Upper Deck Shows Off Gritty’s Rookie Card

The Philadelphia Flyers mascot Gritty has been making his rounds lately.  From The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon to appearing with the Phillie Phanatic at Citizens Bank Park, he has been all over the place.  He’s already a pop culture legend that will bring endless amounts of entertainment to fans for years to come.  Gritty is awesome!!!

Last night Upper Deck surprised collectors with a preview of 2018-19 Upper Deck NHL Series One.  The preview contained an image of Gritty’s Young Guns rookie card.  On the back is Gritty’s complete origin.  Apparently he has been living under the Wells Fargo Center for years, and sneaking hot dogs.  Recent construction disturbed his hideout.

If you’re hoping to pull a Gritty rookie from a pack of 2018-19 Upper Deck NHL Series One, that doesn’t look like its going to happen.  This particular card will be given away as a promo.  How it will be given away is still a mystery.  Please follow the Upper Deck Blog and Upper Deck on Twitter for those upcoming details.  2018-19 Upper Deck NHL Series One will be released in November.

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Blockbuster, Baseball, & Holograms

A video rental store and hologram baseball cards.  Wow!  Talk about two things that can easily describe the 90’s.  Kids born today won’t have any knowledge of what its like to walk into a store and rent a VHS tape.  Those days are long gone thanks to Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and every other streaming service.  Disney is the next big player to enter this field.

I have a lot of fond memories of renting videos.  Before the internet became big, you could wander around a video store and discover movies that you had no idea existed.  A couple that come to my mind is the 1966 Batman film based on the show featuring Adam West.  I knew of the show, but never heard about the movie.  The other is that god awful Captain America movie from 1990.  I also remember renting the 2-hour pilot episode of the 1990 The Flash T.V. show.

When it comes to video rental stores, Blockbuster was the big one.  There were smaller mom-and-pop stores, and other chains like West Coast Video.  But Blockbuster was a monster.  Before going defunct in 2013, at one time there were just over 9,000 locations worldwide.  Over half of them were in the U.S.  The corporate stores shutdown when the company went under, but some of the franchise-owned stores remained open.  As of today, there is only one of these stores left in America.  Its located in Bend, Oregon.

In 1994, Blockbuster (along with World Holographics) created three promotional cards for Yankee Stadium, Tiger Stadium, and Comiskey Park.  I came across these cards one day, but could find very little information about them.  World Holographics printed the cards.  As it turns out, they are still in business.  Now they’re called World3D Lenticular Printing.  I sent them an e-mail to see if anyone could shed some light on these cards.  Given that it has been 24 years since they were made, I knew it was a shot in the dark.  I quickly received a response from a Greg Schuman.  Not only does Mr. Schuman work for World3D, he worked on the actual Blockbuster project.  Bullseye!

According to Mr. Schuman, 50,000 copies of each card were printed.  At first they were used as stadium giveaways.  The Yankees, Tigers, and White Sox gave them out to the first 25,000 fans.  The remaining cards found their way to local Blockbuster stores in New York, Detroit, and Chicago.  For about a month, Blockbuster tied those cards in with a video rental for $2.99.  Due to the MLB strike, many were sent back to World Holographics and got destroyed.

Despite many of them ending up in the garbage, all three cards are readily available on the secondary market.  Each can be bought for under $10.  They’re a neat snapshot in time when holograms were all the rage, and a video rental store was a titan.

Unrelated to the Blockbuster promotion, World Holographics also created hologram cards of Dodger Stadium and Roberto Clemente in the 90’s.

FYI – Here is a list of Billboard’s Top 10 video rentals from 1994:

  1. Sleepless In Seattle
  2. Philadelphia
  3. In The Line of Fire
  4. The Pelican Brief
  5. The Fugitive
  6. The Firm
  7. Carlito’s Way
  8. Silver
  9. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
  10. Mrs. Doubtfire

Piece of the Game & Monty Sheldon Prepare Baseball Authenticated Masterpieces

Alright you high-end baseball collectors.  Mark your calendars.  On Black Friday, 11/23/18, a new product will be hitting the market.  Sports artist Monty Sheldon has teamed-up with Piece of the Game to bring you Baseball Authenticated Masterpieces.

Only (15) boxes of this product will be produced.  Housed inside each individually numbered, maple and ash box, will be (10) autographed, game-used, and hand-painted baseballs.  These just aren’t foul balls and wild pitch game-used baseballs either.  They’ve included MLB debut balls, triples, doubles, singles, RBI’s, record breaking hits, playoff hits and defensive play baseballs from current MLB superstars, rookies, and Hall of Famers.  Every baseball comes with a MLB hologram certifying that the ball was in fact game-used by that specific player.  Authentication holograms for the autographs and artwork will also be included.  All baseballs are #’ed 1/1.  An example of a historic baseball would be Ronald Acuña Jr.’s first MLB double ball.  That’s in here.  Painted and already autographed.

The checklist features the best of the best.  Aaron Judge, Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, and Derek Jeter to just name a few.  Even Babe Ruth is in here.  That’s correct.  You did not misread.  One of these (15) boxes will have an authentic, hand-painted, and autographed Babe Ruth ball.

Main set players will each have (3) different portrait and action baseballs.  Rookie Balls and Dual Balls can also be found.  Rookies include Juan Soto, Gleyber Torres, and Shohei Ohtani.  Dual Balls pair guys like Chipper Jones/John Smoltz, Craig Biggio/Jeff Bagwell, and Xander Boegarts/Mookie Betts.  All hand-painted, game-used, and autographed.

If you attended the 2018 National Sports Collectors Convention, you could’ve gotten an early glimpse of these amazing baseballs.  Monty Sheldon has been using baseballs as a medium for his artwork for over two decades.  You’ve probably seen his work in various Topps products.  Last year, (10) of his painted baseballs were used in Topps Transcendent.

Paul Goldschmidt

Preview: 2018 Futera Unique World Football

A lot of collectors would like to see American card companies issue products in the way Futera does.  Here in America, collectors have many products thrown at them all year long.  Futera is the total opposite.  They produce a handful of products throughout the year in small quantities.  Most of these products center around football (soccer).

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.  Futera makes some of the nicest looking high-end cards on the planet.  More collectors from the U.S. should pay attention to them.  Futera’s Colour Grading and Code For Collectors services demonstrate a level of documentation that American collectors can only dream about.  When issuing fewer products, services such as these can be put into place.

In August, Futera plans to release it’s next product, 2018 Unique World Football.

What will you find?

  • (4) packs per box
  • (6) boxes per minicase
  • (3) minicases per case
  • A full case will include (18) boxes and (72) packs

Every pack includes up to (12) base cards, plus either a limited edition memorabilia card, or an on-card signed autograph, or a 24ct gold-plated framed autograph or memorabilia card.  Every third pack also includes a “Heritage” card (one of either a “Heritage Gold” #’ed/23 or “Heritage Silver” #’ed/39).

Each box will include a pack which has either an on-card signed autograph, or a 24ct gold-plated framed autograph or memorabilia card.

A minicase will average (18) rare memorabilia cards, (3) on-card signed autographs, plus (1) “1 of 1” 24ct gold-plated framed autograph, memorabilia or combo auto/memorabilia card, plus (2) 24ct gold-plated framed cards.

For a full rundown of the entire product, checkout the sales sheet.

Once all of the packs are opened, you can use the box to store your cards.

My favorite cards are the ones featuring a 24ct gold-plated frame.  We have metal framed cards here in America, but the ones made by Futera are really ornately designed.  I pulled one from a pack last year.

Topps and Tiger

Tiger Woods has had his share of ups and downs over the last ten years.  Between his lady troubles, DUI arrest, and injuries, it certainly hasn’t been all rainbows and sunshine.  It can be difficult for a normal person to go through all of that, and even worse for someone who is in the spotlight.  Some people would rollover and never be heard from again.  Tiger Woods actually worked through it, and has quite the comeback going right now.  Much better than any of his previous attempts at a comeback.  Not only is he making the cut in tournaments, he’s finishing reasonably high on the leaderboard.  Now ranked 88th in the world, he’s far from the Tiger Woods we use to know.  But still very entertaining to watch.  This recent comeback is stronger than others, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see him win another tournament soon.

Even when Tiger was at his lowest, his cards didn’t take much of a hit.  He accomplished a lot in his golfing career before all the problems arose.  What issues he had were all external from the game, and really didn’t hurt what he already had under his belt.  It wasn’t like they found out he was taking steroids and they were coming for all of his trophies.  Something like that surely would have done him in.

Rookie cards of his continue to sell very well.  Autographs easily go for hundreds even thousands depending on the card.  In a world where plain one-colored relics are a dime a dozen, his hold up considerably strong.  In short, pulling a Tiger Woods rookie, autograph and/or relic is still worth bragging about.

When you think of Tiger Woods cards and memorabilia The Upper Deck Company first comes to mind.  Beginning in 2001, Upper Deck inked an exclusive deal with Tiger.  That deal continues to this day.  They never bailed on him like some other sponsors did.  Honestly, it would have taken a lot for Upper Deck to ditch him.  Upper Deck needs all the income they can get.  I haven’t seen a standalone golf product since 2014 Exquisite Collection.  Since then, golfers have been thrown into other Upper Deck sets like Goodwin Champions.

Before 2001, Tiger Woods cards were really hit or miss.  His 1996 Sports Illustrated for Kids card was and still is quite dominant.  Another would be his 1997-99 Grand Slam Ventures Masters Collection.  One product that I believe is drastically overlooked is the 1997 Topps Genuine Issue Tiger Woods Photos.  That’s correct.  Four years prior to his Upper Deck exclusive, Topps issued this small Tiger Woods-themed set after he won the 1997 Masters.

Its weird to see Tiger Woods pictured on a Topps product.  Topps isn’t known for it’s rich history with many golfers.  Over the years though Allen & Ginter has had it’s share including Arnold Palmer.  This set consists of six 8″ x 10″ photos.  Every pack has the same six pictures.  There are no autographs and/or relics to look for.

Here is the checklist:

  • #1 1996 US Amateur
  • #2 1997 USPGA Championship
  • #3 1996 Greater Milwaukee Open
  • #4 1997 USPGA Championship
  • #5 1997 Masters
  • #6 1997 US Open

Sealed packs range in price from $50-$75.

None of the photos have any type of design to them.  No borders or fancy coloring.  Just photographs.  In a strange way it kinda gives you a glimpse as to what a golf-focused Stadium Club set might have looked like.

SAGE To Give Sportkings A Try

Well… it looks as if SAGE is the latest company to wield the Sportkings name.  Prior to this it was Brian Gray of Leaf, and before that it was Dr. Brian Price who once operated In The Game.

I’m going to be dead honest.  SAGE has been one of those manufacturers that sorta flies under the radar.  The company has been around since the 90’s, but in recent years they’ve only released a few unlicensed college football products.  With Press Pass out of the picture, SAGE has typically been one of the earliest companies to release autographs of the upcoming NFL draft class.  Once Leaf comes out with Metal Draft Football, and Panini starts releasing their millions of products, SAGE cards usually move to the back burner in most collector’s brains.  It wouldn’t be until the following year that we’d hear from them again.

With the release of 2018 SAGE Hit Premier Draft Low Series, collector’s have been finding promo cards for the first Sportkings product under the SAGE name.  Both promos feature Chicago Bears legend Walter Payton.  You’ll find the artistic promo (1) per hobby box, whereas the Walter Payton jersey card falls (1) per hobby case.

According to SAGE, Sportkings sounds like its going to have a lot to look for such as relics, on-card autographs, patches, jumbo patches, on-card original sketch cards with autographs, hand painted art cards, cut signatures, and original Sportkings cards from 1933.

Sportkings artwork has always been enjoyable to look at.  Lots of rich color.  It doesn’t even bother me that they lack team names and logos.  It’ll be interesting to see what the finished product ends up looking like.

The History Behind Futera’s Earliest Sets

Ranging from their Code For Collectors and Colour Grading services, Futera is a card manufacturer that should be used as a beacon to others when it comes to autograph and relic authentication.  The amount of documentation that goes into their products is something that collectors in the United States can only dream about.  Here in America, we get glimpses of services like this, but nothing that comes close to what Futera has built.

Everyone has to start somewhere.  Upper Deck wasn’t the only new card company to enter the market in 1989.  This is when Futera got it’s start too.  Futera was founded by two U.S. professional baseball players – Tad Powers and David Voit.  Both were sent over to play in the newly formed Australian Baseball League (ABL).  Two team sets make up their inaugural 1989-90 baseball release.  One for the Sydney Metros and the other for the Perth Heat.  Each set came packaged in a playing card style light blue box with the team logo printed in dark blue on the front.  2,500 copies of each set were printed.

Sydney Metros

  • Stuart Barlow
  • Chris Brown
  • Mike Dennis
  • Matt Everingham
  • Don Franklin
  • Darren Fullerton
  • Karl Hardman
  • Michael Hennessy
  • Nick Kalaf
  • Troy Martin
  • Mike Milmoe
  • Sean Mullins
  • Peter Munro
  • Brian Murphy
  • Jeff Pettett
  • Tad Powers
  • Ross Thomas
  • Greg Turner
  • David Voit
  • Justin Weaver

Perth Heat

  • Tony Adamson
  • Kimon Anderson
  • Lyall Barwick
  • Mike Borgatti
  • Ken Burden
  • Scott Cameron
  • Kevin Driscoll
  • Heath Gillard
  • Greg Harvey
  • John Hearne
  • Sean Jones
  • Andrew Kendray
  • Ron Malcolm
  • Trevor Malcolm
  • Steve Meloncelli
  • Ray Mitchell
  • Dean Moyle
  • Michael Moyle
  • John Moore
  • Shayne Ruscoe
  • Dave Rusin
  • Mark Scorer
  • Scott Steed
  • Shane Tonkin
  • James Waddell

According to Futera, when Tad Powers and David Voit returned to the United States they brought lots of these sets with them.  That’s why they continue to hold a high demand in Australia.

Before having to sell the company due to a lack of funds, Tad Powers and David Voit issued another series of team sets in 1992.  Unfortunately 50% of them were destroyed because of poor storage and inferior transportation.  It’s believed that what did survive was purchased by a well known dealer in Melbourne, Australia.  Key cards from this series include the Phil Dale and Jon Deeble no number cards from the Waverley Reds team set.  Another important card would be the first Australian card of David Nilsson, who actually went on to play with the Brewers throughout the 90’s.

Once Futera was sold, baseball sets continued to be released until 1996.  Many other sports licensed products followed.  Today they are one of the best soccer/football card manufacturers in the industry.