Take the “Oddball” challenge!

Reading through some of the comments left about Classic Baseball cards in the last few days I am somewhat surprised by how little respect certain “oddball” brands receive in the Hobby. Sure, the greatest 1989 Oddball Ken Griffey Jr. will never replace his Upper Deck debut but how often is that the case?

Today while surfing through eBay I came across a 1991 Ballstreet Don Mattingly. The card features a beautiful, sharp photograph of “Donnie Baseball” following through on what is most likely one of his five home runs he hit in 1990. The card’s design is not overbearing and is actually somewhat classy by early-90’s standards.

What if we could have the ultimate “Cardboard War” of 1991? Who would come out on top? Corporate or the little guy producing trading cards from his home? Considering it’s one against nine we most likely already know the answer but what if…?

1991 Ballstreet

Here is the challenger: 1991 Ballstreet Don Mattingly. You have a beautiful photograph, clean design, and an easy to read name. What else could you want from a baseball card today, let alone in 1991?

1991 Bowman

This is the Bowman brand one year before it takes over the Hobby and several years before it becomes the “Home of the Rookie Card”. While I do have lots of love for this year’s release, the photograph leaves a lot to be desired. Today, these cards come cheap but make great TTM autograph material.

1991 Donruss

I have always been a sucker for Donruss, especially their 1990 “red” year but the ’91 release did nothing for me.  The photograph is nice but it’s nothing special and the design has not exactly aged well. Ironically, what saves this card is the Yankees logo on the bottom left corner.

1991 Fleer

In 1991, Fleer was my “product of the year”. Some hate the yellow borders but the amazing inserts in this product made up for it. Does anyone remember how amazing Pro-Visions were? If you were a young collector and your favorite player was included, it was the centerpiece of your collection. God bless 1991 Fleer!

1991 Fleer Ultra

There was not much about 1991 Fleer Ultra that made sense. It had a higher sticker price than regular Fleer but nothing else. I remember busting a few packs of this at a show and being flat out disappointed. As the years go by I have learned to better appreciate this release but in 1991 they simply struck out.

1991 Leaf

I guess Grey was a popular color in 1991 because both Ultra and Leaf based their entire design around it that year. I believe the term “Sophomore Slump” was created after 1991 Leaf was released. Talk about a huge downgrade in a product. 1990 Leaf was epic in the Hobby, 1991 barely made a splash.

They lose points on the horrible picture as well, which blocks most of Mattingly’s face.

1991 Score

There is a very special place in my collecting heart for 1991 Score as it was the very first complete box of wax I have ever opened. I remember busting this on my 11th birthday and pulling the infamous Jose Canseco “Dream Team” insert featuring the Annie Leibovitz shirtless photograph. I was only eleven but it left me somewhat confused. Thank goodness for my stepfather’s stash of Playboy.

1991 Topps

In 1991 Topps could do no wrong, first with the amazing photography in their flagship release and later with their Stadium Club debut. If 1989 belonged to Upper Deck, 1991 was the year that Topps ruled the Hobby world once more. I have never seen a more perfect baseball card of Don Mattingly. This is proof you don’t need a “1 of 1” sticker, an autograph, or a chunk of game-used bat to make a great card.

1991 Stadium Club

Here you have it, the debut of Stadium Club. This was easily the most popular product of the year and surprisingly still sells extremely well thanks to a top notch product put together by Topps Company. I never really understood the hype behind this release but more than likely it is because I could not afford it to save my life. Despite all this, I still cherish my ’91 Stadium Club Jose Canseco.

1991 Upper Deck

At the time, this was my favorite Don Mattingly card of 1991. The photo looked so clear and despite being a young man, Don looked old and tired as he made his way to first base. Donnie would go on to play five more seasons of baseball, falling way short of anything close to his 1985 M.V.P. year.


So there you have it. Every single 1991 Don Mattingly base card released, along with the challenger. How many of the main releases are truly better than the Ballstreet? To me, the only ones are the Upper Deck, Topps, & Stadium Club. The Bowman & Leaf didn’t even try and the others were just mediocre.

What do you guys think?


Should Upper Deck bring Fleer back?

In less than a month it will be a full year of without an official Fleer Trading Cards release. When I entered the hobby of collecting in 1990, Fleer was one of the brands to purchase. By the late-90’s, it had so many different products that surely they could do no wrong. Unfortunately, two years before my return to the Hobby they were history (link).

While they were rescued by Upper Deck, it just was not the same and 2007 was officially Fleer’s last hurrah. It’s just too bad that their last two products were ’07 Fleer and ’07 Fleer Ultra, two of the bigger bombs of the 2007 season. Upper Deck has continued to use the brand, including a very successful run in Hockey products but let’s face it: Fleer belongs to baseball card collectors.

So here is the question I pose to the readers of Wax Heaven: Does Fleer deserve a Donruss-like comeback or should we let sleeping dogs lie? Personally, I believe Upper Deck should release an updated version of 1995’s Emotion. Back then there was no game-used relics or chance of pulling an autograph. It featured nothing more than beautiful photography, thick card stock and a perfect design.

For true collectors, there is one box of Emotion on eBay right now with a Buy It Now of $49.99 or Best Offer (link). I suggest to give this release a shot to bring you back, if only temporary, to a Hobby that once thrived on design & photography and not “gimmicks” and ultra high-end products.

Bill Ripken hints Fleer was up to no good!

It’s been almost twenty years since the infamous 1989 Fleer Bill Ripken “error” card hit the market. Finally, the most famous baseball brother this side of Ozzie Canseco has commented on the card and has thrown a large accusation towards Fleer (LINK), now owned by Upper Deck and no longer producing baseball cards.

“I mean, they certainly have to have enough proofreaders to see it. I think not only did they see it, they enhanced it. That writing on that bat is way too clear. I don’t write that neat.”

So is Fleer responsible for one of the first and greatest “gimmick” cards of all-time?  We will likely discover who shot J.F.K before we learn the inner workings of a card company so don’t hold your breath. Now, the card once valued at hundreds of dollars can be had for very little so if you’ve ever dreamed of owning one rush out to eBay and make a bid or two.

This 1989 Fleer lacks a piece of a game-used relic, certified autograph or any other one of today’s popular vices but still ruled the Hobby for years, along other 80’s icons like the ’86 Donruss Jose Canseco and the ’89 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card.

As a card blogger, I am ashamed not to own a copy.

Cardboard Wars – The Rookie Challenge

As great a player as “Big Papi” David Ortiz has been over the past few seasons sometimes it’s easy to forget just what a late-bloomer David Arias was. It wasn’t until his 7th season in The Show that he broke out and became the loveable superstar he is today.

So it’s easy to imagine there are many David Ortiz first year cards sitting in commons boxes after  collectors gave up on him. His two most well-known cards happen to be a 1997 Fleer and a much more rare 1997 Donruss Signatures certified autograph.

The Fleer issue is considered a “true” rookie card that has sold on eBay recently from as low as $8 dollars to as high as close to $100 when graded. Meanwhile, the much more rare first year card has sold from as little as just over $20 dollars to a high of $120+ with a perfect “Gem Mint” grade.

Both cards would fit perfectly in a “Big Papi” collection but it’s shocking that a no-frills Fleer (with no gloss) can even stay in the same league as the “auto per pack” gimmick of from the early days of certified signatures. So let’s say you are the biggest aspiring “Big Papi” collector in your city. You go to a show that has both these cards for $80 dollars raw and all you have is $85. You also don’t have an eBay account so this might be the last time you see both in person for a while. Which of these two would you choose to purchase and why?

1997 Fleer

1997 Fleer

1997 Donruss Signature

1997 Donruss Signature

Andrew Miller shuts down the Braves?

For the first time in five attempts this season, Andrew Miller has won a baseball game for the Florida Marlins. His previous poor outings had ravaged his hobby hype so much that his autographs were going for $5-$8 a piece on eBay and usually no higher. I am not like other fans who enjoy being able to pick up a cheap cards when a player’s numbers go down, though. I’d rather see Miller live up to the potential he has and have his cards skyrocket again even if that means I can’t afford most of the nicer ones.

I am a little worried about Miller’s hits given up (39) compared to innings pitched (22.7), though. It’s also a little scary that he has allowed 21 runs but all should work itself out once Andrew gets in the groove. Hopefully by the end of May we should have a line-up that looks a bit like this: Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla, Jeremy Hermida, Mike Jacobs, Cameron Maybin, & Josh Willingham, among a couple of others. I hate to say it since it’s so early in the season but with a batting line-up like that, it’s clear to everyone that we are now contenders. It’s an insane reality considering Alex Rodriguez makes more money than our entire team but that’s the way it works out sometimes. Now if only Fredi Gonzalez would let Luis Gonzalez start every other game. I have a feeling with more at-bats he could easily be a 20-home run guy for the team. Unfortunately, there is just nowhere to put him.

Now back to Andrew Miller. Every time he wins a game I am going to feature one of his cards from my collection. The first win of the season means I have no choice but to feature the first Andrew Miller I have ever owned. It came in a pack of 2007 SPx that Tatiana and I busted a few months before creating Wax Heaven. It was an awesome box and I can’t wait for 2008 to come out. When I pulled it, not only did I not know who he was, I also had no clue that it had a $50 Beckett book value.

Heavenly Collections – Will Clark

This is officially the last Heavenly Collections feature, thanks for everyone who submitted their collections!

Growing up in the 80’s you had many interesting, larger than life characters to choose as your favorite baseball player. Some of us went towards the legendary Nolan Ryan, others went for the flash & hype of Bo Jackson, and some like myself went straight to the “Bad Boy” of baseball, the Cuban Babe Ruth, Jose Canseco. Drew on the other hand was a fan of two of the more classy ball players, Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr. One day while watching the 1989 World Series, against the Oakland A’s, Drew discovered Will “The Thrill” Clark and the rest is as they say, history!

Over the years Drew took a break from collecting while finishing up college but eventually returned full steam into the hobby and back to his one of a kind Will Clark collection. He even began a website to chronicle his collection. To this day, it is easily the best-looking player collection website I have ever visited. It’s clear that Drew is as dedicated to his collection as Will Clark was to the game and it shows. Currently Drew possesses over 1,900 different Will Clark baseball cards, including more than 100 game/used relic cards, and close to 90 autographed cards.

To check out Drew’s Will Clark tribute site click HERE.

$50 for an eBay reprint?

I absolutely love the underdog. While most people today are filling up their collection with Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols, and Ichiro Suzuki, I am doing everything I can to get my hands on another Andrew Miller or Ozzie Canseco baseball card. As a kid, Nolan Ryan was one of my favorites growing up but to me it was the other Met that I always felt got the short-end of the stick. I am talking about Tom Seaver, who wins the award for “Least Likely To Be Named An Underdog”. I mean, on paper Seaver was probably a better all-around pitcher but in the hobby only one man could live up to unbelievable hype and that man was Nolan Ryan.

Seaver won 20 or more games 5 times, won the Cy Young three times, and was in the top 10 in the M.V.P voting 4 different times in his 20-year career. Nolan on the other hand played 27 years, struck out over 5,000 batters, and threw 7 no-hitters. Game over. So as much as I like Tom Seaver, why did one of his rookie cards just sell on eBay for close to $50 when it clearly stated (sort of) that it was a reprint not once but twice? Also, why did close to 20 people bid on it? Am I missing something? Should I print out some 1986 Donruss Rated Rookie Jose Canseco cards and start throwing them up on eBay?