cello bags.

The quality controls on this release were pretty high, as the cards tend to be clean and well-centered. One pesky problem is the colored borders, which make gem mint copies of these cards virtually impossible to find even straight out of the factory cello bags (thanks to even the slightest of wear on the corners and edges). A fresh, undisturbed set is probably worth in the neighborhood of $50 or so.
80. Mike Trout, OF
81. Casey Kotchman, INF
82. Ervin Santana, P
83. Howie Kendrick, INF
84. Erick Aybar, INF
85. Bengie Molina, C
86. Jeff Mathis, C
87. Mike Napoli, C
88. Alberto Callaspo, INF
89. Alexi Casilla, INF
90. John Lackey, P
91. Jordan Walden, P
92. Bobby Jenks, P
93. Hank Conger, C
94. Mark Trumbo, INF

Friday, September 25, 2015

1985 Sports Design Products Doug West Set (Series II)

Click here to see the blog post detailing the 1984 Doug West Set (Series I).

For the second and final time, another set of 24 retired baseball stars was printed by a company called Sports Design Products. Released in 1985, this set shared virtually the same design as it's predecessor, which was released the year before. As far as I can tell, the only real difference in design between the two sets is that this second series was printed with red and blue backs, as opposed to red or blue backs. 

Sets were released in clear plastic boxes that were similar to the year before, complete with the SDP logo on the front. Cards in the newer set are numbered 25 through 48. Artist Doug West once again painted 24 original illustrations for this set. Being just 24 years old at the time this set was released, West remains an active sports artist today.

According to Sports Design Products, 5,000 Series II sets were released, with an additional 250 uncut sheets also being printed. As an active follower of the various uncut oddball sheets that surface on the market, I can't remember the last time I saw an uncut sheet from either of these two series available. Though the production runs for both sets are 5,000 each, it seems like the Series II set is slightly harder to find today. This doesn't translate to more dollars, however, and both sets maintain a current value in the $10 to $15 range. If an uncut sheet were to surface, I'd estimate it's value in the $20 to $30 range.

Random Fact: Five subjects in the set are pictured playing for two different teams (as noted below).

Click here to hunt for Doug West sets on eBay

25. Lou Gehrig, Yankees
26. Hoyt Wilhelm, Angels/White Sox
 27. Enos Slaughter, Yankees
28. Lou Brock, Cardinals
29. Mickey Cochrane, Tigers
30. Gil Hodges, Dodgers/Mets
 31. Yogi Berra, Yankees
32. Carl Hubbell, Giants
33. Hank Greenberg, Tigers
34. Pee Wee Reese, Dodgers
35. Casey Stengel, Bees/Yankees
36. Ralph Kiner, Pirates/Indians
 37. Satchel Paige, Indians
38. Richie Ashburn, Phillies
 39. Connie Mack, Athletics
 40. Dick Groat, Pirates
41. Tony Oliva, Twins
42. Honus Wagner, Pirates
43. Denny Mclain, Tigers
44. Johnny Mize, Giants/Cardinals
45. Bob Lemon, Indians
46. Ferguson Jenkins, Cubs
47. Babe Ruth, Yankees
48. Ted Kluszewski, Reds

Thursday, September 24, 2015

1984 Sports Design Products Doug West Set

Artist Doug West painted 24 beautiful illustrations for this nifty set of retired baseball greats. Released in 1984 by Sports Design Products, the set came in a clear plastic box that featured the SDP logo on the front. According to the company, 5,000 sets were released and another 250 uncut sheets were issued. A second series of another 24 cards would be released the following year, featuring a similar design on both the fronts and backs.

Cards measure the standard 2 1/2" by 3 1/2" size, and are printed on white cardstock. The player's illustrations fill the majority of card fronts, with names and positions in a blue or red box across the bottom. The SDP logo appears at the lower right. Card backs feature short player biographies and career statistic totals, printed in either blue or red.

Only the best of the best are found in this set, with Yankees catcher Thurman Munson being the lone player not enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The artwork is excellent, but seems to be unceremoniously hindered by the ever-present borders found on cards of the day (Mother's Cookies were just releasing their first borderless baseball cards right about this time). I kinda like the 1960s minimalist industrial feel of the cards, but they look like something the Department of Defense could have released during the Vietnam War. These same illustrations, released today on borderless, canvas cards would truly be breathtaking.

Doug West was only 23 years old when this set was released, and is still going strong in the world of sports art. You can learn all about Doug and his art right on his website

I like these cards and I like Doug West. Having an original release price around $8, a fresh set in the original box is worth around $10 to $15. I can't remember the last time I found one of the 250 uncut sheets for sale, but I imagine it would sell in the $20 to $30 range to the right buyer. Collectors have always given a cool reception to sets featuring retired players, and this set is no exception. With the release being over thirty years old now, these cards should be of interest to baseball fans who are seeking to collect limited editions that were produced before the "junk wax" era of the late 1980s and early 1990s. 

Random Fact: Joe DiMaggio is the only card in the set with a horizontal layout.

Click here to hunt for Doug West sets on eBay
1. Jackie Robinson, Dodgers
2. Luis Aparicio, Orioles
3. Roberto Clemente, Pirates
4. Mickey Mantle, Yankees
5. Joe DiMaggio, Yankees
6. Willie Stargell, Pirates
7. Brooks Robinson, Orioles
8. Ty Cobb, Tigers
9. Don Drysdale, Dodgers
10. Bob Feller, Indians
11. Stan Musial, Cardinals
12. Al Kaline, Tigers
13. Willie Mays, Giants
14. Willie McCovey, Giants
15. Thurman Munson, Yankees
16. Charlie Gehringer, Tigers
17. Eddie Mathews, Braves
18. Carl Yastrzemski, Red Sox
19. Warren Spahn, Braves
20. Ted Williams, Red Sox
21. Ernie Banks, Cubs
22. Roy Campanella, Dodgers
23. Harmon Killebrew, Twins
24. Duke Snider, Dodgers

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

1981 Pittsburgh Steelers Police Set

When your favorite team played the Steelers in the mid-1970s and early 1980s, the end result probably wasn't a favorable one for the ___________ (insert the name of any team that isn't the Steelers).

Widely considered the greatest dynasty in NFL history, the Steelers of this era showed up on Sundays with the intention of beating all comers. Badly. Just imagine being the defensive coordinator that was tasked with controlling the Steelers offense... Where do you begin? You need to cover a Hall of Fame center (Webster), who's hiking the ball to a Hall of Fame quarterback (Bradshaw), who's handing the ball off to a Hall of Fame running back (Harris), or perhaps throwing the ball to one of his two Hall of Fame wide receivers (Swann and Stallworth).


Offensive coordinators didn't fare much better against the Steelers defense. Running the ball wasn't easy against a Hall of Fame defensive Tackle (Greene) and a soon-to-be Hall of Fame defensive end (Greenwood).  Two Hall of Fame linebackers (Lambert and Ham) provided an unmatched second line of defense. A Hall of Fame cornerback (Blount) and possible Hall of Fame safety (Shell) were willing and able to handle the best opposing wide receivers.

The 1981 set is the first of a long line of yearly Steelers police sets that changed very little for over a decade... And this first set appeared none too soon, as the Steelers dynasty was coming to a close. Consisting of 16 player cards, every player mentioned above is featured in this remarkable issue. Card fronts feature a Steelers helmet and "stenciled" team name across the top. with a large action photo adorning the middle. Below each photo is the player's name, position, height and weight. Backs have a Coca-Cola and Kiwanis logo at the top, with a "Steeler's Tip" occupying the middle. The set sponsors are listed at the bottom (the local Kiwanis Club, Coca-Cola, the local Police Department and the Pittsburgh Steelers). Cards are not numbered except for uniform numbers on the fronts.

Because of the high-profile status of these players, most were well-represented in the yearly Topps football sets. One exception is legendary wide receiver Lynn Swann, who decided not to sign with Topps after the 1977 season (he is found in Topps sets from 1975-1977). He makes a welcome appearance in the Steeler's first police set four years later, and makes his final appearance in the second police set released by the team a year later in 1982.

I would challenge anyone to find a team set containing at least 16 cards where over half of the players are in the Hall of Fame. It's a fool's errand. For this reason alone, you need to own this set (you'll be a huge hit with the ladies at your next party when you whip out this baby.... women love winners!) The cards aren't impossible to find, but these '81s are probably a touch scarcer than the police sets the Steelers would release in the years following. Expect to pay around $15 for a set that's in nice shape.

Random Fact: Larry Brown was converted from tight end to offensive tackle before the 1977 season began, but is mistakenly listed as a tight end in this set.

Click here to find Steelers Police Sets on eBay

(9) Matt Bahr, K
(12) Terry Bradshaw, QB
(31) Donnie Shell, DB
(32) Franco Harris, RB
(47) Mel Blount, CB
(52) Mike Webster, C
(57) Sam Davis, G
(58) Jack Lambert, LB
(59) Jack Ham, LB
(64) Steve Furness, DT
(68) L.C. Greenwood, DE
(75) Joe Greene, DT
(76) John Banaszak, DE
(79) Larry Brown, TE
(82) John Stallworth, WR
(88) Lynn Swann, WR

Sunday, September 20, 2015

2001 Grandstand Southern League Top Prospects Set

Prospect sets are fun. Lots of fun.

Dozens upon dozens of Minor League Baseball prospects sets have been created over the years, and they always provide years of entertainment, as the players pictured thread their way at varying speeds though the uncertain maze towards the Majors.

The 2001 Southern League Top Prospects set, produced by Grandstand, is one typical example. Consisting of thirty player cards and a header, borderless photos and a glossy surface help to give card fronts a slick new-millennium appeal. Backs are printed in black and give player statistics for the 2000 season, as well as Minor League totals. Surprisingly, the cards are not numbered except for player uniform numbers.

Being an AA league, a large percentage of these prospects saw time in the Majors. As always, some of the players "missed it by that much," while others went on to enjoy All-Star seasons (Josh Hamilton, Adam Dunn, Carl Crawford and Felipe Lopez each received the latter recognition). 

The volatile up and down price fluctuations of Minor League cards are very similar to those of the rookie cards released in mainstream major League sets. Fickle collectors and speculators are constantly shifting their focus to the "hot" on-field performers of the moment. In the case of older prospect sets such as this, history has already run it's course and the prices always stabilize -- usually at a very reasonable price if no superstars or Hall of Fame-caliber players are found within. 

We'd estimate the current market value of this set in the $10 to $15 range, and think it's a great addition to any baseball fan's collection.

Click here to find 2001 Southern League Cards

(1) Cory Aldridge, Greenville Braves
(2) Luke Allen, Jacksonville Suns
(3) Josh Bard, Carolina Mudcats
(4) Joe Borchard, Birmingham Barons
(5) Mike Bynum, Mobile BayBears
(6) Pasqual Coco, Tennessee Smokies
(7) Carl Crawford, Orlando Rays
(8) Bubba Crosby, Jacksonville Suns
(9) Juan Cruz, West Tenn Diamond Jaxx
(10) Adam Dunn, Chattanooga Lookouts
(11) Cam Esslinger, Carolina Mudcats
(12) Kris Foster, Jacksonville Suns
(13) Jose Garcia, Huntsville Stars
(14) Josh Hamilton, Orlando Rays
(15) Bobby Hill, West Tenn Diamond Jaxx
(16) Tim Hummel, Birmingham Barons
(17) Josh Kalinowski, Carolina Mudcats
(18) Austin Kearns, Chattanooga Lookouts
(19) David Kelton, West Tenn Diamond Jaxx
(20) Joe Kennedy, Orlando Rays
(21) Felipe Lopez, Tennessee Smokies
(22) Aaron McNeal, Mobile BayBears
(23) Jason Middlebrook, Mobile BayBears
(24) Brian Moon, Huntsville Stars
(25) Nick Neugebauer, Huntsville Stars
(26) Josh Phelps, Tennessee Smokies
(27) Brian Reith, Chattanooga Lookouts
(28) Billy Sylvester, Greenville Braves
(29) Dan Wright, Birmingham Barons
(30) A.J. Zapp, Greenville Braves
(31) Header Card/Checklist

1994 Smokey Bear 1993 Jeff King Iditarod Champion Card

Here at the Oddball Card Collector blog, our favorite type of oddball set is the "safety" genre. This type of set includes police cards, fire safety cards, and Smokey the Bear cards (we're not sure if cards issued by hospitals and insurance companies fit the safety card bill, but we collect the hell out of those, too). 

Smokey the Bear sets are always pretty cool. Often larger than the standard card size of 3 1/2" by 2 1/2", these issues deliver unique, classy designs on the card fronts, while the backs usually have a Smokey cartoon drawing of some kind. The better-known Smokey card releases tend to feature sports personalities from the various major and minor leagues that play in North America. Countless other Smokey cards have been issued over the years featuring non-sports personalities.

I stumbled upon this card a couple of years ago on eBay and quickly added it to the collection. While technically a sports-themed card, this is apparently more obscure than your typical card featuring Smokey the Bear and Tony Gwynn. Printed in 1994, this card commemorates 1993 Iditarod Champion and race record holder Jeff King. Quite the legend in the mushing world, King has won the Iditarod four times (1993, 1996, 1998, 2006), as well as the Yukon Quest in 1989. 

Roughly the size of a postcard at 5 3/4" by 3 3/4", the front design features a large, color photo of King posing with Smokey and five cute dogs. A gold-colored border surrounds the card, with the special Smokey the Bear 50th Anniversary logo found at the bottom. The back features a short bio for King, as well as a Smokey cartoon drawn in the classic fire-safety style.

The card is not numbered, and as far as we can tell is not part of a larger set. The sponsors listed on the back are the USDA Forest Service, National Association of State Foresters, McKinley Volunteer Fire Department and Iditarod Trail Committee. The McKinley F.D. clue helps to narrow down the area where the card was originally distributed.

It's difficult to guess a value on this card, thanks to it's scarce and obscure nature. I could see the right Smokey or Iditarod collector paying ten to twenty dollars for a nice example.

Click here to find Smokey Bear Sets on eBay

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

1983 Donruss Action All-Stars Set

Donruss released a yearly oddball baseball "All-Star" set from 1983 through 1989. These cards were separate from Donruss' regular yearly baseball sets and were issued in their own packs. The inaugural issue, featured here, consists of 60 oversized cards that measure 3 1/2" by 5". Fifty-nine players and a checklist card comprise this gem of a set, which has a horizontal, two-photo format on the fronts. Backs are printed in black and red, and feature player statistics and biographies. The cards are numbered.

The focus of the set happens to fall upon a host of seasoned veterans, though a young Cal Ripken makes an appearance one year after the release of his rookie card (Donruss didn't choose the most flattering action photo for young Cal... He's pictured hitting the ball about as far as my daughter did when she was five). Johnny Bench and Carl Yastrzemski are represented in their final All-Star Game, with Yaz first suiting up for the Red Sox back in 1961. A good twenty Hall of Fame players have cards in the set, with Pete Rose, Dale Murphy, Dave Concepcion and Keith Hernandez following right behind. 

There has been very little collector interest in the set since the day these cards first hit the shelves over 30 years ago; larger-sized cards like these are typically shunned by the average hobbyist. Donruss later went on to produce their 1988 and 1989 All-Star sets in the standard 2 1/2" by 3 1/2" size, but a lack of hot rookies and prospects all but insured the cold reception that those cards also received.

The '83 Donruss Action All-Stars set isn't hard to find today, and an unopened box of packs should only cost around ten bucks or so. A complete set is valued in the $3 to $5 range.

Random Fact: Detroit Tigers left fielder Larry Herndon appears in the set on card number five... And we have no idea why. Herndon enjoyed a solid fourteen-year Major League career with the Cardinals, Giants and Tigers, but was never an All-Star according to Baseball-Reference.com and Baseball-Almanac.com.

Click here to find cheap Donruss All Star Boxes on eBay

1. Eddie Murray, Orioles
2. Dwight Evans, Red Sox
3. Reggie Jackson, Angels
4. Greg Luzinski, White Sox
5. Larry Herndon, Tigers
6. Al Oliver, Expos
7. Bill Buckner, Cubs
8. Jason Thompson, Pirates
9. Andre Dawson, Expos
10. Greg Minton, Giants
11. Terry Kennedy, Padres
12. Phil Niekro, Braves
13. Willie Wilson, Royals
14. Johnny Bench, Reds
15. Ron Guidry, Yankees
16. Hal McRae, Royals
17. Damaso Garcia, Blue Jays
18. Gary Ward, Twins
19. Cecil Cooper, Brewers
20. Keith Hernandez, Cardinals
21. Ron Cey, Dodgers
22. Rickey Henderson, A's
23. Nolan Ryan, Astros
24. Steve Carlton, Phillies
25. John Stearns, Mets
26. Jim Sundberg, Rangers
27. Joaquin Andujar, Cardinals
28. Gaylord Perry, Mariners
29. Jack Clark, Giants
30. Bill Madlock, Pirates
31. Pete Rose, Phillies
32. Mookie Wilson, Mets
33. Rollie Fingers, Brewers
34. Lonnie Smith, Cardinals
35. Tony Pena, Pirates
36. Dave Winfield, Yankees
37. Tim Lollar, Padres
38. Rod Carew, Angels
39. Toby Harrah, Indians
40. Buddy Bell, Rangers
41. Bruce Sutter, Cardinals
42. George Brett, Royals
43. Carlton Fisk, White Sox
44. Carl Yastrzemski, Red Sox
45. Dale Murphy, Braves
46. Bob Horner, Braves
47. Dave Concepcion, Reds
48. Dave Stieb, Blue Jays
49. Kent Hrbek, Twins
50. Lance Parrish, Tigers
51. Joe Niekro, Astros
52. Cal Ripken Jr.
53. Fernando Valenzuela, Dodgers
54. Richie Zisk, Mariners
55. Leon Durham, Cubs
56. Robin Yount, Brewers
57. Mike Schmidt, Phillies
58. Gary Carter, Mets
59. Fred Lynn, Angels
60. Checklist

Monday, September 14, 2015

1980 Atlanta Falcons Police Set

Click here to find Falcons Police Cards on eBay

The Atlanta Falcons were a pretty good team in the late 1970s and early 1980s... In fact, the 1980 squad won the NFC West with a twelve and four record, easily making it the best season to date for a Falcons franchise that began play in 1966. Atlanta hosted the hated Cowboys in the divisional playoffs on January 4, 1981, where they wound up losing a heartbreaking come from behind thriller to Dallas, 27 to 30.

The timing was perfect for the release of the 1980 Falcons police set, which was sponsored by The Atlanta Police Athletic League, Northside Atlanta Jaycees and Coca-Cola. The set features 30 player cards, and showcases several Falcons who had been ignored by the too-small, yearly Topps football sets. Defensive backs Tom Pridemore and Kenny Johnson wouldn't get Topps cards until the 1982 season, while their backfield compadre, Rick Byas, would never get a Topps card at all (he joined the Falcons back in 1974). Longtime starting linebacker Buddy Curry would have just one Topps card issued, in 1983, even though he played for the Falcons from 1980 through 1987. Legendary offensive tackle Mike Kenn would get lots of Topps cardboard representation from 1981 through his retirement after the 1994 season, but this '80 police issue managed to sneak Kenn in a year earlier than his Topps rookie card.

Each card front contains a large color photo portrait of a player, along with the player's name, uniform number, position, height, weight and college. A one-bar Falcons helmet is found at the top left of each card front. Backs feature  "Tips from The Falcons," as well as three red logos for the sponsors (Atlanta PAL, Northside Atlanta Jaycees and Coke). The cards are not numbered except for the player's uniform numbers.

The Falcons issued a second 30-card police set in 1981, but player studio portraits were replaced with game-day field shots. It should also be noted that the 1980 Falcons police set is considerably scarcer than the '81.

A near mint set is valued in the $25 to $35 range today. 

Random Thought: Three of the four players with retired Falcons uniform numbers can be found in the set (quarterback Steve Bartkowski, running back William Andrews and center Jeff Van Note). The fourth player, linebacker Tommy Nobis, retired after the 1976 season. Offensive tackle Mike Kenn's number 78, though not officially retired, has not been worn by a Falcons player since Kenn retired over 20 years ago.

Click here to find Falcons Police Cards on eBay

(4) Tim Mazzetti, K
(6) John James, P
(10) Steve Bartkowski, QB
(16) Reggie Smith, WR
(21) Lynn Cain, RB
(22) Rolland Lawrence, CB
(27) Tom Pridemore, S
(28) Frank Reed, CB
(31) William Andrews, RB
(37) Kenny Johnson, S
(38) Rick Byas, DB
(44) Bubba Bean, RB
(50) Buddy Curry, LB
(52) Dewey McClain, LB
(54) Fulton Kuykendall, LB
(56) Al Richardson, LB
(57) Jeff Van Note, C
(58) Joel Williams, LB
(65) Don Smith, DE
(66) Warren Bryant, T
(68) R.C. Thielemann, G
(70) Dave Scott, G
(75) Jeff Merrow, DE
(77) Edgar Fields, DT
(78) Mike Kenn, T
(79) Jeff Yeates, DT
(80) Junior Miller, TE
(84) Alfred Jenkins, WR
(85) Alfred Jackson, WR
(89) Wallace Francis, WR