30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Who Ya Gonna Call?

According to the Pew Research Center, more than 90% of adults in the United States own a cell phone.  Honestly, I'm not too surprised about that.  I can't think of any adult friends or family members who don't have a mobile device.

On the hand, I was a little surprised that people still purchase and use phone cards.  After doing some research, I discovered they're good for calling people internationally or when you're on vacation.

Personally, I haven't used one in decades.  I'm pretty sure the last time I used a phone card was in the late 90's to call my parents when they moved to Las Vegas.  With that being said... there's a set of Tuff Stuff phone cards that I've been trying to complete for around five years.

Back in April of 2003, I purchased a starter set of four cards on eBay for $3.99 shipped, but I still needed the first card in the set.

I have seen that card on numerous occasions, but refused to pay the vendor's inflated prices.  A few months ago, I found the card on COMC for two dollars, which is twice as much as I wanted to pay... but by far the cheapest I've seen it for, so I grabbed it.

Here's a look at the set in its entirety:

1995 Tuff Stuff Telecard #1

I'm not 100% sure how these cards were originally distributed.  If I had to guess, I'd say they were a magazine subscription premium.  As you can see the first card was produced in 1995 and expired in 1996.  This is also the only card in the set that's serial numbered.

It took two years for Tuff Stuff to release the next two cards...

1997 Tuff Stuff Telecard #2

1997 Tuff Stuff Telecard #3

It was at this point where Tuff Stuff added "Legends of the Game" to the front of each phone card.  I'd say that's a pretty accurate description.  Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson, Ty Cobb, and Honus Wagner were all members of Baseball Hall of Fame's inaugural class in 1936.  Cy Young entered the following year and Lou Gehrig two years after that.

1998 Tuff Stuff Telecard #4

1999 Tuff Stuff Telecard #5

As far as I know, Walter Johnson was the final card in the set.  I'm pretty sure that by this point sports related phone cards were a few years past their peak.  However I could be wrong.  Maybe there are more of these phone cards floating around out there.

I realize that phone cards aren't for everyone, but I enjoy the quirkiness and it feels good to finally wrap up this set of hall of famers.

What about you?

Did you ever collect or use phone cards?

Did you have a subscription to Tuff Stuff Magazine?

Happy Thursday and sayonara!


  1. My dad still uses phone cards to call his mom long distance every week - he doesn't have a cell phone and at this point I think it's likely he'll never want to get one.

  2. I guess I'm a Luddite in the 10 % --never had a subscription but bought both Tuff Stuff and Tuff Stuff Jr--don't recall seeing those phone cards as inserts

  3. I have some phone cards from 1995 classic football but that’s it and the ones for my Rodney Hampton pc. Still missing some

    By the way, who you gonna call needs the response of Ghostbusters!

  4. I only used phone cards for international long distance calls. I never bothered with Tuff Stuff. I think my parents bought me an issue in the early nineties, but it was never a magazine I was into.

  5. Tuff Stuff made phone cards? You learn something new every day.

  6. Every time I see hobby-related phone cards I have flashbacks of memorabilia show tables filled with them, Broder cards and those Bammer bears.

    I've never used a phone card but I think I have a few Orioles themed ones and I know I have a Billy Pierce stadium giveaway phone card the White Sox used as a promo.

  7. I think I pulled a Ben Grieve Phone Card from one of those Classic 4 Sport Boxes back in the day. Tuff Stuff and Sports Cards were two magazines that I would always love to read as a kid, either at a Wal Mart or a Waldenbooks at the Mall..I remember going to the mall with my parents and just being like "pick me up at Walden when you guys are done" lol. For whatever reason though, I never took their Price Guides serious because to me Beckett's Price guide was THE price guide to use when valuing cards.

  8. Definitely collect sumo wrestling phone cards from the early 1990s. Those are pretty cool though. Hard to believe we used those things instead of cell phones. Ha!

  9. I either never saw Tuff Stuff or ignored it because it covered sports I didn't care about.

    As for phone cards, I remember well when they were the latest thing and being annoyed trying to figure them out. Even back then, I didn't like change!

  10. I think I used a phone card once but I have a couple of them in my collection, including the Gehrig/Ruth card you have listed first. Those cards came in the Tuff Stuff magazines that were shrink wrapped, not in the ones you usually found in retail stores. I was a dedicated Tuff Stuff reader pretty much up until they went online only.

  11. I loved Tuff Stuff, especially when it gave a higher value for my cards than Beckett did. I usually got one or two issues a year. The first one I got had Emmitt Smith on the cover.

    I used phone cards my freshman year of college, then ended up with a cell phone like everyone else.

  12. Yes to the using of phone cards. And it's funny to see this post, because I just picked up a couple of phone cards at the last show that I attended, which were the first that I've seen in person in probably over a decade.

  13. brian - that's keeping it old school. pretty awesome. my dad finally made the switch a few years ago. he even bought a smart phone last year, but it's way too much for him. he reverted back to his 1st cell phone. only uses it to make long distance calls. everyday use is just not in his comfort zone.

    al kawamoto - the prices might not have been accurate, but the articles and ads are well worth picking up a copy if you stumble across any for a buck or less.

    sport card collectors - i have a set of the classic pro line phone cards. they're pretty cool.

    jeremy - i think the main reason i was drawn to tuff stuff was their section for kenner slu's. but like i mentioned to al... they had some cool articles and lots of ads

    nick - maybe you'll stumble across one eventually in a quarter bin out there.

    commishbob - lol. bummer bears. those were the days. that pierce sounds interesting. i wonder how many sga phone cards are out there.

    chris p - classic seemed to be king of the phone cards. i'm still trying to complete my classic assets phone card set. yeah... i didn't really use tuff stuff for my card pricing. like you... i used beckett. but i did use it to gauge my slu collection

    sumomenkoman - have you shown them off on your blog? i'd love to see them.

    night owl - didn't think about it until your comment... but the fact that it covered other sports was another reason i liked it so much. back then, i collect every sport i could get my hands on.

    corky - thank you for the clarification. i was wondering how they distributed them.

    the lost collector - cell phones = death of phone cards

    jon - i've got a card show coming up. hope to find some phone cards there. the set i really want is the 1994 upper deck mantle phone card set.