Wednesday, November 30, 2011

SIGnificant Cards - 2001 SP Authentic Sign of the Times Doug Flutie

Tim Tebow sure is making a lot of headlines as the starting QB for the Denver Broncos. More of them are saying he can't do this and he can't do that than praising him for his efforts and the efforts of his team. After all, it is the team winning, not just the QB. I think its funny that even John Elway won't give his blessing to the kid and the team keeps winning. It was so many years ago that another popular college QB was picked on, ridiculed and sensationalized in the headlines. So much that he packed it in and headed north to the CFL to hone his skills until it was the right time to come back to the NFL. That QB was Doug Flutie.

Remember those headlines? He's too short, too small, won't develop, blah, blah, blah. Sure, with some athletes you can tell almost instantly don't have the tools, but no man can measure another's determination. The media sure thinks they can, they actually get paid to come up with ridiculous newspaper and website headlines. It's borderline pathetic that people have come to expect sarcasm instead of fact.

Doug Flutie proved everyone wrong. The guy is a 3x Grey Cup MVP, he's a Heisman Trophy winner and he snagged an NFL Comeback Player of the year award. He had a spectacular CFL career throwing for over 40 TDs in a single season not once, not twice, but THREE times! He was 2 TDs shy from doing it four times...

His time with the Buffalo Bills and the San Diego Chargers were the best of his NFL days. He was also a member of the USFL. While drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in 1985, he passed up the NFL and joined the New Jersey Generals for a season. When the league folded a year later, he joined the Chicago Bears. He didn't get much playing time and was then swapped to New England. When the NFL went on strike, he crossed the line to play. Imagine that, a guy that just wants to play football. Hmmmm.

So... of course he was branded a scab and shortly thereafter he left the NFL for Canada. He became a CFL legend. His accolades are unmatched and many believe he is the greatest player in CFL history.

Sounds like a helluva career doesn't it? Well I haven't even touched upon the thing he's known the most for -- Flutie Flakes!

Ok, well he is known for that, but really... he's known for one of the most amazing hail mary passes in NCAA history. As a member of the Boston College Eagles, he helped his team defeat the all-powerful, so-called unstoppable Miami Hurricanes with a last second bomb that made him an instant superstar. For the record, he was already a star, notching the Heisman that year, and a couple of player of the year awards. He also wore #22 as a QB. I don't think I've ever seen anyone wear it again while playing that position, it caught my attention.

I had always wanted a Flutie autographed card in my collection since he threw that unbelievable pass back in '84. It took awhile before I pulled one out of a pack, but it did happen. This Upper Deck SP Authentic Doug Flutie card is one I will not soon forget. It was the last pack I opened from the box. I was almost at the point that I thought I got hosed on the box and it didn't include an auto (it happens). The card is #DF from the amazing 2001 Sign of the Times insert collection and features Doug in his Chargers gear. It is on-card and a very legible auto. To this day, it remains one of my top ten favorite pulls out of a pack. It's not worth a mint, but to me it's priceless.

Kinda makes you wonder if Tebow will follow in his footsteps, or get tripped up in them? Either way, both were underrated, one story has a happy ending, not that kind... get your mind out of the gutter, and the other we get to sit back and watch it all unfold.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Get Your Matt Leinart Cards Out

Ok, now put em away.

SIGnificant Cards - 2011 Andy Dalton Prestige Draft Picks Rights Rookie

With all of the quarterbacks selected in the 2011 draft by teams that sorely needed them, it was bound to be an exciting season watching them all explode or implode. Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker, Christian Ponder and Andy Dalton were all fantastic NCAA QBs. Who would succeed at the NFL was up to them and they all have performed well when called upon. Newton has put up outstanding numbers, but they have not translated into victories. Gabbert has struggled and so has Ponder. Dalton performed well in the season opener when the Bengals defeated the Browns. They are looking for the sweep of the Browns today. After the opener, the Bengals dropped their next two and then Dalton led them to a 5-game winning streak. It had fans saying, "Carson who"?

The Bengals are improving at a steady pace. They dropped games to superior opponents, but they are holding their own. Don't be surprised if they find a way to continue winning and earn a wild card in the very even-keeled AFC. The are currently on a 2-game skid, let's see if they can run off another 5-game win streak and make Dalton's rookie campaign even more of a success story. It won't be easy as they face Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Houston among others in their last six. They hung tight with their fellow AFC North franchises and the Texans are going to struggle without the services of starting QB Matt Schaub.

Football. Ain't it great?

This Dalton rookie card comes from the early Panini America release Prestige. It's usually the first NFL product on the market and is loaded with rookies. A box usually provides a couple of autographed rookie cards in addition to the regular base-card variety. This is card #207 from the set and is sequentially numbered to 499. It is the Draft Picks Rights variation and sports a really nice looking sig on a sticker. I usually don't like closeup images on cards, but take a look at Dalton's face, he is determined and you can see that he's taking all of the experience from his TCU days into the NFL. The fifth QB selected and a second rounder, the Bengals couldn't pass him up and got a franchise player; exactly what they were looking for.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

SIGnificant Cards - 2005 Ken Griffey Jr. Sweet Spot Signatures

In 1989 The Upper Deck Company took the trading card world by storm. Brash to the point of nearly doubling the existing price of a pack of cards would have been enough, but they also landed one of the hottest prospects in Major League Baseball history before anyone else did. That player was Ken Griffey Jr. I had no problem finding the Griffey rookie card in those 89 packs, but let's skip ahead just a few years. Griffey would become synonymous with the Upper Deck brand. Enter the memorabilia and autographed card era. Keeping with my stubbornness, I had for a long time wanted to pull a Junior Griffey auto out of a pack.

It really wasn't because I was a fan, it was because he was a fairly difficult auto to get. I'd see him at MLB spring training in Arizona and he didn't sign very often if at all. In fact a lot of guys were like that. Bo Jackson, Mark McGwire and Rickey Henderson and Griffey weren't very cordial to their supporters some goaded the fans accusing them of selling their stuff on eBay. I always found it funny that a guy making 10 million gave a crap about a guy making a couple of bucks on eBay... but that's fact, I saw it with my own eyes. For every one of them though, there were 4 or 5 players that would sign as often as possible and that, some warm weather and good baseball is what made an annual trip to Arizona worthwhile.

It wasn't until 2005 that I finally pulled a Griffey auto out of a pack. It came from the 2005 Upper Deck Sweet Spot Baseball product, one of the best MLB sets ever made. It is perhaps the very best autographed baseball card insert collection to hit the hands of collectors even to this day. Unfortunately I've heard some collectors complain about their autos fading after some time, but I have never experienced this.

Junior signed it in black ballpoint with an extra inscription of "56 HRS". It's #'d to 175 and is one of the true gems in my collection. Do you have a favorite Sweet Spot auto? Which one is it?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

SIGnificant Cards - Matt Forte 2008 Upper Deck SPx Rookie

Living in the Chicago area for over eight years, I've seen the Chicago Bears on all levels. They've been bottom rung bums and Super Bowl contenders over the years. Their current team is one of the best they've had on their field in their entire history. They are iffy in a few positions, and the Packers are still the team to beat, but the Bears most definitely do not still suck.

Or do they? They just got the news that Jay Cutler broke his thumb and the whole damn city is panicking. It's kinda funny. Maybe they are scared that Lovie Smith is going to re-sign Todd Collins and their season will blow up on them? I dunno, but they need to have a little faith. Backup Caleb Hanie might not be the best QB in the league, but he is exactly what they need to win. They need him to make smart decisions and hold onto the ball. He has a good arm and with Bennett and Knox out there, he just needs to get the ball close and not in the hands of opponents. 

He also has Matt Forte. Forte has really come into his own. His week 4 performace against the Panthers showed he can hang with the big boys. He also is the only NFL player besides Herschel Walker  to have over 700 yards rushing and 400 yards receiving in his first four seasons.

Legendary Bears back Gale Sayers has been critical of Forte in the past and I suppose he's eating his words right about now. Then as much as I love Gale, he's always been pretty hard on the Bears. Regardless, he's on his way to a 1,000 yard season and is averaging 5 per carry. Not to shabby and it is time for the trading card hobby to show him a little love. Right now he's the 2nd best running back in franchise history and if he keeps up his current numbers, he might just go down as the very best.

Today's card comes from the 2008 Upper Deck SPx football set. It is numbered to 599 and contains a swatch of gear and the signature of the Bears star. SPx always delivers a solid design and 2008 was no exception, it was one of the finest looking NFL sets ever made. I have several Forte rookie autos, but this one is by far my favorite.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I Went to the Sun Times Show and Took a Trip Down Memory Lane

Today I ventured out to the Chicago Sun Times collectibles convention with a few goals in mind. I haven't been to the show in a couple of years and figured I would check it out because some friends would be there as well as some sponsors of the Cardboard Connection Radio show.

My first stop of the day was to the Memory Lane Inc booth. I wanted to stop by and not only see J.P. and thank him for his support, but I wanted to see some of the items in their upcoming auction that we discussed on our radio show.

Here's a quick clip with J.P from the Memory Lane booth:

Seeing some of the cards like the Plank, the Mantles and the Gibson blew my mind. That tin? Not my cup of tea, but it is in incredible condition and is an extremely rare and unique collectible that MANY people were in awe of at the show.

After I left J.P., I ran into Brian Gray from Leaf and checked out their setup. It was pretty quiet at the show, but they had an awesome display of the Muhammad Ali autos and cards. To quote Darth Vader, "Impressive, most impressive".

I decided only to bring $100 cash and see if I could pick up some of the items I wanted. If you follow our radio show, you'd know I have been looking for a particular Upper Deck SP Authentic auto of future NFL Hall of Famer Kurt Warner. I have struck out at the National for many years looking for it and have had an extremely difficult time even finding a Warner auto at the show.

My drought ended today when I found the card I was looking for. I got it for a price I was willing to pay and it will no doubt be a future SIGnificant Cards entry.

I also mentioned on our show that it might be a good time to pick up Kyle Busch autographed cards. I had been looking for a Kyle Busch auto from my favorite Press Pass product -- Showcase. I haven't pulled an auto of Busch and have been scouting listings to find the one I want and I have continuously been sniped at the last minute on many. Again, I got what I wanted at the price I wanted to pay.

Today was a good day.

If you think I spent the entire $100 on just those two cards, you'd be wrong. I also picked up some more items.

I needed some supplies, so I grabbed some extra thick and regular top loaders and sleeves. Always good prices at the show, that's a no-brainer.

I picked up a box of 91-92 Kayo for $10 and can't wait to open it. Sure it's not worth much these days, but its 36 packs of pure greatness. Hopefully I will find a hologram or auto. Worst case, I can use them for through the mail or in-person autos.

I also wanted to find another box for me to open with my kids. This time I chose a winner for a whopping $3! It's 1988 Topps Big Baseball Series 2. They can shred through those packs and I don't have to worry about condition or value, just pure fun-factor!

Just as I was getting ready to call it a day, I saw one of the most original ideas for displaying items that I have seen since the ball cube. Z-Access has a new entry for collectors to display items from cards, to balls to action figures in a snazzy 3D frame. They had a few different displays set up at the show including a couple of custom ones and I stopped in my tracks to check it out. I had a brief conversation with them and am hopeful that they will appear on an upcoming edition of Cardboard Connection radio. For now, trust me when I say it is pretty cool and you can check them out for yourself at

My haul, all for just under $100. I think I did pretty good.
There wasn't a whole lot of wax at the show. What was there could be had for a song and dance. Even the most recent Tier One baseball boxes were marked down about $20 and could be yours for around $60. The last thing I grabbed was as I was walking out the door. I passed Dave & Adams booth and saw they had retail boxes of 2009 Upper Deck SP Signature Football for $9. I grabbed one and headed out.

 I look forward to discussing the show a bit more on the Wednesday, November 23 edition of Cardboard Connection Radio.

Monday, November 14, 2011

SIGnificant Cards - 2003-04 Pat Riley Upper Deck Legends Basketball

I'm pretty sure that when the average person is asked about NBA coaches that Pat Riley's name pops into their heads. He might not be the first choice for older NBA fans. Red Auerbach, Don Nelson or Phil Jackson are among some of the other well known coaches that could be considered the very best. However there was a special flair with Riley that made him a household name, as much, if not more than some of his players. Riley has five NBA championships under his belt, and has won the NBA coach of the year honors three times with three different teams.

His years with the Lakers and the Knicks provided many a headline, and his work with the Miami Heat brought that franchise its most recent NBA title.

Riley though is much more than just a coach. He was also a player, and a 1st round draft pick to boot. Selected 7th overall out of Tennessee, he enjoyed playing for nearly a decade with San Diego, Los Angeles and Phoenix. He got his first taste of championships winning one in 1972 with the Lakers.

While his stats on the court might not have been Hall of Fame worthy, his autograph most certainly is worth adding to any collection. Riley has done it all. He's a television commentator, author, coach, motivational speaker, and the guy is well known for his fashion etiquette. You probably couldn't tell by the 70s era photo on the card. He looks more like a gym teacher or race-car driver. Saying he is just a coach is kind of like saying Filet Mignon is just another slab of beef.

Many despise him, many love him, but you can't deny the man and his accomplishments. Finding this card in a pack was a great collecting moment for me, especially as a fan of Riley and many of the great players that he has coached. Yeah, I rooted for those Patrick Ewing led Knicks teams and it killed me every single time they choked...

Anyway, I pulled this sweet sig of Pat Riley out of a box of 2003-04 Upper Deck Legends Basketball, a product that is loaded with great, easy to acquire autos of some of the all-time hardwood icons. It is card #LS-PR and there isn't a sticker in sight.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

SIGnificant Cards -- 2011 Cam Newton Press Pass Legends All-American Auto

He was drafted #1 overall in 2011 and many had written him off as a flash in the pan before the season began. In fact, this class in general had been criticized and ridiculed to some degree and at this point in the season, many of the former NCAA stars are heartily enjoying the last laugh.

Cam Newton set passing records in his first game, he clearly has the tools to play at the professional level, though his win/loss record might not show it. He is but one of many QBs that have been given the nod to lead their teams this season. Along with Blaine Gabbert, Andy Dalton and Christian Ponder, Newton is turning heads and is definitely a front-runner for rookie of the year honors.

NFL autographs are never at a shortage. There are hundreds of them in collectors hands just before and directly after the draft. To me, it used to be a big deal to get the cards of players in their NFL uniforms and also it had to NFL licensed. Now, I don't think about it so much. I know who the player was drafted by, I don't need the NFL shield to verify that it is a viable trading card. In fact, I've leaned toward more NCAA and college products because you get a solid autograph, most times on-card. Getting an autograph of an athlete before they are committed to sign their name on stickers a bazillion times is also clutch, because many times it becomes a chore to them. Let's face it, if you had to sign you name thousands and thousands of times, you'd get tired of it and there is a good chance they'd get sloppy, some even shorten their signature.

This autograph of Cam Newton comes from the 2011 Press Pass Legends product. I wasn't a big fan of the overall product this year. It wasn't because of the player content, or the lack of NCAA logos. The reason I wasn't a fan this season was because the photos were mainly of the guys from the neck up and there were no action shots.

Legends was released early in the year, before the season began and they already inked Cam Newton and others to sign for the product. Cam's autos were actually redemption cards in the product, but unlike some other companies, Press Pass had the signatures returned to them right after the product went live and they were fulfilled within a few days.

There are many reasons why this particular card holds a special place in my collection. Obviously one of them is because Newton is an outstanding athlete and my collecting goals are to acquire at least one autograph of the first-round draft picks of the NFL. It also is one of my favorites because while I don't like redemption cards, this one was turned around in less than a week and was easily the fastest redemption I've ever dealt with in this industry.

Card #AA-CN comes from the All-American insert set from the 2011 Press Pass Legends product. It's #'d to 250 and is an on-card auto! It also refers to Cam, as Cameron... a bit of a difference from the majority of his 2011 trading cards.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

SIGnificant Cards - Kris Humphries 2004-05 Bowman Signature Edition Rookie

Just when I thought the friggin' Kardashian family couldn't possibly get any more TV time or tabloid covers, they shock the world with the divorce announcement of Kim and her husband for 72 days -- Kris Humphries.

When this card came out in 2004, Kris was drafted by the Utah Jazz #14 overall. He got a lot of praise coming out of Minnesota, and at the same time many thought he was a selfish player that didn't have his team's best interest at heart. Either way, whatever stock he had coming into the NBA dropped quickly. He has become somewhat of a journey man playing for four teams over a span of seven years. He was most recently a member of the New Jersey Nets and became a free agent after the 2010-11 season. Now with the lockout, he's without a team, and with his divorce he's without a wife.

Now without being too harsh, did anyone think this marriage was actually going to work? I have never seen a single minute of any of their television adventures (luckily), but didn't this girl get famous by releasing a XXX video of herself? Do I really need to say anymore?

This card was worth about $10 when it came out and it is worth about the same today. No amount of press can change that. The only way this card is going to become more valuable is if the NBA lockout ends and his skills all of a sudden improve. However, one could find many other uses for this card that's slabbed in a Topps sealed holder. Doorstop? Table leveler? Anyone? Anyone?

SIGnificant Cards - Mike Tyson Sportkings Autograph

One of my first jobs was as a valet attendant at the Trump Regency Hotel. It used to be the famous Playboy Club, and was always a blast to hang out at and kill some time with friends. Atlantic City has always had its ups and downs and the Playboy Club just couldn't cut it with Steve Wynn and Donald Trump creating the ultimate beach resorts. Eventually Trump bought the struggling hotel and it functioned without a casino. I moved from the outside in, becoming a bell desk, oh who am I kidding, I can't even remember what my job title was...

Anyway, I worked with some very interesting people and met a lot of celebrities and athletes during my time there. One of the great things about the Regency was that it was host to almost all of the boxers that fought at the Atlantic City Convention Center. Many of the celebrities that would attend the fights would also stay there.

I met a ton of people and it was a great experience. When Mike Tyson came in for fights, his entire entourage stayed at the Regency. So for many months, I got to see the champ multiple times a day. Most times he would have a set of headphones on and would ignore nearly everyone in his path. Some days, more than likely you would get a glimpse of the Mike Tyson that people came to know from his turbulent career and on a good day, you'd get to see him be more like the man he has matured into today.

It was at the Trump Regency that I met my long time friend and co-host Russ Cohen. We attended many fights together including some that we'll never forget such as James Toney versus Mike McCallum I, Ray Mercer destroying Tommy Morrison, and nearly any and all Evander Holyfield, George Foreman and Mike Tyson fights that took place in the city.

As a lifelong boxing fan, I was a huge fan of Mike Tyson and watched him pick apart and annihilate his opponents on his way to the Heavyweight titles. He looked untouchable and put fear in people long before the bell rang. Just watch this clip of him decimating Michael Spinks.

That was just one of the insane events that involved Tyson in Atlantic City. Here's another brutal beating, this one suffered by Alex Stewart...

That was his comeback fight after losing to Buster Douglas. He was angry and fought like it. But this fight was the blueprint on how to beat him. He didn't utilize any of the skills he learned, it was all ferocity. Skilled fighters that weren't necessarily stronger, but ones that were better conditioned took him apart later on down the road. I don't know what his punch count numbers were after this fight but if he landed 20% of his punches I'd be shocked.

I'm glad Mike has his stuff together these days and he was hilarious in both of the Hangover movies. There's no doubt that this Sportkings card is one of the gems in my collection. It comes from Series C and card # A-MT1 is the Silver Version complete with the guarantee of Dr. Brian Price that it is authentic.

I write this as I just learned of the passing of another boxing icon -- "Smokin" Joe Fraizer. Joe also has a Sportkings auto and I wish I had that one in my collection, he will be missed by many. RIP Joe.

Just after I finished writing this, I saw this on TMZ. Seemed fitting to link to it.

Monday, November 7, 2011

SIGnificant Cards - Rittenhouse Archives John Noble Stargate SG-1

I've had a few favorite television shows over the years. From Hong Kong Phooey when I was like 5 and more recently the FX Cop Drama the Shield, it takes a lot to get me to sit down and actually watch something week in and week out. Since complete seasons and series have come out on DVD, I find myself borrowing them from my local library to avoid commercials and cliffhangers. Time is of essence!

One of the shows I missed when it made it's television debut is the Fox Sci-Fi thriller Fringe. On a whim, I saw season one was on sale at Best Buy for $9 and I bought it. I had heard some good things about the show and since I was a little child, I loved the idea of a parallel universe, time-travel and the science behind it. It sounded like my kind of show, and after watching a couple of episodes I was hooked.

With a great cast including Anna Torv as Olivia Dunham, Joshua Jackson as Peter Bishop, Mark Valley who was awesome as Brad Chase on Boston Legal and the quirky John Noble as Walter Bishop (you might know him from Lord of the Rings, I never sat through them), I really got caught up on the show and couldn't wait for more.

When they finally progressed the story to the point of having characters from one earth inhabit the other earth, it became my favorite show that's currently airing. Yeah I am a total geek and I know it! So I figured I'd check out what actors on the show had autographed cards. It was just about the time that Wizard World's Comic Con was hitting the Chicago area and I wondered if I might have some luck trying to find some of the cast members autos there.

Of all the many dealers and vendors present at the show (no major trading card manufacturers) I did find one non-sport card dealer who had binders and binders of memorabilia and autographed cards for sale. I flipped through several binders and found a few amazing signatures (many of which will end up as a SIGnificant Cards column).

Among the group I purchased that day included this Rittenhouse Archives Stargate SG-1 signature card of John Noble a.k.a Walter Bishop from his time in the long-running series as Meurik. It was a steal at just $5.

With the over-saturated market for sports autographs, this is one of the aspects of the hobby I love most. Many actors/entertainment personalities have autographed cards in sets that don't reflect their current work. Either they get too busy to sign, are uninterested in signing or the show or movie they appear in doesn't get a card set made. But I could rattle off a list of actors/actresses in my collection that have signed cards for different projects than the ones they are most known and famous for. This is but one of them.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

SIGnificant Cards -- 2009 Press Pass Premium Tony Stewart Premium Signatures

It's been awhile since I posted, I took a vacation, and quite frankly didn't want to return to writing on a daily basis right away. I've been busy with life, trying to get some priorities in order, in addition to adding a second night of programming for the Cardboard Connection Radio show, so I took some time to regroup. I'm excited about today's entry though, because it's about a card I had wanted to add to my collection for several years and finally did. Best of all, it came from a pack, and to me, that always makes it better than buying it from the secondary market.

With a victory in Texas this afternoon, Tony Stewart edged closer to overall points leader Carl Edwards, now only trailing by 3 points with 2 races left to determine the Sprint Cup Champion. It was Stewart's fourth win in eight races and he is either going to be the 2011 champ or go down fighting until the last lap.

I've been a fan of "Smoke" since his Indy days and he is one of a handful of signatures I have sought out of Press Pass Racing Products. In 2009 I finally scored the Stewart auto. It came from a pack of 2009 Press Pass Premium and while it is a sticker, it is a nice, clean auto on a great looking card.

Ironically, I am also a huge fan of Kyle Busch and his autograph was pretty much the only major racer from NASCAR who has eluded me since I've been opening racing product back as far as 2001. However, his actions this weekend (intentionally wrecking Ron Hornaday) have made me rethink being a fan. You see, my 6-year old son loves him. It began with the car. Of course he loves the M&M car, but then Kyle started to win big and dominate. He nearly shed his bad boy, punk attitude until he tried to kill Hornaday. Try explaining that to a little kid!

Much like my feelings towards other sports, I like to watch and root for individuals other than teams. So I'd be happy to see either Stewart or Edwards win because throughout the year they have been the most consistent. I'll be posting more NASCAR autos with the SIGnificant Cards column, look for them soon!