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 and

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

Sunday, September 13, 2015

1986 Fleer Baseball's Best Boxed Set

There's a good chance you wound up here on this blog because you found some baseball cards... In the group was a small box titled "Fleer 1986 Limited Edition Major League Baseball's Best," followed by "22 of the Best Sluggers and Pitchers." If that's the case, I've got some good news, and I've got some bad news.

But before I report the news, here's a brief history of these types of small baseball boxed sets that were sold in retail stores. In 1982, Topps and K-Mart partnered to release a 44-card boxed set in honor of K-Mart's 25th Anniversary. Initially snapped up by speculators at the time, Topps ran the presses overtime and eventually printed more sets than could ever be sold; because of overproduction, the K-Mart set can usually be found at the cost of a dollar or less today. It was about four years later, in 1985, when three more boxed sets showed up on retailer shelves... A 44-card "All-Time Home Run Kings" set was produced by Topps for Circle K, a 44-card "All-Time Record Holders" set was issued by Topps for Woolworth's, and a 44-card "Limited Edition Baseball Superstars" set was created by Fleer for several different retail chains. Dozens of similar boxed sets would be released from 1986 until 1990, with the final hurrah being the 1991 Topps/Toys R Us Baseball Rookies set. Collectors had shifted their focus to the premium card market by this point, and the era of small, co-branded, retail boxed sets had come to a perfunctory end. 

Here's the good news for owners of the 1986 Fleer Baseball's Best set... It's really a cool little issue that features most of the big stars of the day. Boggs, Brett, Clemens, Reggie, Ripken Jr., Rose and Seaver are just a few of the big names you'll find inside that colorful box. Another neat point that has been lost over time is how the set features four young prospects who are pictured before or during their rookie card year. Oakland slugger Jose Canseco is represented here during his rookie card year, while San Francisco first baseman Will Clark, California first baseman Wally Joyner and Texas pitcher Bobby Witt are all included a full year before their true rookie cards were printed. Though none of these four players will end up in the Hall of Fame anytime soon, each of them enjoyed solid success in the Majors for many years afterwards.

So, what is the value of a set like this? Well, that's kinda where the bad news comes in. Like the K-Mart set mentioned above, the presses rolled long and often on these cards. The demand for these kinds of boxed sets have never bounced back, and probably never will. These days you can grab a set off of eBay for two to four dollars, and a searcher can often find an example bundled in a lot with several other similar types of sets at bargain basement prices. 

And so goes the world of oddball card collecting. Collectors will always be interested in sets of all shapes and sizes, but the value always ultimately boils down to supply and demand. In the case of most sets printed during the 1980s, including all of these neat little boxed sets, today's supply exceeds today's demand by an awful lot.

Click here to find Fleer Baseball's Best Sets

1. Bert Blyleven, Minnesota Twins
2. Wade Boggs, Boston Red Sox
3. George Brett, Kansas City Royals
4. Tom Browning, Cincinnati Reds
5. Jose Canseco, Oakland A's
6. Will Clark, San Francisco Giants
7. Roger Clemens, Boston Red Sox
8. Alvin Davis, Seattle Mariners
9. Julio Franco, Cleveland Indians
10. Kirk Gibson, Detroit Tigers
11. Dwight Gooden, New York Mets
12. Goose Gossage, San Diego Padres
13. Pedro Guerrero, Los Angeles Dodgers
14. Ron Guidry, New York Yankees
15. Tony Gwynn, San Diego Padres
16. Orel Hershiser, Los Angeles Dodgers
17. Kent Hrbek, Minnesota Twins
18. Reggie Jackson, California Angels
19. Wally Joyner, California Angels
20. Charlie Leibrandt, Kansas City Royals
21. Don Mattingly, New York Yankees
22. Willie McGee, St. Louis Cardinals
23. Jack Morris, Detroit Tigers
24. Dale Murphy, Atlanta Braves
25. Eddie Murray, Baltimore Orioles
26. Jeff Reardon, Montreal Expos
27. Rick Reuschel, Pittsburgh Pirates
28. Cal Ripken Jr., Baltimore Orioles
29. Pete Rose, Cincinnati Reds
30. Nolan Ryan, Houston Astros
31. Bret Saberhagen, Kansas City Royals
32. Ryne Sandberg, Chicago Cubs
33. Mike Schmidt, Philadelphia Phillies
34. Tom Seaver, Chicago White Sox
35. Bryn Smith, Montreal Expos
36. Mario Soto, Cincinnati Reds
37. Dave Steib, Toronto Blue Jays
38. Darryl Strawberry, New York Mets
39. Rick Sutcliffe, Chicago Cubs
40. John Tudor, St. Louis Cardinals
41. Fernando Valenzuela, Los Angeles Dodgers
42. Bobby Witt, Texas Rangers
43. Mike Witt, California Angels
44. Robin Yount, Milwaukee Brewers

Saturday, September 12, 2015

1981 Chicago Bears Police Set

The Chicago Bears were woefully underrepresented in the 1980s oddball set world. During the decade, the team would be the subject of a mere two police sets -- a remarkable, action-packed set released in 1981, and a set in 1986 that featured both Bears and Patriots players, in honor of their meeting in Super Bowl XX. This post will focus on the 1981 release.

Modern-day football police sets were first released during the 1979 NFL season, with the Cowboys, Chiefs and Seahawks issuing small sets in their respective home areas. A few more teams followed suit in 1980, with Chicago hopping on board the safety card bus in 1981. Considered a mid-sized police set at 24 cards, fronts feature game-day action shots taken by team photographer Bill Smith, who continues to retain his legendary Bears pic-takin' position to this very day. The cards are not numbered except for player uniform numbers on the fronts, found at the bottom with player names, a small Bears helmet, and Kiwanis Club logo.

The Bears weren't a great team in 1981, finishing at the bottom of the NFC Central Division with a 6 and 10 record. Regardless of their pesky win-loss totals, the club (and this set) featured many names that are still beloved by Bears fans. While it's tempting to do a write-up for each and every player, here are five notable guys who make this police issue a must-have for any football collector:

Quarterback Vince Evans - Pictured the same year as his Topps rookie card, Evans was originally drafted by the Bears in the sixth round of the 1977 NFL Draft. An exciting player to watch, Evans managed to play NFL football through the end of the 1995 season (with two years away to play USFL ball in 1984 and 1985). 

Running Back Walter Payton - Precious few oddball cards were created for Payton during his playing career, and this ranks as one of the nicer ones. A struggling offensive line hampered Payton's performance in 1981, and though he gained an impressive 1,222 yards rushing that season, he averaged only 3.6 yards per carry.

Strong Safety Gary Fencik - Decorated defensive back Fencik was a mainstay with Chicago from 1976 through 1987, and was the team's starting free safety throughout the 1985 playoffs and Super Bowl XX. A huge fan-favorite and Chicago native.

Defensive Tackle Alan Page - One of the greatest defensive linemen ever to play professionally, Page played his first eleven and a half pro seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. He finished his career with the Bears, where he played another three and a half years. I believe this '81 Bears police card is the final issue printed during his active playing career.

Defensive End Dan Hampton - Chicago's first-round pick in the 1979 NFL Draft, Hampton is represented during his Topps rookie card year. A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, "Danimal" was a fixture on the Bears defensive line from 1979 through 1990.

These sets aren't everywhere, but I wouldn't consider them scarce either. A nicely centered, NRMT set is worth in the neighborhood of $20 to $25. Anyone who collects oddball football sets should have this one in their sights.

Click here to find Bears Police Cards on eBay
(8) Vince Evans, QB
(34) Walter Payton, RB
(35) Roland Harper, RB
(44) Terry Schmidt, CB
(45) Gary Fencik, SS
(46) Doug Plank, FS
(48) Allan Ellis, CB
(52) Dan Neal, C
(54) Tom Hicks, LB
(58) Jerry Muckensturm, LB
(59) Gary Campbell, LB
(64) Ted Albrecht, T
(65) Noah Jackson, G
(68) Jim Osborne, DT
(69) Revie Sorey, G
(70) Dennis Lick, T
(73) Mike Hartenstine, DE
(80) Rickey Watts, WR
(81) Robin Earl, TE (Pictured wearing #39)
(82) Alan Page, DT
(84) Brian Baschnagel, WR
(89) James Scott, WR
(99) Dan Hampton, DE
Head Coach Neill Armstrong

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Discussing the eTopps Convention Promo Cards

Click here for a brief overview of the eTopps program.

This past week I added a couple of cool eTopps cards to my collection. As shown in the scans, the two cards appear to be "normal" eTopps cards with two exceptions. First, the cards are housed in sealed PSA-style holders, as opposed to the traditional, smaller eTopps holders. Secondly, both cards feature an embossed gold-foil logo on the fronts, informing us that these cards are "1/1 ANAHEIM." Thanks to the information strips found inside the holders, we know that these cards passed through E-Convention 4, which was held in Anaheim, California on July 29, 2006. 

These promos are apparently regular eTopps cards with the special embossing added, and a quick internet search will reveal dozens and dozens of different eTopps cards, featuring all sports, that have been struck with these kinds of foil convention logos. The Rich Gannon card is from the 2001 eTopps football set, while the Boller is from the 2003 issue. eTopps cards were not individually serial numbered those first few years of production, so I don't know for sure whether these promos do indeed count towards the published total of cards (I am guessing that they do). Speaking of totals, only 327 of the '01 Gannons were released, making this promo a nice find. The'03 Boller is from the peak year of eTopps production numbers, and a hefty 3,189 of these cards were produced. 

I would be curious to know more about these kinds of eTopps promos. I have seen several others from this same 2006 convention numbered to five, as well as several other one-of-ones. Does a checklist even exist, documenting all the different eTopps cards that were grabbed from the warehouse and stamped in this fashion? Let me say that I am aware of eTopps promotional cards that were specifically printed for these conventions. I'm mainly curious about the embossed cards that were printed well before these conventions were ever held. In this case, the 2001 Gannon and 2003 Boller were obviously printed well before the Anaheim convention in 2006.

I'm not sure if collecting these elusive gems is a route I should take, but I'd certainly be willing to add others if the price is right.

Click here to find eTopps cards on eBay