Is Pete Rose Back In Major League Baseball?… Kinda, Maybe, Probably Not

Pete Rose’s banishment from MLB for gambling on baseball while playing for and managing the Reds will go down in history as one of the most debated sports topics.  Should the banishment be forgotten allowing him entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame?  This is a question that plaques the minds of many baseball fans today, and will continue to do so for years to come.

Legendary baseball player, and sometimes controversial pop-culture figure Pete Rose hasn’t appeared on an MLB-licensed Topps baseball card since 1989.  The last time he was featured in a licensed product showing team names and/or logos comes from 1994 Upper Deck: The American Epic.  Since then he has been seen countless times in other non-licensed baseball products made by Leaf and Panini.

Collectors opening 2020 Topps Series 2 Baseball are finding a familiar looking fellow on the Philadelphia Phillies Decades’ Best insert.  With his back turned, no team name and/or logos visible, you can just make out the cockeyed name across the back of the jersey which says “ROSE”.  Other players on the card include Steve Carlton and Bob Boone.

This isn’t something that Topps made a point to alert collectors about.  Collectors are discovering this all on their own.  Self-discovering moments such as this add a bit of excitement to the brand.  Pulling a card out and saying “I wonder if anyone else has noticed this?” can be fun.

In no way is this card rare.  Topps didn’t issue a corrected version.  Each one, including the parallels, looks just like this.  That won’t stop some folks from attempting to sell their cards for a premium.  This reminds me of the 2019 Topps Stadium Club Shane Bieber “error” which calls him Justin on the back.

The Top 5 Phillies Cards I’d Like To See In Topps Project 2021 & Beyond

In the realm of modern-day sports card collecting a 2020 Ichiro card limited to 1,334 copies normally wouldn’t draw that much attention.  Especially if its not a rookie, autograph, and/or relic.  The Topps Project 2020 set has completely taken that idea and flipped it around.  Print runs of that quantity are considered to be very low when it comes to this set.

Near the end of March, Topps began selling their online-exclusive Project 2020 set.  Twenty iconic Topps baseball cards ranging from 1952 all the way to 2011 will receive an artistic twist from twenty popular artists.  When the set is complete it will contain (400) cards.  Before it comes to an end, I’d like to see one of the Jackie Robinson cards picture a barge in the background dumping cases of 1952 Topps High Number into the Hudson River.  This actually happened in the late 1950s when Topps wanted to get rid of old inventory.  An artistic take on that event in card history would be neat to see.

No Philadelphia Phillies are in the mix for the Project 2020 set.  I’m hoping that if we get a Project 2021… 2022… 2023 we see at least one Phillies card.  With that being said, here are my top five Phillies cards I’d like to see used for this product.

#1 – Mike Schmidt 1974 Topps #283

Mike Schmidt’s rookie card comes from 1973 Topps where he is pictured alongside John Hilton and Ron Cey.  I don’t believe Topps would use that card because the other two players are on it.  That’s probably why they didn’t use Nolan Ryan’s 1968 Topps rookie this time around, and instead went with his 1969 Topps card.  Sticking with that train of thought, Mike Schmidt’s 1974 Topps #283 would be the most logical decision.

#2 – Steve Carlton 1972 Topps Traded #751

The facial expression alone on this card should make it worthy.  Steve Carlton’s first card in a Phillies uniform can be found in the 1972 Topps Traded subset.  I would’ve suggested using his rookie, but that has him in a Cardinals uniform and paired with Fritz Ackley.

#3 – Richie Ashburn 1956 Topps #120

When Richie Ashburn’s rookie was released in 1949 Bowman, Topps and Bowman were two separate companies.  In 1955 Topps purchased Bowman and the rest is history.  Even though Topps owns the Bowman brand now I don’t think they’ll use a Bowman card that was issued prior to their ownership.  1952, 1954, and 1955 Topps designs have already been used for Project 2020.  The Topps Living Set already utilizes the 1953 design.  I could definitely see his 1956 Topps #120 being used.

#4 – Fergie Jenkins 1966 Topps Rookie Stars #254

The Phillies aren’t the first team you think about when talking about Hall of Fame pitcher Fergie Jenkins.  He signed with the Phillies in 1962, and debuted with the team in 1965.  A year later he was traded to the Cubs.  Because his rookie has Bill Sorrell on it, I highly doubt this card would ever be used.  Nothing against Bill Sorrell, but its basically the same situation as Mike Schmidt’s rookie card.

#5 – Phillie Phanatic 2007 Topps Opening Day #206

The Phillie Phanatic is the greatest mascot of all-time.  We’re lucky he received a Topps NOW card in April 2018 celebrating his 40th anniversary.  I’d like to see him included in more Topps online-exclusive products.  A Topps Living Set card would be cool.  His first Topps card can be found in 2007 Opening Day.

Card of the Day: Becky Lynch 2015 Topps WWE Undisputed NXT In Line Auto

Bowman Made It’s Big Comeback In 1989

The “COMEBACK EDITION!”.  That’s what it is labeled.  After Topps acquired Bowman during the mid-1950s, the Bowman brand of cards disappeared faster than a government discovered UFO.  From 1956 to 1988, you won’t find any Bowman labeled cards.  In 1989, Topps decided to bring Bowman back.  Que AC/DC’s Back In Black.

Over 30 years is a long time to go without a Bowman set.  When it returned, the set resembled 1953 Bowman Color.  Right down to the slightly larger card size.

This Bowman set looks nothing like the prospect/rookie filled products we see today.  It consists of (484) cards.  Only (46) of them are rookies.  The most notable rookie would be of Ken Griffey, Jr.  Gary Sheffield, Tino Martinez, and John Smoltz have rookies in here too.

Topps released this product around the All-Star break.  This allowed them to include rookies which had been called-up, and picture veterans in their new uniforms if they had been traded.  One of the hottest cards to pull at the time wasn’t even a rookie.  Collectors wanted the card of Nolan Ryan in his new Texas Rangers uniform.  Nolan Ryan left the Astros over a contract dispute, and found his way to Texas.  All of the other sets had him with Houston.

Outside of the base set, you’ll find one insert.  This 11-card set features reprints of famous vintage Bowman cards.  On the back of each insert are rules for a contest in which you could win an original version of the card pictured on the front.  The grand prize was a complete set of 1953 Bowman Color.

Complete boxes/sets of 1989 Bowman are readily available and quite affordable.  The high-end Tiffany versions are a different story.  These are limited to 6,000 sets (not a lot for the time), and can cost almost $1,000.

Card of the Day: 1966 Topps Superman – Superman Leaps In #33

Mystery Solved: Why Are The Crash Test Dummies In These Sets?

Are we alone in the universe?  Is Bigfoot real?  Who really shot JFK?  These are all questions that have plagued humanity for a very long time.  But one question rises above them all.  Why are the Crash Test Dummies (Vince & Larry) included in two minor league baseball team sets?  I needed to find out.

According to Ad Council, “The single most effective protection against death and serious injury in a car crash is the safety belt.  Since Vince & Larry, the Crash Test Dummies, were introduced to the American public in 1985, safety belt usage has increased from 14% to 79%, saving an estimated 85,000 lives, and $3.2 billion in costs to society.  The campaign tagline, “You Could Learn A Lot From a Dummy,” as well as the crash test dummies themselves, was retired in 1999, when the U.S. Department of Transportation revised the campaign.”

Between 1985 and 1999 the Crash Test Dummies (Vince & Larry) were everywhere.  Their slapstick comedy promoting safety belt usage will go down as one of the most successful advertising campaigns in history.  Their popularity spawned comic books, video games, and a line of action figures.

The Oklahoma City RedHawks (now the Oklahoma City Dodgers) played their inaugural season in 1998.  Like a lot of minor league teams, they had team sets made which could be purchased at their souvenir shop.  At the time Multi-Ad was one of the key companies to print these up.  Between their 1998 and 1999 sets not many names ring any bells besides Todd Van Poppel (1998).  The most interesting cards are of the Crash Test Dummies (Vince & Larry).  But what the heck are they doing in here?

The Crash Test Dummies (Vince & Larry) are featured on five cards in the 1998 set – #26-#30.  Each card looks exactly alike except for the card number.  You’ll find two cards of them in the 1999 set – #29 and #30.  Once again they look alike besides the card number.

On the back of each card it reads “Vince and Larry are no rookies-these guys have been pitching safety belt use in a major league way for nearly 11 years.  As crash test dummies, they’ve had their share of hard hits.  When it comes to a save situation, safety belts and air bags are the perfect stoppers.  Take it from these two MVPs…if you want to be safe at home, wear your safety belt.”

My search lead me to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office.  Their Communications Manager came back with the following response:

“The Oklahoma Highway Safety Office (OHSO) has a long history of working closely with the OKC Dodgers (and formerly the RedHawks) as it relates to traffic safety marketing.  Each year, the OHSO enters into a marketing contract with the team (and others around the state) to promote traffic safety at their games and events.

I’m sure the inclusion of Vince and Larry was a part of a previous contract.”

There you have it.  Mystery solved.  I wish the explanation would have been some elaborate story.  But it was just a simple marketing deal between the Oklahoma City RedHawks and the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office.

Now we can all rest comfortably.

1998

1999

Card Grading In It’s Current Form Is A @#!%$ Joke – Human Graders Must Go

Years and years ago I gave card grading a shot.  This took place well before Sports Card Info existed.  Because I didn’t do it very often I either went with BGS or SGC.  I had some modest success, but most of the time my cards came back 8’s or 8.5’s.  Those types of grades on the cards I was sending in actually diminished their value.  Two cards came back 9.5’s – 1991 Topps Stadium Club Brett Favre #94, and a Ryan Howard 2003 Donruss Elite Extra Edition Status Die-Cut #’ed/57.

To put it simply, card grading is a scam.  It always has been.  The first card PSA graded is the infamous Honus Wagner 1909-11 T206 which came back a NM-MT 8.  That card was altered and trimmed from day one.  PSA looked the other way because they knew the publicity they would receive.  Looking the other way for publicity and/or giving high grades based on a customer’s grading volume for more profit has been ingrained into grader’s skulls since the beginning.  Its a sickness that needs to be eradicated.

In 2019 we have seen card altering and trimming scandals exposed one after another.  Everywhere you look another one pops-up.  They’re like roaches.  Just check out some of the most recent articles from Sports Card Radio, and what the investigators on the Blowout Cards forums have dug up.  I think its safe to say that every card encapsulated in a grading holder should be questioned.  That’s if you get your cards back at all.  Wait times are atrocious, and PSA has been known to openly admit to throwing cards out.

Grading has a place in the hobby.  Just not in it’s current form.  Right now card grading is way too corruptible.  How do we eliminate this corruption?  Well, I don’t believe we can get rid of it completely.  Removing the human component would certainly help.  An A.I. and/or highly advanced computer system would most likely be the best way to go.  It would need to have a vast database filled with perfect examples of every card ever printed.  Scanning the card down to the very molecules its comprised of would result in an overall detailed grade unheard of today.  I want a grading system so unbiased/advanced when that Mickey Mantle rookie card is placed inside the machine it’ll tell you which part of the country it was pulled and what else the customer purchased that day.

But not even the most futuristic grading system will stop the skeptics.  Who’s to say the system’s designers won’t program it to be biased towards cards in their own collection?  What if someone hacks the system to improve their grades?  Nothing is full proof.  But as we sit today, the human graders need to go.  Humans are too tempted by greed.  Graders, trimmers, and cosigners are all in bed together.  The FBI is coming folks!  Until some drastic changes happen, I wouldn’t take card grading seriously.

We all had a feeling shady stuff was going on behind closed doors, but most simply looked away hoping the talking would stop.  With all of the garbage that’s been uncovered this year nobody is going to forget about it.  This topic and the players in it need to be dealt with.  More and more collectors should be on major alert.  If these graders did what they’re suppose to do, not a single altered/trimmed card should have made it passed them.  Money is more important to them than their integrity.  As long as people continue to turn a blind eye, pay top dollar for high-grade cards, this cycle will continue.  Lets break that cycle and inform as many people as possible about what’s going on.  With each scandal that breaks, more consumer confidence is lost.

With the National Sports Collectors Convention right around the corner, I’m sure companies like PSA, BGS, PWCC, Probstein123, and many more will have some explaining to do.  Some of these people shouldn’t even be allowed in the building.  Lots of great cards will be on display.  Just keep in mind that they might not have always looked so nice.  Promotional subpoenas for everyone!!!

It all started with this one.

2019 Leaf In The Game Used Sports Set To Arrive In Time For The National

Earlier this week I was excited to announce that Leaf In The Game Used Sports is making it’s return in 2019.  Like I mentioned in my previous post, the 2018 version of this product was just loaded with one low-numbered hit after another.  I never had a bad box.

Leaf has released the official sales sheet for 2019 Leaf In The Game Used Sports.  As is the case with a lot of sales sheets, some of these autographs and patches could change between now and the time it actually comes out.

The configuration looks similar to last year – (12) boxes per case, and (5) hits per box.  July 31, 2019 is the set release date.  I’m sure it will be one of the eligible products that you can use for Leaf’s wrapper redemption program during the National Sports Collector’s Convention.

Leaf In The Game Used Sports Returns For 2019

Good luck trying to find a sealed box of 2018 Leaf In The Game Used Sports.  Its almost impossible.  Released on August 1, 2018 (the first day of the National), this product was a huge hit at the show.  If you couldn’t make it to Cleveland, various dealers carried it.  But their stock didn’t last very long.  Its been months since I’ve seen a sealed box surface.

What made this product so popular?  Boxes are loaded with low-numbered hits.  Five to be exact.  At an initial cost of $160-$165 per box, collectors quickly realized they were getting quite the deal.  Most boxes were solid, and delivered value that was equal to the box price.  Lots of times the value was much more.  Not mass-produced.  Low case production.  I think Leaf configured it this way because they knew it would draw people in.  As collectors began to catch on, the price of a single box began to grow.  The last time I saw a box listed for sale it cost $269.  I was lucky to get my hands on three boxes last year.  You can see what I pulled here and here.

I’m happy to announce that Leaf plans to bring back In The Game Used Sports for 2019.  While we don’t have a release date, box/case price, configuration details, and/or print run yet, Leaf did let a few images slip out.  These pictures are of cards from their “The Chosen Few” collection.  Randomly inserted are redemptions for some heavy-duty high-end cards.  If you pull one, Leaf will allow you to pick a card from their “The Chosen Few” inventory.  Obviously the sooner one is pulled, the more selection you will have.  More details to come.

Bryce Harper In A Phillies Uniform – Baseball Authenticated Masterpieces Has That Too!

Here we go Phillies fans!!!  Bryce Harper is officially coming to Philadelphia.  After months of speculation and countless rumors, its finally happening.  The deal is worth $330 million over 13 years.  I think he’s going to be an excellent addition to the Phillies roster.  Not only will the team benefit from him, but the local economy as well.  Its all about merchandising!!!

Bryce Harper is one of the key players on the checklist for Baseball Authenticated Masterpieces.  Knowing that he’d probably be with a new team this year, artist Monty Sheldon held off so at least one of Harper’s baseballs would feature him in his new uniform.  Just like he did with Manny Machado.

Baseball Authenticated Masterpieces is scheduled to be released this spring.  (150) game-used, hand-painted, and autographed baseballs.  (3) different baseballs per player within the main set.

Checkout my latest write-up on this product with an updated sales sheet.