The Revenge of Frankenstein

In my younger days as a collector and blogger, I was a bit of an elitist snob. If a product didn’t originate from a major manufacturer, I would turn my nose up. If the certified autograph came on a sticker rather than on-card, I’d spend my time bashing it on forums like I was being paid to do so. I accepted only Topps & Upper Deck for my modern collecting and spent hours reminiscing about the good old days of Pinnacle, Fleer, and Donruss. Maybe it was age (I’m 41 now) or maybe just flat out acceptance that the old days are dead but I’ve finally given in. Today, I spend money on unlicensed baseball cards with sticker autographs like it’s no one’s business and I’m perfectly okay with it.

There is however one last hill for me to lay down on and die and it is something that even Father Time has not been able to soothe for me. That sin is Leaf baseball cards with jerseys as photographs instead of athletes. In my eyes, a baseball card has stats or authentication information on the back and a photo of the athlete on the front. Go ahead and add 45 different Refractor patterns, and unlimited pieces of chipped bats, gloves, jerseys. Slap a sticker or two or four on it and whatever else you’d like. At the end of the day, as long as I see a player on the front and stats or authentication notes on the back, I am happy. What is coming out of 2021 Leaf Ultimate Sports, however, is a crime against collectors.

The card you see below, titled “Ocho”, which means 8 in case you didn’t take Spanish in Middle School, features 8 pieces of game-used memorabilia. The theme of the card is to show 8 great players from a single franchise, this one being the San Francisco Giants. What is startling to me is that Leaf couldn’t even keep a single theme in place as there are 5 patches and 3 bats. Worst of all, some of the patches aren’t even from the Giants, which completely defeats the entire purpose of the card. What makes matters worse, as you can probably imagine, is there are no photos of athletes just generic jerseys. The asking price on this failed aborted piece of cardboard is $500 on eBay.

If I were to spend $500 on a baseball card, anything from Leaf Ultimate Sports would be at the very bottom of my list. I’d much rather own an on-card Willie Mays autograph, which believe it or not does exist. The 1996 Topps 1964 Retro (see below) on-card autographs sell between $200-$250 on average when they pop-up. It sure beats owning a tiny chip of Mays’ bat with a jersey as the photo. As for Bonds, a notorious hard autograph to obtain, he’s appeared on Topps and Fleer products in the past and all on-card. You can find his autographs on eBay between $125-$200 all day long. There are much fancier copies available, sure, but if you want on-card and Hall of Fame (plus Bonds) , these specific two can’t be beat.

As for the other players on the ‘Ocho’ card, they have their accolades and their fan base I’m sure but none of them are really worthy of being on the same card as Bonds and Mays. I certainly would find myself frustrated after pulling a Gaylord Perry or Jeff Kent game-used memorabilia card out of a nearly $500 per box, 3-card product like 2021 Leaf Ultimate Sports. I’ve never been a gambler so to me that is a scary prospect but I guess they all can’t be Mike Trout and Ohtani autographs. I also forgot to mention earlier, this exact card numbered to 30 sold for less than $60. If pulling a $60 card from a $500 box doesn’t scare you away from collecting, nothing ever will.

My advice to everyone reading is to not spend money on these Leaf Frankenstein memorabilia cards but instead look into late-90s, early-2000s certified autographs from Topps, Upper Deck, & Fleer. Hell, anything pre-2007 is still dirt cheap compared to autographs from today that have 30 different parallels all that go up in price as the serial number gets lower. Look into the past if you want to save some money and add to your collection but don’t wait too long because just like unopened boxes from the 90s have dried up and skyrocketed in price, so too will these forgotten, on-card certified autographs from the glory days of collecting.

See, there I go again …dreaming of the past like 2022 isn’t right around the corner.

2 thoughts on “The Revenge of Frankenstein

  1. Jeff

    If I am spending $500 on a box of cards and hoping to get something of value, to me that’s not collecting – it’s speculating or gambling – whichever term you care to use. And if the buyer ends up with a $60 card – hey that’s the gamble one takes. Unfortunately to an extent buying boxes of cards has turned into a lottery mentality and attempting to get that big score.

  2. Brett Alan

    I could see myself buying one of those Leaf cards…but not for the same rates I’d spend for a standard relic card of the same player(s). Granted, there’s a lot of star power there, but, still, 60 bucks for a relic is a lot of money.

    I have an Orlando Cepeda auto-relic which I bought for $10.82 on eBay, INCLUDING tax and shipping. And it’s got a picture of him!

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