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Tuesday, March 04, 2014

SCD: Upper Deck’s ‘Find the Reggie’ Launched Chase Card Craze

I have a banded pile of these Reggie cards sitting next to a load of empty Les Soldats de Plomb boxes.

However, Upper Deck was able to take this concept and bring it to a whole new level beginning with its ‘high number’ cases in 1990.

It forged a deal with Reggie Jackson to include a special “Heroes” subset with the big hook being randomly inserted autographed cards. Jackson autographed and numbered 2,500 copies in the ‘Find the Reggie’ promotion that helped push sales.  There were ten cards in the set, but Jackson signed only one.  The others carried facsimile autographs.

Jackson was a natural choice.  Even though he was retired, he was still a drawing card and knew the hobby well.  He had begun accumulating quite a stash of his rookie cards.  Upper Deck getting him to sign 2,500 cards for their product was considered a real coup at that time. While players such as Reggie were signing autographs at many trade shows during that period, this was the first time they were doing targeted signings for a card company.

Another element in the chase was that for every 100th card he added the notation of “Mr. October”.  Among the thousands of cases produced by Upper Deck, that meant there were only 25 “Mr. October” Reggie autographs possible.  Today, we’d call it a ‘super short print’ and hand numbering would eventually give way to foil stamped on card numbering years later.

The regular Jackson autographed cards were distributed in a ratio that wasn’t even close to one card per case and thus the signed cards are tough to find to this very day. When offered online, they sell for $125-150 each.  Complete, unsigned sets are plentiful (remember, it was the overproduction era) and can be acquired for just a couple of bucks.

By the way, if you want a real challenge for the 1990 Upper Deck high number packs, go find card #702 of Mike Witt card with the ‘black box’ on the back. Those cards were tough in 1990 and are still tough to this day. Talk about the ultimate needle in a haystack.

1990 Upper Deck High Number packs were the first of the new breed of packs with the idea of looking for a “major hit”” and it was Reggie Jackson’s autograph that changed the hobby forever.

Repoz Posted: March 04, 2014 at 08:00 AM | 56 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: baseball cards

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   1. Effervesoteric Posted: March 04, 2014 at 10:21 AM (#4665939)
So in other words, Reggie Jackson and Upper Deck are largely responsible for the death of baseball card collecting as something kids could get into and enjoy. Thanks, jerks!
   2. flournoy Posted: March 04, 2014 at 10:28 AM (#4665946)
95% of the people who blame Upper Deck for the demise of baseball cards also lament, without a hint of irony, how worthless their overproduced late '80s Topps cards are. Guess what, guys? Upper Deck is not to blame, you are. It's your fault.
   3. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: March 04, 2014 at 10:36 AM (#4665958)
My parents are moving out of my childhood home and I recently went through all of my overproduced late 1980s baseball cards. I was going to pick it clean of stars and interesting players but when I realized I had already done that years ago, I simply tossed many thousands of cards into the recycling bin. Getting rid of them in one fell swoop once and for all was as liberating a feeling as I've ever had.
   4. McCoy Posted: March 04, 2014 at 11:23 AM (#4665986)
The thing that amazes me is that it is cheaper to purchase baseball cards from 30 years ago than it is to buy baseball cards from nowadays.
   5. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: March 04, 2014 at 11:39 AM (#4666009)
My overproduced late 1980's Topps cards are worthless because they're in a landfill somewhere. Or else my sister sold them for $5.
   6. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: March 04, 2014 at 11:40 AM (#4666017)
95% of the people who blame Upper Deck for the demise of baseball cards also lament, without a hint of irony, how worthless their overproduced late '80s Topps cards are. Guess what, guys? Upper Deck is not to blame, you are. It's your fault.


Those 86-87-88 Topps cards are indeed worthless, but it was fun to ride my bike up to Albertson's and pick up a couple of packs for .87 or whatever it was and then being pissed because I got yet another Eddie Milner when I thought I had pulled an Eric Davis for a quick second.

I have thousands upon thousands of those '87 Topps cards and even though they are worthless for the most part, but I am still kind of fond of them. That was the year that I really got into collecting (and was done a few years later) and it was so much fun.

However, there are a bunch of them that probably need to go away. FWIW, my sister-in-law (and elementary school principal) said some schools like getting baseball cards as donations because they can use them in math.
   7. McCoy Posted: March 04, 2014 at 12:19 PM (#4666056)
I believe the 1986 set was 45 cents around my parts but I think I recall buying boxes recently that have the price at 35 cents. I could look it up but I won't. I think by 1988 they were up to 55 cents around me and of course with the introduction of Upper Deck the next year they started asking for $1.25 per pack for their cards and it quickly escalated from there. I recall being able to buy a box of cards for around 16 or 17 dollars in 1988 and ever year that was my dream. To save up enough money to buy a whole box of cards at once.

For me the card I always remember getting was the 1986 Otis Nixon card. I also remember that years later, 1995 or so, I had a tutor who was about 20 years older than me who was also into cards and he wanted to do some card trading from those mid to late 1980's sets. I remember feeling at the time that I didn't make very good trades but now I look back and realize that it didn't really matter what trades I made. They were all worthless.

1986 to 1989 was my baseball collecting years with 1988 being the year my collecting metastasized into a full blown problem with me branching out into Fleer, Donruss, Bowman, and eventually into Upper Deck and other sports. After 1989 I got into NBA cards for a season or two and then wandered away from cards for awhile with me coming back into cards in a big way with MtG and that metastasizing in a big way into a bunch of different cards games right up until 1995.
   8. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: March 04, 2014 at 12:53 PM (#4666093)
FWIW, my sister-in-law (and elementary school principal) said some schools like getting baseball cards as donations because they can use them in math.

I'll keep that in mind. I'm currently going through a friend's storage unit that has, by my rough estimate, about a million cards. (4-6' high stacks of 5000-count boxes that line the inside of a 12x15-ish storage unit with another row down the middle) There's a lot of really cool stuff in there, but I suspect I'll still have enough 1987-1995 commons to donate a big stack to every elementary school in Texas.
   9. flournoy Posted: March 04, 2014 at 01:14 PM (#4666116)
my sister-in-law (and elementary school principal) said some schools like getting baseball cards as donations because they can use them in math.


Out of curiosity, how do they use them? Counting? Arithmetic with either number of cards or using the stats on the back? Looking at a stack of cards and estimating how many there are?
   10. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: March 04, 2014 at 01:31 PM (#4666133)
Out of curiosity, how do they use them? Counting? Arithmetic with either number of cards or using the stats on the back? Looking at a stack of cards and estimating how many there are?
Calculating WAR.
   11. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: March 04, 2014 at 01:40 PM (#4666140)
Out of curiosity, how do they use them? Counting? Arithmetic with either number of cards or using the stats on the back? Looking at a stack of cards and estimating how many there are?


For the younger kids, sorting and counting. For the olderish kids, the stats stuff. It's a cheap visual aid (especially if they are donated).
   12. Hal Chase School of Professionalism Posted: March 04, 2014 at 01:53 PM (#4666147)
I simply tossed many thousands of cards into the recycling bin. Getting rid of them in one fell swoop once and for all was as liberating a feeling as I've ever had.


Hey Ernest Riles has a mother, too, and for all we know she's a Primate. Don't go and say that you felt good about throwing her son's "Future Star" card in the recycling bin.
   13. Squash Posted: March 04, 2014 at 01:59 PM (#4666150)
95% of the people who blame Upper Deck for the demise of baseball cards also lament, without a hint of irony, how worthless their overproduced late '80s Topps cards are. Guess what, guys? Upper Deck is not to blame, you are. It's your fault.

I agree - one could just as easily say Upper Deck saved the industry that the existing producers (Topps, Donruss, Fleer, Score in 1988) were killing. Once baseball cards became big-money collectibles (as a lot of collectibles did in the 1980s: cards, coins, stamps, art, etc.), the big companies went crazy with overprinting, starting with Topps in 1987, Donruss a year later, Score jumped into the game immediately overprinting, then Fleer by 1989, with the result that the new-card industry was essentially dead - there was nothing you could pull out of a pack that had any value or ever would. The industry was going to be entirely about chasing old, expensive cards that kids couldn't afford anyway, and the existing card companies would die. Then Upper Deck realized (rightly) that people wanted new cards you could pull out of a pack that had value right away and made their entire business about that - first the 1989 set, being high-quality and of limited print and smartly including the Griffey card right off the bat without waiting for the Update set, then in 1990 with the inserts (which was a really smart marketing idea).

Topps et. al might have turned it around eventually, but it would have taken a few more years of carnage. Without checking, even after Upper Deck started eating their lunch in 1989 it wasn't until 1992 that Topps came out with their answer, Stadium Club. They were a long way off.

EDIT: Just checked - Topps came out with Stadium Club in 1991.
   14. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: March 04, 2014 at 02:17 PM (#4666169)

I started collecting baseball cards around 1987, continued through around '93 or '94 and then stopped altogether. I have a few NFL and NBA cards but it was pretty much just baseball, and I never branched into non-sports cards. If I went back to look there would probably be 25-50 cards I cared about keeping and the rest I'd be happy to recycle/give away/sell.

One thing I'm curious about is whether cards of guys like Bonds, McGwire, Clemens etc. took a hit in value after PEDs became a big issue.
   15. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: March 04, 2014 at 02:27 PM (#4666177)
Topps et. al might have turned it around eventually, but it would have taken a few more years of carnage. Without checking, even after Upper Deck started eating their lunch in 1989 it wasn't until 1992 that Topps came out with their answer, Stadium Club. They were a long way off.

Not only that, but Topps's initial reaction to UD, their 1990 set, has got to be on the short list of the ugliest sets ever printed, and even this card is somewhat of an aberration as the set is plagued with printing defects and badly blurred photos.
   16. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 04, 2014 at 02:30 PM (#4666181)
For me the card I always remember getting was the 1986 Otis Nixon card.


What does it say about me that I instantly remembered that Topps didn't produce an Otis Nixon card in 1986 until the Traded set, which wasn't sold in wax packs?

EDIT: and that Ernest Riles never had a "Future Star" card. I need help.
   17. Hal Chase School of Professionalism Posted: March 04, 2014 at 02:49 PM (#4666202)
and that Ernest Riles never had a "Future Star" card. I need help.


Well... my dad said he was going to be awesome, and he was the ultimate repository of baseball knowledge as far as I was concerned back then.

Of course, my dad was drinking a lot of Stroh's in those days.
   18. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: March 04, 2014 at 02:53 PM (#4666207)
Speaking of cards you'll never forget.. the '87 Topps Jim Gantner. I swear to goodness, it seemed like I got one of him in every pack. I had an active dislike of him for no reason other than that.

Plus, his card was an uncorrected error.
   19. Greg K Posted: March 04, 2014 at 03:02 PM (#4666215)
I was a Donruss collector - 1989-1993 or so.

I think the 1992 set was the big step up in production value, and then 1993 even more so. I did scout out my local Wal-Mart yesterday, but no baseball cards there.

EDIT: I remember getting about a million '91 Doug Dascenzos.
   20. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: March 04, 2014 at 04:02 PM (#4666273)
I'm still planning on retiring on whatever I get for my minor league cards of Doug Dascenzo and Damon Berryhill. Dascenzo was three feet tall and his glove was eight feet wide.
   21. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 04, 2014 at 04:15 PM (#4666290)
Plus, his card was an uncorrected error.


So were his mustache and glasses.
   22. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: March 04, 2014 at 04:25 PM (#4666301)

One thing I'm curious about is whether cards of guys like Bonds, McGwire, Clemens etc. took a hit in value after PEDs became a big issue.


I managed to sell my Mark McGwire 1985(?) Topps rookie card for $50 in early 1999.
   23. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: March 04, 2014 at 04:38 PM (#4666316)
So were his mustache and glasses.


And really, his existence. As a Dodger fan in So Cal, I obviously wanted Dodgers, but grabbing a Canseco or Joyner was nice, but that f-stick Gantner seemed to be in every pack.. when I was 10, I had an irrational hate of that fellow.. and Eddie Milner (cause his card looked similar to Eric Davis).
   24. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 04, 2014 at 05:23 PM (#4666357)
My "guy with a mustache from the Brewers who was in every third pack of 1987 Topps I bought" was Bryan Clutterbuck.
   25. jmurph Posted: March 04, 2014 at 05:27 PM (#4666362)
I managed to sell my Mark McGwire 1985(?) Topps rookie card for $50 in early 1999.


I did some research on this recently, and that kind of thing is still possible... assuming it's graded. Apparently grading has basically taken over the industry- you pay $X per card to have them graded and hope for a PSA 9 or 10. Though I think the late 80s stuff is still essentially worthless, even when graded.
   26. Howie Menckel Posted: March 04, 2014 at 05:47 PM (#4666381)

I used to buy the 1968 and 1969 Topps in packs of 5 cards for a nickel. If we somehow came up with an entire quarter, the nice lady at the local drugstore would let us get a sixth pack of cards for the price of five.

yes, I still have them all, in dog-eared glory
   27. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 04, 2014 at 06:25 PM (#4666411)
The bulk of my collection is from about 1986-93. I think I'm just going to sit on them until everyone else gives up and throws theirs away or recycles them, and then use the massive windfall to get a young trophy wife when I'm 80.
   28. McCoy Posted: March 04, 2014 at 06:54 PM (#4666432)
Looking at the 1990 Topps card I see that my official end to collecting was the 1990 set and not the 1989 anniversary set like I previously thought. I also recall seeing the Stadium Club packs around in 1991 and I think I even bought a pack or two but by that point I was done with buying baseball cards. It was getting to the point where a pack of cards was costing 2 dollars or more.

As for value I think for the most part any regular Topps set from 1985 on is basically worthless nowadays. I think the last good prices for individual cards was for cards of the 1984 set. If I remember correctly the 1984 and 1983 set still have cards that fetch a decent price. I also recall that a bunch of sets before those years are also practically worthless. Awhile back I decided I would throw money in a furnace by buying a complete set of cards for every year I was alive. I think I might have picked up somewhere between 5 to 10 years before calling it quits and they were all dirt cheap on eBay.

As for Otis Nixon now I'm all confused. If it wasn't available in the regular set then I don't know who I'm thinking of then. I could have sworn it was Indians player with the picture basically just being a head shot of the player with the player having jerry curls. I don't recall it being Joe Carter or Julio Franco. Perhaps it was a Reds or a Cardinals player.
   29. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 04, 2014 at 06:59 PM (#4666437)
And here again, I know off the top of my head that the 1987 Topps Otis Nixon had the same type of head shot as his 1986 Topps Traded. Seriously, what is wrong with me? If my recall for anything important in life was as good as my recall of 1980s baseball cards, I'd probably have achieved enough to retire and get that trophy wife already.
   30. McCoy Posted: March 04, 2014 at 07:35 PM (#4666464)
I can still recall the 1986 Rich Gossage card and not because he was some great pitcher that had a hall of fame career. No, I can recall it because in the picture he looked exactly like my school bus driver. At the time I had no idea who Rich Gossage was so that was his biggest claim to fame for me.
   31. McCoy Posted: March 04, 2014 at 07:42 PM (#4666468)
What's the story behind Chili Davis not getting a 1986 Topps card?
   32. Pleasant Nate (Upgraded from 'Nate') Posted: March 04, 2014 at 08:03 PM (#4666481)
My father, RIP, decided in 1986 to get into baseball card collecting. It was both a hobby and an investment for me and my sister's college. As in everything he did, there was no half-assing this hobby. At 5 years old I got a box of 1986 Donruss for Christmas. He started stockpiling. Cases of sets. Cases of wax boxes. Saving all of the cards we opened. By 1992, when he mostly stopped, he had a collection that took up most of our basement at the time.

When Pleasant Ed passed in December, we had to move everything out as his house was going to be rented. Picked up a 17 foot UHaul and filled 2/3 of it with baseball cards. I have no less than 50 cases of unopened boxes/sets in my basement now, plus another 50 large boxes of misc or 'high value' (being like a dollar a more) cards. Then a bunch of random old sets (from 60-90, we have every set of every type of card). I have no idea what to do with it. Everything I've read said it's basically worthless now. I'd like to get rid of the bulk and keep some of the unique cards and a few boxes for old time's sake, but looking at eBay/Craigslist/etc shows a bleak picture.

Does anyone have a different experience?
   33. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 04, 2014 at 09:30 PM (#4666516)
What's the story behind Chili Davis not getting a 1986 Topps card?


Huh. I have no idea - which is strangely comforting. I know there were a handful of guys who didn't have Topps cards until the 1987 Traded set because, I think, Topps signed individual contracts rather than blanket deals with the union. Kevin McReynolds was one example. But Chili had Topps cards in 1985 and 1987, so who knows? Maybe he just didn't sign a Topps deal for 1986.
   34. Squash Posted: March 05, 2014 at 01:17 PM (#4666735)
One thing I'm curious about is whether cards of guys like Bonds, McGwire, Clemens etc. took a hit in value after PEDs became a big issue.

They did. For a while Bonds's 1987 Fleer was selling for a lot as was McGwire's 1985 Topps USA Olympic card. Now they're going for much, much less.

In regard to the overprinting thing, the first set Topps printed a lot of was 1984, which is why the top rookies from that set (i.e. Mattingly) traded at a big discount from their Donruss and Fleer cards - pre-1984, Topps, Donruss, and Fleer rookies went for roughly the same amount. In 1985 they started printing even more and the discount widened ($50 for a 1985 Donruss Clemens, $15 for the Topps was the split in the heyday). 1987, when card collecting became a phenomenon, was when they really opened the floodgates. That was the first truly worthless set - you could pull the best card there was, the McGwire rookie, and it was only a $2 card (from the dealer's standpoint - if you were selling it to him, you'd get much much less, maybe 50 cents or so, if he even bothered to buy it from you at all).

1986 was actually okay - I think they actually printed less of the 1986 than the 1985. The set is worthless because there weren't any good rookies included in it (Canseco, McGriff, etc., didn't come out until the Traded set), but the Cecil Fielder rookie went for around $18 at one point - i.e., if there had been anything decent in there it would have held some value. There just wasn't anything decent. 1987 was the first set where you could pull the best card in the set (McGwire) and it was worth nothing.

1986 was also the last attractive Topps set for quite a while - the 1987-91 stretch, as mentioned above, was horrific.
   35. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: March 05, 2014 at 01:43 PM (#4666749)

This is a pretty cool page although I'd like to see something that also shows the back of the card.

1986 Topps really was an attractive set. But I don't think 1989 or 1991 were that objectionable. It looks like after 1993 they really got ugly (it might just be a coincidence that's when I stopped collecting, probably not).
   36. Textbook Editor Posted: March 05, 2014 at 02:13 PM (#4666766)
The bulk of my stockpile is Topps 1978-1983, which from what everyone's saying here seems to be before they printed millions of each set, but I've poked around a bit from time to time and these still seem basically worthless. I have assorted 1971-1977 cards (most obtained when I actually used to trade cards with other kids), but not nearly as many as in the 1978-1983 range. I pretty much stopped in 1983.

My greatest trade around 1981 was getting the 1978 Topps Ricky Henderson rookie card for basically worthless scraps. That trade is likely the best commercial transaction I ever participated in, even if the card's not worth all that much today.
   37. Joe Kehoskie Posted: March 05, 2014 at 04:31 PM (#4666828)
When Pleasant Ed passed in December, we had to move everything out as his house was going to be rented. Picked up a 17 foot UHaul and filled 2/3 of it with baseball cards. I have no less than 50 cases of unopened boxes/sets in my basement now, plus another 50 large boxes of misc or 'high value' (being like a dollar a more) cards. Then a bunch of random old sets (from 60-90, we have every set of every type of card). I have no idea what to do with it. Everything I've read said it's basically worthless now. I'd like to get rid of the bulk and keep some of the unique cards and a few boxes for old time's sake, but looking at eBay/Craigslist/etc shows a bleak picture.

Does anyone have a different experience?

Sorry about your father.

I haven't collected anything since the early '90s, but it seems like a collection of that size should have some value. I've known some people in a similar situation, and they've said that it's mostly a matter of how much time you want to spend sorting and liquidating it.

***
But Chili had Topps cards in 1985 and 1987, so who knows? Maybe he just didn't sign a Topps deal for 1986.

I doubt that was the issue. For decades, Topps used to (and still might?) go around and sign every first-year minor leaguer to what was essentially a lifetime rights deal, in exchange for a $5 or $10 signing bonus check. I believe a Boras client in the '90s was the first to refuse this deal.
   38. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: March 05, 2014 at 04:40 PM (#4666843)
My greatest trade around 1981 was getting the 1978 Topps Ricky Henderson rookie card for basically worthless scraps.


IIRC Rickey's rookie card was a 1980 Topps.
   39. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: March 05, 2014 at 04:51 PM (#4666856)
My favorite trade was picking up a 1968 Casey Cox c.1978. I don't remember what I traded for it, but I picked it up from a trading friend in the neighborhood because I thought it would be cool to have a card from the year I was born and from a team that no longer existed (Senators).

It wasn't until several years later that I realized it was also the scarce variation of the card where the team name is printed in yellow letters instead of white. It's pretty beat up and would grade no more than FR/GD, but it still enjoys a place of honor in my curio cabinet next to the most expensive cards in my collection. Its value to me is far more than money.
   40. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: March 05, 2014 at 05:29 PM (#4666889)
Back around the time I was still playing little league, or at least not very long thereafter, so probably in the early '70s, I came across a beat-up '59 Topps card in back of the bleachers at the town's baseball field, 3 blocks from my house.

What in hell it was doing there more than a decade after the fact, I have no idea, but I remember being struck by the use of "Redlegs," which I hadn't encountered before. (Not sure who the player was -- some white guy on Cincinnati.)

Hmmm ... '59 is the year I was born. In retrospect, I'm pretty sure something Phildickian was up.
   41. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: March 05, 2014 at 05:40 PM (#4666900)
It wasn't until several years later that I realized it was also the scarce variation of the card where the team name is printed in yellow letters instead of white.


Neat. I don't think I realized till now that the white/yellow variation was a thing with the '68 set. (The following year, '69, I knew about, because I remember the shop I used to work at had a Mel Stottlemyre with whichever color was priced higher.)
   42. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 05, 2014 at 06:52 PM (#4666955)
I remember being struck by the use of "Redlegs," which I hadn't encountered before.


Funny, I remember being struck by the same thing when, as a kid in about 1986, I found a 1955 Topps Ed Bailey tucked in a book from the library. Having just started collecting cards and being ignorant of Cold War history as a 9-year-old, I had no idea about the Reds/Redlegs thing. Of course, I thought the card must be worth a fortune because it was so old, so I took it down to the card shop (back when those were a thing) and was crushed by the news. I think I still have it somewhere in my parents' basement though (where I no longer live, despite my posting here).

I doubt that was the issue. For decades, Topps used to (and still might?) go around and sign every first-year minor leaguer to what was essentially a lifetime rights deal, in exchange for a $5 or $10 signing bonus check.


Hm. Well, maybe Chili just missed the photo shoot because he got wasted the night before with Bob Tufts.

   43. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: March 05, 2014 at 07:17 PM (#4666961)
Funny, I remember being struck by the same thing when, as a kid in about 1986, I found a 1955 Topps Ed Bailey tucked in a book from the library.


Which of course was my grandfather's name (except spelled "Edd") & also my dad's brother's (though I knew him only as "Uncle E.L."). Rod Serling, come on down!
   44. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 05, 2014 at 07:42 PM (#4666965)
Yes, but I bet your grandfather and uncle weren't named Lonas Edgar.
   45. McCoy Posted: March 05, 2014 at 08:07 PM (#4666975)
One of the first fights Marvin Miller and the union took on to prove themselves to the players was their fight with Topps back in 1967, well before Chili Davis was playing.
   46. Joe Kehoskie Posted: March 05, 2014 at 10:22 PM (#4667036)
Miller succeeded in getting a better rights fee for the players, but he didn't end Topps' practice of getting minor leaguers to sign lifetime rights contracts, which I know was still occurring well into the '90s.
   47. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: March 05, 2014 at 11:22 PM (#4667051)
Yes, but I bet your grandfather and uncle weren't named Lonas Edgar.


True. Each of them was Edd Loran, instead ... not that much better, really.
   48. Textbook Editor Posted: March 06, 2014 at 02:00 AM (#4667072)
IIRC Rickey's rookie card was a 1980 Topps.


D'oh. Of course it was 1980. I'm an idiot.
   49. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: March 06, 2014 at 10:31 AM (#4667125)
Miller succeeded in getting a better rights fee for the players, but he didn't end Topps' practice of getting minor leaguers to sign lifetime rights contracts, which I know was still occurring well into the '90s.

Somehow Alex Rodriguez was exempt from this. I think it had to do with Team USA. He didn't have his first Topps card until 1998.
   50. jmurph Posted: March 06, 2014 at 10:42 AM (#4667131)
When Pleasant Ed passed in December, we had to move everything out as his house was going to be rented. Picked up a 17 foot UHaul and filled 2/3 of it with baseball cards. I have no less than 50 cases of unopened boxes/sets in my basement now, plus another 50 large boxes of misc or 'high value' (being like a dollar a more) cards. Then a bunch of random old sets (from 60-90, we have every set of every type of card). I have no idea what to do with it. Everything I've read said it's basically worthless now. I'd like to get rid of the bulk and keep some of the unique cards and a few boxes for old time's sake, but looking at eBay/Craigslist/etc shows a bleak picture.


Do you mean every baseball card set from 1960-1990? If so, there is absolutely money to be made in there. Old unopened stuff sells for literally thousands per box. But, like Joe K. said, it's probably going to be a lot of work. For unopened stuff, check out bbcexchange.com. They're extremely reputable and keep a running list of what they're buying and for how much. I'd assume selling direct on ebay would get you a bit more, but I would think dealing in bulk with someone like bbc exchange is going to be a better experience.
   51. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 06, 2014 at 10:52 AM (#4667136)
My overproduced late 1980's Topps cards are worthless because they're in a landfill somewhere.

And the main reason that Mickey Mantle's 1952 Topps rookie card (#311) has sold for up to $130,000 is because most of the final series of that year's Topps set was literally dumped by the caseload into the Atlantic ocean to make room for that year's incoming football cards.
   52. McCoy Posted: March 06, 2014 at 12:07 PM (#4667161)
Somehow Alex Rodriguez was exempt from this. I think it had to do with Team USA. He didn't have his first Topps card until 1998.

That's because Topps doesn't have lifetime contracts. There is virtually no reason for this. Topps pays individual players $500 a season for the right to make their baseball card. Why would anyone lock up thousands and thousands of minor league players when you can simply give a player that actually makes it to the majors $500?

Topps doesn't purchase a licensing agreement with MLBPA nor now with MLB since I believe the union has sold their rights to MLB. Thus Topps wasn't able to have an ARod card for awhile since he wouldn't sign a Topps contract but as a union member all card manufacturers that purchased licensing agreements could make an ARod card. The flipside of this is the Barry Bonds situation in the 2000 when he broke away from the MLBPA licensing agreement and went out on his own. Topps was able to have a Barry Bonds card while other card makers were not able to have one.
   53. Joe Kehoskie Posted: March 06, 2014 at 01:59 PM (#4667210)
Somehow Alex Rodriguez was exempt from this. I think it had to do with Team USA. He didn't have his first Topps card until 1998.

As I mentioned in #37, "I believe a Boras client in the '90s was the first to refuse this deal." A-Rod, at the time he was drafted, was a Boras client, so he might have been the guy I was thinking of.

***
That's because Topps doesn't have lifetime contracts. There is virtually no reason for this.

Incorrect.

Topps pays individual players $500 a season for the right to make their baseball card. Why would anyone lock up thousands and thousands of minor league players when you can simply give a player that actually makes it to the majors $500?

Simple: Because guys like Bryce Harper aren't going to settle for $500.

It was far more cost-effective for Topps to pay $5 or $10 to a thousand new minor leaguers each year (total cost: $5,000 or $10,000) than to wait for the best players to reach the ML and then negotiate contracts with them individually. Topps might not be doing this anymore, either because too many top players have been advised not to sign or because Topps negotiated a blanket deal with the MLBPA, but I know for a fact that this practice went on for decades, until well into the 1990s. I saw it firsthand when working in the minors.
   54. Joe Kehoskie Posted: March 06, 2014 at 02:16 PM (#4667216)
Here's an old lawsuit that recaps the early history and Topps' practices with regards to minor leaguers. According to this, at least as of the 1960s, the contracts weren't lifetime but were, rather, for the entirety of a player's minor league career plus the first five years of his ML career. However, due to a late-1960s agreement between the MLBPA and Topps, the MLBPA agreed not to interfere with Topps' renewal of said contracts, so they were essentially lifetime deals in practice.

I suppose Chili Davis might have been a holdout back in 1986, but I can't find anything to support that. The baseball-card business was booming back then, so it seems like Davis would have had some star-caliber company if a holdout was, in fact, the case. Never know, though.
   55. McCoy Posted: March 06, 2014 at 03:06 PM (#4667246)
According to this, at least as of the 1960s, the contracts weren't lifetime but were, rather, for the entirety of a player's minor league career plus the first five years of his ML career.

This is what was and still is happening for most players. There is no such thing as a lifetime contract.

As for Marvin Miller and the union what they were able to do was to double the basic yearly pay for a player and eventually it would double again. What the union also got and was far more important to them was a cut of Topps' revenue. Topps in essence was funding the union during a time when the money wasn't flowing in and they needed that money to gather the resources and to use them to fight against the owners.

Here, by the way, is a Topps' baseball contract

AS you can see it isn't a lifetime contract and Topps pays a bonus for every extension you give them.
   56. Joe Kehoskie Posted: March 06, 2014 at 03:25 PM (#4667258)
This is what was and still is happening for most players. There is no such thing as a lifetime contract.

In #52, you scoffed at the idea that Topps was signing minor leaguers en masse — "Why would anyone lock up thousands and thousands of minor league players when you can simply give a player that actually makes it to the majors $500?"

The link in #54 showed that to be incorrect. Whether Topps' contracts were de jure lifetime or de facto lifetime is little more than BBTF pedantry.

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