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Batman Turns 80 – Here’s His Rookie Card

Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, Batman made his debut to the world in Detective Comics issue #27.  The date on the cover states “May 1939”, but it was actually released in March of that year.

2019 marks Batman’s 80th anniversary.  For the last 80 years Batman has been fighting one evil-doer after another in order to keep Gotham City safe.  Despite being introduced to fans in 1939, it took until 1966 for Batman to receive what I like to call his “rookie card”.

Thanks to the success of the Adam West and Burt Ward Batman television series, fans saw multiple card sets released in 1966.  Topps issued five different sets all based on the campy Batman show.  The first is the 1966 Topps Batman Black Bat set.  It consists of 55-cards, and the artwork is done by Norman Saunders.  Saunders is best known for working on the 1962 Topps Mars Attacks set.  Card #1 simply features “The Batman”.  They call it the Black Bat set because the picture’s caption is inside a black bat.  Other sets released that same year include the Blue BatRed BatThe Riddler Back, and The Bat Laffs.  Like most vintage cards, condition is everything.  The value of this card can range anywhere from hundreds of dollars to thousands based in it’s condition.

Batman will always remain one of my favorite superheros.  I was first introduced to him while watching reruns of the old show from the 1960’s.  Then I discovered Tim Burton’s Batman starring Michael Keaton.  That movie is ingrained into my mind.  I prefer my Batman to be much more serious than campy.  Growing up, I had tons of action figures.  The first one I remember getting was of Batman from the 1989 Toy Biz DC Heroes line.

Today’s fans know Batman as a very serious character.  Thanks to comics such as Batman: Year One, The Killing Joke, and The Dark Knight Returns, those days of camp are fairly over.  Tim Burton’s films also helped, along with Batman: The Animated Series.

I wish this card had a more serious tone to it.  This image reminds me of what I look like on the opening night of the National Sports Collectors Convention.  Batman just looks way too happy.

On a side note, wouldn’t it be neat to see Michael Keaton return as Batman?  It could be a follow-up to Batman Returns.  Even though Batman Returns had two sequels – Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, other than Michael Gough playing Alfred Pennyworth you don’t see a lot of connections to the original two films.  Going back like this worked for the Halloween franchise last year.  With all of the reboots and restarts DC Comics films are currently going through, its not that far of a stretch for it to happen.

In case you were wondering, Robin’s “rookie card” is #2 in the Black Bat set.  Lots of famous characters from Batman’s Rogues Gallery have rookie cards in here.

R.I.P. Frank Robinson – I Got Yelled At For Taking His Picture

Frank Robinson was one hell of a baseball player and manager.  He is the first player in history to be named MVP in both leagues, and the first African American manager in Major League Baseball.  For those looking for his rookie card, it can be found in the 1957 Topps set card #35.

For years Frank Robinson was on the autograph circuit.  He was a regular signer at the National Sports Collectors Convention, and various other shows throughout the country.  While I never got his autograph, I did run in to him during the March 2009 Philly Show and 2016 National in Atlantic City.

In March of 2009, the Philly Show recently moved from Reading to Valley Forge.  In my opinion, that wasn’t a great move.  I attended the show a few more times after that, but then decided to stop going.  I just didn’t enjoy the setup, and it became more focused on the autograph guests.  Lots of my favorite dealers began dropping out.  The attendance wasn’t there, and the price for booth space kept rising.  I’m not too sure what the state of the show is right now.  It still goes on in Valley Forge, but I haven’t been there since 2011.

Lets go back to that March 2009 show.  Former Phillies pitcher Marty Bystrom was one of the autograph guests.  He loved interacting with fans, and not once did he talk on his phone while signing autographs.  Yeah right!

Shortly before lunchtime, I remember buying a box and taking it over to the food court to open.  I think it was a box of 2009 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection Football.  While sitting at the table, I saw Frank Robinson walk in.

As soon as Frank Robinson walked in, I quickly snapped a picture from across the room.  I then continued going through my box.  The next thing I know he’s sitting at the table with me eating a muffin.  It was just us at the table, and nobody else around.  He made it well known to me that he didn’t like that his picture was taken without asking permission.  No “Hi.  Nice to meet you.”, he went right to the fact that I took his picture.  He acted like I shoved the camera in his face.  I was way on the other side of the room.  My thinking is this, in a world where everyone has a camera in their pocket and you walk into a show to sign autographs, people are going to take pictures whether you want them to or not.

Perhaps he woke up on the wrong side of the bed that morning.  I don’t know.  Once I was finished opening my box, I left.  While waiting to enter the National in Atlantic City, he walked by.  The second he was gone, other people in line began exchanging similar stories.  It made me chuckle to know I wasn’t alone.

Mickey Mouse Turns 90 – Here’s His Rookie Card

When you hear the name “Mickey” and the words “rookie card” in the same sentence, most people are going to think of that famous #7 who played for the Yankees.  It makes sense they would.  Mickey Mantle is one of the most notable and collected sports figures.  His cards have fetched millions.  That 1951 Bowman rookie card is an icon of the industry.  So are many of his other cards.

What if I told you twenty years prior to Mickey Mantle’s rookie card, another Mickey was already making his cardboard debut.  Of course I’m talking about Mickey Mouse.  I believe he’s a bit more well-known around the world than that Yankee guy.  Mickey Mouse is right up there with the McDonald’s Arch and Nike Swoosh as far as most recognizable symbols go.

In 1928 Mickey Mouse made his public debut in the short film Steamboat Willie.  It was a total hit.  Animated short films eventually turned into full-length features.  Everything snowballed from there bringing fame and fortune to Walt Disney.

Disney is the king when it comes to merchandising.  They’ll slap their characters on anything if they think it will sell.  Three years after being introduced to the world, Mickey Mouse received what is now considered to be his 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.

Very few of these cards exist.  When they do popup, the asking price is usually in the thousands.  Another card featuring both Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse was released in 1931.  That one comes from the Wills Cinema Stars tobacco card set.  Its much more common though.

Mickey Mouse celebrates his 90th anniversary this year.  His 1931 First Newspaper Premium Picture Card takes us back to a time when he was fairly new and just beginning to make an impression on the world.  Truly an interesting piece of history.  Four more years would have to pass by until Mickey Mouse’s 1935 Gum Cards would be released.

Jamie Cooper Wraps Up His Latest MLB Masterpiece

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Renowned sports artist Jamie Cooper recently completed his latest piece of MLB artwork.  This masterpiece was done for a private collector in California.  After working on it for three years in Australia, its finally arrived in its new home.  Complete with a museum grade frame of water gild gold leaf.  This All Stars painting now rests peacefully in what looks like a very high-end collection located on a sprawling seven-acre estate on the side of a mountain.  The collector’s name was left unsaid for privacy.  I think we can all agree this collector has some cool stuff we can only dream about owning.  Jamie Cooper documented his entire trip to the U.S. on Facebook.  There you can see where this painting now resides.  In addition to the painting, its fun to look around the room to see what else is there.  I spot a lot of bats, and what looks like some 1992 Donruss Diamond Kings – Supers.  Jamie Cooper is pictured on the right, with the owner to the left.

One glance at this painting and you’ll see a who’s who of ballplayers coming from multiple generations.  Much like the Phillies and Yankees Dream Scenes he has done.  My eyes go straight to Mike Schmidt.  That powder blue uniform and red hat really stand out.  I think I can even see Jamie Cooper and the painting’s owner back there behind the dugout next to Nolan Ryan.  I wonder what all these guys are talking about while sitting around 1933 Comiskey Park?

Card companies here in America need to recognize Jamie Cooper’s talent.  His work would look great on some MLB sets.  He’s already done caricatures for an AFL product.

Brad Utterstrom Offers A Glimpse Of His 2015 Topps Gypsy Queen Art

In addition to Monty Sheldon, artist Brad Utterstrom also contributed his talents to this year’s Gypsy Queen.  Brad made (15) different 1/1 art patch cards.  Five of them can be seen below, and the rest will be on display here shortly.  Between Brad Utterstrom and Monty Sheldon, there are 40 total 1/1 art/patch cards to be found.  Consider yourself very lucky to pull any one of them.  These guys did a fantastic job.

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Monty Sheldon Showcases His 2015 Topps Gypsy Queen Art

Monty Sheldon is at it again!  Check out some of the artwork he worked on for the 2015 edition of Topps Gypsy Queen.  This year he made (25) art/patch cards each numbered one-of-one.  These are some of the top tier cards to look for when breaking open your boxes.  Any one of these cards could easily be the centerpiece of your collection.

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In addition to the art/patch cards, Monty Sheldon also worked on a (15) mini card set called “Basics of Base Ball”.  Each card in the set details a fundamental aspect of the game.  The printed versions should come 1:24 packs (one a box).  The original painted one-of-one “Basics of Base Ball” mini cards will also be inserted into packs of 2015 Topps Gypsy Queen.  Those can be seen below, and will be much harder to pull.

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