Sports Illustrated took a look back at Upper Deck and isn’t too optimistic about the future of card collecting. Tucked into this ____ (what’s the word for when a newspaper prints an obituary before someone is dead?) are a few interesting facts about Upper Deck like:
The image of Griffey that became part of collecting lore, with his blue turtleneck and ‘fro-mullet tucked beneath his cap, was doctored. In his home office in Corona, Calif., 75 miles north of Upper Deck’s headquarters, Tom Geideman hands me a Polaroid that had been sitting atop a binder of Griffey cards and says, “Thisâ€”it’s cut off a little bitâ€”but this is the original photo.” Griffey’s wearing the navy-blue hat of Seattle’s Class A affiliate, the San Bernardino Spirit, whose logo is a silver S over a red star. The picture was taken by the late V.J. Lovero, an Angels team photographer who shot Griffey and his father for a Sports Illustrated feature in 1988. Lovero sold one of his extras to Upper Deck, which airbrushed the hat royal blue, erased the star, made the S yellow andâ€”ta-da!â€”completed the makeover.
And then there’s this ‘doth protest too much’ rebuttal from the Upper Deck Blog. Though it seems some of the facts in the SI article were incorrect (and not checked for some reason), calling the article a ‘hatchet job’ is a little much. However, if you want to read 10 reasons the author of the Upper Deck Blog knows that card collecting is not dead, or see several comments from folks operating card shops, that’s the link you’d click.
You know exactly what I’m talking about and you can’t believe it’s been 20 years also. You remember it like you remember the The Griffey Card, they came out at about the same time. You remember what a big deal swears were, especially the F word.
That’s right, the Billy Ripken ‘error’ card with Fuck Face written on the bat handle is 20 years old. Darren Rovell from CNBC got Ripken to talk about it:
When people recognize me, I see the look on their face. They think of the card immediately and, before they even ask, I say, ‘Yeah, it was me.’ I don’t know if it happens daily, but, to this day, it still happens a couple of times a week.
I remember being shocked that a famous person, Cal Ripken’s BROTHER!, would swear on a baseball card like that. And his dad was the MANAGER! Not only did he have to have Thanksgiving with his dad, but he had to work for him everyday and his dad would know he swore! I was equally gleeful at looking at my brother’s 1972 Topps Billy Martin card with his middle finger extended down the barrel of the bat. (I would likely be equally scandalized by Frank Thomas’ 1994 Upper Deck card if only I was 6 years younger).
Here are some different versions of the Ripken card. My brother (older and the superior collector, obviously) had the original with the swear clearly visible, while I happened upon the blurred out white writing one at some point.
(Via Baseball Musings)
This post by Kottke brings back memories of collecting baseball cards as a kid. I remember when that Griffey card came out and the scramble to get it. “What was this UpperDeck?”, I remember thinking, “And what of this fancy glossy card and hologram.” I remember also scrambles for Gregg Jefferies and Ben MacDonald cards that first taught me the folly of calling someone a sure thing.
When I think back on how precious those cards were to me then and consider my current purchasing power relative to my 16-year-old self, I feel a giddy power in the realization that if I wanted to, I could go out right now and buy 10 or 20 Griffey cards. Gah, where’s that eBay login info?
But more than buying 10 or 20 Griffey (who hit #600 on Monday) cards, Kottke could go out and buy whatever ‘it’ card he wanted to. It’s a good example of shifting priorities.
And a bonus article by Michael Lewis in Vanity Fair about Cuban baseball. Worth the read.