July 03, 2006

Ask Ben A Question or Tell Ben A Story

Admittedly, I haven’t been very good in returning emails; it’s become one of those things I tell myself that ‘Today’s the day’, but then end up going that stack of 1987 Donruss on my dresser. Anyway today really is the day, so if you don’t see an answer to your question here, hopefully you’ll get an email from me today.


Maybe you've answered this before but why in the hell does Tino Martinez have 2 Donruss Rated Rookie cards? The 1991 set has him labeled as Rated Rookie as does the 1992 set. I'm curious as to why Donruss would have done this. Do you know of anyone else that has been "double booked" at Rated Rookie? Thanks, Adam via email

This is one of those things I had blocked from memory before you brought it up. I did a little research on it and if we look at the population of Rated Rookies from their inaugural class of 1984 to 1992, the last year the RR’s were clumped together in the set, “double-booking” happened five times:

• Danny Tartabull 1985, 1986
• Sandy Alomar, Jr. 1989, 1990
• Alex Sanchez 1989, 1990
• Tino Martinez 1991, 1992
• Lance Dickson 1991, 1992

I guess you could say that Tartabull is the most famous example of this, as there were plenty of big names in 1986 that Donruss could’ve used instead of Tartabull again. Martinez and Dickson are interesting too. 1991 was the first year that Donruss went to two series and instead of logically splitting up the standard 20 Rated Rookies, they doubled the class to 40.

It’s just another reason why 1991 was the worst year to be a collector: instead of 20 strong Rated Rookies, there are (at most) 13 decent Rated Rookies (a normal yearly amount) and 27 Rated Rookies you might actually consider throwing away if you got them in a pack. I’ve never been an advocate of voluntarily throwing away your cards, but 1991 was a special year. So with 40 RR’s in 1991 and then a monstrous 45 RR’s in 1992, Donruss may have hoped that nobody would notice if they stuck a few of the same guys into both. I think the funniest part about this (or saddest) is that Lance Dickson has two Rated Rookie cards and Frank Thomas has none.


Just wanted to let you know that thanks to your blog, I blew nearly a week's pay on old sets from the 1980s -- ignoring small things like rent, food, bills, etc. -- and didn't regret it a bit. David, Vermont

I would like to elevate David from Vermont to a medium-height pedestal for just a few moments and say that what’s he done is something many of us have dreamt of for years but could never summon the courage to do. It’s something that perhaps we’re excited by or even a little scared. So here’s to you, David from Vermont. Way to go.


My buddy and I love your baseball card blog, he follows it almost daily and lets me know when new stuff is up. We have an idea, [and] want to see if you will publish it or think it has merit. We would like to incinerate and destroy all ’88 Donruss we can get our hands on. We would like to keep a running tally of how many sets and commons that we kill. I know it’s a drop in the bucket but what if we could actually generate enough interest to eventually decrease the amount of surviving ’88 Donruss by 10-20%? We could use the laws of supply and demand to actually help people make their worthless cards worth something, of course those would be the people NOT sending us their cards so that presents a problem…’88 Donruss bonfire get-togethers, ’88 Donruss barbeques…think of the possibilities.

Hypothetically if you were going to undertake this what year and type of card would you choose? Joe, via email


Joe, this has a lot of possibility, and I can think of many sets that would be good candidates. 1988 Donruss is an obvious choice, as are 1991 Fleer, 1990 Fleer and 1990 Topps. Actually, that 1991 Fleer set should just be done away with entirely. But while your idea is fun, there’s something larger here too: we’re all fed up with the idea that the sets we collected aren’t really worth anything. There are some sets that deserve to be worth more. For example, the Topps sets from 1976 to 1981 deserve to be worth more. I’m not condoning burning a couple hundred thousand of these up to drive the value of others, but what can we do? This string of sets is great; 1981 is consistently in collectors’ top ten of favorite sets but it’s not worth nearly anything. 1987 Topps should be worth more, but it’s not really worth anything. I’ve always had a deep-rooted love for 1989 Topps, and I bought them by the boatload, but they’re not worth anything, nor will they ever be worth anything.

When I was growing up, mothers just didn’t seem to care enough about their kids’ future financial well-being they could've ensured by throwing most of their cards away. Maybe we wouldn’t have to commiserate today if they had.


How come I haven't come across Johnnie Lemaster's name in your blog yet? And John Lowenstein? They could both make some team of Jim Henson-like characters. Greg, Toronto

Greg, you got me on both accounts. I haven’t gotten to Lemaster, Lowenstein or that other Johnny, Wockenfuss. But this idea of an all-Muppet team got me thinking. What about Joey McLaughlin? I always thought he went as a Gorg for Halloween (from Fraggle Rock). And what about Ken Phelps? His ’87 Donruss card is just ridiculous. He’s definitely the starting first baseman for the Muppet All-Stars.


I discovered your site last night while doing a Google search on Bob Lemke leaving the SCD/Krause empire after about a million years. One long read through of your blog & interview with TakeOne has me convinced that you are the reason Lemke "retired."

Why? Because [Sports Collectors Digest] has forgotten what it's like to have fun with the hobby. Glad to see someone your age is still in love with LOOKING AT THE CARDS and not all the other stuff that goes along with it. I love looking over my collection—they're little works of art with great stories to tell. Brad, via email


It’s amazing what you’ll find if you just look at your cards. I’m saying, take a day off from work or stuff your backpack full of them and go out to the park on a Sunday and go through them. Really stare at them, read the backs and find the weird photos and all the other fun stuff. Sometimes I forget just how incredibly enjoyable it is. Like Brad, I too am saddened by the state of available sportscard-related magazines. When I was in high school I had a subscription to Tuff Stuff but just let it run out, as it didn’t really do it for me. What did it for me was reading Readers Write in those early Becketts, back when they didn’t take very many ads and they answered readers questions. That was one of the most fun things to do for me when I was a little kid, because I learned more from other collectors’ experiences than I did from just looking at my own cards.


What’s the difference between Topps and Topps Tiffany? Jason via email

The difference between regular-issue Topps and Topps Tiffany is that Tiffany cards only came in factory-set form and have a glossy front (the reason they were given the nickname 'Tiffany'). Regular collectors (meaning kids) never really had Tiffany cards because they were only sold as a factory set and because they were much more expensive. Here are print runs, according to the SCD 2006 Standard Catalog:

1984: 10,000
1984 Traded: 10,000
1985: 5,000
1985 Traded: 10,000 (guess, based on SCD-reported value)
1986: 5,000
1986 Traded: 5,000 (guess, based on SCD-reported value)
1987: 30,000
1987 Traded: 30,000
1988: 25,000
1988 Traded: 25,000
1989: 25,000
1989 Traded: 15,000
1990: ? (though guess would be between 5,000 – 10,000, based on SCD-reported value)
1990 Traded: ? 25,000 (guess, based on SCD-reported value)
1991: 25,000 (guess, based on SCD-reported value)
1991 Traded: 10,000 to 15,000 (guess, based on SCD-reported value)

Because Tiffany cards are scarcer, they are more valuable. Of course, being officially sanctioned specialty parallel sets doesn't hurt their value either.

Last night I was looking at my son's baseball card collection and I noticed that he has two 2006 Tom Gordon cards. One says Phillies across the top and has him winding up in a Phillies uniform. The name on the bottom says "Tom Gordon." The other card has the same photo of him winding up in a Phillies uniform, but it says Yankees on top and lists his name as Flash Gordon. This is obviously in error. Have you heard about this mistake card? Do you know how many were printed? Do you know how much they're worth? Thanks, Matt via email

I’d like to help out Matt and others like him by opening this last question up to other collectors. If you know what’s up with this Tom Gordon card, either email me and I’ll pass along the info to him or comment to this post.



Well, that’s it for now. If you have questions about your cards, just drop me an email. I may not get around to answering it for a couple weeks, but I will answer it eventually.

4 comments:

Blogpress said...

What is the best way to go about selling a mint condition Topps 1987 Barry Bonds card? Needless to say, my 10-year-old son and I don't want to get ripped off.

Anonymous said...

Just so you know, 1987 Barry Bonds Rookie Card (topps) is only worth $15.00 ungraded. If you were to have it graded then, their is no telling what you can get out of it. I don't suggest selling it on Ebay unless, you can get it graded!

Benjamin said...

I saw that it said ask Ben a question, but didn't see a link to do so(probably just missed it). Anyway, I will just use this comment section.

You answered a question relating to the difference in Topps and Topps Tiffany, and afterword put the Tiffany set's print run numbers. Oddly, I had been searching earlier online for over an hour, with no success, on finding print runs of different sets. I mostly wanted to know about the late 80's-early 90's cards that I grew up on(especially 1990 Donruss-the worst set ever, in my mind)to appreciate more the reason for the market collapsing. I also wanted to know the print runs of those early-mid 90's card set where each company seemed to pu out 75 sets each, which led to me quitting the hobby until about a year ago. Any info on where I can find these numbers? I would really appreciate the info, as I am considering starting a site where people can donate or even trade their 1990 donruss cards,say, maybe, 100 of your 1990 Donruss cards for 1 good modern or pre-eighties card valued at around $10. I could then keep a tally of the numbers of the cards destroyed vs cards remaining. It is my goal to leave this world with 10% or less of the 1990 Donruss cards ever made. And, yes, I am serious.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I have many of the '91 Donruss DK's. But I was wondering what is the difference between the DK & Super DK's??? How can I tell what one I have?