Product Highlight: 2007 Upper Deck Holiday Inn Baseball

The 2007 Upper Deck Holiday Inn Baseball set is nothing earth shattering, but an interesting promotion.  For those members of the Holiday Inn Priority Club that stayed at a participating Holiday Inn hotel between May 31, 2007 and July 30, 2007 received a special pack of Upper Deck baseball cards.  You received a pack for each night stayed.  Inside each pack there are (4) cards – (3) base, and (1) Cal Ripken, Jr. insert.  There are (5) Ripken inserts, and the entire base set consists of (60) cards. Its possible to find those Ripken inserts with a code on the back. The codes were meant to be used in the Priority Club Rewards Program.

You won’t find any rookies, relics, autographs, or parallels.  Adding at least one of those elements would have drastically increased people’s interest in this set.

In my opinion, Upper Deck’s idea of printing cards on hotel room keys for promotional purposes makes for a more unique souvenir.

Product Highlight: 1988-90 Topps MLB Sports Shots Duo-Tang Pocket Folders

Whether you’re heading back to school or looking for some fun office supplies I think we can all agree these pocket folders are freakin’ awesome.

I’m going to be dead honest. There really isn’t much to say about them. Pocket folders designed to look like giant Topps baseball cards. You could find them in a variety of stores between 1988 and 1990. We know those are the years they were available because 1988, 1989, and 1990 Topps baseball card designs have been used.

Without an official checklist its unclear if every card in each 1988, 1989, and 1990 set was turned into a pocket folder. You will find folders of stars such as Tony Gwynn and Mark McGwire. But then folders were also made for guys like Greg Walker and Dion James. Folders were not just limited to top name players.

These pocket folders are about as easy to find as their baseball card counterparts. Plenty of them floating around the secondary market.

Folders were issued in 1991, but the design doesn’t follow any known baseball card set.

Pin Highlight: 2022 Little League World Series Grand Slam Parade

The 2022 Little League World Series kicks off tonight with the Grand Slam Parade. Games start on August 17th.

The Downtown Festival begins at 4:00 p.m., and the parade starts at 5:30 p.m. New York Yankees Hall of Fame pitcher Mariano Rivera will serve as the Grand Marshal.

Collectible lapel pins are a main draw for Little League fans. I began to see some 2022 pins show up as early as mid-July. Many more will follow as the week goes on.

Here is what the 2022 Little League World Series Grand Slam Parade pin looks like for this year.

People who are on the parade committee receive a special pin.

Product Highlight: 1986 Big League Chew Home Run Legends

Growing up in the 1980s I bet you can remember when Big League Chew hit the streets.  Big League Chew is unlike any bubble gum that fans had seen before. Packaged in a foil pouch, and the gum itself is shredded to resemble chewing tobacco.  Big League Chew is the brainchild of Portland Mavericks pitcher Rob Nelson. The idea was pitched to the Wrigley Company by MLB All-Star pitcher Jim Bouton. Fans were introduced to it in May of 1980, and it has been in production ever since.

In 2010 the Wrigley Company sold the rights to Big League Chew to Ford Gum. Various gum flavors and packaging styles have been added over the years. I’ve always enjoyed the artwork featured on their packages.

Gum chewers in 1986 were greeted with a baseball card inside their pouches of Big League Chew.  The entire set consists of only (12) cards.  Pouches each had one card and/or you could send away through a mail-in offer for a complete set.  Many of the cards found in the pouches were damaged through the packing process. All of the players in the set are members of the 500 Career Home Run Club.  The year on the card indicates when that player made it into the club.

Interesting fact. During the mid-1980s Ford Gum was owned by Leaf. Yes, the same Leaf that makes cards. If Ford Gum would’ve had the rights to make Big League Chew back then these cards would have the Leaf name on them.

Product Highlight: 1999 Topps Action Flats Baseball

I can still remember going into my local card shop and seeing these crazy little dudes for sale.

The Topps Action Flats line actually began in 1998 with the NFL. Football fans got another dose in 1999 as well. But baseball fans only received one set which was released in 1999. Another baseball set was in the works before the product line got officially dropped altogether.

What are Action Flats? An Action Flat is a small (flat) figure that comes on a stand. It was another attempt at competing with Starting Lineup. The 1999 Topps Action Flats Baseball set consists of (12) players:

  • Chipper Jones
  • Greg Maddux
  • Mark McGwire
  • Sammy Sosa
  • Kerry Wood
  • Barry Bonds
  • Alex Rodriguez
  • Ken Griffey, Jr.
  • Cal Ripken
  • Juan Gonzalez
  • Nomar Garciaparra
  • Derek Jeter

The Action Flat figure is posed to mimic the image on the accompanying card. Cards look just like the flagship set, but have a “Action Flats” foil stamp on them.

Topps did make some parallels to chase. Away and Classic Jersey parallels apply to the figures only. Classic Jersey parallels are more difficult to find. The cards that come with the figures are the same whether the figure is a parallel or not.

Props to Topps for trying something different. But the Action Flats line never really caught on.

Pin Highlight: 2022 Little League International Congress Pins

For the first time since 1989 the Little League International Congress will be held in Williamsport, PA June 10-13, 2022.

What is the Little League International Congress? Held every 4 years, the Little League International Congress brings together volunteer District Administrators (along with many other Little League officials) in an effort to help improve the Little League program. Various rule and regulation changes are voted on among other items of business.

Pins and Little League go together like peanut butter and jelly. Most of the individuals who attend the Little League International Congress are pin collectors. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if lots of people bring their own pins along to do some trading.

The Little League Store in Williamsport has a few new pins made for the 2022 Congress.

During the late 1800’s Williamsport was known for being the “Lumber Capital of the World”. At one point in time Williamsport had more millionaires per-capita than anywhere in the world. This is why Little League’s mascot Dugout is seen dressed as a lumberjack. Nothing is more frightening than a chipmunk/beaver hybrid swinging a baseball bat with an axe head mounted on the end.

Product Highlight: 1992 MotorArt Iditarod Sled Dog Race

Wow! The 80’s and 90’s really did bring us some unusual card sets.

MotorArt (out of Florida) certainly isn’t the first card manufacturer you think of first. Most likely because they didn’t stick around that long. Thanks to MotorArt collectors were introduced to the Iditarod Sled Dog Race Set.

The 1992 MotorArt Iditarod Sled Dog Race Set consists of (110) cards. You could purchase the cards in two different formats:

Hobby Box
Factory Set

There was also a 4-card promo pack they issued.

Over the course of the set you will find cards of mushers, dogs, and the various survival procedures they go through to finish the race.

No relics. No autographs. No parallels. No chase cards. MotorArt did offer a promotion where you could send away for a complete set on an uncut sheet. They only made 1,049 of these (one for each mile of the race). Each sheet cost $49.

Standalone Iditarod Race sets have never gained much hobby traction. Its not uncommon to find mushers included in products such as Allen & Ginter, Sport Kings, and Goodwin Champions.

Pin Highlight: 1998 Little League World Series Honda Sponsor Pin

Taking place between August 23-29 was the 1998 Little League World Series in South Williamsport, PA. Toms River, NJ took Kashima, Ibaraki, Japan to the cleaners winning the championship game. Future MLB All-Star and Home Run Derby champion Todd Frazier was on the Toms River team. He went 4-4 with a lead-off home run, and was also the winning pitcher.

Pins have always been a huge part of the Little League World Series. Even when the games were cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19 corporate sponsors and local businesses released pins. Each Little League World Series brings a new wave of pins to collect. Without an official pin checklist it makes the hunt even more exciting.

Honda has been a sponsor of Little League for over 20 years. Their corporate booth on the Little League campus is constantly busy when the World Series is taking place. Eager collectors lineup early in order to get their hands on the latest Honda pins.

One of the most coveted Little League pins was released by Honda in 1998. Due to a lot of rain, Honda decided to pack up early and go home. Before doing so they handed out only a few hundred of their pins. Those factors have led this pin to become very rare. On the secondary market these have been known to reach close to $300.

Pin Highlight: 2020 Little League World Series ESPN Robo Cam Pin

Thanks to COVID-19 the 2020 Little League World Series did not take place. That certainly didn’t stop individuals and businesses from making their pins for fans to collect.

Pins have been a big part of the Little League World Series for years. Some of the more desirable pins come from various people who work for ESPN. When, where, and who distributes them is a total mystery to me. They just seem to popup and find their way into circulation.

A staple ESPN pin that seems to comeback year to year are the ones in the shape of the robo cams. The pin pictured below is what would have been making it’s rounds at the Little League World Series in 2020.

What makes this pin so special is the logo. This is the only pin that I’ve seen which contains the logo which would have been used for the 2020 Little League World Series. Usually the Little League store would sell logo merchandise, but they did very little of that last year. No pins for sure. Little League chose to use the same logo for 2021. The main difference is the year change.

Two of these pins have popped up for sale so far. Both auctions could easily have been for the exact same pin, and sold for close to $50 each time.

Product Highlight: 1997 Topps ProShooters Photo Marbles

Now this is one of those times you really don’t want to lose your marbles. Especially once you see how crazy collectors go for these tiny little orbs.

One of the most sought after Topps test-issued products from the 90s are the ProShooters Photo Marbles released in 1997. Collectors in Canada and Northeast U.S. had the opportunity to buy these before they disappeared off of store shelves.

Packaged inside each box are (24) packs. Inside each pack are (2) marbles and (1) of (2) checklist cards. That’s a total of (48) marbles and (24) checklist cards per box.

Much like a baseball card, each marble houses a picture of a Major League Baseball player. There are (60) total marbles in the set. Guys like Ken Griffey, Jr., Chipper Jones, Hideo Nomo, Roberto Alomar, Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa all have marbles made. Many other popular players of the time are also included.

The marbles themselves are difficult to pin down. Only a small handful ever appear on eBay. What is really hard to find are the (2) checklists. Each checklist has (30) player marbles pictured on it. Player collectors go nuts for these because very few surface. Most checklists were likely thrown out by those who opened the packs.