For this edition of Random Picks, fellow collector Ryan Daly will be joining us. Ryan collects primarily baseball but dabbles in vintage basketball. I recently encouraged him to write about a card selected at random from his collection. In turn, I did the same. Here are our random picks.
Ryan’s Random Pick: Jeff Bagwell 2000 SP Authentic Buyback #7 /539
In the year 2000 I was ten years old. I was focused on baseball cards, but my income was limited. I remember envying the SP Authentic product because it was classy, and filled with killer inserts. The epic Chirography set was the main draw for me and I busted every pack I could afford. The 22 year old me knows better than to rip open packs in hopes of certain cards (although I still open a fair amount of wax), but 10 year old me couldn't wait to hand over the limited cash I had to the friendly baseball card shop owner when I had enough cash to get some SP Authentic.
Needless to say, I don't have much to show for the aimless years of collecting during my adolescence. However, I did pull a good amount of cool cards that are still a part of my collection today. Unfortunately, I don’t have some of my favorite cards in my collection anymore. I still have the memories of opening those packs though…
I pulled the Jeff Bagwell Buyback in my favorite card shop with my Dad and a few other people around to see my excitement. I had never pulled a buyback card before and although I was extremely excited to pull something other than the normal inserts and parallels, I immediately realized that I would have to wait several weeks to actually have the card in my hands. The people at the shop determined that it would be a Jeff Bagwell autograph because of the letters BAG that are printed on the redemption card (please see picture).In 2000, Jeff Bagwell was the man! I was really excited to get a card signed by a superstar of the era.
As an impatient ten-year old, I waited and waited for weeks – checking the mail every day in hopes of a package from Upper Deck. I can't remember exactly how long it took, but it definitely took A LOT longer than other buyback cards I have redeemed. In fact, by the time it arrived I had almost forgotten about it (what can I say? I was a kid).
When I was about 20 I got back into my collection and the first thing I thought of was making money. I was a poor college student and I was under the impression that I could significantly augment my income by selling my cards. I don't want to dwell too much on that dark part of my collecting history, but I ended up selling my Jeff Bagwell. Of all the cards I sold on eBay during that time, the Jeff Bagwell caused me the most pain. Mailing it off to someone was really hard and that's when I stopped selling my cards. I see the Jeff Bagwell as a holy sacrifice that had to be made in order to get my mind back into serious collecting. Over the years I've kept an eye out for it on eBay – it would be great to have that exact card back in my collection. Like the circle of life!
The 2000 SP Authentic Jeff Bagwell Autograph Buyback is a great looking card, and the story attached to it made me want to write about it. I know it's weird picking a card to write about that's not in my collection, but that just shows how much the card affects me. If anyone sees the card out there, let me know!
Patrick’s Random Pick: Mike Piazza 1995 Dodgers ROYs #13
It wasn’t until 2010 that I first discovered this set and when I did, I had no idea what to make of it. It looks just like something Topps would produce within their Chrome, Finest, or Stadium Club product blocks. However, those words are nowhere to be found on this card. My attempt to acquire this card back in 2010 when I first discovered its existence was unsuccessful. I’ve loosely searched for it through the years with no luck and then randomly, yesterday 3/2/2013, while shopping at Frank & Sons in the City of Industry CA, a dealer had a partial set in his showcase. I immediately requested to see the set in search of the Piazza and there it was, the last card in the stack. For a cool $3, I was excited to have finally secured the example.
Here is what I know about this card. It was offered in set form only and specifically for Dodgers season ticket holder and postseason mail order customers. That being said, these were much tougher to find because of the way they were released. I am assuming a total print run of somewhere between 40-50K and here’s why:
According to various sources, Dodgers stadium has a seating cap of 56,000. I am going to make the following claim: there can never be more season ticket holders than there are available seats. Not all attendees are season ticket holders, however. The likelihood of all attendees for all games throughout the year being season ticket holders is slim to zero. I can’t subscribe to the thinking of this situation ever being a possibility. That said, let’s assume that the Dodgers make 56K season tickets available with an optimistic average of 40K total sales of season tickets and a standard deviation of 5K just to be safe. I can’t imagine that the number of season tickets sold is this high but I have to at least ballpark something that makes sense for the sake of this argument. The remaining 5K in print will go to those mail order customers, which I can’t imagine are many strong.
So based on my assumptions, this card may hold a print run of around 50,000. Given that it took me 15 years to discover this set, I can make the following assumptions:
- 50,000 is tiny in comparison to print runs associated with mainstream releases in 1995
- If the Dodgers didn’t sell all season tickets in 1995, then not all sets made it to market, which has me wondering what the Dodgers did with the remaining sets
- Not all baseball fans are baseball card collectors so not all sets were well cared for, or even survived
At the time of this writing, it’s 2013, 18 years after release date. I am enthused by this issue due to the unique nature of its existence. I hope that baseball teams will reproduce this special arrangement in moderation in years to come.