April 05, 2007

Ask Ben A Question Vol. 4

Time to answer some questions from readers. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m really bad with answering mail in a timely fashion, but I will answer it eventually. I’ve received 250 blog-related emails since January 1, so if you don’t see your question here, you just have to trust me: I will get to your question. Also, if you have a question and you don’t see an answer to it here, search through earlier posts of Ask Ben A Question. If you still don’t see an answer, email me!

We have tons of basketball, baseball and football cards in great shape. None of them are probably in valuable category. Know of any organizations out there that could give them away to a kid or group of kids just getting in to the hobby, or something like that?
-DW, email

You’ve struck upon a great idea, really one that many us curmudgeons unhappy with our trunkloads of 1988 Donruss, 1991 Fleer, 1991-92 Fleer Basketball and 1990 Score Football need—a way to get rid of these cards that doesn’t involve burning them or throwing them away. Besides listing the cards as a free listing on your local Craigslist, try Assure A Cure’s
Sports Cards for Kids Program. The program takes donated cards, gift-wraps them and gives them to hospitalized children worldwide (text summarized from their website). The site was updated last summer, so I assume it’s still going.

What ever happened to the art of baseball card trading? Do you know of any websites or clubs that facilitate trading? I would like to complete some sets both new and old without breaking the bank. Thanks Ritch

P.S. I have an '88 Topps Len Matuzak in mint I'll trade you for your '52 Mantle.

Did I ever tell you about how I got back into cards? It was in 2003, Topps Heritage had just come out and they mimicked the ‘54s and I found myself drawn to purchase box after box of them. I ended up going for the Master Set, and I’m only eleven cards shy of completion. After three boxes (that’s over $200 for those of you counting at home), I was still missing about 60 cards from the set, if not more, so you know what I did? I found a website that promoted itself as a safe haven for traders. I had pulled a Don Larsen Team Topps autographed card and traded it for 60 to 70 cards that I needed. Without that trader’s website, I would probably still be screwed, stuck with a half-complete set and paying $2 shipping charges on $0.50 commons. Anyway, to answer your question, Ritch, trading is becoming a lost art. The only trading I saw at the last show I attended was a private collector trading a few Maris and Berra doubles for a couple hundred dollars. Right. I can’t seem to find the site that I had used, but here’s a fairly substantial one: Sports Cards Forum. I would read the FAQs link on the site before agreeing to anything, just to be sure it’s what you’re looking for.

From your blog, it seemed like you would be a good source of information. I own a case of Topps 1994, series 2 baseball cards. It is still sealed and has 36 packs of sealed cards inside. I was wondering if you knew if it was worth anything. Obviously, it is difficult to tell because I dont know what cards I have but any information you might now would be great.
-David, email

Thanks for the question. First off, what you have is called a 'box' of cards, containing packs of cards. A case is a larger box containing boxes of packs of cards. Second, I'm afraid that your box isn't worth very much, maybe $15 at the most. If I were you, and was considering opening the box, I'd weigh two options: first, do you like having the box unopened? There's a sense of mystery associated with it that will be gone as soon as it's opened. Second, have you had this around for a long time and you really really want to see who's in those packs? Either way, you won't gain much financially by keeping the box unopened. And if you open it, you're guaranteeing yourself and your friends (if you have a pack-opening party) at least ten minutes of fun.

This answer goes for almost anyone who has an unopened box from the late Eighties to early Nineties. It’s time to face the music: your unopened material is just not worth very much at all. If you’re okay with that, then rock on and let’s have ourselves one wicked all-night, gum-chewing, wax-ripping kegger. If not…well, be thankful you didn’t sink your savings into 100-count lots of 1987 Topps Mike Greenwell. Opening pack upon pack upon pack of worthless crap can be fun, but a hundred Gators? Not anyone’s idea of a good time.


I've collected pretty much the entire series 1 set of Topps. I've torn through a bunch of packs that I bought at Target.

I do have a 2007 Jeter. I pulled a red back in a jumbo pack I bought from a hobby shop.

Still, has Topps limited the circulation of the Jeter? Have card companies ever done that before? I seemingly remember the same issue in 1990. I tore through pack after pack after pack of 1990 Topps to find a Griffey Jr. Never got it. Ended up buying it at hobby shop. Got a boatload of Griffey Sr in a Reds uniform though.

As far as a regular, white back Jeter...I must have opened 50-60 packs and still haven't got one yet.


-Andrew, email

Not to rub it in, but I bought a box at Target and got a regular, white-backed Jeter in it. To the best of my knowledge, I don’t think Topps is holding back on this card, but it has been well-publicized that it would be corrected in subsequent versions of the set, leading anyone with half a brain to see that it was a publicity stunt by the Topps company to generate interest in a somewhat lackluster product. It is not a stated shortprint, and not considered a traditional insert card, and, in the grand scheme of things, the Jeter probably is not harder to get than any other normal card in the first series. The conspiracy theorist in me thinks there is some kind of hidden agenda with this card, something the company’s not telling us about production figures, but really I’ve got nothing but theories. Sorry Andrew, it’s probably just bad luck. Try taking a road trip to a Target or Wal-Mart somewhere in another state and buy some boxes there. It could have to do with distribution.


I googled for about 10 minutes and couldn't find an answer so I thought you might be the man to ask. In 1990, why didn't Upper Deck make a Star Rookie card of Frank Thomas?

I would say that due to Frank not playing in 1989, and UD not making draft pick cards for the set could be the answer but, what about the Griffey SR from the year before?

You can also argue that there are only so many rookie cards allocated per set. That's true, but Frank Thomas was a 1st Rd. 7th pick in 1989!! Regardless, if a '90 UD Frank Thomas was made, I wonder if it would book close to or around what the '89 Griffey does today. What are your thoughts? Thanks in advance.

-Adam, via email

Why indeed. Big Frank was there for Upper Deck. He was in every other goddamn set released that year, so what gives? Why is it that the first Upper Deck card of Thomas is in 1991 and shows him on the bench, slyly giving someone the finger? Was it that, with the 1989 set such a smash hit and 1990 pre-sold to oblivion, the guys at Upper Deck just forgot to get Thomas signed and delivered for the set? Or was he not in the player’s union yet or what? I’m running out of ideas here, so I’m sorry Adam, but I don’t know why he wasn’t included. Sometimes things just don’t work out; guys don’t end up with true rookie cards in sets that should clearly have included them. And really, I think Thomas handled it well: you can barely tell he’s pissed-off and flipping the bird on that 1991 card.

Finally I’ve received two emails that I would like you, dear knowledgeable reader, to see if you can help me answer. You can either respond by commenting to this post, or by emailing me, which I’ll send along to your fellow readers in search of answers.

Hi. Is there any chance you might have this card, or know where I might get one? I'm told it's a 1955. It is black & white, and has a blank back. Please let me know. -Greg, email

I stumbled upon your web site while I was trying to find a way to design my old fantasy baseball cards. I run a fantasy 8 team league (all the players and teams are made up) I run the game off the old Earl Weaver Baseball software that has been partially updated and called igiBall. This will be my 15th season and each year I try to do something ‘special’ to make the league feel more real.

I can’t believe there is no web site/design software that provides a series of templates and would allow one to upload a picture (real or otherwise). I once owned a formal piece of software that let one do this, but it is now very outdated.
Can you provide any help? Point in any direction? -Rich, email


Anonymous said...

Does anyone (including you, Ben) know whether the 20-pack boxes of Topps at Target and WalMart could have the Jeter card in them? Someone on eBay was claiming they don't, that they came out later and Topps had pulled it by then. Before buying boxes of those (which do seem to be in plentiful supply at my Target, unlike the 10-pack boxes), I thought I should find out. Thanks for any advise.

Also, when my daughter had an appointment at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, there were retirees who volunteered there giving out baseball cards to kids. I noticed some as far back as 1984 in their stacks! (I decided, however, not to ask for some myself, although I was very interested in the,.) The kids seemed to enjoy getting them; I think it is a great idea to donate them to children's hospitals.

Anonymous said...

Another great place to trade is www.thebenchtrading.com. They do a lot more than most sites to assure you dont get ripped off.

If you are looking to buy singles for your sets at a cheap price, try www.sportlots.com

Just a few sites that I use to help me out, hope they help you guys.

Anonymous said...

I pulled a Jeter out of a Target 20 pack box. The Jeter is not short printed in any way. There is no reason to believe that your chances of getting it are not the same as any other card.

Anonymous said...

I recently purchased a pack of UD Ultimate collection FB. In it a received a Dual Deangelo Williams/Lawrence Mahroney Patch card....Atleast the card was stated as a "Dual Patch" However upon further inspection it seems that there was no patch, but rather just a regular game jersey for the williams side of the but card. It wouldnt bother me so much but when you are dropping a $100 a pack i woul atleast like to the to be as advertised on its self. I mailed it back to UD sometime ago to their "Defective/Replacement" department with a letter alerting them to the issue i had. Have you ever heard of anything positive coming for a case like this ??? In the letter i did ask that they either send me back a actual "Dual Jersey" card of the two players or one of equal value Or a new pack of Ultimate Collection all together. I do hold a little faith in UD if for no other reason that in 1994 i opened a pack of 1989 UD and got the Griffey Jr. RC however the UD hologram on the back was about 90% gone ??? I sent them back the card with a letter saying that i knew that card companies generally arent going to replace a defective card 5 years after release, but with the UD hologram being the status symbol for the company if something could still be done ? sure enough about 10 weeks a later i got a package in the mail that had my 90% hologram missing Griffey in it with a letter apologizing for not being able to replace the card but for my trouble they had also sent me a 1990 UD Griffey Auto'ed with UD COA. I hope a similar ending is in sight and hope the company has not out grown its roots.