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.

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Card of the Day: Marty Cordova 1997 Donruss Signature Series Auto

Card of the Day: Mo Vaughn 1997 Pinnacle Totally Certified Platinum Blue #2

Card of the Day: Mike Ditka 1997 Upper Deck Legends Auto

Card of the Day: Mike Piazza 1997 Pinnacle Home/Away #5

Card of the Day: Ken Griffey, Jr. 1997 Upper Deck Game Jersey

Product Highlight: 1997 Awesome Athletes Bookmarks

Talk about your oddball of oddball products.  This set is really out there.  It certainly isn’t one that every collector knows about.  Not much information about them is out there either… until now.

ABDO Publishing publishes a lot of books which are specifically targeted and sold to school libraries.  In the 90’s, they began publishing a series of books titled Awesome Athletes.  These nonfiction books highlight the careers of many popular sports figures.  The first two sets consist of six books each.

Set I

  • Troy Aikman
  • Ken Griffey, Jr.
  • Michael Jordan
  • Shaquille O’Neal
  • Cal Ripken, Jr.
  • Emmitt Smith

Set II

  • Brett Favre
  • Anfernee Hardaway
  • Grant Hill
  • Tara Lipinski
  • Sheryl Swoopes
  • Tiger Woods

For those at the time who purchased an entire series (Set I and II) received a free set of six bookmarks.  The bookmarks were made up of athletes from Set II.  Much like a trading card, the fronts picture the athlete while the reverse supplies biographical information.

The Tiger Woods bookmark receives the most attention as it is an early item for him.  Sellers usually have high asking prices on that one.  The others are rarely seen.  I can imagine libraries handed them out as prizes.  Most were probably lost and/or so used they ended up being thrown out.