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Monthly Mailbag - March 2023

Coming off of another strong month where I added nearly one new card for each day of the month last month, this month wasn't too bad. Here's what I was able to add this month:

1999 SkyBox Premium - Star Rubies (Sheet Cut - Blank Back). This was added to the collection mostly as a novelty piece. Probably not desired by very many collectors other than your most devoted of player collectors. As you can see in the scan here, it's not in my normal Ultra Pro magnetic one-touch case. That's because the card is oversized enough to not fit inside of one. I don't even think it would fit inside the more accommodating Pro-Mold one-touch cases because of its overall size. It was originally being sold as a "proof" card. I don't think that's the case here. I remember several months ago, an entire uncut sheet of these cards surfaced. I'm not sure if this card came from that sheet or another one similar to it, but you can definitely tell that the card was cut from a sheet - and not very well. It almost looks like someone used one of those crafting paper slicers with the blade that glides across a board. And it looks like they used an old dull blade on it. The edges of this card are very reminiscent of baseball cards from the 60s and 70s with the jagged cut edges. Regardless, this is a welcomed addition to The Rolen Collection. If for nothing else, it's a nice conversation piece. Oh, and of course it has all of the shiny goodness that the fronts of these cards had in the pack pulled version. It's SHINY!

2022 Topps Black & White - Autographs Camera Film Design #42, SN25. Topps Black and White was released as an online exclusive; available only on Topps' website from November 16, 2022 until December 15, 2022. The boxes contained 30 cards each and were priced at $50 per box. Autographs were inserted 1:3 boxes and there are 100 players on the checklist. According to every checklist I've been able to find for this release: this card doesn't exist. In fact, none of the autographed parallels exist according to any checklist I've seen posted online. What I have found so far (via ebay) these autographed parallels follow the posted non-autographed parallel versions - including the serial numbering. It's quite unfortunate that these autographed cards are sticker autos as opposed to on-card. But I suppose that makes sense given the nature of these cards being online exclusives and printed after all orders were placed.

1999 Upper Deck Retro - Old School/ New School Level 2 #S25, SN50. In this hobby, one can never have too many eyes looking for cards that you need for your collection. That is how I was able to recently acquire this card. A hobby friend of mine reached out to me one night on Facebook and asked if I needed this card. I immediately knew that I needed it because I had looked at them more than a few times on ebay and always shuttered at the asking prices. After telling him that I did, in fact, need the card, he said that he knew a guy who had one and he would likely be willing to move it. I got the owner's information and sent him a message on Facebook. A short time later he replied with pictures and a deal was quickly struck to get this card into my collection. He shipped it out the next day, and after a very short trip through the US Postal system, it landed in my mailbox!

1998 Leaf - Fractal Materials #134 WX, SN250, PR50. This card is insanely tough to find. As you can tell by the title above, there are just 50 of these cards in existence. While it is serial numbered to 250, the first 200 cards were die-cut and the remaining 50 were not. There was a lot of this "number within a number" type thing going on with Donruss in the 90s and that just heightens the allure of cards like this in my opinion. The backstory on this particular copy: it was listed on ebay and I set my typical placeholder bid on it as soon as I saw it. I didn't think it would go for too much but when it came down to the final seconds, I got busy at work and forgot to check in on it. As it turns out, a friend of mine, Eric, had bid on it and won the card. He reached out to me on Facebook and asked if he owed me an apology, thinking he outbid me on the card. You see, he knew the sneaky rarity of this card, so he bid accordingly. When I told him that I was unable to check on the card in the final minutes, he agreed to send the card to me so it could be a part of The Rolen Collection! Thanks again, Eric! I'm stoked to have this card in my collection!

2022 Topps Black & White #42. This is the base version of these cards. Nothing overly special about it and I think I lost a lot of my initial excitement for this card because I bought it as a pre-release off of ebay. I didn't think I was buying it super early, but apparently I did. This card was originally purchased back on November 16th of last year and I just received it. That was a good lesson to learn though: don't buy a card until they are "live" and in-hand. There are multiple different parallels of this, signed and unsigned, but the overall simpleness of this black and white card appeals to me.

2001 Donruss Elite - Primary Colors Yellow Die Cut #PC-31, SN75. I love this card! It is shiny, die-cut, and serial numbered. There are a few different versions of this: Blue, Blue die-cut, Red, Red die-cut, Yellow, and this Yellow die-cut. The level of rareness is interesting with these. Easiest to find is the Red, followed by the Blue, and then the Yellow. Then it goes backwards for the die-cut with the Yellow die-cut being the easiest to find with the Blue die-cut being more rare, and finally the Red die-cut being the toughest to find. I still need the Red die-cut and the Yellow; both of which are serial numbered to just 25 copies each!

2022 Topps MLB Rookie of the Year 75th Anniversary Emerald #30, SN50. This card comes from another Topps online exclusive offering. The base set consists of 61 players; all of whom have won the Rookie of the Year award. Topps created 10,125 boxes each containing 10 cards. Each of the boxes came with one parallel card, serial numbered to 75 or less. Some quick math tells me that there were less than 1,500 of each of the base cards produced. These were offered in six different parallels: Platinum (SN75), Emerald (SN50), Sapphire (SN25), Ruby (SN10), Amber (SN5), and Gold (SN1).

2005 Upper Deck Pro Sigs - Flyball #19. This was Upper Deck's failed attempt at an "interactive" game played with baseball cards. They were released one-per-pack in the Pro Sigs release as well as in their own packs of Upper Deck Flyball. I'm not sure how the game is played, as I never played it, but it has something to do with Leapfrog and a pen I believe. Regardless, they're well made and the photography is pretty solid (at least on this Rolen card). They aren't expensive at all, and I'm sure there are a lot of them sitting in commons boxes across the country, but I haven't seen very many of them come up for sale. It's a nice oddball piece added to the collection this month.

2022 Bowman - Buyback Autographs - 2004 Bowman #11, SN3. These cards are not easy to find! While similar to what Topps is doing with their Archives Signature Series cards, these differ quite a bit in the fact that there just are not as many overall. There is no known checklist for these, but we do know that there were 17 different players in the buyback set. The odds to pull one of the 17 players were pretty long: 1:1,311 (Jumbo), 1:5,061 (Rack), 1:7,930 (Hobby), and 1:10,068 (Retail). These cards, in my opinion, are hit or miss aesthetically speaking. I've been a big fan of Bowman cards for quite some time now, but these just were not designed to be autographed. So, sometimes, as in the example here, the auto gets lost in the background of the photo. That said, I still enjoy picking these up for my collection when they don't go for insane amounts of money.

1997 Select - Select Company Samples #102. These things are pretty rare. They don't come up for sale very often, and when they do, expect to pay a pretty penny for the bigger name guys. The research I've done on this card came up with very little information as to print run, but it has to be really low (for a 90s card anyway). I was lucky and snagged this one at auction for a fraction of the price they have sold for in the past. The only real difference between this sample card and the packed out version that I can tell is the word "SAMPLE" printed across the back of the card. I'm really excited to have been able to add this one to the collection this month!

2005 Donruss Diamond Kings - Signature Materials Silver #419, SN25. Another 2005 card acquired this month! That doesn't happen very often, but I'm glad it did! It was because of this massive set that Rolen has 1,400 cards produced in 2005 alone. Of those, 223 cards are from Diamond Kings alone! Surprisingly, I didn't have any of these signature cards from the set. I was able to snag this card for next to nothing due to the auction ending at a weird time. If I can keep that up, I might have all of these cards by the time I'm in my 80s.

2022 Topps MLB Rookie of the Year 75th Anniversary #30. This is another card that I bought before it was actually even released. Lesson learned. This card was purchased in December of last year and just arrived this month. Coincidentally, it came from the same seller as my Topps Black and White card that I wrote about above. Regardless, I won't be doing that again. I'll wait until the cards are in-hand before buying them. Like I wrote about for the Emerald parallel of this card above, I believe there to be fewer than 1,500 of these base cards printed. And they're actually pretty nice cards. I like the picture they used for these and the design is simple and clean.

2002 Upper Deck 40-Man - Gargantuan Gear Gold #G-SR, SN100. This is a parallel of the regular Gargantuan Gear card that featured a light blue on the front where this one is gold. There were no stated insertion ratios on these, but there were 25 players featured in the set and these are limited, and serial numbered, to just 100 copies. As we've discussed before, 100 sounds like a lot by today's standards. But back in the late 90s and early 2000s, 100 copies of a card meant it was tough to come by! This card kind of looks a little boring due to the fact that the jersey swatch that makes up the 'G' in 'Gear' is plain white like a large portion of the font of the card. But I'm happy to have finally tracked one down and add it to the collection this month!

2022 Topps MLB Rookie of the Year 75th Anniversary Platinum #30, SN75. I'm not sure why, but most sellers of this card are asking a small fortune for it. As we've covered above, it was an online exclusive release, and perhaps that plays into the overall asking price for most of these parallels. But for me, it's another card numbered to 75 today so I can't justify spending an exorbitant amount for the card. Luckily for me, a seller listed this one with a really low buy it now price and I quickly smashed the button. I would like to complete the entire rainbow for this one due to liking the picture they used.

2022 Topps Black & White - Autographs Rainbow Foil #42, SN5. This card looks absolutely stunning in-hand! Maybe I'll feature it in a Spotlight post here soon. I don't typically go for cards numbered to 5 or less, but when I saw this one pop up for sale I put my typical low starting bid in and watched it for a week. After several days, there was some activity on the auction; so I waited. There were 20 bids from 10 different bidders on this one. I waited until the very last second and threw my final bid down and to my surprise, I won this card for less than the price of lunch! The only thing I wish Topps would have done different for these cards is, of course, had them signed by the players. Instead, we received sticker autos for these cards. But I really do like the cleanness of these!

2023 Topps MLB Living Set #593, PR2049. Another Topps online exclusive card. And another card that I purchased too early. Not as early as a couple posted above, but I bought this card on February 1st and just got it in the mail on March 29th. Again, this will be the last pre-release card I'll be buying from ebay. But I had to have this one! I've been watching the Topps Living Set grow and grow and grow without a Scott Rolen in the set. He was finally added to the set and I couldn't be more pleased with the fact that he is featured in a Cardinals uniform. The artist, Jared Kelley, did a fantastic job with his rendition of Rolen!

2022 Topps MLB Rookie of the Year 75th Anniversary Ruby #30, SN10. The last card added to the collection this month is this Ruby parallel from the Topps online exclusive release. I had seen a few of these for sale on ebay after their release, but everyone was asking for a car payment for them. Maybe because it's a team color match with the red, or maybe because it's serial numbered to just 10 copies. Either way, I was willing to wait it out and let the prices fall to a more earthly level. I'm glad I practiced patience with this one because I was able to land this one for a fraction of the asking price of the others. Now I just need the Sapphire (SN25), Amber (SN5), and the Gold (SN1) to complete the rainbow. I'll even consider it "complete enough" without the 1/1.

That wraps things up for this month. Overall, it was a really good month. I was able to add 17 new cards to The Rolen Collection and I already have more on the way for next month! I'm hoping that with Rolen's Hall of Fame induction ceremony coming up soon, we'll see more and more Rolen cards surface for sale and for him to be included in more checklists for new release stuff! I just hope they keep the parallels to a more realistic level. We don't need another '98 Topps Tek situation on our hands!


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