Cobb, Cochrane, & Crawford Are Among The National’s Earliest Promos

Back in February I blogged about an 8-card set that highlights the early years of the National Sports Collectors Convention.  That set is from the 5th NSCC which took place in 1984 at the Aspen Hotel in Parsippany, New Jersey.  At the time of that writing it was the earliest promotional set for the NSCC that I had ever seen.  Today that all changes.

A 32-card set recently popped-up on eBay, and seems to be from the 2nd National Sports Collectors Convention.  In 1981, the second NSCC was held in Detroit, Michigan at the Plymouth Hilton.  This simple 32-card set includes a nice selection of all-time great players from the Detroit Tigers.  Notable names include Ty Cobb, Mickey Cochrane, Hank Greenberg, Sam Crawford, and Charlie Gehringer.  The backs are all blank.

I can’t say how exactly these cards were distributed.  Back then they didn’t have the elaborate promotional programs like they do today.  Dealers may have only gotten them.  I say that because you don’t see these cards very often.  Then again, they could’ve been handed out at the door to everyone that walked in.  Either way, its an awesome historical set from what has turned into the best sports card and memorabilia show on the planet.

The 40th National Sports Collectors Convention will take place in Chicago at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center 7/31-8/4.

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.