“Pin-Up” of the Week: 1995/1963 Pro Football HOF Guest Pins

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You would’ve thought the Football Hall of Fame had issued specially made pins for high profile guests long before 1995.  But that isn’t the case.  The HOF began giving out pins to specific guests like the media in ’95.  These lucky people were presented with a small box that contained two lapel pins.  One pin would feature the names of the Hall of Famers who were being inducted that year.  The other pin had a retro theme containing the names of past inductees.  1995 was paired with 1963, 1996 was paired with 1964, etc…  The first pins given out in 1995 aren’t serial numbered, but the ones afterward are.  Quantities range into the high hundreds.  Prices can be between $50.00 to $100.00 per set.  They are all made by Balfour.

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FCB Adds Third Autograph Guest For The 2010 National

Baltimore Orioles prospect Josh Bell will be the third autograph signer at the FCB booth during this year’s National.  Tazawa will also have the same design as Bell.

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Here is the final card set collectors can look for.  Bell, Tazawa, and Hayhurst will also be included since they are the autograph guests.

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FCB Announces Second Autograph Guest For The National

Chris Gilmore of FCB announced last night that Blue Jays relief pitcher Dirk Hayhurst will be signing autographs at their booth Saturday afternoon during the National.

Hayhurst is part of the FCB promotional card set too.  The base set featuring the baseball diamond is limited to 1,500 copies.  The second rarest features a night scene of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and is limited to 100 copies.  The autographed version is limited to only 25 copies.

I think FCB should get into the card making business.  These things look great!

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Meeting Your Baseball Hero: Guest Blogger James Ryan of Sports Locker

Meeting Your Baseball Hero

There are more nerve racking moments in life (health scares, getting married, and having children), but finally meeting your baseball hero must be on the list. My favorite team is the New York Mets and my childhood baseball hero is Gary Carter.

I became a Gary Carter fan after watching a game with some school friends on April 9, 1985. It was Gary Carter’s first game with the Mets and he cracked a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning to beat the St. Louis Cardinals. What a debut! I was also a catcher (for my little team in Logan Township, New Jersey), so cheering for Carter was easy. My favorite team had a new player who hits home runs on demand, plays the same position I do, and was becoming the main guest on Kiner’s Korner! What’s not to like?

As a kid, having a baseball hero is more than just catching an update on the local news. You need to have the t-shirt with his number, find his baseball cards, check the box scores every day and defend him in the school cafeteria no matter what!

Of course I’ll always have my Game 6 memories. Mookie Wilson and Bill Buckner may have captured the front-page headlines, but I’ll never forget that it was Gary Carter who started the rally with 2 outs in the 9th inning.

I didn’t spend the time to cutout and save box scores or Sports Illustrated issues, but I did begin purchasing the new cards that came. I had his cards from the ‘80s and the new ones later on that had a piece of Gary Carter’s jersey, his bat, and the autograph cards. I even had a card that had a piece of his old Nike shoes!

Eventually I realized that I wanted to expand my collection of Gary Carter memorabilia to more than baseball cards – I wanted to get an in-person autograph. I finally had my opportunity at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Cleveland, Ohio (The National).

At the National

TriStar runs the autograph pavilion at The National and in 2007 their guest list included Hall-of-Fame catcher, Gary Carter. Now in my 30s, and twenty-one years after “Game 6,” I couldn’t believe that I would finally have my chance to meet my baseball hero.

What would I ask Carter to sign? Should I get a jersey? Should I ask him to sign a bat? How would a photo looked signed? I decided to get a couple of All-Star logo baseballs signed. He was the Most Valuable Player of the MLB All-Star game in 1981 and 1984.

Leading up to the National and standing in line on that Saturday, I experienced all the emotions of an elementary school kid getting on the bus for the first time.

  • What should I wear?
  • What should I say?
  • How do I talk?
  • What is my name?

When it was my turn in line, I tried to keep my voice from cracking like Peter Brady’s (when it’s time to change…) and exchanged greetings. I handed over my tickets, baseballs, and shook Gary Carter’s hand! Gary was great. I talked about watching him start the Game 6 rally and he took his time signing the baseballs and talking about the game.

While signing the All-Star game baseballs Gary asked me, “Are you some kind of All-Star game collector?” My response to Gary (without hesitation), “No sir. I’m a Gary Carter collector.”

You can insert your own rim-shot or Gong Show noise here, but I swear it was the first response that popped in my head. Fortunately for me, Gary responded with, “well give your camera to that guy (pointing at the man behind me whom I didn’t know) and come around the table for a few pictures.”

I don’t know who the guy was in line behind me. I never got a chance to say thank you, but his photography skills preserved an awesome moment.

Today, I have the Gary Carter autograph baseballs displayed in my office and I think about the great autograph experience. My collection has come a long way since pinning a 1987 Topps Gary Carter baseball card to my NY Mets pennant.

When I look at the collections kid’s have today, I think:

  • What player will they want to meet 20 years from now?
  • Which player will be as gracious as Gary Carter?
  • Will the heroes of a few years ago like Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, and Barry Bonds create experiences like Gary Carter did for me?
  • Will stars from this year like Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, or Tim Lincecum follow Carter’s footsteps?

I don’t have the answers, but next time, I hope I’m the guy taking the pictures.

James Ryan runs SportsLocker.blogspot.com

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The Economy and Sports Card Collecting – Guest Blogger

Figuring out what your sports cards are actually worth can be a tricky process. Depending on what source you use (Beckett, Tuff Stuff, etc.), you may or may not get a really accurate or current value. But what happens when you mix in current economic conditions such as the state of the economy that we are now facing in the United States? CardScape.net decided to pick the brain of Adam McFarland, owner of SportsLizard.com, to get his thoughts on card values, the economy, and some of the other factors involved in sports card valuation. 

CardScape: Hi Adam. First off, I’d like to thank you for taking time to share your knowledge and insight on this topic. So let’s get right to it. Does a down economy affect card values?

Adam McFarland: I think it has to. Cards are a commodoty item, an unnecessary expense, and when faced with the choice of paying the bills or buying a box of cards, the bills will always win. The hobby has really evolved to rely on the collector who spends their disposable income on cards. We’re talking hundreds of dollars a month, not just a few packs here and there. Those same collectors also drive the secondary market. The “hot” cards in the hobby, generally cost $50 or $100 or more. The demand is there because there’s someone willing to pay that much for a card pulled out of a pack. When those people diminish (as they likely will), values will definitely diminish as well. How much is anyone’s guess.

CS: During bad economic times, is there anything, in your opinion, that the sports card industry as a whole can do to help protect itself from declines in card values?

AM: It will be interesting to see how Topps, Upper Deck, Donruss, etc react to the economic downturn. Certainly they have a challenge at hand to avoid having sales dip. If big companies in the industry end up going down, it will hurt the hobby. More options are always better for the consumer.

They spend a ton of money getting signatures and memorabilia to put into cards. That’s the most obvious thing I see getting trimmed back. Less autos and relics. Hopefully they can come up with creative substitutions that will keep collectors happy. 

Personally, I think that times like this help drive innovation because it forces you to think outside the box. Maybe the result is less autos and relics like I just speculated. Maybe it’s a reduction in the number of sets released. Maybe it’s something I’m not thinking of. Either way, I think it’ll be an interesting and possibly exciting time for collectors who are open to change.

CS: Do you agree or disagree with the following statements: Card values are like stocks in the stock market. There are fluctuations in values, but over the long term, cards will increase in value.

AM: Not really. I believe that great cards – the 1952 Micky Mantle Topps Rookie, the 1986-87 Jordan Fleer Rookie, etc – will always increase in value. But value is always correlated with demand, and demand has all sorts of unique variables that drives it. Look at Roger Clemens: his image has taken a nose-dive over the past year and so has the demand for his collectibles. I don’t think that value will ever be completely restored in the collecting community, unless something unforseen happens. 

Then there’s the case of all of those cards I have sitting in my basement from 1988-2000. Most of them saw their peak in the early 90’s and then dropped off dramatically to be worth pennies on the dollar. There are so many people that have saved those cards thinking that they’ll be worth a lot some day. There will always be a far greater supply than there is demand, so I don’t see how these cards will ever have any real value no matter how long you hold on to them.

CS: It may be a bit of a stretch, but do you think there is any kind of correlation between the stock market as a whole and card values?

AM: Yes and no. I think that for the reasons I mentioned earlier there is certainly a correlation between the economy and the amount of money people spend on cards. So in that sense, values will probably always be higher in a good economy and lower in a bad one. But there are also a slew of factors that impact value that have nothing to do with the economy. In the last twenty years we’ve seen the introduction of Upper Deck, grading companies, autograph/relic cards, the internet, and of course eBay into the hobby. In my opinion, those things have had a lot more impact on card values than the economy.

CS: What would you say to the average collector that is worried that their collections are not worth the money that they’ve spent on it?

AM: I’d ask them to really think about why they collect. Almost no collector ever makes a profit from collecting sports cards. It’s a hobby. It’s almost impossible to buy and sell for profit (I say almost because I do think there are a few people out there who do it and do it well). But while most collectors love to sit around and talk about the “value” of their collection, it’s generally something that will never come into fruition. Most likely they’ll never sell. If they do sell, they’ll probably never realize that full value for their collection even in a good economy. So to most collectors I’d say focus on what you enjoy about collecting. Put less of an emphasis on the exact dollar amount of a card and more emphasis on the happiness you get from opening a pack, completing a set, interacting with the collecting community online or at shows, etc.

CS: What are some of the other factors that you feel affect card values?

AM: Most people don’t like it when I say this, but each and every card has it’s own unique value. What is the condition? Is it graded? If it’s autographed, how does the auto look? If it has a jersey in it, what part of the jersey is it? How hot is the player in question? How hot is the set from which the card comes from? Where are you trying to sell the card (hobby shop, eBay, forum, etc)? And of course, what is the overall state of the hobby and the economy? Those variables are constantly changing and usually different for every card that goes on sale. So usually you can figure out about what your card is worth, but you’ll never know for sure until you try to sell it and see what someone is willing to pay for it.

CS: Given some of the things that we’ve talked about, how does SportsLizard.com help collectors value their cards?

AM: First and foremost, I hope it helps with education. We have a Pricing Tool that allows collectors to quickly and easily get an approximate value for a card or collectible. You type in what you’re interested in valuing and we spit out a number. It’s as simple as a Google search. It works by aggregating all of the items available for sale on eBay, SportsLizard, and a bunch of other sites, and gives you a number using our formula that also factors in our sales and search data.

We’ve put a lot of work into getting it to work well, but it’s only one piece of the valuing puzzle. Right below the search box is a tutorial for how to value any collectible. That tutorial links to an article that I wrote that I feel explains a fool proof method for valuing any card or collectible. It’s the culmination of everything I’ve learned as a lifetime collector. Generally it takes less than five minutes and can be done using free tools available on the web. 

CS: What else does SportsLizard.com offer collectors?

AM: In a grand sense, I hope we offer transparency. Collectors I think are frustrated with the Beckett’s and PSA’s of the world because they have their hand in too many conflicting businesses. We’re totally independent and I try to keep the reasons we do everything we do out in the open. More specifically, our afforementioned Pricing Tool is probably the most useful thing we offer collectors. We also just launched the Collector’s Voice, a service that aggregates all of the articles from the best collecibles bloggers on the web into one common location. It allows collectors to discover new sources of card information so they don’t have to rely on what Beckett or Tuff Stuff feeds them. For anyone who sells on eBay or has a website, we allow them to syndicate their listings in our marketplace for free through our seller program. As a buyer, a quick search of our marketplace gives you results from our 20,000+ items, everything on eBay, and everything listed on Google Product Search. I think it’s the best way to quickly find the card or collectible you’re looking for.

CS: Again, thank you very much for shedding some light on these issues. It’s really been informative.

AM: Thank you for the interview!

About the author: Mike Johnson is the owner of CardScape.net. He invites sports card collectors of all types to visit CardScape.net to see what they have to offer collectors for managing, tracking, and organizing their collections online. To become a member of CardScape.net, set up a membership today:http://www.cardscape.net/join.aspx