Celeb Rookie (Sorta): Shamu

For some collectors this card is their white whale. More like killer whale.

Tiger Woods, Serena Williams, Mia Hamm, and Tony Hawk. These are just some of the top athletes whose rookie cards were included within various issues of Sports Illustrated for Kids. I’m betting the millions of people reading this wish they would have saved some of those issues as many of the key cards command big dollars today. If I could, I’d travel back in time and stop myself from discarding the July 1999 issue which came with the Serena Williams rookie card. I probably saved the Rickey Henderson, Mo Vaughn, Vinny Castilla, and Randy Moss from that month. At the time tennis cards didn’t stand out to me as something to keep.

Sports Illustrated for Kids would occasionally go off the rails making cards of unusual things. The April 1998 issue is one of those times. Collectors that month were given nine cards of famous animals. Spencer (Hurdling Cat), Shirley (Tricycle-Riding Elephant), Zeke (Ball-Catching Dog), Secretariat (Racing Pig), Buster (Skating Macaw), Rosie (Dunking Baboon), Twiggy (Water Skiing Squirrel), Sparky (Soccer-Playing Dog), and Shamu (Jumping Whale). Shamu is probably the most well-recognized card.

The original Shamu was an orca that performed in shows at SeaWorld San Diego during the 1960s. She was caught in 1965 and died in 1971. Upon her death, the name “Shamu” was trademarked by SeaWorld and given to other orcas over the years. Lots of orcas went by the name “Shamu” at the same time in various SeaWorld parks. These orca shows have been phased out due to incidents with trainers, and a 2013 documentary called Blackfish.

Like all cards found in Sports Illustrated for Kids, Shamu’s is very condition sensitive. The cards came in a perforated sheet that needed to be pulled apart. A lot can go wrong when doing that.

I wish I could call this Shamu’s true rookie card (many do). But during the 1980s/1990s Little Debbie Snack Cakes offered cards of Shamu and his gang of characters. Those needed to be cutoff the box. It really wouldn’t surprise me if SeaWorld sold some type of trading card set in their gift shops as well.

The Sports Illustrated for Kids card is by far the one you see the most often. When you have someone or something with very few cards the one in the public eye on a regular basis can be viewed as the real rookie. I guess it depends on how you look at it, and what you consider to be a true rookie card.

Crazy rookie card logic not only applies to sports cards. Aquatic mammals too.

Celeb Rookie: Mickey Mouse

Twenty years before Mickey Mantle made his trading card debut another Mickey was being featured on cardboard for the first time. I’m talking about Mickey Mouse.

Mickey Mouse made his public debut in the short film Steamboat Willie which was released in 1928.  It was a tremendous hit.  Animated shorts eventually turned into full-length feature films.

Three years after being introduced to the world, Mickey Mouse received what is now considered to be his true rookie card.

Drawn by Floyd Gottfredson, this premium was made available during the May 27, 1931 Mickey Mouse comic strip.  In that particular story, Mickey had his picture taken.  Fans of his could get a copy of that picture if they wrote in during the “High Society” story line.  This is the card they’ed receive.  It measures 3-3/8″ x 5-3/8″.  At the bottom it reads “Gobs of Good Wishes, Mickey Mouse” and “Me too, Butch”.  As you can see, Mickey’s streetwise friend Butch is standing in the background.

Mickey Mouse’s 1931 First Newspaper Premium Picture Card takes us back to a time when he was just beginning to make an impression on the world. Truly an interesting piece of history. Very few of these cards exist today.

The Wills Cinema Stars tobacco set (also released in 1931) has a card that pictures both Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse. You’ll find that card to be much more readily available.

Celeb Rookie: Sonic the Hedgehog

What was the first thing you had on your mind this morning?  If it was “Does Sonic the Hedgehog have a rookie card?”, then you’ve come to the right place.

Introduced to the world in 1991, Sonic the Hedgehog is an iconic video game character.  This fast moving, chili dog eating speedster has been on a never ending quest to stop the evil Doctor Robotnik from taking over the world.  Many gamers, including myself, have fond memories of watching this dude speed through loops and tunnels.  The sound of Sonic collecting those gold rings has been permanently ingrained into gamer’s heads.

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles were the two games I played the most on my SEGA Genesis.  Both games could be played separately.  Thanks to the “lock-on” technology, it was possible to connect Sonic the Hedgehog 3 into the top of the Sonic & Knuckles cartridge.  This allowed people to play the game as it was originally intended.  Cartridge space and time constraints resulted in SEGA splitting them up into two games.  Figuring out both games could be connected together like that was super cool.

Sonic’s official rookie card can be found in the 1993 Topps Sonic the Hedgehog set.  Every box comes with (36) wax packs.  The whole set is comprised of (33) cards, (33) stickers, (15) promos, and (6) Prism inserts.  Card #1 pictures Sonic in the Green Hill Zone, which is the first zone in Sonic the Hedgehog.  Cards feature actual pixelated screenshots.  However, Sonic was not left pixelated like he normally would be in the game.  A pixelated Sonic was swapped out for an animated one.  On the back are game tips, and Rogue’s Gallery.

It should be noted that U.K. candy manufacturer Trebor Bassett, a division of Cadbury, issued a 48-card tobacco size set based on various SEGA titles.  Despite each of these cards having a copyright date of 1991 on the back, they were actually released in 1994.  Three Sonic titles in here are Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and Sonic the Hedgehog 3.  Given that the first Sonic game came out in 1991, it wouldn’t have been possible for this set to have been released that same year because the two sequels didn’t arrive until 1992 and 1994.  Don’t be fooled into thinking Sonic the Hedgehog #35 from this set is his real rookie card.

Celeb Rookie: Gumby

“I’m Gumby dammit!” Who could forget Eddie Murphy’s iconic take on this classic character while on Saturday Night Live? The answer is nobody.

Created in the early 1950’s by Art Clokey, Gumby is one of the most well-known stop-motion characters ever to hit television and movie screens. Along with his main sidekick Pokey, Gumby travels through various environments and times in history. From racing cars to going to space, Gumby has done it all. On these adventures trouble makers such as the G and J Blockheads are encountered along the way. Over the years more friends and characters have been added.

Does Gumby have a rookie card? Yes.

The Gumby line of merchandise seems to be endless. Growing up I didn’t know someone who was without at least one bendable Gumby toy. A Gumby-like figure did make an appearance in 1991 Topps Wacky Packages under the name “Scumby”. But does a parody count as a true rookie card? I think that might be a discussion for another day. Now we’re crossing over into Wander Franco 2021 Bowman’s Best territory. For the sake of this post lets stick with the true Gumby set from 2001.

Toon’s Station released a preview set of Gumby cards in 2001. The set consists of a title card, plus six other cards. One of which pictures Gumby’s creator Art Clokey. Honestly, I would treat the title card as Gumby’s true rookie card. 2,500 preview sets were produced. The same image of Art Clokey was also used on a promotional card separate from the preview set.

As you can probably guess the preview set and promotional card were just suppose to be the beginning. Plans for a 100-card set were in the works, but didn’t materialize. All we know is that Art Clokey autographs would have been used in it.

Celeb Rookie: The NOID

And now a brief history of The NOID according to Domino’s Pizza:

The NOID loves to ruin your pizza. He might try to make your pizza cold. He might try to make your pizza late. He might try to make your pizza taste like cardboard. Somehow the NOID will try to make sure your pizza is just not right. That’s why he’s Pizza Enemy #1.

The NOID has been around for a long, long time. He has brothers, sisters and cousins all over the world. People everywhere tell stories about the little creatures who make things go wrong. Gremlins foul up machinery of all kinds. Pixies and goblins haunt the forest. Murphy’s lawyers are everywhere. And you know what they can do.

Long ago, these little folk would cause trouble for anyone, any time. As the world filled up with more and more people doing more and more things, the Small Ones had to specialize so they could keep up. After all, anyone can make a mistake, but to make a complete shambles of anything, you have to know what you’re doing.

The first tribe of troublemakers to specialize was known as the Neandernoids, who decided to become experts in ruining food. They knew that people would always have to eat, so they would have lots of chances to make life miserable for people.

The Neandernoids found many ways they could ruin meals and snacks. They started with simple tricks, like blowing out fires so woolly mammoth cutlets couldn’t be sautéed. Over time, they built up a large bag of tricks. Anyone who has had lumpy gravy, burned toast or weak coffee has been a victim of the Neandernoids.

After a while, some of the Neandernoids went on to specialize even more. Known as the Cro-Magnoids, these pests studied ways to spoil food served by restaurants and institutions.

While people in food service faced the task of obtaining, preparing and serving large amounts of food to the public, the Cro-Magnoids developed their techniques to make eating away from home a disappointment. Long lines, dirty silverware and airline food are Cro-Magnoid ideas.

About 75 years ago, the renegade NOID left the Cro-Magnoid tribe. A rugged individualist, the NOID wanted to work alone. He was ready to ruin one special food all by himself.

Pizza was becoming a popular food at that time. The NOID hated the idea that any food could be so delicious, so perfect, and still be served as a nutritious meal or snack. The NOID’s plan was to make pizza the first in a long list of foods he alone had conquered.

The NOID thought delivered pizza would be especially simple to ruin. He was sure he could take advantage of a pizza served miles away from where it was made. He just knew that delivered pizza would be easy pickin’s.

Early on, the NOID was very successful. Millions of people received pizza that just wasn’t right; it was cold, or soggy, or late. Some people claimed that the box tasted better than the pizza, so the NOID knew that he was winning.

Then came his fall. What the NOID didn’t plan on was a pizza delivery system designed just to make top-quality pizza and deliver it fast. The NOID didn’t plan on Domino’s Pizza.

At Domino’s Pizza, we AVOID THE NOID:

We keep the NOID out and all the quality in. We make pizza precisely to your order with the finest ingredients. And Domino’s Pizza delivers your hot, delicious pizza in less than 30 minutes. That’s all we do, and we do it all the time with our NOID-PROOF delivery system.

The NOID loves to ruin your pizza. He’s tough. He’s persistent. He’s almost everywhere, but he is avoidable:

Just remember that Domino’s Pizza delivers so you can AVOID THE NOID. One call does it all!

Merchandise featuring the NOID is everywhere. Some of it reaches into the hundreds of dollars. Despite making his debut to the world in 1986, it wasn’t until 1988 when the NOID was first featured on a trading card.

To celebrate the Detroit Tigers 20th anniversary of winning the World Series in 1968, Domino’s released a 28-card set in 1988. The set is rather forgettable as it was printed on extremely thin card stock, and contains more errors than you could possibly count. Perhaps this was done on purpose to make you think the NOID was responsible for all of the errors?

Card #27 shows the NOID wielding a baseball bat. Apparently, at the time Tiger Stadium had a Domino’s Pizza in it. This card was meant to be used as a coupon to receive $1.00 off of your order only at the Tiger Stadium Domino’s Pizza. The coupon expired on October 20, 1988.

These sets are readily available, and quite easy to come by. Everything old is new again. Domino’s recently brought back the NOID in a commercial.

Celeb Rookie: Michael Keaton

Over the last few years The Flash movie has seen it’s share of development hurdles.  Despite having at least two more years to go before its released (unless there are more delays) things have started to take shape for now.  For awhile it has been rumored that Michael Keaton will reprise his role of Bruce Wayne/Batman for the film.  Fans saw Michael Keaton play Batman twice in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman and 1992 Batman Returns.  After that Tim Burton and Michael Keaton clashed with the movie studio on how the third film should go.  Everyone went their separate ways and we saw Val Kilmer and George Clooney come in for the third and fourth films.

The exact story line of The Flash isn’t completely known.  We’re fairly certain the movie will pull stuff from the Flashpoint story.  Somehow Barry Allen a.k.a. The Flash will travel so fast he’ll jump over to an entirely different dimension and meet up with Michael Keaton’s Batman.  It’ll be interesting to see what his Batman has been up to since 1992.  Lots of DC characters are suppose to be in this one, including Ben Affleck’s Batman.  The DC Extended Universe (DCEU) has a bunch of movies under it’s belt with many more on the way.  Some of these movies take place in the same world while others are in a dimension all on their own.  The Flash is suppose to tie them all together and act as a restart while not forgetting the past.  It can be a little confusing.  Everything is quite fluid right now.  Studios are keeping a lot close to their chests.  So much could potentially still change.

Michael Keaton’s official rookie card can be found in the 1989 Topps Batman Series 1 set.  I consider card #3 to be his rookie.  Sure, the Title Card #1 and Darknight Detective #2 picture him as Batman, but card #3 just shows him as Bruce Wayne.  Its the first card in the set to do so.  I’m making an executive hobby decision and calling it his rookie card.  Thanks to the era of overproduction you can easily find this card in mass quantities.  It would be great if they made some buyback autographs using cards from this set.

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) Michael Keaton plays Adrian Toomes/Vulture.  Upper Deck produced a Spider-Man: Homecoming set in 2017 which contains Michael Keaton’s first pack inserted autographs.

Celeb Rookie: Phillie Phanatic

He is the mascot of all mascots.  He is the Great Green Goliath from the Galápagos Islands.  Since 1978 the Phillie Phanatic has been at the center of all kinds of antics all to entertain Phillies fans.  Whether he’s dancing on top of the dugout, riding his ATV, or shooting hot dogs into the crowd, people can’t take their eyes off of him.

The Phillie Phanatic’s first pack-inserted card comes from 1992 Donruss Triple Play Baseball #133.  But if were’re going to be specific, his official rookie card arrived almost ten years earlier.

Some Phillies fans who sent-away for autographs in 1983 received team-issued postcards sponsored by Tastykake in return.  Within that set you will find the Phillie Phanatic’s very first trading card.  Not only does he have one card, but for you die-hard OCD set collectors he’s got at least three.

The most common version you’ll find features the Phillie Phanatic riding his classic ATV.  Two versions of this card exist.  Both feature the same photograph.  Its the back that can differ.  One back says “Dear Fan: Thanks for your letter.  The Phillies and I appreciate your interest.  Unfortunately, we can not always answer each letter we receive individually so these photo cards have been prepared for your enjoyment.  Thanks again for writing and hope to see you at the ballpark.  Best Wishes, Phillie Phanatic”

The other back reads “Tell your parents to fasten their seat belts when driving.  Phillie Phanatic”

Another version pictures the Phillie Phanatic stirring up trouble on the field.  The back reads “Family fire drills and smoke detectors save lives.  Phillie Phanatic”  Of the three types, this one is more difficult to find.

Celeb Rookie: Rick Moranis

Sequels and reboots of popular television and movie franchises from the 1980s and 1990s is all the rage today.  If you were a kid during that time period there is a good chance some of your most beloved childhood characters are in the spotlight again.  While its not uncommon for new actors to take on these roles, bringing back the original people to play them happens a lot too.  I guess it all depends on the franchise, and who’s running the show.

An actor who I remember being on my T.V. a lot as a kid is Rick Moranis.  He’s right up there with Michael Keaton.  GhostbustersGhostbusters IIHoney, I Shrunk the KidsThe Flintstones, and Spaceballs are all key films I watched him in.  Honey, I Shrunk the Kids is probably where I saw him the most mainly because I owned a copy of it on VHS.

In 1997, Rick Moranis went on a bit of an acting hiatus.  He hasn’t acted in a live-action film or show since.  Behind the scenes work and doing some voice acting are all we’ve seen from him recently.  The reason for his hiatus is a mixture of wanting to focus more on being a single parent, and deciding to be selective about the roles he takes.

On February 12, it was announced that Rick Moranis would be reprising his role of Wayne Szalinski in Disney’s upcoming live-action Honey, I Shrunk the Kids reboot/sequel Shrunk.  I know a lot of fans are happy to hear this news.  He’s an icon from so many people’s childhood.  Eager fans can’t wait.

One of Moranis’s legendary roles is that of Seymour Krelborn in Little Shop of Horrors.  Seymour is a very nerdy florist who is interested in unusual plants.  His mutant-like plant named Audrey II tricks him into feeding it humans.  Upon the film’s release the studio considered it to be an underperformer at the box office.  Despite that, it has developed quite the cult following.  Other key cast members include Bill Murray, John Candy, and Steve Martin.

Looking for a Rick Moranis rookie card?  You’ll find it in 1986 Topps Little Shop of Horrors.  This 44-card/sticker set features various characters and scenes from the iconic film.  Rick Moranis is on many of the cards/stickers.  I consider card/sticker #1 to be his true rookie.  Copies can easily be found.

The first Ghostbusters film was released in 1984 and we got to see him play accountant Louis Tully.  Unfortunately, Ghostbusters fans didn’t have a set to collect until the second film was released in 1989.  In between those two films Little Shop of Horrors came out.

His return to acting is a huge deal.  I think its time he makes a return to cardboard as well.  Lets get an autograph of him in Allen & Ginter.

Celeb Rookie: Pierre Omidyar

Pierre Omidyar isn’t a famous musician, actor, or athlete.  But in the tech world though he’s considered a major celebrity.  Buyers, sellers, collectors, and flippers, use his creation on a daily basis.  I’m talking about eBay.

On September 3, 1995 Pierre Omidyar launched AuctionWeb.  At first it began as part of another site he ran.  A broken laser pointer became the first item to be sold.  One thing led to another and it quickly became the first online auction site which allowed person-to-person transactions.

Two years after it’s founding the company’s name was changed to eBay.  The story that eBay was created to help Pierre Omidyar’s fiancée buy/sell Pez dispensers is a complete fabrication.  eBay’s PR Manager came up with that story and the media outlets just ate it up.

Thanks to the popularity of Beanie Babies during the 90’s, eBay saw incredible growth.  I don’t know if eBay would exist today if it weren’t for Beanie Babies.  It probably would.  The site would’ve had a slower start though.  After eBay went public in 1998, Pierre Omidyar became an instant billionaire.

eBay held their first eBay Live! event in Anaheim, CA in 2002.  This was a get together of buyers, sellers, and various eBay employees.  Among the t-shirts, stress balls, and pins handed out there was also a 32-card set.  Each card in the set represents something or someone important to eBay.  A majority of the set consists of cards representing each major category on eBay at the time.

Card #26 is of eBay’s founder Pierre Omidyar.  Like all of the cards in this set, its an animation.

Celeb Rookie: Robert Pattinson a.k.a. The Batman

In order to follow the DC Comics movies today you almost need a diagram.  They started out like the Marvel films.  One taking place before or after another.  But apparently that format wasn’t working for them.  Instead of one movie depending on the next, they’ve changed things up.  Now they want to give key characters their own series of movies before they do anymore team-up stuff.  Little to no acknowledgment will be given to those previous team-up movies format.  I believe this new format started with 2018’s Aquaman.  Some actors will continue to play those characters under this new format, while others will be recast and rebooted.  In short, you need to know what’s going on behind the scenes in order to recognize what is and is not connected to each other.

One of those iconic characters getting a reboot is Batman.  I enjoyed Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman in Batman v. Superman Dawn of JusticeSuicide Squad, and Justice League.  I wish we could’ve seen more of that version of Batman.  He seemed to have quite a rich history to him.  It would’ve been nice to know the story behind that beat-up Robin suit in the Batcave.  All we can do is take what we know from the comics and apply it to what might have happened to that Robin.

Actor Robert Pattinson will take over the title role in the Matt Reeves directed film simply called The Batman.  It will take place during the 90’s.  Other confirmed characters include Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz), Riddler (Paul Dano), and Commissioner Gordon (Jeffrey Wright).  More will soon follow.

Robert Pattinson has starred in a number of films.  Portraying Cedric Diggory in two of the Harry Potter movies, and Edward Cullen in the Twilight series are what’s given him the most notoriety.  The Batman will be his biggest role yet.  Whenever a new actor is announced that they’ll be playing Batman, almost instantly they’re hit with an unbelievable amount of backlash.  I’m one of those people who waits to see the final product before making any judgments.

In 2005, Artbox created a trading card product for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.  This is the first film where Robert Pattinson plays Cedric Diggory.  Within this set he has a handful of different cards.  His base card and autograph are what I like to classify as his key rookies.  You’ll find the base card fairly easily, but the autograph isn’t something that appears often.