“Pin-Up” of the Week: 1911 World’s Series Shibe Park Philadelphia Press Pin

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Here it is folks.  The mother of all press pins.  Only a handful of these puppies are known to still be floating around.  I’ve used World Series press pins for this post before, but nothing as big as this one.  Why is this pin such a big deal?  Because 1911 was the first year they issued press pins to members of the media.

Baseball fans watched the Philadelphia A’s take on the New York Giants in 1911.  The Giants manager, John McGraw, would constantly invite his friends to big games.  It wasn’t uncommon for them to crowd-up the press box.  Between a local reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer named Stephen O. Grauley, and A’s manager Connie Mack, the press pin was born.  Only those people wearing this pin gained access to the press area.  And the rest is all history.  Press pins have been part of the World Series ever since.

The pin pictured above is from Grauley’s personal collection.  In February, Heritage Auctions plans to put it up for sale along with some other press pins Grauley collected over the years.  This pin alone is expected to fetch $40,000.  For it’s age, I can’t believe how great the condition is.  That fabric portion of the pin is a prime target for damage.

“Pin-Up” of the Week: Citizens Bank Park 2016 Exclusive Star Wars Pin

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Next week at this time a new Star Wars movie will be out.  Rogue One: A Star Wars Story takes place shortly before A New Hope.  It tells the tale of how the Rebellion obtained the plans to the first Death Star.  With the Jedi existing for a thousand years, it continues to fascinate me how the Sith convinced the public that they were a hoax in such a short time.  One year from now, we’ll be getting ready for Episode VIII.  How will Luke react after Rey finds him standing atop that cliff?  Star Wars movies raise lots of questions.  Every answer you get, more questions arise.

Combing baseball and Star Wars is a great idea.  Teams annually have Star Wars themed nights.  This past year, the Majestic Clubhouse Store at Citizens Bank Park sold an exclusive Phillies/Star Wars pin.  It features both Yoda and Darth Vader.  Only (300) of them were made, which isn’t a lot when it comes to pins.  I’m almost certain they’ve sold out.  On the secondary market I’ve seen people asking $30 to $50 for a single pin.

“Pin-Up” of the Week: 2002 MLB All-Star Game Press Pin

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The MLB All-Star Game has been in the news this week.  Starting next year, the winning team will not determine who gets home-field advantage during the World Series.  Instead, home-field advantage will now go to the team with the better record.  That’s the way it should be, and I hope it stays like this for a long time.

It was the 2002 All-Star Game that made baseball officials change the rule in the first place.  The game ended up going into the 11th inning, and both teams ran out of available pitchers.  Eventually they came to the decision to allow the game to end in a 7-7 tie.  Fans were in an uproar.  In order to prevent future ties, they decided that someone would have to win the game.  That winner would then decide who got home-field advantage for the fall classic.  It remained this way from 2003 to 2016.  Before all of this, home-field advantage for the World Series alternated between leagues from year to year.

Pictured above is the pin members of the press received while attending the All-Star Game in 2002.  The top of the pin has a separating roof that you can actually pull apart just like the real roof at Miller Park.  Press pins can be expensive, but this one is quite affordable.  You can easily own this pin for under $20.

Personally, I think MLB overreacted in 2002.

“Pin-Up” of the Week: Cleveland Browns WinCraft Fence Pin

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You’ve got to feel bad for the Browns.  Historically, they haven’t been a good team for quite a long time.  This season they haven’t won a single game yet.  2016 has to really be tough for them considering the other sports franchises in Cleveland have done so well.  The Cavaliers won the NBA Championship while the Indians went to the World Series.  Maybe Robert Griffin III’s return will get the Browns their first win.  Who am I kidding?  RGIII will probably injure himself somehow drinking out of the Gatorade jug.  He gets hurt a lot.

WinCraft has this fairly new line of NFL pins that mimic the defense and offense signs you see fans holding.  You can actually rotate the letters “D” and “O” depending on who you’re rooting for.  I’ve seen defense sign pins for awhile, but never one that you can change.  They aren’t rare, and can easily be found for under $10.

“Pin-Up” of the Week: Chicago Cubs 2016 World Series Press Pin

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Wow!  Within a week the Chicago Cubs won the World Series, and Donald Trump was elected President.  It really makes you wonder what might happen next week, doesn’t it?  This feels like I stepped into a Doctor Strange-like alternate dimension.  Next thing you know, the Cleveland Browns will win the Super Bowl.

Cubs fans waited 108 years to see their team go all the way.  It had been 71 years since they even saw them get to the World Series.  A win was long overdue.  Pins remain a top choice collectible when it comes to supporting your favorite team.  Tons of different pins have been made to celebrate the Cubs being 2016 champs.  The one that remains in heavy demand is the press pin.  These could not be purchased at the gift shop.  Only members of the press and top executives got their hands on these when the series was in Chicago.  Cleveland had their own version.

Press pins can be very expensive.  This one is no exception.  The most recent one to sell went for $325.  Sometimes they’ll sell pins that look exactly like the ones provided to the press.  By doing that, it can make it difficult to distinguish between the $5 souvenir and the $300 real thing.  I don’t think they made mass produced replicas of this pin yet.  Even though the World Series was broadcast on Fox, I did see that NBC officials received a specially made version of this pin.

“Pin-Up” of the Week: 2016 National Baseball Hall Of Fame Induction Press Pin

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The National Baseball Hall Of Fame welcomed two new members to it’s exclusive club – Mike Piazza and Ken Griffey, Jr.  Who would’ve thought card #1 in the first product released by Upper Deck would end up being the rookie of a future Hall Of Famer.  The odds of that happening are next to nothing.  Making Ken Griffey, Jr. #1 in the 1989 Upper Deck Baseball set was an excellent decision.  Its one of the most iconic cards in the industry.  Rookie cards of Mike Piazza from 1992 Fleer Update and 1992 Bowman have their place too.  Both guys have rookies from a time when everything was being overproduced.

Members of the press were greeted with the above pin for induction weekend.  Just like a lot of press pins, various retail outlets sell a version that looks darn close to the real thing.  They’re fully licensed and not counterfeit, but an unfamiliar collector could easily mistake a retail pin for one made for the press.  There are four major differences between the press and retail pins.  Press pins are serial numbered out of 5,350 on the back, contain gold coloring, have two baseball bats crossing in the background, and the “INDUCTION” banner is straight.  Retail pins have none of that.  The press pins are worth around $100, whereas the retail ones sell for $8.

Flashback Product of the Week: 2001 Skippy Derek Jeter

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Not familiar with CyberAction?  I’m betting most collectors don’t remember this company given it’s short lifespan.  You may also know them as Digibles.  They changed their name a few times.  CyberAction was truly ahead of it’s time releasing what is believed to be the first digital trading cards.  This is long before any of the digital trading card apps that Topps has come out with.  They originally started with entertainment properties like Marvel, Star Trek, and Xena: Warrior Princess, but eventually found their way to Major League Baseball.

Compared to the digital cards of today, CyberAction’s products look quite primitive.  You have to remember that this was a time before smartphones.  CyberAction sold CD-Rom discs that had digital cards on them.  Once you inserted the disc into your computer, installed the software, you were ready to go.  The cards on the disc could virtually be flipped and interacted with.  All kinds of videos, stats, bios, and trivia were included.  If you had the internet, even more digital cards could be found on their website.

Digital collectibles are becoming much more popular in today’s hobby.  I don’t think they will ever replace something you can physically hold though.  When CyberAction was around (1997-2001), I think it was just too early for digital cards.  Its only something that has been getting attention over the last few years.

The only physical cards that CyberAction made were ones used for promotional purposes.  If you were making a peanut butter sandwich in 2001, the odds are pretty good you came across these discs.  CyberAction and Skippy teamed-up to bring collectors this 4-disc set featuring Derek Jeter.  You can easily find all four discs.  Sometimes they’ll even be attached to the lid.  It wasn’t long after when CyberAction folded.  But look on the bright side, Skippy is still around.

“Pin-Up” of the Week: 2016 MLB All-Star Game Press Pin

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The pin provided to members of the media during the 2016 MLB All-Star Game is bringing in serious dollars.  Collectors have been spending $75 to over $100 for one of these.  Given the high demand these pins have on the secondary market, I think its very important that they look as different as possible from the ones you could buy in a gift shop.

When you compare the one made for the press to the other pins, the difference is quite clear.  Press pins for the 2016 MLB All-Star Game come with a gold, blue, and white ribbon attached horizontally to the back.  There is a gold star on each side too.  The actual pin affixed in the middle looks familiar to one that could be purchased from a vendor for around $5.  Although it would take some work.  What stops someone from buying one of those cheaper pins, picking up some ribbon & stars at a craft store, and attempt to pass it off as the real thing?  Nothing.  What should be the most difficult part of the whole counterfeit process (the pin in the middle) is served on a silver platter.  Pins sold in a retail setting should have zero similarity to those provided to the press.

Flashback Product of the Week: 1984 Sports Design Products Doug West Set Series 1

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Sports Design Products.  I don’t think they could’ve thought of a more generic name for a card company.  This company was around for a few years during the 80’s, and then fizzled out.  In addition to some card sets, they also made supplies like penny sleeves and frames.

The work that sports artist Doug West did for Sports Design Products is probably the nicest stuff this company issued.  The first Doug West set, Series 1, was released in 1984.  It consists of (24) cards of baseball greats such as Thurmon Munson, Mickey Mantle, Jackie Robinson, and Duke Snider.  Each card features two images of the player.  One image is a closeup portrait, while the other is an action shot.  No packs and boxes here folks.  These were distributed as sealed sets.  Despite not being individually numbered, there are only suppose to be 5,000 of them.  Sets were distributed in clear plastic containers with the Sports Design Products logo printed on the front.  Sports Design Products also released around (250) uncut sheets.

You can readily find these cards available.  They’re dirt cheap.  At the time these came out, they made great cards to get signed in person.  However, most of the players on this checklist are now deceased.  Some were even deceased when the set was originally made.  Unless you’ve figured out a way to raise the dead, you’re not getting an autograph.

Doug West was brought back in 1985 for Series 2.  It was done similarly to Series 1, but with different players.  In 1986, Sports Design Products didn’t go the artistic route.  Instead they released a product that looks identical to 1969 Topps Baseball.  Not much was heard from this company after 1986.  I think these cards would’ve looked better if they didn’t place a big white border around the painting.  The picture should take up the entire card.