The Rookie Card Wars – Florida Edition

I’ve said it many times over the last two years: sticker autographs do more harm than good. Of course, there are a few examples of labels done right but for the most part they take away from the overall design and photography of a baseball card.

One such example is 2006 Topps Chrome #352, Hanley Ramirez. Just take a look at the near flawless photo of the Marlins slugger and soon to be best baseball player in the National League. Unfortunately, the overall design is destroyed thanks to Topps’ loud, bright sticker autograph.

There are several different parallel versions of this card and today the most rare one made its way on to eBay, the “1 of 1” Superfractor. The asking price? Just $10,000 thousand dollars (w/ FREE shipping!). As of this afternoon, two offers had been made.

In case you were wondering, despite the Rookie Card label on the 2006 Topps Chrome, Hanley’s most desirable baseball card comes from 2003 Bowman Chrome, which can sell for very respectable prices on the secondary market.

Collecting On A Budget – Hanley Ramirez

I have finally come to the conclusion that unless you are looking for a “hit of a lifetime”, it makes absolutely no sense to buy wax these days. With the economy being nowhere near what it once was and unemployment at highs not seen in over a decade, it’s tough to tell your husband or wife that you want to buy some packs of baseball cards.

Still, you don’ have to completely walk away from The Hobby or sell off your collection. Thanks to the power of eBay, there are literally thousands of great deals to be found that you won’t find in a card shop or even through buying expensive wax and hoping for some “MOJO”.

Hanley Ramirez is hands down one of the best players in the game and still has tons of potential to achieve. Last year, at the tender age of 24, Hanley joined the “30-30” club. In 2009, he came into Spring Training with twenty extra pounds of muscle and it has helped as he has led the Marlins to a first place spot in the National League East.

While his early year cards are out of the price range of 95% of collectors, there is still plenty of great cards to be had for very reasonable prices. Take for example the two Ramirez cards below: one features an on-card autograph and the other features a piece of a “game-used” material with a stripe and is a Gold Refractor serial numbered to just 50 copies.

If you’re a Marlins fan or Hanley Ramirez collector, these two wonderful cards could have been yours this week for less than a single pack of 2008 SPx last year. Without shipping, these two cards sold for a total of $19.84 and could easily be the centerpiece of any young collection.

How many packs of SPx did you buy last year just to find a White Sox middle reliever’s autograph or a Milwaukee Brewers back-up catcher’s jersey relic? Of course, SPx is just an example I will base my Collecting On A Budget series on.

Next time on Collecting On A Budget: Albert Pujols


2007 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection Autograph

2008 Bowman Sterling Game-Used Jersey/Gold Refractor

The Autograph Report

Josh Johnson & Hanley Ramirez

Getting a Josh Johnson autograph is not an easy thing, trust me. We failed to get one during the Marlins Fan Fest but finally got Josh to sign Tatiana’s bat during the Marlins’ open practice a few weeks later. This latest autograph is a bit sloppy but the great Heritage card makes up for it.

As for Hanley, I guess I should be happy that I was one of the very few fans who got a Ramirez autograph at today’s game but I am not. I have seen what Hanley’s signature looks like when he’s being paid by a company to sign and when compared to the two free ones we have obtained in 2009, they are nothing alike.

On a side note, who knew that a set I hated so much when I busted it in 2007 would be one of my all-time favorites just two years later? I just cannot stress enough how great Topps Heritage is for autographs. I can’t wait to get a Marlins team set for the 2009 edition.

Wes Helms & Logan Morrison

Wes Helms is one of my favorite players on the Marlins and every single time I see him, I make sure to let him know. Despite all this, he is completely silent to me and every other fan he signs for. Still, I cannot complain about a Helms autograph on a 1997 Bowman Chrome rookie card or the elegant signature itself, which Wes clearly puts effort into.

Poor Logan Morrison. The kid who is on the fast track to the Majors has every young fan wanting autographs. This is our fifth and final Logan Morrison in person autograph we will be asking for. As for the look, something tells me that by the time “Hulk” Logan becomes a household name his penmanship will have gone through a face lift or two.

Dallas McPherson & Dallas McPherson

This is officially the third and fourth time Dallas has signed for us and despite the fact that we are usually the only fans after a McPherson signature during the games we attend, we rarely get as much as a word from last season’s Minor League Home Run King and the Wax Heaven favorite.

Still, I am a huge fan and will continue to support Dallas no matter what! He’s one of the few players I will continue to try to get in-person autographs from the remaining Spring Training games.

Even the card companies hate Florida!

How else can you explain both Upper Deck & Topps making one error after another when it comes to their Marlins cards? Below you will find three of the most recognized Marlins error cards known in the Hobby. If there are any more that you can think of, please let me know.

2008 Upper Deck SPx – Dan Uggla (photo: Mike Jacobs)

Surely someone at Upper Deck can tell the difference between Mike Jacobs and Dan Uggla, right? The scary part is that there is a version of this card that features a piece of game-used memorabilia.

So if Upper Deck could make an easy mistake like using the wrong photo what is to say they won’t screw up your relic as well? Suddenly that Albert Pujols game-used bat doesn’t look so amazing when it could actually be a piece of Joe Mauer’s leftover lumber, does it?

2006 Topps ’52 Rookie Cup Edition – Hanley Ramirez (photo: Carlos Martinez)

I’m just going to say what everyone is thinking: all Dominicans look alike.

OK, that’s just wrong but I can sort of understand how Topps might mistake one young Marlins prospect with another. Have you ever been to Jupiter, Florida, home of the Marlins Single-A affiliate, Hammerheads? I have and I can tell you it’s filled with young, skinny, Latin guys trying to make it to The Show.

Still, Carlos M. Martinez looks nothing like Hanley. Not even close.

2001 Bowman – Miguel Cabrera (photo: Manny Esquivia)

Here we have a legendary release and what will likely be one of the game’s future 500+ home run hitters, Miguel Cabrera. The only problem is that Manuel Esquivia is actually featured on his card. Here you can see a photo of Manny from 2005.

Unfortunately, Manny’s Minor League Stats end in 2004 despite a somewhat impressive winning record of 28-15.

Another Ramirez grabbing headlines

The Florida Marlins official website is reporting that Hanley Ramirez added 25 lbs. of muscle during the off-season. Already considered one of the game’s premier players, Hanley, 24, looked more like Manny Ramirez during the 2009 Marlins Fan Fest.

In a time when the game’s most popular players are being outed for Steroid use it sure is bold to add that much muscle in less than five months time. Hanley, who entered the 30-30 Club in 2008 now has an opportunity to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in 2009.

As for Hanley’s best and most recognizable rookie card; it’s none other than 2003 Bowman Chrome. A base version that features Hanley in a Boston Red Sox uniform recently sold for under $150 dollars but it’s the parallels that bring in the most money. An Xfractor recently sold for just under $200 dollars and rare Gold Refractor copies sell for a lot more.

Will this be the year Hanley Ramirez becomes a household name?

Hanley Ramirez signing during the 2009 Marlins Fan Fest