Product Highlight: 2016 Titleist

Golf cards have taken a backseat to other sports recently.  The last standalone golf product to come out is 2014 Upper Deck Exquisite Golf.  Since then, golfers have popped-up in multi-sport products like Allen & GinterGoodwin Champions, and various Leaf sets.

It doesn’t look like a new standalone golf product is coming our way anytime soon.  Collectors are craving new golf cards thanks to young stars like Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler.  Watching Tiger Woods make an incredible comeback to win The Masters has helped increase interest too.  Like NASCAR, licensing comes down to the individuals.  Obtaining a PGA license doesn’t mean you can just start making golf cards of whoever you want.  Money is the main problem.  Some of these golfers just want too much.  They want Tiger Woods level money, without having all of his accomplishments.  It doesn’t make it feasible.  In short, the juice isn’t worth the squeeze.

Upper Deck, Pro Set, and Donruss are the main companies that come to mind when you think of golf cards.  The Acushnet Holdings Company certainly isn’t one of them.  Are you not familiar with The Acushnet Holdings Company?  They make golf equipment and apparel.  I’m sure the name Titleist rings a bell.  That’s one of their main brands.

In 2016, Titleist issued an incredibly scarce set of cards.  Available only in PGA Jr League merchandise packs could these cards be found.  Packs containing (4) cards each were packaged along with Titleist golf balls they provided to Jr golfers.  A total of (12) cards make up the entire set – Louis Oosthuizen, Adam Scott, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jimmy Walker, Bubba Watson, Rafael Cabrera Bello, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Rickie Fowler, Bill Haas, Zach Johnson, and Kevin Na.  According to my contact at Titleist, under 2,000 sets were printed.  Its simply known as 2016 Titleist.

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Product Highlight: 1992 Dad’s Kid Corp. Tri Cards

Various companies have taken a stab at making 3-D cards over the years.  A company that did it really well was called Dad’s Kid Corp.  Their Tri Cards product has one of the best 3-D effects the hobby has ever seen.

Dad’s Kid Corp. brought their Tri Cards product to the market in 1992.  Each box has (1) card.  A window on the front allowed you to pick which player you wanted.  Three base cards were used to make one card.  Strategically cutting and overlaying the three cards gave them the 3-D look.  Base cards from 1990, 1991, and 1992 were used.  Upper Deck, Score, Leaf, and Fleer cards made it into the mix.  Stores like Toys “R” Us, F.A.O. Schwartz, and Spencer Gifts all carried them.  At one time I believe QVC even had them available.

The serial numbering can be a little misleading.  Every player’s Tri Card is serial numbered to 50,000 copies.  That 50,000 accounts for all of the cards for that specific player.  Lots of players have more than one type of card in here.  For example, Nolan Ryan has at least three different Tri Cards.  That doesn’t mean each one is limited to 50,000.  It means that the print run for all three adds up to 50,000 copies.  They never released the print run for the individual brands.

Thanks to them offering what they call a “Completer Set”, we know that (36) different players had Tri Cards made.  (300) “Completer Sets” were issued to those collectors who wanted matching serial numbers.  Players offered included Sandy Alomar, Roberto Alomar, Wade Boggs, Bobby Bonilla, Barry Bonds, Tom Browning, Jose Canseco, Will Clark, Wes Chamberlain, Eric Davis, Andre Dawson, Cecil Fielder, Juan Gonzales, Dwight Gooden, Ken Griffey, Jr., Rickey Henderson, Gregg Jeffries, Howard Johnson, Wally Joyner, David Justice, Kevin Maas, Ramon Martinez, Don Mattingly, Kevin Mitchell, Jack Morris, Fred McGriff, Terry Pendelton, Kirby Puckett, Cal Ripken, Jr., Nolan Ryan, Ryne Sandberg, Ozzie Smith, Darryl Strawberry, Frank Thomas, Greg Vaughn, and Robin Yount.

As unique and fun as these cards seem to be, they didn’t stick around very long.  A trip through the legal ringer brought this company down.  The MLBPA, Upper Deck, Score, and Leaf all sued.  When it came to the MLBPA’s lawsuit, the court actually sided with Dad’s Kid Corp.  In addition to the card manufacturer lawsuits the legal bills just kept adding up, and Dad’s Kid Corp. came tumbling down like a pile of Jenga blocks.  However, we do know that production was stopped while the lawsuits were going on.  Its very possible that not all 50,000 Tri Cards were made for every player.  I think its safe to say thousands made their way out.

Don’t look for a lot of value here folks.  Most of them can’t break $10.  Ken Griffey, Jr. has been known to reach $20.  Its too bad a Frank Thomas rookie didn’t make it in here.

Dubbed “The next dimension in sports card collecting.“, baseball was the only sport they were able to produce.  They had plans for 3-D basketball, football, hockey, tennis, golf, comics, and celebrities.  A Kid’s Club was offered to 20,000 people.  Being a member got you access to exclusive cards.  I’ve never seen these cards surface.  Dad’s Kid Corp. may not have been around long enough for them to make their way out.

Product Highlight: 1997 Upper Deck Shimano

When you think of professional fishing, trading cards certainly aren’t the first thing that come to mind.  Sure, we’ll find cards pertaining to fishing popup in sets like Allen & Ginter, Goodwin Champions, and Sportkings.  Even in the early 90’s we had some Pro League Bass sets make an appearance.  Nothing of major importance though.

In the sports card industry, fishing cards are kind of odd.  One very small set that you don’t see often is made by Upper Deck.  In 1997, Upper Deck partnered with Shimano.  For those not familiar with Shimano, they are a large manufacturer of fishing, bicycling, and rowing equipment.  This “Special Edition” set only consists of five cards.  Two of the names I’m sure you’ll recognize.

  • Bob Izumi #1
  • Jimmy Houston #2
  • Jose Wejebe #3
  • Larry Dahlberg #4
  • Jay Buhner #5
  • Tony Gwynn #6

I had no clue that Jay Buhner and Tony Gwynn were such big fishermen.  According to the cards, Jay Buhner’s favorite Shimano reel to fish with is the Chronarch 100A, and enjoys fishing with Ken Griffey, Jr. and Norm Charlton.  Tony Gwynn likes to fish for bass, while his favorite places to fish are Lake Poway and the Pacific Ocean.

Obviously Shimano issued this set as a promotion.  Its a neat little unique piece.  Not a whole lot of value.

Product Highlight: 1990 Good Humor Big League Ice Cream Bar Baseball Bat Autograph Stick

Products come in some elaborate packaging today.  You have to cut, tear, rip, and occasionally use a flamethrower just to access the cards.  It can be ridiculous.  Not to mention drive the price up.

How about having to eat ice cream in order to see what you got?  That’s exactly what needed to be done with the 1990 Good Humor Big League Ice Cream Bar Baseball Bat Autograph Stick set.  The set consists of (26) sticks shaped like miniature baseball bats.  Players are listed in alphabetical order, and numbered accordingly.  Every stick has a facsimile signature on the barrel.

Here’s the checklist:

  • Jim Abbott #1
  • George Bell #2
  • Wade Boggs #3
  • Bobby Bonilla #4
  • Jose Canseco #5
  • Will Clark #6
  • Eric Davis #7
  • Carlton Fisk #8
  • Kirk Gibson #9
  • Dwight Gooden #10
  • Ken Griffey Jr. #11
  • Von Hayes #12
  • Don Mattingly #13
  • Gregg Olson #14
  • Kirby Puckett #15
  • Tim Raines #16
  • Nolan Ryan #17
  • Bret Saberhagen #18
  • Ryne Sandberg #19
  • Benito Santiago #20
  • Mike Scott #21
  • Lonnie Smith #22
  • Ozzie Smith #23
  • Cory Snyder #24
  • Alan Trammell #25
  • Robin Yount #26

I know what you’re thinking.  “Those are cool.  But how would I store them?”  You’re in luck.  Good Humor made a special album that was available through a mail-in offer.  That album is probably more collectible than the actual sticks because you rarely see it.

Not a whole lot of value can be found with these sticks.  They’re all over the place.  None of them sell for more than $5.  Anyone still have a box sitting in the freezer?

Product Highlight: 1999 Jersey Topps

Have you seen these before?  They’ve been around for the last nineteen years, and this is the first time that I’ve spotted them.  Its funny the kind of stuff you’ll come across when you’re researching for a blog post.  Whenever I see a mainstream manufacturer issue a product that isn’t card related at all I have to stop and look.  Especially when its something as obscure as this.

What we have here folks is Jersey Topps produced by the Topps Company in 1999.  There isn’t a lot of information floating around about them.  Mainly because they didn’t make it past the inaugural edition, and plus there really isn’t much to discuss in the first place.

Packaged inside each box is (1) mini replica jersey.  According to the back of the box:

We took the game’s best and cut them down to size to bring you these new collectibles.  Jersey Topps are free-standing, miniature replicas of the authentic jerseys of six of the greatest players in Major League Baseball.  They’re finely crafted from flexible vinyl to capture the real, lifelike details of your favorite player’s uniform the way no photo can!

The checklist consists of:

  • Mark McGwire
  • Derek Jeter
  • Sammy Sosa
  • Cal Ripken Jr.
  • Chipper Jones
  • Ken Griffey Jr.

Despite existing for almost two decades, I wouldn’t be surprised if you hadn’t heard of them either.  $10-$30 seems to be the going rate.  No player collection should be without one… or a hundred.

Product Highlight: 1998 Riddell Game Greats

Why?  Its a simple question that is asked quite a bit in this hobby.  Sometimes you just have to wonder what people were thinking when it came to giving the “ok” to a new product.  Maybe they deliberately wanted these products to flop just to create good blogging material twenty years later.  If that’s the case, then I’d call it a success.

Traditionally, Riddell is known for making sports equipment.  Over the years though they’ve dabbled in the collectibles market.  One of their collectible ventures came in 1998 with Game Greats.  These miniature busts feature 360° wrap-surround digital imaging.  That’s just fancy talk meaning they printed a digital picture and folded it into a loop.  I guess using an actual image was the main selling point verses having a molded plastic face.

Riddell made a series for both baseball and football.  The baseball set consists of six players – Ken Griffey, Jr., Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones, Mark McGwire, Cal Ripken, Jr., and Sammy Sosa.  Football has seven – Troy Aikman, John Elway, Brett Favre, Dan Marino, Kordell Stewart, Steve Young, and Barry Sanders.

In order to obtain the Barry Sanders bust, you needed to mail-in three proofs of purchase along with the original register receipt.  Barry Sanders wasn’t sold in stores like the others.  If you didn’t want Barry Sanders, you could still request one of the other busts for free.

Riddell offered a mail-in program for baseball too, but I’m unclear as to what you’d get in return.  On the proof of purchase for the football busts, it states the exact name of the bust it came from.  For example, the proof of purchase for the John Elway bust says “’98 Elway – Blue Jersey”.  The proof of purchase for the baseball busts is a little different.  For example, Mark McGwire’s just says “’99 McGwire”.  Just like the football, the baseball busts were released in 1998.  The checklist on the backside of the baseball packaging identifies them from 1998 too.  So why do the proof of purchase for the baseball players state they’re from 1999?  Unlike football, nothing is stated on the back of the baseball busts as to what you’d receive.  I’m thinking the baseball proof of purchase were going to be used for a future product that never arrived given how poorly Release 1 sold.

You can easily find these for sale.  Sellers can’t give them away.  It wouldn’t surprise me if someone at Riddell is sitting on a few rare prototypes.

Product Highlight: 2001 Topps Tribute

Remembering the first truly high-end product you saw I guess depends on when you began collecting.  For me, the first high-end product I can remember is 1997 Donruss Signature Series.  At a cost of around $15/pack with a guaranteed autograph inside each pack I thought it was a very big deal.  Having the opportunity to open up a few was great, even though I wasn’t too familiar with the autographs I was pulling – Eric Young, Todd Hollandsworth, and Jeffrey Hammonds.

High-end is one thing.  Super-premium is another.  In 2001, Topps introduced us to their Tribute brand.  At the time I suppose you could consider it a super-premium product.  Packs cost $40.  2001 Topps Tribute marked a first for Topps.  It was the first Topps product to feature a “hit” in every pack.  Quite the norm today, but fairly a new idea back then.

If your looking to put together the base set, it shouldn’t be that difficult.  Only (90) cards make up the entire set.  There are no parallels, short prints, or variations.  Just cleanly designed cards of retired stars.

The “hits” are what drive Tribute.  Its odd to think about Tribute not having any autographs, but the 2001 incarnation did just that.  “Hits” purely come in relic form only.  Zero autographs.  When opening a pack, you’re most likely going to pull a horizontally designed jersey, pants, or bat relic.

Franchise Figures Relics (1:34) is a (19) card set featuring multiple players and relics on the same card.  2-4 players per card all from the same team.

Game Patch-Number Relics (1:61) contain patches.  Although these aren’t serial numbered, the Game Patch-Number Relics are limited to (30) copies each.

Dubbed just Dual Relics (1:860), Casey Stengel and Frank Robinson are the only two individuals here.  Cards have two relics for each player.

By far the hardest card to pull is the Nolan Ryan Tri-Relic.  These fall 1:1,292 packs, and hold three Nolan Ryan relics.

Long expired now, Topps did include some redemption cards for original cards.  Jackie Robinson, Mickey Mantle, and Ted Williams each had (50) redemption cards thrown in.  You even had the chance of pulling a redemption for an original Mickey Mantle card graded by PSA.  The exact Mickey Mantle card and grade were not stated on the redemption.

Topps regularly released Tribute between 2001 and 2004.  Then it took a break for five years and returned in 2009.  I actually enjoy the earlier Tribute sets more compared to the newer stuff.  Those checklists have many older players who you just don’t see getting a lot of attention today.