The Evil That Men Do Lives After Them

Imagine yourself somehow beating the odds and pulling a once in a lifetime baseball card. I know these days, all we see is “one of ones”, multi-patch cards and booklets with enough sticker autographs to fill our computer screen BUT in 1997, things were a whole lot different. For starters, despite several trading card manufacturers all competing against each other, mass production wasn’t anything like it is today. That means pulling a certified autograph or game-used relic in 1997 was the equivalent of finding a used scratch-off in a Walmart parking lot and winning the grand prize. Pack-inserted autographs were introduced by Upper Deck in 1990 and game-used relics in 1997, also by Upper Deck. HOWEVER, it was a relatively new company that introduced the first “one of one” to baseball card collectors. That company was none other than Pinnacle Brands.

I’ve been going on and on about the magic of Pinnacle for over a decade now. In just seven years they were responsible for what was easily the most high-end baseball cards produced up until that point. Pinnacle cards, which lacked any of today’s modern technology, still can sell for thousands of dollars on the secondary market. Along with the introduction of the true “one of one” (Flair was second), they were solely responsible for the most beloved insert, arguably of all-time, Crusade, which was produced after Donruss was purchased by Pinnacle Brands in 1998. Tragically, Pinnacle left the card game that same year and filed for bankruptcy, taking down with them, Donruss and Leaf. Say what you will about Panini America, who now owns the Donruss license and Brian Grey, who now owns the Leaf name … but both these companies have done a great disservice, in my opinion, to the tradition of those two brands and their phenomenal work in the decade of the 90s.

I’m not here to talk about Leaf or Panini, though. This is a story about a girl, now a successful woman and collector, who beat the odds and pulled what is likely the most coveted printing plate in 1997 New Pinnacle. Not only did she beat the odds once, she managed to find one of the plates of Hall of Famer and nationally beloved slugger, Ken Griffey Jr. Unfortunately, Sue Tiska (@TiskaSue) made one big mistake along the way. This 20-year old collector with a then waning interest in The Hobby, trusted her local card shop owner, a man we only know as “Vinny”, to assist in selling the rare and very valuable Pinnacle Ken Griffey Jr. printing plate. Sue was coming into adulthood and much like many of us, was ready to take a break from collecting. I myself quit in 1998 at the age of 18 but was drawn back at the age of 26. We all take breaks but Susan’s proved to be both costly and heartbreaking.

When Susan returned after a few weeks to check on the status of her once in a lifetime pull at her local card shop, she was shocked to discover the building, in Bethpage, New York, had been gutted out and the shop was no longer in business. The owner left no contact information and no one in the area knew what had happened or where he disappeared to. Unfortunately, there is no happy ending here. The owner of the card shop shut down and either sold the plate or took it with him. No one knows and in 1997, we were still many years away from Twitter and Facebook. Sue, lost perhaps the most valuable Ken Griffey Jr. card of that time period and was left high and dry by Vinny.

It’s been 22 years since Sue’s amazing pull and odds are Vinny may not even be around in 2019, let alone still be dealing in trading cards. What could have happened to the card? My best guess is that Vinny liquidated his entire inventory to another local dealer or sold everything off at shows. Remember, this is long before eBay was around. Fellow collector, NYComic-Cards-Toys, assisted in finding out information through Worthpoint, a paid membership site which keeps track of past eBay auctions. What he found was pretty shocking but not surprising to a Pinnacle die hard like myself. These plates, have sold somewhat recently for a very high price. Hard to believe when you consider that we as collectors have been inundated with printing plates to the point where they sell for just a fraction of what they once did. You can find a new printing plate of Ken Griffey Jr. WITH a certified autograph for just over $100 and unsigned plates between $40-$60. Much like Pinnacle Brands, printing plates have long been forgotten by collectors.

As you can see from the image below, these Griffey Jr. 1997 New Pinnacle plates brought in quite a bit of money as recently as 2018. Sue has seen the image but doesn’t quite remember which version she owned. It’s absolutely safe to say that these plates could have easily broken $1,000 if sold between 1997-1998 when “one of one”-Mania took the collecting world by storm and Griffey Jr. was chasing Roger Maris and Hank Aaron year after year. The prices you see below come from an era when collectors had already lost interest in printing plates and with the knowledge that Junior never did quite reach the status of a Mark McGwire or Barry Bonds. That’s probably a good thing in the long run but also it also adversely affected his baseball card values.

If you’re feeling sorry for Sue, don’t. She’s taken it all with stride. See her Tweet below for proof. Besides, what goes around comes around. We may never know what happened to “LCS Vinny” but there is always a chance that he had an emergency and wasn’t able to keep in touch with Sue. However, if you knew Vinny or a card shop in the Long Island/Bethpage area, contact me immediately so we can follow up. As for her Griffey Jr. collection today, it is hands down one of the most impressive I’ve ever seen even without that Pinnacle plate. Admittedly, as much as Sue loves “Junior”, these days she finds herself chasing down Mike Trout a lot more.

Well, aren’t we all??

*If you have any leads, you can find me on Twitter or at WaxMorgue@gmail.com

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Nostalgia Served up with Love

I came to America in 1987 and have lived in Florida ever since. It’s not the greatest place in the United States and our Summers are pretty much year-round but it’s my piece of the American pie and I am sticking with it. In the 80s, I spent my days at stores like Sears and Ames, Toys ‘R Us and Kay Bee Toys. That’s why the baseball card you see below always confused me. I picked it up at some mall card show (remember those?) in 1991 but for pennies on the dollar. At the time, Jose was a bonefide superstar so I couldn’t believe it. I studied the card, which was produced by Topps and wondered about its fancy glossy card stock. Topps’ flagship from 1990 featured some of the laziest and often times blurry photography I had ever seen but this unknown card seemingly had it all.

As it turns out, Hills was a discount department store based out of Massachusetts. I do not know how they earned their right to a Topps baseball card set because just a year after this card was produced, they had well under 200 total stores in the nation. Less than a decade later, they went under and were never heard from again. All that remains to a kid who grew up in South Florida is my Hills baseball cards. Sure, to the many kids from the 80s who had one of these stores in their cities they probably have great memories but still, Hills only covered about 7 states. One has to wonder how much money Topps earned for the right to have a relatively small store brand their name over these cards. Also, how many total sets were ultimately produced? Whatever the cost, it surely did not help as they were bought out by AMES in 1999. AMES went out of business in 2002.

Today, collectors including myself will go on and on for days to anyone who will listen about Topps’ monopoly and how they are producing just way too many products, parallels and cards in general. This is an absolute fact but not much has really changed. In the late-80s and into the early-90s, there were a lot of baseball card alternatives. Aside from the usual 1-2 products per licensed manufacturer (Topps, Upper Deck, Fleer, Donruss, Score), we had a gluttony of “Broder” cards. Some looked good, others just awful but they all made their way into card shows and shops. Today, if you were to set up a booth at a show with custom cards you’d likely get laughed out of the event but back in the days before high-end printers were readily available to the public, anyone with the knowledge and resources could compete with the big boys of the card industry. For example, check out the Star 1986 Jose Canseco below.

There are literally hundreds of unlicensed, “Broder” cards of Jose Canseco that have been polluting my collection since way back in 1990. The one problem I often heard about these cards is how “anyone” with a printer could make them so what would stop them from continuing to produce them after their initial release date? Well, the flaw there is we didn’t exactly know what companies like Topps and Upper Deck were doing either so who is to say what’s really on the up and up? There have been rumors for decades that Upper Deck printed full sheets of just the Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card from 1989 and sold them through the back door, essentially printing out money. Another flaw to that theory is that these unlicensed cards were completely worthless. They were never listed in the monthly issues of Beckett Baseball and could be had for dirt cheap. I often picked up sets of Star with 8-10 cards for a few dollars.

Hills stores and Rob Broder weren’t the only ones adding to the flood during the Baseball Card Boom of the late-80s. During the “Junk Wax” era, it seems like everyone wanted to grab a cookie from the jar, which resulted in more card sets than one can keep up with. K-mart and Woolworths. Kay Bee Toys and Toys ‘r Us. Pepsi and Post. You name it. Everyone wanted in on the action. Today, all these cards are worth less than the paper they were printed on but for a generation who grew up with them, they are part of their collecting memory. These cards for us, despite carrying the “Oddball” moniker, held up well with the overpriced $2 packs of Upper Deck. Sure, maybe we were kidding ourselves but to kids who still had their training wheels in baseball cards, they absolutely were magical.

As much as I love collecting baseball cards, it’s not the actual cards that make these sets so memorable. See, these cards unlike any other flagship releases take me back way deeper into my childhood. I can remember being 9 years old running through the isles of Kay Bee Toys. The excitement of finding a new Transformer toy for my mom to hopefully buy or looking at the video game systems behind the glass with the seemingly endless shelves of video games next to them. We weren’t rich or even well off but my mom did something right in her life because every weekend I’d come home with some toy or by 1990, a pack of trading cards and everything would be just fine. Believe it or not, these corporate brands on these forgotten cards are what makes them memorable to me.

It’s hard to believe but in 2019, an age when more than half of my purchases come from Amazon or eBay … I would give anything to spend one more day being a kid again and walking down the isle of Toys ‘R Us. Showing my mom all the toys I want for Christmas or seeing a whole section of baseball cards and looking through the wax wrappers for a hint of a big freak on Steroids named Jose. Those days are long gone, as is my youth. Sadly, the stores in these cards have all disappeared as well. In my town of Sarasota, there are 3 malls but two of them are “dead”. Sears closed down, K-mart is gone. Toys r’ Us left two years ago. It seems the best we can do to relive these days is Target or Walmart with their uncaring employees, not to mention messy and mostly empty shelves.

Today, these cards and almost all from that time period have been universally labeled by collectors as “junk” and judging by sale prices at flea markets and card shows, “they” are more than likely technically correct. To me, however, these cards are a direct portal to my childhood and the memories attached to it. In the end, your first day at Disney or a big birthday party will always remain with you but as you grow up other less exciting memories tend to fade. These unwanted corporate sets will be a lifetime reminder of the love my mom, a single mother who worked 2 jobs for over twenty years, had for me. Even small moments like opening up packs as my mom drove home tired are some of the best memories I could have and they will never go anywhere thanks to these sets.

One man’s junk, is another’s treasure.

Make Baseball Cards Great Again

It seems just when Panini America starts to do something right in the baseball card market, they decide to go and shoot themselves in the foot with a cannon just to make sure said foot never, ever functions right again. This year alone I’ve been enamored with some of their nostalgia-inducing products, which is not something I am exactly known for. As much as I bash Topps Company, their products most of the time are well-produced and of the highest quality. Okay, maybe not ALWAYS. But never this bad.

Before I begin, I want you to look at the “baseball card” above. Don’t just look at it, take your time to really study it. It comes from a product called ‘National Treasure’ and if anyone in baseball was ever a legit treasure, it most certainly was Mickey Mantle. He was a mythical athlete who smashed over 500 career home runs without the aid of steroids, modern supplements, or workout techniques. He also played through injuries and more than likely a fair share of hangovers and STD outbreaks in his 18 years with the New York Yankees.

The card above is a booklet, meaning it is shaped like a traditional baseball card but then opens up like a book to reveal extra layers of cardboard goodness. In this case, the card comes with two, well-designed outside layers with embedded pieces of supposed game-used bats once belonging to Mantle. If these two particular sections had been separated and released as standalone cards, I would be applauding Panini for producing some of the best-looking, unlicensed Mickey Mantle cards I’ve ever seen.

Unfortunately for Panini America and those suckers who overpaid to purchase boxes of National Treasures at around $500+ or even chose to participate in group breaks … Panini thought these cards needed a little more bang so they included an autograph of Mickey Mantle. That probably wasn’t an easy task considering Mantle’s corpse has been rotting away going on 24 years somewhere in Oklahoma as of today. At some point, Mantle’s beautiful autograph began to dry up much like his damaged liver did.

Thankfully for collectors, “The Mick” had financial issues after his baseball career ended which caused him to sign a lot of baseball cards, photographs, and just about anything that was placed in front of him in exchanged for U.S currency. Keep in mind, there are pack-inserted, on-card autographs of Mantle produced by SCORE and UPPER DECK but today most companies have no choice but to find a Mantle autograph for dirt cheap and cut it into pieces to insert into a modern and “new” baseball card.

In my example pictured above, it actually works. I’m not a fan of booklets but the piece I showed off is certainly a special card that any Yankees or Mantle fan would be lucky to own. Again, unfortunately, that’s not the issue. Now, take a look at this card which was pulled from a break recently. Panini embarrassingly used two different Mantle autographs, clipped them, and inserted each onto the card. This instantly ruins the magic and yes even the value of the card.

Second, what steps were taken to authenticate these pieces? Panini isn’t known for their quality control and if such little effort went into producing these cards (THERE ARE 7 OF THEM!), what are the odds that one of more of them are known fakes? Even Mantle’s own family say that most of his autographs were fake. Imagine pulling this once in a lifetime card only to find that the “Mickey” is authentic but the “Mantle” is a forgery and you are now out $500, $2000 (case cost), or more.

One of the biggest tragedies in baseball cards was the day the real Donruss company went under in 1998. Since then, they have had their reputation tarnished by Playoff Corporation and now by Panini America, which continues to produce unlicensed baseball cards under the Donruss name. It’s a real tragedy that baseball card collectors who have spent their entire life in this hobby now have only one choice for licensed cards. You either go with Topps Company or settle for Panini America.

My advice to you, as a collector for 29 years is to stop buying Panini America baseball products. Stop supporting them because it is clear they do not care about you. All you need to do is fire up your Twitter app and see the countless collectors complaining about missing hits, damaged cards, etc. to their customer service department and the silence on the other end. It’s up to you as a collector to take a stand. One day soon, hopefully, Upper Deck will reclaim their license but for now, it’s Topps or nothing for me.

As for Mantle, you can find pack-inserted and certified signed baseball cards in packs of 1994 Upper Deck and way back in 1991 Score. You’re going to want a third-party authentication like PSA or BGS but AVOID high grades which can add thousands to your already expensive purchase. These two cards below and a few others are the only true Mantle autographs on baseball cards you need to ever own. Avoid Frankenstein-like cut cards that Panini, Topps, Leaf, and even Upper Deck have offered.

 

In my opinion, despite the term “Junk Wax” and the negative connotation it brings up, the mid-90s to me was the golden era of collecting. Major League Baseball gave collectors choices from the likes of Topps and Upper Deck to Donruss and Fleer and other lesser-known companies. The supposed complaint to return to a monopoly was to prevent a flood of products. I do not know your personal feelings but I’d rather have 5-7 licensed products from 4 companies than 45 releases per year from one.

Save your money and do yourself a favor and look into baseball cards from yesterday. Back when pack-pulled autographs were rare and all companies put their resources into producing well-designed products that featured the best photography you could find. We didn’t need 7 autographs in a box, pieces of supposed game-used chunks, or a hundred serial-numbered parallel cards to enjoy ourselves. Yes, I sound like a bitter and old “Boomer” but I do miss 1997 and the magic of that year.

I would like end this with a BASE card from 1997 Fleer/Skybox.

Their Greed Knew No Bounds

It may not come as a surprise but I was never much of a fan of reading in my youth. That all changed in 1989 when my grandmother bought me a $5 dollar grab bag of comics at the local convenience store. I guess you could say I became an instant comic book fan until a year later when my mom, by complete accident, bought me my first “pack” of baseball cards. Even though baseball cards ultimately became a lifelong passion, I always picked up Marvel comic books throughout the years. My romance with Marvel even picked up steam in the early 90s when Impel and Skybox began producing comic trading cards. This new venture exploded and for a short while, it certainly seemed like they were outselling sports cards. Unfortunately, it turned out to be nothing more than a fad.

I still remember the day I pulled a Stan Lee card from Series 1 of Impel. I had heard and even seen the name a few times but you have to remember I was a snot-nosed, 10 year old punk and there was no such thing as the Internet or even the billion dollar Marvel movie studio we have today for reference. Even without much background information, I knew Stan was an integral figure in the comic book industry and followed his work closely. When he appeared in Kevin Smith’s cult classic, ‘Mallrats’ in 1995, I became a fan for life. You can imagine what his status had become to me and millions of other comic and movie fans by 2018. He was now a cultural pop icon and a national treasure. He was our version of Babe Ruth. The man could do no wrong.

As Stan’s health began to deteriorate, very strange rumors of elder abuse and shady business deals began to surface. First, was a blood transfusion that left Lee sick and dizzy for days. Turns out that blood was used for actual comic books. If that’s not disgusting to everyone reading this, I don’t know what is. Later, his fortune began to dwindle and no one really knew why. Then everything started to get really dark when Keya Morgan made his public debut, acting as Stan’s new manager. It was clear now, thanks to videos released on Twitter, that Stan’s health was failing rapidly. That didn’t stop his management from booking Lee in every comic book convention imaginable during a time when the legend should have been resting comfortably at home.

No one really knew the extent of Stan’s health problems until this YouTube video was posted. In the shocking video, Stan falls asleep while signing and perhaps most tragically, has to be constantly reminded how to spell his own name. No elder should ever have to live out his last days like some sort of circus animal being forced to perform but that’s exactly what we all witnessed. I talked to the collector who shot the video and she told me Stan was in such rough shape that several of the valuable comics he signed, were ruined. You can even see Stan’s manager pushing Stan to sign (dressed in all black, including sun glasses). After this video, Kevin Smith stepped in hoping to help Stan and the hashtag #SaveStanLee began to trend on Twitter.

Sadly, Stan Lee died within a couple of months of this video but incredibly this appearance wasn’t even his last public signing. The man worked almost until the very end of his life. On Twitter, several fans even posted photos taken with Stan at the show (for a fee) and it was almost as depressing as the YouTube video. When called out, many basically insinuated they weren’t concerned with Stan’s health and just wanted to be photographed with the legend. Kind of the same attitude you get when a circus animal is retiring and everyone comes out one last time to see it put on a show. Unfortunately, we will never know how much of these appearances Stan chose to do and which ones he was forced to.

Recently, Yankees close Mariano Rivera was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Turns out if you wanted a moment with the closeted Donald Trump supporter, you’d have to shell out $500 dollars for the pleasure of meeting the greatest closer baseball has ever seen. At the Hall of Fame gift shop, signed and non-game used baseballs with Rivera’s signature go for $699. For non-collectors, you can actually find both of his first, pack-inserted autographs (’96, ’98) for less than the ball combined. Why you’d want to pay more for an impersonal and many times rushed, 10-second meet and greet is beyond me. My advice? Save your money and get one of these two, absolutely gorgeous baseball cards. I’d suggest a graded copy, just nothing GEM MINT, which has fraud potential all over it.

  

As for public signings … where did we go wrong? Check out the advertisement below for a signing that took place in the early-90s. You have Mickey FREAKING Mantle for a whopping $85 dollars, followed by the all-time home run king, Hank Aaron, at $25. Every autograph was authenticated by Upper Deck on site, free of charge. Let’s just say this show took place around 1994 because Mantle died in 1995 and it’s not likely he was making public appearances as his health began to deteriorate. According to the Inflation Calculator, that Mantle, in-person autograph signing would cost you $147.16 in 2019. As for Aaron, it would be just $43.28.

It’s likely Mantle was so expensive because the show’s organizers knew that Mickey wasn’t long for this world. He was also much more popular than Hank Aaron, that cannot be denied. As you can imagine, the tables have now turned and “Hammerin’ Hank” is now the one with failing health who is signing non-stop. How much will a baseball card signed by Hank Aaron cost you? Well, on September 19th, just $325 dollars. A bat? $550. A jersey, only $650. Let’s say realistically, 100 people come in for baseball cards, 50 for balls, and 25 for jerseys. That event now theoretically took in over $75,000 dollars in one single day. Oh, I almost forgot … to get your item authenticated, JSA will charge you another $20 dollars. The site hosting the event claims the funds will benefit a foundation. Not specified anywhere, however, is the actual percentage to be donated.

If I participated in this private signing, I’d want my Hank Aaron rookie card signed. That would be $325. I’d also request one of the 3 approved inscriptions. That’s another $250. Finally, please let JSA “authenticate” my purchase. That’s a total of $595. Say what you will about inflation but please just let me go back to 1994. If you’re lucky, your signature might look like the card below, signed in 2018. Realistically, with another year of Father Time settling in on Hank Aaron’s mind and body, it will likely look much, much worse. My advice? Grab a late-90s, Hank Aaron pack-inserted autograph from Upper Deck or Donruss and make sure to get yourself a low-graded copy. Avoid GEM MINT. It will cost you a lot less and look much better.

I’m not blaming the players, especially those that have been long retired and have bills to pay. Even with his baseball pension, an 85-year old with failing health has a lot to pay for. This may be Aaron’s only way to earn a large lump sum of money in a very short time. It’s clear a commentary job is out of the question so this truly may be his only resort but one has to wonder what his fee is versus what the show’s promoter is paying for his time, supplies, travel arrangements, etc. I could be way, way off but I can’t imagine Hank earning more than $15,000 a day. If his appearance ultimately clears $100,000 for one day of work, it seems like everything is paid off and the profit is immense. Of course, only someone with first hand knowledge can say but it’s unlikely anyone will ever speak up while the money is this good.

My advice, again … save your hard-earned money and find yourself a 1991 Upper Deck Baseball Heroes pack-inserted, certified autograph. There may be a lot of them by today’s standards (2,500) but the signature is clear and neat and they sell on eBay regularly for under $300, if you are persistent. In the end, almost always, a good, signed baseball card Trumps (pun intended) an overpriced convention autograph. Trust me, folks. Remember your heroes as they once were and at all costs, avoid seeing them the way I watched Stan Lee in 2018 as he fell asleep and needed to be reminded how to sign his name. Life is a precious thing and our final days should be spent in peace with one’s family and not working for some greedy dealer looking to make a quick buck.

The True Home Run King

Collector Hits the Pinnacle Mother Lode

I’m not just a collector. Baseball cards have been a part of my life for well, most of my life. I’ve obsessed over Topps, Upper Deck, and the like for 30 of the 39 years that I’ve been on this planet. Before that, Transformers had most of my attention but that didn’t last long. For me, baseball cards were simply by my side through almost every aspect of life. Just recently, while going through a break-up, it was #TheHobby Twitter that helped me with moments of boredom and often put a smile on my face when I was feeling blue.

I even dream about baseball cards. I have one particular reoccurring dream in which I enter my mid-90s, local card shop in Sunrise, Florida with stacks of money and start buying everything on the shelf. Other times, it is the middle of the night and I am breaking in and ransacking through wax boxes. The funny thing is that I’ve been in card shops in parts of several different decades but it’s always the mid to late 90s that stick in my subconscious like stale gum and enter into my dreams.

The first “guaranteed” hit in baseball

There’s a reason why those years have overtaken my thoughts. You see, the pack-inserted autograph was introduced by Upper Deck right smack in the middle of the “Junk Wax” era, which meant you’d have to have the luck of Frane Salek (Google him) or be a rich kid with unlimited funds to be able to bust enough cases to ever find one. However, by the mid-90s, card companies were making these “chase” cards easier to find and even introduced a product, Leaf Signature, that guaranteed you’d pull one in every pack.

At the same time, Upper Deck was killing the game with an all-hologram set called SPx and even introduced the game-used memorabilia card in 1997. Topps was no slouch, either. The Refractor, which had yet to really explode, was spun-off in Bowman’s Best with something called an “Atomic” while absolutely blowing the minds of collectors with Finest and the debut of Bowman Chrome. Pinnacle, however … was in an entirely different galaxy when it came to baseball cards.

 

Pinnacle Brands, a company spun off from Sportflics and Score, was only in their 6th year as a company in 1997. They also didn’t have a single, certified autograph or game-used relic in any of their baseball products to assist with sales. None of it mattered because from 1996 to the end of 1997, they produced baseball card magic the likes of which will never be seen again. Then, they bought Donruss and released into the hobby an insert which ruled the entire world of cards for two decades, Crusade.

The best way to describe Pinnacle’s dominance is by using the Oscar-winning film, Rocky, as a reference point. Think of the underdog, Rocky, as Pinnacle Brands. This is 100% accurate as Pinnacle didn’t carry the prestige of Topps and Upper Deck; they truly were the underdogs. Now, picture world champion Apollo Creed. That’s Pinnacle, too. Hey, remember that little, old and frail trainer of Rocky? What was his name? MICKEY? That was the rest of the card companies when compared to Pinnacle Brands.

Crusade Wins Everything

That’s why Gary O’Brien of Syracuse, New York may be the luckiest collector on the planet right now. Gary, who has been collecting baseball cards since 1988 found a unique listing on Facebook Marketplace for an entire case of Pinnacle Inside, one of the company’s rare misses in their short timeline. Gary, like any sane collector thought it was strange for anyone to have an entire case of the product 21 years after its release and dubious reputation as a dud. Turns out Gary’s intuition was absolutely right!

Upon his arrival to the owner’s house, Gary was shocked to discover an endless supply of Pinnacle Brands product by the cases. This find is likely to be one of the biggest, non-Junk Wax finds of all time and likely, the last. All Gary needed to take ownership was a loan and a few friends to help move 3,000+ boxes. I was lucky enough to ask the very busy “Pinnacle Man” a few questions about his score. As a hardcore Pinnacle Brands collector, you can imagine how envious I am of this discovery.

You can find Gary on Facebook, eBay, and his new website.

Q & A with the Pinnacle Man, Gary O’Brien

Can you tell me a little about yourself?

My name is Gary O’Brien, I am 34 from Syracuse NY. I primarily collect Barry Bonds cards, as he is my all time favorite player.

When did you get into collecting?

My older brother got me into baseball cards in probably 1988 or so.

How familiar are you with Pinnacle Brands and 90’s cards and inserts?

I am quite familiar with them, I was mainly a Topps refractor collector but have always loved the etched foil type inserts that Pinnacle made as well. I love 1990’s inserts, they are my favorite cards of all time.

Please tell us how you came across this Pinnacle “buried” treasure.

I answered a listing on the facebook marketplace for 1 case of 1998 Pinnacle Inside baseball. I thought it was an odd item some guy would just have for sale, it was his only listing. He let me know he had a “Ton of cases and boxes” and I should come see them all.

What was your initial reaction to seeing the Pinnacle score?

I walked into this guy’s half a million dollar house, and down into his basement which is bigger than my house. There I saw so many boxes that I was in shock. Just hundreds of cardboard boxes full of products. He told me he wanted to sell it all in one lot, I instantly had to think about the logistics of it all. How to move it all, where to store it, how long it would take to sell it, how to even come up with a number to offer him was going to take a long time. Most of the stuff is sealed loose boxes, and all mixed matched years and brands in each box with each other, so it was a nightmare trying to figure out exactly what was there.

It took me and a friend 4 hours of opening boxes and writing down whats inside to get through roughly 40% of what was there. We had to stop due to time constraints and I was left to look up all of those products, and give a rough estimate on the value of the 60% of unseen stuff. We agreed on a number, I got a loan and here we are about a month later and I am still in shock that I actually bought it.

Just how much is there? Total boxes? Highlight product?

I am about 1 month into trying to organize it and I still don’t know exactly how much is there. I am still trying to consolidate products together to figure that out. I am working with so much in such a confined area that it is a really big task. My rough estimate on everything though is about 3,000 boxes, 15,000 loose packs, 1,500 Promo Packs, and about 2,500 loose promo cards.

My best single item I found so far was a nice sealed big Green 1998 Preferred tin of Derek Jeter, which I sold for $300 on ebay.

What are your plans for the Pinnacle treasure? Do you plan to move it all?

My plan is to move it all but I have also been ripping packs and boxes while organizing because I have no will power. I set up a website to sell everything on Garyscards.com. I am still in the process of adding different products to it all the time. I am also planning on getting some weekly cheap group breaks going soon. I also have the garyscards.com facebook group I made as you are aware to show off things and give updates in there to those interested.