30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Like Winning the Lottery

Regardless of whether or not you're a fan of hockey... or a fan of game used memorabilia cards, I think you will appreciate this post because it features an interesting hobby history lesson and a true piece of sports history.

Without further ado...

The idea of taking a piece of game-used memorabilia, cutting it up, and embedding it into a card might be boring to a lot of collectors in today's hobby.  Most aren't very rare and even when they are... we have to rely on the card company's certificate of authenticity or lack thereof.

It's kind of a shame, because there was a time when pulling one of these nifty and innovative cards made you feel like you won the lottery.

Today's post is about one of those cards.

Twenty years ago, In The Game purchased a pair of Georges Vézina game-used goalie pads.  He is one of the nine hall of famers inducted as part of the Inaugural Class of 1945 and the annual award given to the best goalie in the league is named after him.

The company quickly captured the attention of collectors when they decided to cut up the pads and embed them into cards.  It's one thing to cut up a Mike Trout jersey in this era, since he probably wears a dozen or more throughout a normal season.  But these particular pads are believed to be the only ones Vézina used during his time with the Montreal Canadians from 1917 to 1925.  If that's true, they're one-of-a-kind and many people felt like they should be preserved at the Hockey Hall of Fame and not butchered.

But the fate of these pads had already been determined and the hunt to pull one of these memorabilia cards was officially on.  As you might have guessed, the cards were very, very, very tough to pull.  They were inserted into packs at a rate of 1:2,400 which is 1:100 boxes.  I've never pulled anything quite as epic as one of these cards, but my buddy Nate did.

Check it out:

2000-01 Be A Player Memorabilia Vezina Memorabilia #V-9

Nate wasn't a huge card collector, but he'd bust a box from time to time searching for Sergei Federov cards.  Not sure if he found any in this box, but I'm sure he didn't really care after he opened the pack and saw this card.  I can't remember the specifics, but I'm guessing we both celebrated like he won the lottery.

He eventually donated the card to my collection... where it still resides to this day.  We joke about it from time to time, because I think I ended up giving him a box of Hostess mini powdered donuts in return.  Those delicious treats were key pieces of trade bait in several of our hockey card transactions.  Of course it wasn't an official trade.  Just two buddies hooking each other up.

The set honors a bunch of Vezina Trophy winners, which is why Patrick Roy is also featured on the the front of this card.  He won the award three times in a span of four seasons and is recognized three times in this set.  This particular card celebrates him winning the award in 1992.

Prices for singles have dropped significantly over the past twenty years, but they don't pop up on the secondary market very frequently, so building this set would be a challenge.

Speaking of challengesI might as well kill two birds with one stone and use this card as my Day 5 submission for Tim B.'s 7 Day Trading Card Challenge, which is to show off your favorite "other" sport card in your collection.

This Vezina was one of the first cards that came to mind when thinking about this particular challenge.

Here are a few others that were in the running:

Soccer: 1979 Topps NASL Stickers #23

My soccer collection is tiny with the majority of the singles being autographs or memorabilia cards of Chris Wondolowski.  None of them stood out to me as much as this forty-one year old sticker.

Olympic: 2009 UD Goodwin Champions Autograph #A-YA

Until they create a trading card of Evelyn Kawamoto (my mom's cousin), this autograph will be my favorite Olympic trading cardYamaguchi was my celebrity college crush back in the early 90's and a Bay Area legend.

UFC: 2016 Topps Museum Collection Archival Autographs #AA-AC

My favorite fighter is Jon Jones... and I do own an autographed card of his.  However I'd choose Arianny over him any day of the week.

Boxing: 1956 Adventure R749 #22

This card features Sugar Ray Robinson (one of the greatest pound for pound boxers of all-time) and Bobo Olsen (one of my father's all-time favorite boxers), which makes this my all-time favorite boxing card.

Wrestling: 2016 Leaf Originals #HH1

I'm a huge fan of the Leaf Originals wrestling autographs and it came down to my favorite wrestler, Ricky Steamboat and the guy who got me interested in wrestling.  It was a tough decision, but I went with the latter.

Surfing: 2009 UD Goodwin Champions Autographs #A-TC

Thanks to my cousins in Hawaii and movies like North Shore, I was very into professional surfing back in the mid 80's... and Tom Curren was my favorite surfer.  His autograph isn't much to look at, but this is hands down my favorite surfer card.

Horse Racing: 2012 Panini Golden Age Museum Age Authentic Collection #20

I don't really follow horse racingBut do you really need to in order to appreciate a card like this?  I pulled this card out of a pack myself... and it definitely felt like I won the lottery.

Well that's all I have for today.  Here is your question of the day:

Have you ever opened a pack of cards and felt like you just won the lottery?

If not...

What's the best card (either sentimental or monetary) you ever pulled from a pack?

Happy Thursday and sayonara!


  1. Since I've been back in the hobby I can't think of much as far as big deal cards I've had come from packs. Then again I haven't bought or opened many packs.

    I'm loving a couple of those cards, btw. I collect Secretariat stuff (such as I can) and I may track down a similar card. Sugar Ray Robinson was my grandfather's favotie fighter, and he LOVED boxing. That's a sweet card!

  2. Voting for the auto Yamaguchi.

    Late last year, I pulled a 1/1 Adrian Peterson MEM card from a pack of 2008 Topps. It was a letter from his name on his Pro Bowl jersey when he was the game MVP.

  3. I bought a blaster of Upper Deck Hockey a couple of years ago. The only reason you buy those is you are guaranteed three Young Guns Rookies. It had been a garbage box, until the last pack revealed a Connor McDavid Rookie. I sat there looking at it in shock for several minutes.
    -Anonymous Paul-

  4. I don't open a lot of stuff - and all of it is flagship/Heritage/Ginter level. And the great pulls don't come very often, but in one box of '08 Heritage I pulled a Bill Mazeroski auto /57, and it was one of the last few that were red ink.

    1. P.S. - Loooove that Arianny auto. She's a nice follow on Instagram.

  5. Nice Hulk! Usually not a fan of non-traditional sports cards, but some solid ones here.

  6. So first off, I don't know hardly ANYTHING about hockey (I did hang with Wayne Gretzky once though)...but that Patrick Roy is a thing of beauty (even if it DIDN'T have the swatch in it.) Back in 1987, my little brother would have put me in the sleeper hold for that Hulk Hogan. He was a true "Hulk-a-maniac." I'm assuming that's a swatch of the saddle on that horse-racing card? That's pretty neat. So, to your questions - Have I ever opened a pack and felt like I won the lottery? Yes, but not AT THE TIME I opened that pack. The year was 2012. I picked up ONE hobby pack of Gypsy Queen and pulled a Miguel Cabrerra on-card auto. I filed it away and didn't think much about it. Decided to put it up on Ebay - Buy it Now - $75.00. Then one day I was reading the paper and looked at Miggy's stats. Realized that he had a legit shot at the Triple Crown. So I pulled the listing and waited. He WON so I relisted and put it up for auction. The thing sold for close to $400. THAT was when I felt like I had won the lottery.

  7. I've mentioned this on other blogs, but my best pull was a Mark McGwire auto /25, from a hanger box bought off the clearance rack at Wal-Mart. That was pretty much a lottery moment, yeah. Also, I bought some mid-2000s packs really cheap at a show last year and pulled a Nolan Ryan relic which was pretty sweet.

    BTW, thanks for the Hall of Fame Heroes cards! Hopefully I can track down the remaining three and complete it.

  8. I haven't opened a pack that had any potential high value cards in it in decades.

    The closest I can remember to getting something was in 1991 when I opened a pack of 1991 Score Series 2 cards and got one of the Mantle cards. Unfortunately it wasn't one of the autographed Mantle cards, but even the non autographed cards were very hard to pull so it seemed like a huge deal to my 15 year old self and I remember running around our living room in excitement with it. I still have the card (its the one featuring him and Billy Martin)

  9. If they ever do make a trading card of Evelyn Kawamoto, I'd like one to give to my gf who happens to have the same last name. If I'm not mistaken, Hockey Kazi also has the same last name.

  10. When I first returned to collecting in 2007 I pulled the Jacoby Ellsbury SSP out of a $2 pack of Topps Update at a local hobby shop. Was like a hundred dollar card at the time, no lie. Still have it in the collection today! Other than that, the lone hobby box of modern Stadium Club baseball that I've ripped resulted in a Black Foil Kris Bryant RC that was red-hot at the time. That's about it for me since I don't rip too much wax.

    BTW, that Vezina card is simply stunning. What an awesome piece of hockey history. I wasn't collecting at the time so was unaware of these, but I'll certainly have to keep my eyes peeled now. I agree most relic cards have lost their luster but that's a serious piece of hockey history right there!

  11. Great story and card. That really is cool. Surfing is such a cool vibe so that auto is sweet. Adrianny is impossible to pass up. The Yamaguchi is another nice card. Great post!

  12. Awesome card of the Hulkster!

    Back in the early '90s I was at a card show with my dad, and he bought me a few sealed wax packs of 1978-79 O-Pee-Chee hockey cards that a dealer was selling for $3.00 each. I pulled the Mike Bossy rookie from one of those packs. I think that would be my choice for best card.

  13. That begins is great. I seem to recall upper deck facing backlash about potentially cutting up a lou gehrig bat so they didnt and instead had plain inserts of the iron horse and patted themselves on the back.
    As for "hitting the lottery" there are a few cards I've found in packs that gave me a thrill, including two babe Ruth bat cards, a bill dickey cut auto, and a mickey mantle printing plate from 2007 topps chrome, among others. Weird that those are all yankees. If course, receiving my first kershaw auto from Mario was a great feeling, too.

  14. By "begins" I meant vezina. Stupid autocorrect.

  15. You have quite the eclectic collection. How many of the Vezina cards did they make with the goalie pads? And that horse-racing card is in the running for me for sure!

  16. commishbob - the secretariat card can get kind of pricey... but that sugar ray robinson was cheap... especially when you consider how old it is

    elliptical man - congratulations on that ap pull. should pass barry this season... if there is a season

    anonymous paul - nice. heard that card is worth big time money. congratulations

    gca - i had to pay for my only mazeroski auto... but i love it. just like i love me some arianny. i don't use instagram, but i imagine she posts some awesome stuff.

    the lost collector - i love the leaf originals autographs... and i don't really even follow wrestling

    troublewiththecurve.net - dang. $400? nice. that's a great flip.

    brett alan - pulling a mcgwire auto is cool. pulling it from a hanger box is even cooler. congratulations. and best of luck completing the set

    sean - i remember those score mantles. never pulled one though. maybe i should look for some affordable copies on the internet for my binder

    bbcardz - i'd love to see one made of her, but i'm not sure it'll ever happen.

    shoeboxlegends - gotta love the craziness surrounding topps and their ssp's. congratulations on the pull... especially since it's a player on your favorite team

    bulldog - i'm a total poser when it comes to surfing. i mainly followed it b/c my cousins in hawaii all surfed. i was the tourist who boogie boarded or body surfed ;D

    gregory - hall of fame rookie card out of a pack is a nice pull. and i've always thought bossy's cards were undervalued.

    gcrl - i hate auto-correct. you pulled two ruth bat cards? wtf? that's awesome. the rest is gravy.

    sumomenkoman - i'm not sure of the print run, but it can't be that many. 100 of each card? maybe even less than that.

  17. I pulled a Hank Aaron gold autograph out of 1994 Topps Archives. I never expect to have that feeling again no matter what I pull.

    1. adam - that's awesome. that's definitely like winning the lottery