Entries Tagged as 'baseball card'

The Case of the Lost George Bush baseball card- revisited

A friend of mine and I were chatting about baseball and baseball cards in particular today and the topic of the Topps George Bush baseball card fiasco came up.  It’s a local story from 11 years ago I was woefully ignorant.

The details can be summed as such:

In 1990, Lee Hull and Dan Cook were owners of Who’s on First, a baseball card shop in Champaign, Illinois.  They bought what they thought was a typical Topps baseball card set from a woman.  Among the other cards though, was a baseball card with George Bush dressed in his 1947 Yale uniform.  Very odd.

As told by the owners of the shop, the were sued by a local lawyer who claimed the shop owners offered up for sale for fifteen cents.  Rumor has it they were asked how much they thought it was worth and they gave their opinion with no intention of selling it (let’s face it, do baseball card shop owners EVER sell any cards for 15 cents).


Here’s the rub:  Topps got wind of the lawsuit and heard about one of their George Bush baseball card floating around.  The baseball card company claimed that only 100 of those cards were made and they were presented to the White House (remember this was back in 1990 when Bush was in the White House).

Topps went as far as to accuse Who’s on First baseball card shop of possessing stolen property.

The story had all the twists and turns of a late night B movie.  Even People magazine picked up the story back in 1990 As for Hull and Cook, they resolved to stay strong:

Hull calls the suit ridiculous and vows to play hardball with any and all comers. As for Topps, he says, it “asked if we’d give it back if George Bush asked us to. I said only if he came here or we got to go to the White House.”

As for how the story ended, I’m not really sure.  Who’s on First folded after a year a so and I’m not finding any news reports that give any conclusion to our little melodrama.

Catholic nuns can’t appreciate inherit beauty of Wagner card

Good news for the Baltimore-based order of Catholic nuns who was bequeathed a Honus Wagner baseball card.  They found a buyer.

Doug Walton of Knoxville, Tennessee, will pay $262,000 for the rare card which was auctioned off this week.  This figure exceeded analysts expectations up to 100%.

Walton didn’t mind paying the extra dough, according to The Sporting News:

“To be honest with you, we probably paid a little bit more than we should have,” he said Friday. “But with the back story, and the fact that it’s going to a really good charity, to us it just seemed worth it.”

The nuns plan to put the money to good work.  They plan to use it in their ministries to the poor in 35 countries.

Another chapter in the Upper Deck story

Last August, I wrote about the deal between MLB and Topps and how it was arranged that Topps would have exclusive rights to MLB logos and graphics. 

Now there seems to be another chapter to the story. 

MLB is now suing Upper Deck for trademark infringement for using its logos on its cards without permission. 

It said Upper Deck’s cards improperly feature various sport and team logos, and that some 2010 packaging featuring New York Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter may confuse consumers because of its similarity to authorized packaging used in 2009.

MLB wants to halt sales of the cards and seeks “triple and punitive damages”.

I’m all in Upper Deck’s corner for the non-competitive deal that MLB made with Topps last year but surely Upper Deck didn’t think they could get away with this.  MLB (and Topps for that matter) would be keeping their eyes on them for any trademark infringement.  And sure enough, they caught them with their hand in the figurative cookie jar. 

Topps, Minor Leagues reach exclusive deal

Three months ago, MLB signed Topps Company to a major contract to produce and market baseball cards with the MLB teams’ logo.  This was an exclusive contract to the detriment to other card making companies such as Upper Deck. 

Now, Topps has scored another coup.  They have reached agreement with Major League Baseball Properties in a multi-year licensing deal to produce certain nationally distributed Minor League cards

The agreement makes Topps the only trading card manufacturer licensed by MLBP to produce nationally-distributed trading cards of top draft picks and prospects within Minor League Baseball, and will give Topps the rights to names and logos of the 160 affiliated Minor League clubs and current Minor League players in uniform on baseball cards and stickers beginning on January 1, 2010. In addition, Topps will now have the exclusive use of the Pro Debut logo. Its first product will be its 2010 Topps Pro Debut Series 1 to be unveiled in early March 2010.

As it was three months ago, this deal is exclusive. 

Update to Upper Deck story

Upper Deck has released a statement in response to Topps’ exclusive agreement with MLB re baseball cards.  They have re-affirmed their agreement with the MLBPA which is at least half the battle.

The statement is difficult to parse out what with all the positive talk.  Phrases like:  “looking ahead”, “building the highest quality and most innovative baseball cards” and “looking forward to continuing the partnership”

The upshot of it all is that while Topps can use club logos (including logos on baseball caps), on their baseball cards,  Upper Deck cannot. 

Upper Deck shut out from Baseball card market

Wow, the baseball card business is dog eat dog. 

In a blow to Upper Deck and other competitors, MLB has signed a multi-year deal with The Topps Company to become the exclusive trading card maker for baseball.   The former CEO of Disney, Michael Eisner, is heading up Topps now.

This is the business double-speak that Eisner is spewing:

“This is redirecting the entire category toward kids.  Topps has been making cards for 60 years, the last 30 in a nonexclusive world that has caused confusion to the kid who walks into a Walmart or a hobby store. It’s also been difficult to promote cards as unique and original.”

Okay, did he really say that? Kids are “confused” because of a little market competition?

This deal leaves competitor trading card company Upper Deck out in the cold.  The upshot is this:  Upper Deck is allowed to use the “likeness of players” but no team logos and no trademarks. 

It’s an obvious coup for Topps that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Antique dealer finds out the real value of baseball card

Antique dealer Bernice Gallego found out in the nick of time that a baseball card she was going to sell on Ebay for $10, was worth much more than that. 


Photo: Craig Kohlruss- Fresno Bee

The card was a photo of ten men and was labeled “Red Stocking B.B. Club of Cincinnati”.  Not knowing much of the game of baseball, she slapped a price of $10 on it and put it up for auction. 

When she got multiple requests for info on the card mostly as to the card’s authenticity, she got a little suspicious.  After some research, it was found that it from the year 1869 and was indeed worth a lot more. 

Spooked with all the questions she was getting on eBay, she picked up the phone at 9:30 that night and called her good friend George Huddleston and asked his opinion.

“I never make phone calls after 8 o’clock at night,” Gallego says. “My mother taught me never to do things like that.”

Huddleston’s answer was simple: End the auction now. Figure out what you have and what it’s worth before selling it. Her husband, Al, agreed: “Get this thing off the Internet.”

The card is now off the Internet now.  The card’s security is at stake now so “she put it in a sandwich bag and push-pinned it to her laundry room wall.”

“If it fell off the wall, the cat would have ate it,” Gallego says. “Well, or the dog.”

Now that she knows the full value (one dealer estimates six figures), Gallego plans to put up on Ebay again.  This time with a higher reserve price, I presume.