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Monthly Mailbag - December 2021

I'm pretty excited about the cards I've been able to add this month. Once again, they span Scott's entire career, and beyond. In the spirit of Christmas, some of these cards have been gifts from fellow collectors who knew I would get enjoyment out of having these cards in my collection and to them I say a huge, "Thank you!" With Scott still on the ballot for the Hall of Fame, I've seen a steady surge in the number of his cards being offered for sale as well as higher and higher prices for some of his key cards. Even with the higher prices, I still hope he gets that call!

1997 Donruss Elite - Gold Stars #57 (Corrected gold logo version). This card has been so difficult for me to track down. In all my years of collecting Scott Rolen cards, I've only ever seen four of these offered for sale. I was finally able to land this one for a price I was comfortable with due to it not being graded. The Gold Stars were inserted at a rate of 1:9 packs, but it isn't known exactly how many of the corrected versions with the gold logo were released. I can tell you that it was far less than the error version with the silver logo. There were 10 total players who have error and corrected versions of their Gold Star parallel card: Cal Ripken, Jr (#6), Tony Gwynn (#15), Eddie Murray (#25), Hideo Nomo (#32), Edgar Martinez (#42), Wade Boggs (#47), Scott Rolen (#57), Dante Bichette (#60), Ernie Young (#69), and Ryne Sandberg (#70).

2002 Fleer E-X - Behind the Numbers Game Jersey. Back in October of this year I posted a card similar to this one on Instagram. The patch in that card was really unique and I requested that if anyone had any of these patch cards to please reach out to me. Fast forward a couple of months and fellow collector, Anthony (IG: leftycarltoncollection), sent me a message saying that he had a Rolen card for me - free of charge! A few short days later and this was waiting in the mail for me. I thoroughly enjoy these cards for the simple fact that Fleer used patch pieces in them without making a huge ordeal about them. There was not "patch" designation, no "prime" designation, just a unique slice of patch randomly used to create these cards. This card makes my fourth one from this set and I plan on continuing to pick them up whenever I see them available. Thanks again, Anthony...I love it!

2005 Donruss Studio - Portraits Throwback Red, SN40. Scott had nearly 1400 cards made in 2005 alone and it's largely thanks to Donruss and their need to pump out countless parallels of multiple sets of cards that year. There are 56 different variations of this card. I'm still not sure how much I like that. On one hand, it's rather annoying considering how similar all of the cards are. But on the other hand, I do enjoy a good challenge. This set is very reminiscent of the late 90s Topps Tek sets with the sheer volume. While they aren't nearly as eye appealing as the Tek cards from that era, these are at least serial numbered which adds another layer of appeal to me.

2021 Topps Five Star - Silver Signatures Purple SN25. Another rainbow I'll likely never complete. The red 1/1 has already surfaced and sold on eBay. But that doesn't mean I won't attempt to get the rest of these cards. I'm still kind of torn on this set though. While I do like the overall design, I think the execution was done poorly. The silver marker used for the signature seems too streaky and every card from this set that I've seen looks to have issues with smearing or chipping of the autograph. It almost looks like they had the players use a silver metallic Sharpie on a wet surface.

2004 Topps Cracker Jack - Mini Blue #20 SP. These cards were inserted at a rate of 1:60 packs due to them being "SP". The other Mini Blue cards were inserted at a rate of 1:10 packs. Estimations put these Mini Blue SPs at a print run of around 525. Collectors either love or hate these cards and me personally, I love them. They are not a standard size (by today's standards), so they are a little awkward. But I appreciate the heritage they are paying homage to. They're incredibly simplistic in design; no flashy chrome technology, no refractor surfaces, no "game used" or "player worn" anything. Just a simple card, printed on relatively thin card stock with a different background color separating them from their base counterparts.

2005 Bazooka - 4-on-1 Stickers #1. Marketed towards kids of the hobby, these Bazooka stickers are incredibly condition sensitive. They were available at a rate of 1:3 packs (hobby) and 1:6 packs (retail). I already had one of these in the collection that I never scanned or put on this site because of the overall condition of the card. Luckily they are widely available, so when I found this copy in great condition it was a no-brainer to add to the collection.

2005 Topps Cracker Jack - Mini Grey #255, SN25. This was the first Mini Grey for Rolen I've seen available for sale since their initial release in 2005. Fairly tough to come by, being inserted at a rate of 1:151 (hobby) and 1:150 (retail), they just don't come up for sale too often. The nice thing about these is that they are serial numbered. I appreciate the fact that they used more of a portrait image of Scott for this card, but I do wish they would have used another one. Perhaps one where he was smiling or celebrating. Although, the scowl he has on his face is a great representation of the way he played the game - with laser focus!

2011 Topps - Diamond Die Cut DDC-149. It took me entirely too long to track this card down. It is for good reason though. These cards were only available by finding a randomly inserted Diamond Giveaway code card, entering your code on the Topps website, and redeeming them for the card. These cards were released by Topps with a clear protective film on them but when I received this card in the mail, the corner of the protective film began curling up. I couldn't keep it in that condition in my collection, so it was an easy decision to go ahead and peel the film. I'm glad I did! This scan doesn't do the card any real justice because SHINES!

2017 Bowman 70th Anniversary Buybacks. Rolen didn't have very many cards in 2017. In fact, there were no new cards produced of him that year. Instead, we were given these buybacks from Bowman. There is no known checklist for these cards, but it is speculated, and widely accepted, that the foil stamping on the front comes in five different colors: bronze, silver, gold, red, and blue with bronze being the most common and blue being the most rare. The different color of foil is really tough to see in most scans and even some pictures, so I try to pick these up whenever I can in hopes to build a comprehensive checklist for the Rolen cards released.

1998 Donruss Collections Donruss - Prized Collections PC169, PR560. If I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times: scans just don't do these cards justice. The shine on these is second to none which has become a common theme for late 90s cards. I've overlooked this particular one multiple times thinking that I already had a copy. Come to find out, I'm actually missing a few of the Donruss Collections cards, and this one was one of them that I didn't have. I had to fix that when I saw this one available. One of these days I'll go through all of my cards like this and add photographs of them to this site as opposed to these "flat" scans.

1998 Finest - Mystery Finest 2 M5. With the recent addition of this card, I'm down to just needing two more to complete this run. I still need the refractor version of this card as well as the refractor version of the Nomar Garciaparra card. These cards are notorious for "hulking". Most have surmised that it has something to do with the ink used during the printing process. Whatever it is, Scott almost always has a green face and arms on these cards. I've also found that some nice vibrant copies of these cards end up turning green even when stored in a box out of the sunlight.

1999 Pacific Paramount - Opening Day #181, SN74. Some love them, some hate them. Me, I'm somewhere in between on these Pacific parallels. This Opening Day parallel is no different. The card, for the most part, is identical to the base version. The notable difference being the addition of the foil stamp on the front with the serial numbering and the words, "Opening Day Issue May 12, 1999." They do look good when sitting next to all the other versions that were released with each set. As a completist and a fan of Scott Rolen cards, I find myself almost compelled to pick these up as I find them.

2021 Topps Gold Label - Framed Autographs Red FA-SR, SN25. These cards look absolutely amazing in hand. They have a heft to them with the gold frame that screams quality. With the recent addition of this red parallel, I may be finished with the rainbow for these. The 1/1 gold version was sold on eBay shortly after these were released and I fear it may be locked up in another Rolen collector's personal collection for years to come. I'm completely fine with having the four versions that I do have in my collection though. And this red one is probably my favorite with the pairing of pictures used with Scott in his Cardinals uniform.

1999 Pacific Paramount - Personal Bests #27. Similar to a lot of Pacific cards released during the late 90s, this card features a beautiful foil treatment that just cannot be fully captured in scans. These weren't very easy to come by either; inserted at a rate of 1:37 packs with 36 players in the set. With their odd insertion ratios at Pacific, one could open an entire box (36 packs) and not hit one of these cards. I'm not sure why I waited so long to add this card to my collection - but I'm certainly happy to add it to the collection this year. This is coincidentally the last pick up for 2021.

From the Waddell Collection:

1998 Donruss Elite - Craftsmen #11, SN0017/3500.

1998 Leaf - Fractal Diamond Axis #134, SN50.

1998 Sports Illustrated Then and Now - Extra Edition #128, SN001/500.

1998 Stadium Club - First Day Issue #315, SN200.

These four cards came into my collection all the way from Rolen's hometown of Jasper, IN! A fellow collector, Bob, reached out to me and said that he had some cards that he thought I'd appreciate. After a couple of emails back and forth and a few days for the USPS to get them to me, they have arrived!

The first card, the Donruss Elite Craftsmen card, is a serial number upgrade for my collection. I already had a copy of this card in my collection, but Bob said that he had one with Rolen's jersey number, 17. I don't typically put too much weight into the actual serial number of any of my cards, but it's something I'll gladly pursue if the price is right.

The second card Bob sent me was a 1998 Leaf Fractal Diamond Axis card #/50. I already had the checklist version of this card (card #199) but I was missing this card. These things are incredible to look at in-hand with the etched foil treatment they were given. I'm certainly glad to add card #134 to my collection!

Another serial number upgrade card for me was the third card Bob sent my way. This 1998 Sports Illustrated Then and Now Extra Edition card is serial numbered 001/500. Again, I don't pay much attention to the serial numbers on cards, but it's pretty cool to have the first one of these made!

And finally, the last card Bob sent my way is the 1998 Stadium Club First Day issue. This card is similar to the base card in many ways, but it features some extra foil treatment on the front, it's stamped "First Day Issue", and it is serial numbered to just 200 copies. This day in age, 200 might seem like a lot of copies of any given card since companies are pumping out a myriad of parallels all seemingly short printed. But in 1998, having a card that was limited to just 200 copies would have been a HUGE pull. Especially if it was a card of your guy!

I want to thank Bob again for the incredibly kind gesture and for sending these cards to me. They will be forever locked up and admired in The Rolen Collection!

Looking back over the course of this past year, I have made some real progress on my collection. Although I fell short on my goal for this year of obtaining 50% of all Scott Rolen cards ever produced (currently at 40.7%), I am still happy with what I have been able to add to the collection. This past year has brought me multiple cards on my most wanted list, including the 1998 Crusade red as well as my personal White Whale, the 1997 Bowman's Best Atomic Refractor autograph. I've also networked with several other collectors who have been amazing at helping me fill in the missing pieces of my collection.

I'm excited to see what 2022 has to offer! Not only is it a fresh year with endless possibilities, but Scott is also knocking on the door of Cooperstown! With the prospect of joining those hallowed halls, card companies are taking note and adding Scott to more and more checklists. While that adds to the difficulty of me reaching 50% of all cards made, I'm always happy to see him released in new products.


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