2020 Beckett Almanac - A Book Review

 A new book found its way into my collection a couple weeks ago.

This was kind of an impulse purchase that I hadn’t planned on. Wanted an updated reference book that could replace my 1998 edition, which had been seeing more use in the past couple of years. But I could only look up cards that were printed before early 1998, or I had to resort to the monthly Beckett. A magazine becoming more obsolete to me by the month.

Monthly Becketts have dropped most of the listings I’m interested in. Which is understandable given the amount of cards that have been produced over the last 20 years. There’s simply not enough pages in the monthly issues to cover everything that I’d like to see featured. 

So enter the yearly Beckett Almanac! Clocking in at an impressive 1344 pages, allowing me to trace the hobby from its early days, to the junk wax boom and subsequent collapse, then reorganization into what it is today.

For better or worse...

The weekend of August 29-30 was the 10th Anniversary of Pal’s Sports Cards. I'd been up on Saturday afternoon to drop a pile of money. Amongst the things I didn't buy was the Big Book of Beckett Baseball. I looked at it, but decided to debate that purchase for a while longer. Then went back the next day and picked it up.

(Scribbled out part of the coupon was intended to be a burrito truck, but they backed out at the last moment. Sucks because they had something on their menu I wanted to try.)

After all, an Original Hockey Mom's Brownies food truck was still making an appearance. Their Chocolate Mint Brownie ala Mode was incredible!

Well over 20 years ago, I picked up a copy of the 1998 Beckett Almanac for collection reference. This book was purchased at Mike’s Sports Cards, in Englewood, CO (RIP). 

Mike’s Sports Cards opened in 1991, and closed for good in June of 2013. Mike’s was my go-to card store for much of 1996-2013. That store ruled! Mike sold me a copy of the 1998 Beckett Almanac, back in the Summer of 1998. That purchase was needed to upgrade my previous big card book, purchased in 1989, at the Little Professor Book Store in the legendary Apache Plaza (RIP as well) shopping center, in St. Anthony, MN.

Center courtyard of Apache Plaza, picture taken on December 30, 1999. I stupidly didn’t take a picture of the actual set of cardboard walls that once made up the Little Professor Book Store, which closed in 1992 or so. While smaller than my first apartment, that bookstore had everything. It was set up as a narrow maze of crammed bookshelves, with a lengthy winding magazine rack and humor sections on the northwest corner. Some of that store can be seen on the left side of this photo, beyond the stage, just behind the other closed shop in front. 

Wish I still had that 1989 Baseball Card guide (which may have been Beckett, maybe Sports Collectors Digest). That book was about half the size of the one I picked up in 1998. By the time it was replaced, it had broken into three smaller book chunks held together poorly by masking tape.

Apache Plaza was demolished in April, 2004, in order to build a big stupid WalMarts. A building that WalMarts itself would abandon less than a decade later, when a neighboring city offered them a sweeter land deal. Apache Plaza has a special place in my memories. I have some photos of the mall, but not nearly as much as I should have taken over the years. It’s scheduled to be covered in depth in a story here at some point.

That big stupid abandoned WalMarts needs to be demolished and the abandoned shopping mall rebuilt. Just so I can go in and get a picture of the Little Professor Book Store.

But now, back to Becketts...

Look how much bigger the 2020 Edition is when set against the 1998 one…

The 2020 Beckett Almanac measures in at 8" x 10.75" + 2.375" Spine. Dwarfing the 1998 edition, at a much smaller 6" x 8.875" + 2" Spine. In addition to the physical size difference between the books, the 1998 edition keeps the text fairly readable, only going three columns of listings per page. 

Well...

The main draw of these books are obviously the full checklists for sets. In 1998, Beckett used three columns, but for the 2020 Almanac, Beckett crammed in seven columns of text per page! Drastically reduced the photo size as well. Making the pages very dense in appearance.

Like this mid-1990’s Donruss spread.

Mid-1990’s Donruss… Hmmm….

Back cover of the 1998 Beckett Almanac shows this difference pretty well.

In the years that have passed since the 1998 book was new, Beckett has rid themselves of founder Dr. James Beckett. So we need an “About the Author” feature to explain what this is and who is responsible for it. Without mentioning why the namesake isn’t the author any longer...

A few pages later, in the “How To Use This Book” section, is a brief piece about Understanding Card Values. For some reason, I really enjoyed the sentence: “Each year, a percentage of cards is typically thrown away, destroyed or otherwise lost to collectors.”

Yup...

Because 1991 Fleer looks much better in a garbage can, than it does in an album!

In my early days of collecting, I followed the price guides and collected strictly for the idea of value. I also refused to get rid of anything. For nearly 10 years, I kept every card I ever bought. Once the amount of commons you’re toting around reaches tens of thousands, you have a choice to make. Once I started getting rid of everything that wasn’t a name player, I still had far too many. So then the star players for teams I don’t like started to go. 

How many 25 cent semi-stars do you need to keep?

I hate Roger Clemens!

As the 1900’s became the 2000’s, my collection needed further refining. But it wasn’t until 2012 that I firmly set up how I wanted my collection (just the cards anyways). While not the entire picture, my collection breaks down like this.

1. Albums of Expos, Rockies and Twins. Duplicates of those teams in sleeves and top loaders.

2. Albums of card "sample platters" sorted by year. An average of 100 or so cards from every set I’ve collected. Consisting of stars, rookies, inserts and favorite commons.

3. Boxes of sleeved duplicate stars, rookies, inserts and favorite commons, all sorted by team.

4. Complete sets, both boxed and in albums.

5. More valuable single cards in Top Loaders.

And I’m still not anywhere near fully organized with those five key points to my collection. Which is an ever evolving beast.

Back to Beckett!

Title Page to show off the Title.

With well over 1300 pages inside, a Table of Contents is definitely a good thing!

The very first entry in the Big Book of Beckett would be the set we all had as kids, the 1906 Philadelphia A’s Lincoln Publishing Postcards! Man, I’ve thrown these away by the hundreds! In all seriousness, this would be quite the set to own, and I’m disappointed there is no accompanying image. I also didn’t know that Rube Waddell played for Philadelphia. For some reason, I always thought he was a Cub.

I know absolutely nothing about a set of 1993 Humpty Dumpty Canadian cards, but they chose a Marquis Grissom Expos card for the photograph. So I want it!

Staying in Canada to check on some more issues from north of the border, which of course means O Pee Chee. Dropped from monthly Becketts listings, decades ago.

Always liked the 1994 O Pee Chee set. Pretty thin card stock, but it’s very bright and colorful.

Pretty sad to see it has a value between only $6 and a meager $15. I’d gladly pay $15 for a complete set.

1994 was a significant design upgrade over 1993 O Pee Chee, which I still like a lot. I’m also less than 10 cards away from completing the 1993 O Pee Chee set, thanks to a series of cheap wax boxes I was picking up off ebay, about 13 years ago. Gotta finish that set...

The 1993 O Pee Chee set has a book value between $20-$50. That’s a significant increase over what the 1994 set goes for. So I guess I should hurry up and try to complete it. Currently I have the set in an album alongside my 1993 Finest and 2002 UD Authentics sets. Only one of those three is complete. 

1994 was the last year of O Pee Chee baseball. Another casualty of that year’s strike and concrete proof of the end of the Junk Wax Era. Some 15 years later, O Pee Chee baseball made it’s return…

Via Upper Deck!

With Topps no longer holding the license, Upper Deck bought the copyright for O Pee Chee. This was long before the return to baseball cards, as the O Pee Chee name was more synonymous with Hockey cards. They did a great job in resurrecting the brand, and it's one of my favorite issues of 2009. Next to 2009 Topps, who put out a beautiful base set. (Much better than 2008 Topps.) I bought a lot of 2009 O Pee Chee that year, hoping to complete the set.

I still haven’t.

Spilborghs and Casey Stern host Inside Pitch, on MLB Radio. Their show is on every afternoon as I’m driving to work. Just a little piece of Colorado Rockies broadcasts as I mentally prepare for my job.

Between $60 and $120 is pretty decent for a post 2000 set. I’d still like to finish this one.

1991 O Pee Chee Premier

The set that started to build O Pee Chee into something other than just the Canadian flavor of Topps. I loved 1991 O Pee Chee Premier back in 1991. Then the bottom fell out of it, and it became one of the more shunned issues of the Junk Wax Era. Beckett dropped it from the monthly magazines only a couple of years after it came out.

I probably wouldn’t pay $10 for a complete set now, but I’d happily give you $4 for it!

1991 Stadium Club

Speaking of a landmark set from the Junk Wax Era that gets barely any love today...

$12-$30 is a rather sad figure for a set of this significance. But I know that's more reflective of Junk Wax Era overproduction, than lack of a following. Problem is, everyone who wants it, has it. And there's still an abundance of it out there. Which is why I feel no guilt in throwing cards from 1986-1994 away without a second thought. Felt a little sad when I had a run of 1991 Stadium Club first series unopened packs, inside recent offerings from Fairfield. I know what we once paid for those packs...

That said, I'm a little more hesitant towards tossing 1991 Stadium Club. It's attached to some of my favorite card collecting memories.

2015 Stadium Club

When Stadium Club made it's comeback in 2014, that brand's gimmick became it's photography. Making it one of my favorite sets each year. I'm closest to finishing two of the sets, and miles away on the rest. Here's where the Big Book of Beckett comes in the handiest. Full checklists for possible set completion! For example, these are the (too many) cards I need for my 2015 Stadium Club set:

2, 5, 7, 16, 21, 27, 36, 38, 40, 49, 56, 61, 62, 66, 72, 82, 84, 85, 96, 101, 103, 106, 112, 114, 129, 142, 149, 157, 158, 162, 163, 164, 171, 173, 181, 182, 183, 187, 189, 194, 195, 202, 205, 208, 210, 214, 216, 219, 224, 228, 229, 236, 240, 244, 250, 254, 261, 262, 269, 273, 276, 279, 286, 289, 290, 293, 296, 298.

While my list of numbers needed from 2015 Stadium Club is handy, were I to feel like taking the time, I could open the Big Book of Becket to the 2015 Stadium Club page and write out the names that go with those numbers.

I'm not going to do that!

2019 Stadium Club

While prepping this story, I was shocked to find that I hadn't scanned a single card from 2019 Stadium Club. This awesome Willians Astudillo autograph and the Vladimir Guerrero cards featured in this story were taken on my phone. It was intended to be a quick story because I was so ecstatic over the Astudillo. Plans were to write a dedicated 2019 Stadium Club story, because I liked the set so much. Maybe I'll wait until I complete it.

I could possibly write out the names I need for the 2019 Stadium Club set... It's a much smaller list!

25, 41, 45, 62, 72, 99, 102, 111, 152, 173, 186, 193, 201, 219, 240, 243, 255, 256, 281, 282, 295, 296, 300.

(Thanks to an abundance of 2019 Stadium Club packs purchased at retail. Something I don't see happening this year)

But hopefully I can get close to a set of this year’s Stadium Club as well.

Well, three and a half hobby boxes say otherwise.

And as any collector in 2020 knows, retail is no longer an option.

Thanks to the greed of speculators.

Year after year, this hobby tries very hard to lose me...

And I quietly blame stuff like this.

Beckett itself lost a lot of credibility with me when they started spreading into their own grading service and auction hosting. They were founded on the premise of being an independent source for collectors. As time went on, the magazines started accepting advertising form the card makers and dealers. Before long, embarking on their own new money making ventures and ousting Dr. James Beckett. 

So let’s get back to the simplest premise the hobby was built on, set building. 

A set that I actually completed was 2007 Upper Deck. All 1020 cards of it!

Although, the way the set was put together, takes a few points away in my eyes. Instead of keeping the two series somewhat exclusive, Upper Deck cheeped out and added all the superstars to both series, along with featuring them on team checklists for both series. So your big 2007 stars (and most of the minor ones) have between 4 and 8 cards in the set. 

I do NOT need to see that much Derek Jeter in a single set of cards.

According to the Big Book of Beckett, that achievement is worth between $200-$300! So that’s fairly awesome. Unfortunately, the last 13 cards of the set came as an X-Mess gift from my ex, back in 2009. Which further permanently taints the set, dooming it to a plain cardboard box, instead of being displayed in an album.

Most of the 2007 Upper Deck came from the old Englewood (Colorado) Kmart. (Photo taken a couple days after the store closed, and just before the entrances were boarded up.) Up until about 2013, this Kmart was an excellent source for retail baseball cards. Targets and WalMarts would be picked over, but Kmart was almost always fully stocked, because no one shopped there. The card aisle was located just a few feet to the right of where this picture cuts off.

I completed the 2007 Upper Deck set by finding TONS of combo series 1 and 2 jumbo rack packs, heavily discounted in the Spring and Summer of 2009. These packs also had the short printed 20 card Rookie set (numbers 501-520) inserted at a decent rate. While none of it is especially valuable, it’s a set I’m happy to have completed.

As I was flipping through the Big Book of Beckett, Harley jumped up on the table and asked what the Almanac says about my most valuable card…

Which would be a 2006 Bowman Chrome Draft Clayton Kershaw autographed X-Fractor.

Even nudging the book to express serious interest when I was taking to long to get back to him.

Well Harley, it says here that card is worth between $600-$1200.

Even more interesting to me was the stated odds. I pulled this card out of a retail Blaster box, purchased at the Highlands Ranch WalMarts in December, 2006. According to information from Topps, autographed X-Fractors fell at a rate of 1 in 353 packs. Only two packs worse than what Hobby odds were. That’s rather interesting...

Here's the Big Book of Beckett to discuss their view of stated insert card odds.

"But that's what the book says!!"

2006 Bowman Originals was another set that was dropped from monthly Becketts after only a couple of years. So while I knew the next card was likely significant, I had no idea where it would rank among his other 2006 issues.

$25-$60 is a nice figure for my Clayton Kershaw 2006 Bowman Originals Prospects card.

It's not this linty in real life.

The reason I own that Kershaw is because of this. The reason I have this is a story that I plan on telling here at some point. A painful lesson in playing the baseball card lottery. But not as bad as it could have been...

Speaking of hot rookie prospects coming from lottery style brands...

In late 2005, I pulled this sweet 2005 Sweet Spot Justin Verlander autographed bat barrel card (serial numbered 20/50) from a pack of 2005 Sweet Spot. Thanks Mike's Sports Cards! 

So here's something that has annoyed me about Beckett and how they handle complex insert sets.

Looking at the listing for 2005 Sweet Spot Signatures Barrel Black Ink cards, Verlander is still unlisted. Must be a common, I guess... Wait. Becketts wants you to do math! The print run on my Verlander is 50 cards. That means it's value is 1.5 times the value of a 2005 Sweet Spot Signature Stitches card. Conveniently, those cards are listed just across the spine.

Justin Verlander's 2005 Sweet Spot Signature Stitches card, with a print run of 350, is valued at only $20-$50. Multiply that by 1.5 and you get a range of $40-$75.

Which seems rather paltry when you think about it.

Comparing Justin Verlander to another current player with a similar resume... I come up with the name: Clayton Kershaw! I'm not going to sit here and compare who is the better pitcher of this era. Both are damn good with an impressive list of career accomplishments, and both will be Hall of Famers someday.

So a 2006 Bowman Chrome Draft Clayton Kershaw autographed X-Fractor (serial numbered out of 225), is worth between $600-$1200. But a 2005 Justin Verlander Sweet Spot Signatures Barrel Black Ink card (serial numbered out of 50), is only worth between $40-$75?

I'd laugh in the face of anyone thinking I'd sell this Verlander for anything less than five times "what the book says!"

I doubt I'd consider an offer of ten times the Big Book of Beckett's price, for this Verlander.

Ahh... So that's how you cover for shoddy work!

Let's talk about something the Big Book of Beckett does exceptionally well, covering rarer local card issues.

1976 SSPC Harmon Killebrew

Okay, this isn't a local issue. Likely not all that rare either. But that doesn't change the awesomeness of this card.

Though it's not actually from the main 1976 SSPC set. The Killebrew included in that set is one of the few photos I've seen of him as a Kansas City Royal. So this Killebrew is from one of the other SSPC produced sets of that time.

And thanks to the Big Book of Beckett, I can start figuring out where each of these orphans fit. And since we are talking about older cards, let's get Becketts take on card values and all the things that create value in cards:

On that note, as a collector, you are still allowed to buy the card in lesser condition, if that's what suits your tastes and collection needs. I understand the desire for perfect mint condition cards (which spawned the evilness of card grading) that bring the highest prices.

But not everything has to be about "what it's worth".

Contradicting myself because I'm basing a lot of this story on what the Big Book of Beckett deems my collections' worth.

That has high value to me, mainly because of stuff like this:


This iconic aerial photograph of the 1965 All Star Game, as featured in the 1978 Bill Frisz Twins Retired Stars set.

Not that I care about “book value” for a set like this, but it’s interesting to me that the Met Stadium card is tied for second most valuable (behind Killebrew) in the set. I reviewed this set here back after I picked it up a year or so ago. 

I also reviewed the 1987 Bill Frisz Twins World Champions team set, that I picked up at a card show in St. Cloud, MN, last year. 

Even Beckett hints at controversy over this set!

Enquiring minds need to know, what pissed off the league office over a baseball card set? 

Did Topps complain? 

I bet it was Topps, right? 

The 1988 Twins Smokey Colorgrams set/booklet was a giveaway at the Metrodome, during a Twins game in 1988. I tried looking for the ticket stub, which I’m sure I still have somewhere in a box not yet unpacked from Denver.

I remember hearing about this promotion on the radio, during a Twins game. Thinking this would be a card set, we made plans to go. Felt a little disappointed as I saw what they were handing out at the turnstiles. I wasn’t expecting something so cartoonish and geared towards little kids. 

But it was free, so that’s cool. And I obviously kept it all these years later.

The Al Newman drawing was particularly bad...

As I was looking up those Colorgrams, another old Twins set popped into my mind.

7-11 Twins cards.

The 1985 7-11 Twins set pre-dates my card collectordom. For whatever reason, as a 10 year old, I decided that I needed to collect these. Despite never showing any interest in baseball to that point. All of the ones I had came from the 7-11 that used to be on Coon Rapids Blvd. and Xavis street. 

7-11’s were all gone from Minnesota a year later, replaced by the (none too) SuperAmerica chain. Which was purchased by Speedway, two years ago. Just last month, Speedway was purchased by... 7-11! I don't know if that will mean a return of the classic 7-11 name to Minnesota, or if they will keep all the currently re-branded stations without re-re-branding them.

Pretty sure I had 9 of the 12 cards in the set, back in 1985. Stupidly, I fastened each of them to my green Trapper Keeper with Scotch Tape. Ruining each of them! A couple of years later, I tried to remove the cards from the Trapper, but the tape trap tore them apart.

One week after buying the Big Book of Beckett, I was back at Pal's for 2020 Stadium Club. He had a new box with several hundred old Twins for me to flip through. Stashed amongst the Pucketts and Ken Schromseses, was a 1985 7-11 Twins Gary Gaetti card!

That light crease on the lower third of the card is meaningless to me!

Gaetti was not a card I had in the Trapper in 1985. So I didn't recognize it right away when I saw it in the box. But I flipped it over and found that sweet gas station logo!

Only 11 more cards to go!

Here is that 7-11 in October, 1977. It’s a chiropractor’s office today. Same building though.

7-11 was big in Colorado. In fact the Englewood strip mall that once housed Mike's Sports Cards, was anchored on the north end by a 7-11. I've spent thousands of dollars here since 1996.

Just like Mike's!

Actually, most of the stores that occupied the "Way Cool Shops on South Broadway" saw some of my money. Ace Cash Express would provide money orders for ill-advised ebay purchases. Buy Back Games sold me a lot of new and used video games, from NES to PS4. Cheap and subpar pizza from Domino's, and all those cartons of smokes from Cigarette King. Dating back when they were only $22.50 a piece. 

Over four times that, today in Minnesota...

All this gas station convenience store talk has made me hungry.

Perhaps some very old stale cereal will fit that mood…

This is either a 1962 Post card, or a 1962 Jello issue. 

For some reason, this Lenny Green card is extra super rare. Clocking in at over twice what the Harmon Killebrew is worth. I’m guessing little kids eating their Raisin Bran or Jello, weren’t that interested in the Twins center fielder. At least not enough to sloppily cut the card from the packaging.

1983 Kellogg's Kent Hrbek

As cereal became more technologically advanced, so did the cereal cards. Kellogg’s took over for Post and made some great cards between 1970 and 1983. I actually pulled this Hrbek card out of a Fairfield Re-pack earlier this year.

I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again, I need more Kellogg’s cards in my collection!

But enough breakfast, it’s time for a quick and easy lunch!

1988 Chef Boyardee Uncut Sheet

You have no idea how much mini Ravioli I ate as a 13 year old, to collect enough wrappers to order this uncut sheet...

Good to know there’s no premium for the uncut sheet. 

If starchy and flaccid sugary pasta isn’t good enough for you, let’s go north of the border and grab some greasy burgers!

What bothers the Spaceman?

Probably indigestion from that McDonald’s. 

I know I paid more than $10 for my complete set of 1993 Donruss McDonald’s Expos, when I bought them off eBay about 12 or so years ago. And it was well worth it. I really like this set.

And here’s a set that’ve been pretty indifferent about...

1989 Classic Mike Schmidt

Now that these cards have approached 30 years old, I’m liking them a little more. Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, I rarely bought any of the Classic Major League issues (their Minor League product was a different story. I liked those cards a lot more). So today, I don’t have a great deal of them in my collection, but there’s some I’d like to acquire.. 

Now with full checklists, I can figure out which ones I want to acquire!

1992 Bowman is one of my all time favorite sets. Which I have complete and in pages, along with countless others in various segments of my collection. Since I don’t really have much use for the full checklist anymore, the only real reason to mention it is the Big Book of Beckett’s write-up on 1992 Bowman:

$60-$120 seems pretty light for a complete set of 1992 Bowman, after remembering the stir it caused in 1992 and early 1993. Once again, it’s supply and demand in the context of the Junk Wax Era, but I specifically remember key cards in this set fetching between $30-$50 a piece, back in the day.

Something I am interested in from 1992 would be pursuing the old Conlan series from the early 1990's. I ignored them back then, but have recently found a few from those fine folks at Fairfield Repacks. Once I gave these a solid look, I see exactly how they cover an important piece of baseball history. The idea of having all of the complete Conlon sets in 3 ring binders sounds very appealing to me today. With all the Colon sets fully listed in the Big Book of Beckett, I'll be able to figure out how many there are and how all the different series and years make sense.

Stuffy McInnis needs to be amongst friends.

As I mentioned, I ignored the Conlon sets during the Junk Wax Era, because there was so much else going on. Card sets of players I've never heard of from 75 years ago ranked way far down on my list when compared to all the current Upper Deck and Ultra and Stadium Club and Leaf and Pinnacle and you get the point. The history there is much more important to me today.

My first real year as a collector was 1988. My favorite set that year was Fleer. Of the five card manufacturers, Fleer had the best design I felt. However, 1988 Fleer was never available at retail in my area. Stores had metric tons of Donruss and Topps, but Fleer was never to be found. Hobby shops had Fleer, but it was usually twice the price of Topps, Score or Donruss.

And I always wanted the set.

Fast Forward to 1998. Ebay is now a thing, and bargains are all over the place. If you win the auction. One afternoon, I was looking around and saw an auction for two wax boxes of 1988 Fleer. It would be fun to open these and see if I could get my long desired complete set from packs, instead of dropping the (now) $10 or so on a complete one. Shipping was $10 for both boxes. My winning bid brought the total to just over $14. A steal of Old Man Henderson proportions in my mind.

After busting both boxes, I was about 80 cards short. 

A few months later, I found a Cello (Jumbo) box of 1988 Fleer on ebay, that I got for less than $10 shipped. 

After busting that box, I was down to missing one card...

#316 - Bruce Ruffin

At that point, I boxed the near-complete set up and forgot about it. I will never buy that last card I needed. I have to get it from a pack. I'll make the exception to finding it inside a Fairfield Repack. But the only way I complete my set of 1988 Fleer is to open a pack and find inside card number 316. Which would be of then Philadelphia Phillie and future Colorado Rockie, Bruce Mother F'n Ruffin.

My 1988 Fleer pursuit had been long forgotten about until a couple of years ago. I stopped into Pal's, and he had some new Junk Wax boxes for sale. Including 1988 Fleer for $10. I bought it and brought it home. Dusted off my 1988 Fleer partial set. Went through it card by card to verify. Yup... All card numbers present, minus 316.

I opened that entire box of 36 packs of 15 cards a piece and found exactly ZERO Bruce Ruffins!

Dear Beckett,

Your listing for 1988 Fleer in the 2020 Beckett Almanac contains a typo. I wish to be sent an updated copy of your book with card number 316, given the now accurate "SP" (for Short Print) next to the entry of Bruce Ruffin. Clearly that card was not produced at the same levels as the rest of the set!

Thank you for your attention in this matter!

Yours truly,

Captain Honkass

I'm sure that will work.

My love for 1993 Finest has been well documented here before, so I don't need to go overboard now. My set is complete, but if I find duplicate stars at a decent price, I'll gladly pick them up. 

27 years after it's release, 1993 Finest has settled in at a disappointing $40-$100 range. There was no way it would have stayed at the $400-$600 levels it saw in 1993. But today's price seems somewhat low.

Especially given the 1998 Beckett Book priced the complete set of 1993 Finest at $110-$250... And the set biography didn't change in 22 years.

Immunity from falling prices has even evaded the vaunted 1993 Finest Refractors. 

Once my most valuable card*, the 1993 Finest Ken Griffey Jr. Refractor, now ranks second to Clayton Kershaw, for the top Beckett priced card in my collection.

*Story behind that asterisk explained here...

Between $250-$600 for Griffey in the 2020 Big Book of Beckett.

Less than half of where it used to be, but still the top card in the 1993 Finest Refractors set.

The 1998 Beckett priced a 1993 Finest Ken Griffey Jr. Refractor between $900-$2000. 

Fun comparison, the Juan Gonzalez from that same set was between $700-$1500. $150-$250 today.

Just thought that was interesting.

1996 Leaf Signature is another of those sets that I'm not looking to complete (though it would be pretty cool), but to continue picking and choosing key singles when I encounter them. I'll pass up large swaths of them, only to mine a nugget like this one:

The former Junk Wax Prospector in me needs a certified autographed Todd Van Poppel 1996 Leaf Signature card. Don't remember exactly, but I did not pay more than $5 nor less than $2 for it, so the Big Book of Beckett is correct there.

As I was writing about the Todd Van Poppel card, I had to take a break to pick up dinner. Setting my delicious Carne Asada near by and on top of the way old PowerMac, I decided this needed to be a photo. And there was one person who needed to see it...

Hey Rob, I know you're all bummed out about Matt Chapman's season ending injury, and subsequent surgery, but how do you feel about Mexican take-out and certified autographs of failed Oakland Athletics mega-prospects?

Me too!

And I'm also looking for a certified autograph of the 7 Foot Hippie.

Not that I'm implying anything about Mr. Puk's megaprospectordom or post shoulder surgery future. 

Speaking of failed prospects, digging through the next set is fun for the whole family! 

Never a megaprospect, Todd Greene was a fairly well regarded catcher coming up the California Angels farm system in the mid-1990's. He never established himself as an everyday catcher in the Major leagues, but did log Major League time during each season from 1996 through 2006. Including slugging 17 home runs in only 343 plate appearances, for the Colorado Rockies, between 2004 and 2005.

2004 Topps Total features an 880 card checklist, and was distributed in cheap packs with little to no bells and whistles. This concept so needs to be brought back. Not in the form of that stupid online exclusive $10 a pack crap, that Topps is pulling in 2020 either.

Something that started to bother me about the Big Book of Beckett as I looked at newer sets. The set biographies were less and less detailed. I get that space is tight, but providing the biographical information is probably more important than listing the prices. Okay, as important...

With Beckett's help, I think I've finally cleared up my near 20 year confusion between these sets.

2000 Black Diamond Todd Walker

Beckett's write up for 2000 Black Diamond states that it was released in December 1999. When I was paying a lot less attention to cards between 1997 and 2005, I didn't keep up on new releases. The confusion starts with the fact that these cards have statistics for the 1999 season, but also have a copyright of 1999. So is it a 1999 set or a 2000 set?

Then there's these...

2000 Black Diamond Rookie Edition Larry Walker

This set of cards have statistics for the 2000 season, and have a copyright of 2000.

So is it a 2000 set or a 2001 set?

Up until now, I hadn't heard of 2000 Black Diamond Rookie Edition. And it makes my brain hurt. Both sets are trying too hard to accomplish too little. Driven by insert sets with a criminally low base set, and a high price that is in no way sustainable. I remember seeing packs of these being blown out for 99 cents a piece, a couple of years later. 

Rumors abound these packs could be easily searched, so the rarer insert cards were somehow never pulled from the discounted packs...

Not that I'm pointing any fingers here...

But I did find it interesting that at the same time as these heavily discounted packs showed up, the display cases were filled with key singles from the set. Certainly that’s a coincidence!

Okay, It's been way too long since I started writing this, so I'm going to wrap this up by talking about the Expos.

It's what I do...

2019 Topps Archives was a really fun set last year. (Forgive the crappy picture, it was a last minute addition that I didn't have time to edit on the ancient -yet superior- Mac.) I liked the sets picked to replicate (1958, 1975 and 1993), and the insert sets complimented the base set. Thanks to the abundance of available retail product last year (which wont happen this year), I'm pretty close to a complete set.

Base set: 27, 128, 130, 148, 170, 188, 266, 293.

Short prints: 302, 309, 311, 312, 314, 324, 325, 328, 330.

Topps Magazine: TM-5, TM-13, TM-14.

1994 Future Stars: 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 14, 18, 20.

Of course, the big draw in the set for me was the 50th Anniversary of the Montreal Expos insert.


Thanks for giving Big Sexy a spot, despite only pitching in 17 games as an Expo, Topps included him.

And of course there's autographs...

While not the main selling point, this type of thing is why I decided to buy the 2020 Big Book of Beckett. In this case, it was having a list of the cards that Topps chose to represent former Expos. It's a curious list... No Larry Walker? No Gary Carter? No Rusty Staub? No Archi Cianfrocco?

No Pete Rose?

I have not yet completed the insert set. When first announced, I'd planned on trying to complete both the base and autographed set. Then I saw the unreasonable price for only one card...

$500 for Randy Johnson's autographed card? I had hopes of trying to complete this set and one card is more expensive than all of the other twenty COMBINED?!?!?

It's not like he's Bruce Ruffin!

Well, that was really disappointing to read.

A long time ago, I showed the first entry in the 2020 Beckett Almanac. It was so long ago, I can't remember what it even was. But it would make sense to finish this piece off by highlighting the very LAST entry of the book, on page 1343:

Okay, I want a Bill Zuber Restaurant Matchbook!

The 2020 Beckett Almanac finished off with a page of Acknowledgments, attached to the inside back cover. However, Beckett did a terrible job of laying out this page. I work in printing. It’s known industry-wide that perfect bound books need to have space cleared at the spine for a glue hinge. Otherwise the cover would be likely to fall off. As a rule, you do not put text or images in this area, or it will be covered by the spine glue. No one told this information to Beckett, as the text on this page goes directly into the glue and is covered up. 

This is simple guys... You take your final page layout, set your anchor point on the opposite side, then horizontally scale the full page by 3/8”. Your text will clear the glue area, and all the words will still be readable.

So that’s the powerful epic low-down on the 2020 Beckett Almanac.

An unflinching narrative that is both compelling and beautifully written. A triumph of the human spirit, a true rollicking tour de force of literature. Virtually unputdownable! Hilarious and thought-provoking, this fully-realized book had me laughing out loud from beginning to end. Full of Murder, Espionage, Danger, Family Secrets, Mysterious Figures, Troubled Pasts and that plot twist was a game changer! Full of poignant and nuanced heartbreaking moments, this book is not to be missed. It grabs you from the first page and will keep you on the edge of your seat through every twist and turn. An absolute riveting delight, compulsively readable. Tour de force! I can’t wait to see what Beckett does next! This is an ambitious and timely piece that absolutely cannot be ignored.


Would not recommend.


******


On Saturday August 29, 2020, Four Baggers and Foreclosures hit a significant milestone:

100,000 hits!

It took 170 stories, written over 37 months to break that barrier. Honestly, I’m surprised I hit that number as quick as I did, but I’m happy that so many people have read my nonsense. So a gigantic thank you to everyone who has ever clicked onto my site. From those who have read every story (there’s a few of you) to those who visited the page once, said: “This guy SUCKS!” and then left before the first image opened.

I thank you all and hope you’ve enjoyed my stuff to at least some degree. 

But that’s out of my hands.

So here's the Northeast Business Center in Columbia Heights, MN, being demolished this past weekend!

Hmmm...

Reminds me of Gates...


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