Pin Highlight: 2018 MLB All-Star Game Press Pin

Its hard to believe that we’re half way through the 2018 MLB season.  Phillies fans like myself should be thrilled with how the team is playing.  Especially when you compare what their record is now to what it was last year at this time.  The Phillies are 53-42, and half a game ahead of the Braves while sitting atop the NL East Division.

Earlier this year, I purchased a 2018 Topps Now Philadelphia Phillies Road To Opening Day Team Set.  If anyone from that team does something special throughout the season, Topps will send out a special card to those who purchased the set.  One of those special moments is placing #1 in the division at the All-Star break.  So I will have to keep an eye on the mail for that.  I’ll show it off when it arrives.

The 2018 MLB All-Star Game takes place in Washington D.C.  FanFest has lots of merchandise to buy.  But its the stuff not for sale that draws massive attention.  Pictured above is the press pin made for members of the media, and various MLB partners.  The center portion is made of a finely crushed marble powder, which was then mixed with a resin and molded into the shape of the U.S. Capitol Building.  That’s just not any marble powder they used either.  Its from the actual U.S. Capitol Building steps that were removed during a 1995 renovation.

I find it ironic that something as patriotic as this pin was made in China.  Well, the metal part of the pin and plastic container it comes in is from China.  A few have leaked their way on to the secondary market.  One completed sale ended at $125.

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Past And Present Cleveland Indians Highlight The Topps 2018 NSCC VIP Set

Cleveland Indians of the past and present will be found in the Topps VIP set this year for those attending the 2018 National Sports Collectors Convention.  Its a 5-card set.  I wouldn’t be surprised if packs only contain (4) cards.  Like in years past, Topps wants you to trade in order to get that fifth card.

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.

Product Highlight: 1995 Collector’s Edge Ball Park Franks

I love hot dogs.  They’re one of my favorite foods.  Mustard, ketchup, cheese, hot peppers, and salsa make great toppings.  There is nothing better than sitting at a ballgame or attending a nice card show while shoving a hot dog in your face.

Collector’s Edge may have died out years ago, but they were all over the place in the 90’s.  Today their old football sets receive more attention than anything.  This is due to them issuing numerous rookie cards of both Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.  Basketball, baseball, and hockey would come next.

You don’t see it done as much today, but cards attached to food products at one time was a common thing.  Food premiums are an entire collecting niche.  In 1995, Collector’s Edge struck a deal with Ball Park Franks.  For (8) UPC codes, (4) UPC codes + $2.50, or (2) UPC codes + $5.00, you would receive exclusive autographed cards of Yogi Berra and Frank Robinson.  Both came with accompanying cards stating the authenticity of the signatures.  This promotion ended on May 31, 1995 or until they ran out.

If you’re in the market for a Frank Robinson or Yogi Berra autograph but don’t want to spend a lot of money, these might be for you.  They’re dirt cheap.  Lots were made.  You can easily pick them up for $10-$15 each.  The Yogi Berra tends to carry more weight.

Pin Highlight: 2017 MLB Little League Classic – Cardinals vs. Pirates – Baseball Pin

There is no doubt that one of the major highlights during last year’s Little League World Series was the Major League game that took place at BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field.  In nine innings the Pirates defeated the Cardinals 6-3.  It even got it’s very own Topps Now card.

Three different pins were made to celebrate this inaugural event.  The first two are fairly simple to find.  One features the MLB Little League Classic name with logos from both teams.  A second has Fredbird and the Pirate Parrot on it.  The third pin is what you see pictured above.  As you can probably tell, it has the MLB Little League Classic name, team logos, and is in the shape of a baseball.  Unlike the other two though, this pin was not available for sale over at Little League.  A majority of them were given out to game attendees.  Only Little League players and their families, plus any Lycoming County residents lucky enough to win a lottery were allowed to attend the game.  Not much of the general public made it in.  All pins are made by WinCraft.

Sports Card Info has been known to get me into certain events for free, but this wasn’t one of them.  So how did I get one?  For a short time Fanatics had them for sale.  The day after I purchased mine, Fanatics pulled them off the market.  Why?  I don’t know.  The next thing I saw were them being handed out on T.V.

The 2018 Little League World Series takes place August 16-26.  Little League recently unveiled the official logo for the 2018 games.  The Phillies will take on the Mets August 19 in the second MLB Little League Classic.

Product Highlight: 1996 Upper Deck Folz Vending Machine Minis

The odds are strong that at one time or another you ran into a Folz vending machine.  Folz once had almost 200,000 machines spread across the United States and Canada.  For awhile, it was the world’s largest bulk vending company.  You could find them in mom-and-pop shops, grocery stores, and well known department store chains.  Their vending machines carried a variety of goodies such as candy, stickers, and even sports cards.

In my day, I don’t recall running into many vending machines that dispensed sports cards.  A card shop I visited while in Ohio had one.  I gave it a shot and pulled a Troy Aikman from 1990 Fleer.  It wasn’t until the 2014 National Sports Collectors Convention where I came across another.  They make an interesting conversation piece.

Upper Deck made a deal with Folz Vending that involved specially made cards.  You’ll find that (1) baseball, (1) basketball, and (2) football sets exist.  I’ve heard that a hockey set was made, but I have yet to find any cards from it.  Designs look very similar to the Collector’s Choice sets that were released.  Instead of the Collector’s Choice name, just the Upper Deck logo is found on the fronts.  Photos on the backs reach all the way to the edges too.  The biggest difference are the card’s overall size.  They’re smaller in comparison to a standard sports card (2 5/16″ x 3 3/8″).  Most likely so they could fit in the machines better.

Sets consist of (48) cards.  The first six cards in each set are short prints and contain foil on the front.  Condition can be a big factor considering they were stored in vending machines.  Back then, cards with foil were difficult to pull out of a pack in good condition let alone being stored and distributed in a vending machine format.  All short prints carry a premium, especially the Michael Jordan.  Although its not a short print, the Derek Jeter is highly sought after as well.

Lets get one thing straight.  Its “Folz” not “Foltz”.  At first graders rejected these when they were sent in.  When Beckett decided to grade them, everyone else fell in line.  Because of a typo at first, some graded examples identify them as “Foltz”.