Tony Gwynn Did NOT Sign His 2014 Leaf Q Cards

Leaf Trading Cards introduced a new product in 2014 called Leaf Q.

Leaf Q was a high-end, multi-sport product that cost almost $1,000/box. Each box contained (11) or (12) cards. Almost all of the cards in the box were autographed.

One of the athletes that Leaf had planned to include within this set was Tony Gwynn. Unfortunately, Tony Gwynn passed away from cancer before Leaf was able to get him to sign his cards for this product.

Leaf made the decision not to include his unsigned cards within the product. Instead they sold them on eBay shortly after his death.

Where his signature was planned to be Leaf stamped the years “1960-2014”.

These sold like hotcakes. You rarely see them resurface.

My only problem is that the words “Authentic Signature” are printed on the front. And Leaf’s autograph COA is written on the back. It wouldn’t take much for some scummy scammer to forge Tony Gwynn’s signature on one of these cards, and attempt to pass it off as the real thing. Anyone that isn’t familiar with the history of these cards could easily become a victim.

As mentioned before these cards have rarely resurfaced over the years. I’ve never seen any cards containing fake signatures, but it certainly wouldn’t take much to make it happen.

Mike Baker Authenticated Is A Pointless Service The Hobby Does NOT Need

In 2020 and 2021 we saw card prices shoot to the moon. And in 2022 we have seen them completely tank.

During that fun time when everything was going up in price lots of new businesses arrived on the hobby scene attempting to convince collectors that they needed them. A lot of new and naive people bought right into it too. In this hobby it is very easy to convince people you are something that you really aren’t.

One of these joke business ventures that popped up is Mike Baker Authenticated. I’ve talked about them before, but it can’t hurt to bring them up again.

Mike Baker Authenticated would love to grade your graded cards. They’re trying to create another level of scarcity for you to chase. DON’T FALL FOR IT!

For example, lets say you have two of the same cards both graded by PSA a GEM MT 10. Mike Baker Authenticated wants you to believe that if they place one of their Silver, Gold, or Black Diamond labels on one of them its going to be worth more than the card without it. This has to be one of the most pointless services ever offered to collectors. What’s next? Grading the graded, graded, graded card?

Who is Mike Baker? Mike Baker was the first grader to work for PSA. In fact, he was their first employee. He was right there when the world famous 1909-11 T206 Honus Wagner was graded a PSA NM-MT 8. It was altered/trimmed, and slabbed in a PSA holder. That card shouldn’t have been graded. Knowing the publicity and money that card would bring is what didn’t stop them. On the Mike Baker Authenticated website it states “He has been a developer in the field of identifying counterfeit and altered trading cards.” What a joke!

Probstein123’s auctions was the first place I remember seeing Mike Baker Authenticated labeled slabs. Early on the COA Mike Baker Authenticated supplied with the card was down right sloppy. SGC graded cards came with PSA labeled COAs. Numerous misspellings could also be found. You could tell they were in a rush.

With card prices in free fall, grading companies are beginning to lower their fees. It wouldn’t surprise me if one of the big three BGS, PSA, or SGC go under. BGS or SGC more likely. PSA has some other sources of income. HGA and CSG could also be on the chopping block.

If the grading companies are hurting right now, so is Mike Baker Authenticated. This downturn could easily put them out of business. A good thing about a tanking market is purging the hobby of bogus and unnecessary services such as Mike Baker Authenticated. If you’re attending a card show and see their little tent, just ignore it.

Montgomery Club Members Are NOT Entitled To Every Topps Online-Exclusive Product First

Members of the Topps 582 Montgomery Club were shocked on Friday, May 6, 2022 when they discovered that 2021 Topps Formula 1 Chrome Sapphire Edition was on sale to the general public. Usually club members get first access to popular online-exclusive products before everyone else for the most part.

Boxes began popping up on Topps’ European sites, and then made their was to the U.S. I was able to add (1) box to my cart, but the Topps website froze for me during the checkout process due to the high volume of users. Some made it through successfully, bots especially, before it sold out.

A box of 2020 Topps Formula 1 Chrome Sapphire Edition originally cost $99. As of right now that same product sells for around $4k. Even with the increased price ($699.99) for the 2021 product you can see why club members are angry they weren’t offered it first like they were last year.

Although a massive surprise, if you read the language on the Topps 582 Montgomery Club website it clearly states “Exclusive Access to Pre-Sale window for select Topps 2022 Online Exclusives including Sapphire, Finest Flashbacks, Ginter X, and Archives Snapshots.” The keyword here is “select”. “Select” does not mean members will get a pre-sale window for every online-exclusive product. It means just the ones Topps chooses. Which products Topps chooses can clearly change from year to year.

Attempt to charge back your membership fee, threaten not to renew your membership next year, and write all of the hate e-mail you want. All the threats in the world aren’t going to make you feel better. 2021 Topps Formula 1 Chrome Sapphire Edition is most likely gone for the $699.99 price, and nothing is going to change that. If you want a box you’ll have to pay more on the secondary market. I would be very surprised if Topps offers members their allocation now that the general public sale is over.

Why wasn’t 2021 Topps Formula 1 Chrome Sapphire Edition one of the “select” products for pre-sale? Rumors and people’s imaginations instantly began to run wild. Maybe some of it will turn out to be true. You can read through it all on the Blowout Forums.

We still have a lot of the year to go. Topps could very easily surprise members with an exclusive product (never produced before) that could make up for 2021 Topps Formula 1 Chrome Sapphire Edition not being offered to club members first. Then again, they don’t have to.

In the end, it is all in the details of the language for the club we signed up for. Plain and simple.

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.

These Are NOT Mike Schmidt Rookie Cards

Michael Jack Schmidt will go down in history as one of the greatest third baseman to ever play the game.  He is definitely the best third baseman to ever wear a Phillies uniform.  I enjoy listening to him talk with the rest of the Phillies broadcast team on weekend home games.

If you’re in the market for a Mike Schmidt rookie card, look no further than 1973 Topps BaseballIts card #615 in the set, and he’s pictured along side John Hilton and Ron Cey.  This card, and it’s Canadian printed O-Pee-Chee counterpart, are his only recognized rookies.

One of these days I plan to own a Schmidt rookie.  They’re readily available.  I just haven’t pulled the trigger yet.  I’d like to own a PSA 5, 6, or 7 example.  Cards graded higher start to get expensive.

Pictured below is a small group of Mike Schmidt rookie-era cards that are not officially recognized as true rookies.  That doesn’t mean they’re worthless.  In fact, most are very desirable.  But authentic rookies they are NOT.

My favorite one is the 1973 Topps Philadelphia Phillies Team Card #536.  Since his real rookie card has more than one person on it, I guess some people like to think the team card counts too.

1972 Puerto Rican League Sticker #64

1973 Philadelphia Phillies Team Issue Postcard – Early Season

1973 Philadelphia Phillies Team Issue Postcard – Late Season

1973 Topps Philadelphia Phillies Team Card #536

These Are NOT Tom Seaver Rookie Cards

Earlier this month it was announced by Tom Seaver’s family that he would be retiring from public life due to dementia.  That’s a shame.  For years he’s been a regular on the autograph circuit.  This 12x All-Star pitcher and 1992 Baseball Hall of Fame inductee will be greatly missed.  Thanks Tom Terrific!

Whenever I hear Tom Seaver’s name, I always think back to the first National Sports Collectors Convention that I attended in 2007.  While I was there, I pulled a Tom Seaver/Dwight Gooden/Roger Clemens Triple Auto Relic #’ed 1/1 from a pack of ’07 Triple Threads.

Tom Seaver has a ton of cards.  Autographs and relics of him are all over the place.  His one true rookie card comes from the 1967 Topps Baseball set.  Its card #581, and he is pictured along side fellow Mets pitcher Bill Denehy.  Along with Mickey Mantle and the Rod Carew rookie, its one of the most sought after cards in the set.

There are five Tom Seaver cards from that era which could easily be mistaken for his actual rookie.

1967 B&E Color Advertising New York Mets Postcard – Team Issue

1968 Topps All-Star Rookie #45 – Whenever that All-Star Rookie trophy shows up I sometimes think people believe its an actual rookie card.  In most cases, the player was a rookie the year before.

1968 O-Pee-Chee All-Star Rookie #45 – The same info from the 68 Topps applies, except this card was printed in Canada.

1968 Topps All-Star Rookie Milton Bradley #45 – The same info from the ’68 Topps applies, except the back of this card has a brighter color yellow.  Its part of a Milton Bradley board game called “Win A Card”.

1968 Topps All-Star Rookie Venezuelan #45 – The same info from the ’68 Topps applies.  This set was released in South America.  The cards were printed on gray stock, and have an orange tint.  Most of the cards say “Hecho en Venezulela – C. A. Litoven” on the back.  Tom Seaver’s card does not.

These Are NOT Mickey Mantle Rookie Cards

A big pet peeve of mine is when people refer to certain authentic cards as an athlete’s rookie card when in fact they’re NOT.  This happens all the time.  Some athletes are more prone to it than others.

One of the biggest, if not the biggest, athlete this applies to is Yankees slugger Mickey Mantle.  I know this may sound like common knowledge for most of us, but Mickey Mantle only has one rookie card.  Its card #253 in the 1951 Bowman Baseball set.  That’s it.  His one and only true rookie card.  No debate needed.

Countless reprints have been made over the decades.  But that isn’t what bothers me.  Three items from that era are constantly being called rookies, but truly aren’t.

Mickey Mantle’s 1952 Berk Ross card uses the same photograph found on his ’51 Bowman rookie.  Although there are some differences between the two, one could easily be mistaken for another.  The 1952 Berk Ross set consists of (72) cards.  I’ve never been a big fan of this set because the images are fuzzy and of poor quality.

Can you believe thousands of these 1952 Topps High Numbers cards were just tossed away in the ocean?  It happened.  They were part of a stash of old inventory that nobody wanted, and Topps dumped them.  You regularly see this classic called Mickey Mantle’s rookie.  Its his first Topps card, but a rookie it is not.

Technically not a card, this Mickey Mantle photograph is part of a Wheaties promotional set from 1951.  The promotion was not widely done, and did not receive the best feedback.  Still not a rookie card though.

This Is NOT A Lynn Swann Rookie Card

Autograph collectors know all about Lynn Swann.  This Pittsburgh Steelers great, and Pro Football Hall of Famer isn’t the easiest person to obtain an autograph from.  If you’re lucky enough to attend a signing where he’s scheduled to appear, its going to cost you quite a bit.  Anywhere between $200-$300 to be exact.  There’s also a good chance that whatever you plan to get signed has to adhere to his regulations.  For example, Lynn Swann is scheduled to sign autographs at the next Chantilly Show.  He will only do HOF or SB MVP inscriptions.  He won’t sign personalizations or take photo op’s.  Trading cards, Goal Line Art cards, unlicensed jerseys, and signing directly on the jersey number are out of the question.  Its probably easier to list what he will sign versus won’t.  You need a Ph.D. to get his autograph.  I know some other athletes can be like this, but Lynn Swann is one of the worst.

Cards of Lynn Swann are scarce too depending on what you’re looking for.  His autograph isn’t the only thing he’s protective of.  The official Lynn Swann rookie can be found in the 1975 Topps Football set.  Its card #282.  That’s not his only card in the set though.  A 9-card Highlights subset exists.  #459 is of Lynn Swann.  Don’t let anyone convince you that his Highlights card is also a rookie.  It certainly isn’t recognized as one, and doesn’t carry anywhere near as much value.  I see many people attempting to pass this card off as his true rookie.  That simply isn’t the case.

These Are NOT Jerry Rice Rookie Cards

“Montana connects with Rice.” and “Young throws to Rice.” are phrases that NFL fans from the 80’s and 90’s fondly remember hearing.  Jerry Rice will go down in history as one of the greatest wide receivers to ever play the game.  Heck, he was so good many consider him to be one of the best NFL players of all-time period.

Jerry Rice is another player who has one unanimously recognized rookie card.  That card comes from the classic green bordered 1986 Topps Football set.  It continues to be atop many of collector’s must-have lists.  Raw examples can be purchased for $20-$50 and under, while high-grade copies can run into the thousands.

Outside of his ’86 Topps rookie, there are a handful of other cards that people sometimes try and pass off as the main card you should have.  They’re authentic cards, but the untrained collector could easily be mislead.

Six different cards come to mind that fit this mold.  The first two are from ’87 Topps.  His 1,000 Yard Club and Receiving Leaders cards both commemorate accomplishments made the previous year.  Just because the card celebrates an event that took place the year his most recognized rookie comes from, doesn’t make it a rookie too.

1987 Topps 1,000 Yard Club #2

1987 Topps Receiving Leaders #228

Second, are four cards released by McDonald’s in 1986.  These could only be obtained at certain McDonald’s restaurants in the San Francisco area for about four weeks.  Each week during this promotion a different colored tab was offered.  Scratching off the tab would unveil a coupon offer.  Regionally issued cards like these often aren’t considered to be true rookies.

1986 McDonald’s 49ers Black Tab #80

1986 McDonald’s 49ers Blue Tab #80

1986 McDonald’s 49ers Gold Tab #80

1986 McDonald’s 49ers Green Tab #80

These Cards From 1984 Are NOT Dan Marino Rookies

At one time you could think of a player, and instantly one iconic rookie card would come to mind.  Nowadays that doesn’t happen.  Active athletes today have so many rookie cards to choose from.  For example, if you asked a group of collectors to write down a single Tom Brady rookie card, you’ed get various correct responses.

In my opinion, the further back we go the easier it is to identify a player’s true rookie.  That’s just how it goes when there were fewer manufacturers and products being released.  Its very possible for someone to have one unanimously regarded rookie, while at the same time having other cards issued that same year.  He’s far from the only one, but Dan Marino is the first person I think about when it comes to this setup.  Trust me.  There are lots of others.

Dan Marino’s true rookie card is #123 in the 1984 Topps Football set.  As far as football rookie cards from the 80’s go, this one is atop the list.  That card is his only rookie.  Despite that, eight other Marino cards can be found from 1984.  They’re a mixture of subsets, inserts, stickers, and promotional pieces.  Its very common for sellers to label them as rookies though.  I don’t like to see that.  Someone who doesn’t know any better could easily think they’re getting a good deal on an actual Marino rookie.

1984 Topps Instant Replay #124

1984 Topps Passing Leaders #202

1984 Topps Instant Replay #355

1984 Topps Glossy #3

1984 Topps Stickers All-Pro Foil #132/#144

1984 Topps Stickers #222

1984 Miami Dolphins Police #9

1984 7-Eleven Discs #E15