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

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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

Gwynn’s Leaf Q Cards Were NEVER Signed

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Not much is known about one of Leaf’s upcoming products called Leaf Q.  Leaf had a bunch of Leaf Q cards on display at their booth during the National.  From the looks of it, the product has that high-end autograph feel.  Almost like Five Star or Exquisite.  I should have taken some pictures because Leaf had a lot of cool stuff under glass.  Those damn Bench Warmer girls distracted me again.

Collectors actually got their first look at Leaf Q shortly after the death of Tony Gwynn.  Leaf originally planned to include him in packs of Leaf Q, but Gwynn passed away before they could get him to sign the cards.  Instead of placing the unsigned cards within the product, Leaf decided to cash in and put them up for sale on eBay.  Where the signature was planned to be, Leaf simply stamped the years he was alive.

I don’t have a problem with Leaf cashing in on Gwynn’s death.  Manufacturers do it all the time.  I don’t know how much cashing in they actually did because Leaf was selling these cards for quite a deal.  The problem I have is that these cards say “Authentic Signature” underneath the relic window.  Even though Leaf openly said in all their auction descriptions that Tony Gwynn passed away before they could get him to sign these cards, what stops someone from buying one and forging his signature?  Nothing.  I’m sure there are some people in this world that would fall for it too.

I would just like to reinforce that none of these Tony Gwynn Leaf Q cards were autographed.  If you see one that is signed, it is a fake.