Is Upper Deck Headed to ‘Wax Heaven’?

Author: Mario Alejandro

As a collector of trading cards, it’s now almost impossible to not read about the almost guaranteed demise of the Upper Deck Company. Beckett Media and the New York Times are reporting on it, bloggers are having a field day, and even card shop owners can’t avoid the subject.

Alright, before we throw a sympathy party it should be noted that Upper Deck brought this on themselves. From the crazy stories in the book ‘Card Sharks’ to the Konami and MLB lawsuits, the more you play with fire the better your chances are of getting burned and boy are the flames high in Carlsbad, California right now.

While I would hate to see U.D. go, what happens if the company officially closes shop? Could we see a boatload of backdoored cards hit the secondary market much like in the final days of Pinnacle Brands? What if 2010 Goudey cards of Derek Jeter mysteriously hit eBay one day? What kind of demand would that card bring?

If Upper Deck doesn’t survive this storm (and it’s looking bleak), we could realistically see some unlicensed cards hit The Hobby at an alarming rate. Much like Dick McWilliams gave MLB the middle finger when U.D. lost the MLB license, a move to release cards through the backdoor could be Upper Deck’s final “F-U” to Major League Baseball.

Of course, this is just speculation from a Hobby outsider. For all we know, U.D could make amends with Major League Baseball, sit out for a couple of years and make a triumphant return someday but what if …?

How much would YOU pay for a Derek Jeter autograph from 2010 Goudey, assuming one exists? I know if the Goudey Jose Canseco ever hits eBay, it will easily hit $500+ dollars thanks to the insane Canseco collectors out there.

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Upper Deck’s Silence Is Deafening

We’re now into December, just a couple of months away from the first baseball releases of 2010 and something is just not right. While Topps Company has already showcased their designs for the flagship brand and Heritage, Upper Deck has been surprisingly tight-lipped.

Sure, they’ve released information, but without images it’s hard for collectors to decide just how much of their money will go into purchasing Upper Deck baseball products. By early November last year, we already had images of their flagship brand, posted exclusively at Wax Heaven.

Here’s what we know: Although U.D. won’t be able to use any Major League logos, they are filling their product with tons of goodies for collectors who chase that “big hit”. So far they have signed popular retired players like Greg Maddux & Jose Canseco, plus legends like Roberto Clemente, Roger Maris, and most recently, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson.

So while it’s apparent that Upper Deck is going to load their products now that they don’t have to pay M.L.B.’s extortion fees, we still need something, anything to go on in the design department. Will they follow in the footsteps of Tristar, who produced their best-looking release ever only after losing their MiLB license?

My biggest fear is that they will continue to phone it in like they did with their uninspired 2009 releases like ‘A Piece of History’ and the once great ‘SPx’. Upper Deck made a giant splash in 1989 by introducing “high-end” to the baseball market but entering 2010 without logos, all it will take is one or two mediocre efforts for collectors to turn their back for good.

Here’s hoping the Carlsbad, California company can find a way to create more historic cards and technology in 2010 because coming into next season, they will be up against an almost unstoppable, rejuvenated Goliath who has just about everyone on their side.

Upper Deck has slayed Goliath more than once. Will they be able to do it again?