30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Learned My Lesson

Twenty-nine years ago, Upper Deck did something that would impact the hobby forever.  To be more specific, it would impact the way I collect and spend my hard earned money to this very day.

1990 Upper Deck Reggie Jackson Heroes Autograph

As many of you know, I'm a huge fan of collecting autographs... especially when they're of the on-card, pack pulled variety.  And that's where Upper Deck comes into play.  In 1990, they randomly inserted 2,500 Reggie Jackson autographs into their High # Series baseball packs and became pioneers in the autographed sports card market.

Although I haven't been persistent about tracking down one of these autographs, it has definitely been one of those cards I've wanted for years.  Awhile back I finally added it to my saved eBay searches and have seen them sell in the $150 to $170 range with a few outliers here and there.

A few weeks ago, one popped up with a BIN price of $140 (free shipping) and I made the decision to finally cross this baby off of my wantlist.

However before I go any further... I have to tell you that I've been burnt before on one of these Upper Deck Heroes autographs.  Back in the AOL Forum days, I traded for this 1991 Upper Deck Hank Aaron Heroes autograph:

I'm sure autograph experts can spot the problem with this signature right away.  Well... I'm not an autograph expert.  And I can't even tell you how long it took for me to realize that this signature was fake.

The transaction took place in the 90's, so I don't have a record of what I gave up for this 25¢ card with some black Sharpie scribbled on it.  My best guess is that it involved a bunch of popular rookies and inserts from the mid 90's... which still makes me feel ill.

Anyways... even if the signature did look good... you can tell that this card wasn't a pack pulled signature by looking at the hologram on the back.

Upper Deck was smart.  They differentiated the regular inserts from the signed inserts by producing two different holograms.  In the case of the Aaron, the base insert hologram was shaped like home plate (see photo above)... whereas the pack pulled autographs featured a diamond shaped hologram:

Photo Courtesy of COMC

It's one of the worst hobby mistakes I've made... right up there with trading my 1952 Topps Andy Pafko for a 1987 Fleer Tin set.  On the bright side, it taught me a lesson... which leads me back to the Reggie.

I wasn't going to make the same mistake twice.  The Reggie Jackson autographs also featured a special hologram that was different from the standard one.  Instead of using a home plate shaped hologram, Upper Deck used a baseball shaped hologram for the regular inserts and base cards.  However they used the diamond shaped hologram (like the Aaron) for the Reggie Jackson signed cards.  Here's a look at the two side by side:

Left: Signed Reggie Jackson Heroes Insert
RightRegular Reggie Jackson Heroes Insert

Hopefully this helps out anyone out there who is considering purchasing one of these Heroes autographs.  It looks like the hologram rule applies to the 1991 Nolan Ryan, 1992 Ted Williams, 1992 Bench and Morgan, and 1994 Mickey Mantle Heroes autographs as well.

Okay getting back the Jackson:

I'm sure some of you have noticed that the card is hand numbered out of 2,500.  These days a card numbered that high would be probably be considered excessive to many collectors.  But back in the Junk Wax Era... especially in 1990... 2,500 was pretty rare.

One collector over on Beckett Forums estimated the odds of pulling a Reggie autograph were 1:148 boxes:

Now obviously that's just one collector's calculations.  Who knows if he's accurate or not, but I can tell you this.  I worked at a card shop back then and I never saw one of these come through our shop, nor did I hear about anyone pulling one.

And speaking of these hand numbered autographs... Upper Deck had Reggie add a "Mr. October" inscription to cards with numbers ending in "00" (example: #1,900/2,500).

There's also discussion on the Blowout Card Forums where two other special Reggie autographs have been spotlighted.  The first one is the Heroes autograph #'d 573/2,500, which is signed by Reggie (w/Mr. October inscription) and Harmon Killebrew.  The other is the card #'d 660/2,500.  That one is signed by Reggie (w/Mr. October inscription) and Willie Mays.  I'm not an expert, so I won't confirm or deny Upper Deck's involvement with these two special cases.

Well that's it for today.  I'll leave you with a quick look at the complete 1990 Upper Deck Reggie Jackson Heroes set:

#1, #2, and #3

#4 and #5

#6 and #7

#8 and #9

#NNO Header

And here is today's question of the day:

What's one of the worst hobby mistakes you've ever made?

C'mon.  Don't be shy.  Remember we learn from our mistakes.  Well... at least we hope we do.

Happy Thursday and sayonara!


  1. Nice pickup! Like you, I've had this Reggie auto as a back-burner white whale to someday go after.

    My worst hobby mistake is probably buying a high-end box that landed me nothing of note.

  2. Mistake #1 or rather the biggest. Trading my beautiful 51' Mantle for a 5000 count box of 50's & 60's cards in fair-ex condition, had a few superstars, a good bit of stars, mostly commons. Mistake #2 just as bad, trading a certified Mantle autograph (pack pulled for a card that in NM booked for $50.00 and this card was vg at best. That one was another huge regret like the first one. Mistake #3 actually happened before the other 2: Listening to my then wife to get rid of my cards. I cleared out 80% of them. More money value than either of the Mantle mistakes.

  3. One of the worst hobby mistakes I ever made happened last week. Bidding on ebay, I was trying to place a last-second bid on a Hakeem Butler rookie autograph for $26.00. I missed the "." and put my max bid as $2600. As all the snipers came in at the last second, I ended up "winning" the card for $51.00. It was delivered today. Nice card (and glad to have it), just paid about double what I wanted to. :-)

  4. Awesome you finally snagged this, and thanks for the history lesson!

  5. Oh wow! I remember opening so many of those Upper Deck high number packs in 1990 hoping to land one of those. That was such a big deal back then, but nobody in my town ever got one (I'd have known if they did). I think 1:148 boxes sounds about right, they really overproduced that set.

    That is really useful about the different holograms I didn't know that. I might be tempted to get one some day so will look out for that if I do.

    The worst hobby mistake I've made by far is my ENTIRE collection that I amassed during my peak collecting years back in the late 80s/ early 90s. I basically spent all the money I earned working part time as a teenager on cards, which added up to thousands of dollars (some of that on the above mentioned 1990 Upper Deck). I've given away a huge portion of that (just dumping monster boxes at Salvation Armys) and the stuff I kept is maybe worth $500 or so, probably 1/10th of what I paid for it at best.

    Now if I had taken all that money and invested it in diversified mutual funds or something I'd probably be sitting on 10s of thousands of dollars right now instead.

    Big mistake.

  6. I remember the chase back in the day and kids would try to pull that card. Never saw one in person and never heard of anyone pulling them.

    Hmm, biggest hobby mistake was selling off my unopened collection of mid-2000 BBM sumo boxes. I was trying to thin the herd...huge regret since those are the years that production was low and there are no more boxes on the secondary market. The return on investment would have 4-5x what I paid for them.

  7. My biggest mistake was leaving the NBA in 2006. I was so burned out and beaten down that I just gave up. Huge mistake. I consider it one of the biggest mistakes of my life, not just the hobby. I know I'll never be able to afford Steph Curry's rookie card, nor the vast majority of Kevin Durant RC.

  8. Well, we've all been there. I bought boxes of A&G two years in a row for the blog contest. I opened them, scanned them, and put them up in the closet. I've never looked at them again.

    Those signed cards are beauties, btw.

  9. I often wonder why it took card makers sooooooo long to insert autographed cards, real autographs not the faux-graphs Topps has been doing for decades.

  10. I am also looking for the Reggie Jackson Auto from that year. I have the Aaron and the Ryan. I remember opening a few packs of that product and was around 13 when it came out. I pulled one of the faux Reggie Jackson cards not knowing what a real one looked like...since noone I knew had one. I got so excited thinking I hit the actual card. Got really disappointed when I showed it off and my friends had a bunch of them.

  11. i just learned about the diamond hologram a few weeks ago as i was starting to look for an auto to add to my hall of famer collection. i've made many mistakes, one of which was trading my star wars collection for some cards back in 1993. big mistake.

  12. defgav - i'm sure i've purchased a high-end box with nothing memorable... but my mind has a way of blocking those memories out.

    johnnys trading spot - oh man. that's pretty rough. but at least you can say you once owned a 51 mantle.

    josh d. - i've done that too. just like i said to gavin... i don't remember specific times, but that's probably b/c i blocked it out of my memory.

    the lost collector - if it helps someone avoid my mistake, then i'll be a happy camper

    sean - i spent a lot of money on cards in the 90's. in fact, had i stopped collecting back in 1990 and saved my money... i could have bought my parent's house when they moved in the late 90's and would be the proud owner of a million dollar home. lol. oh well.

    sumomenkoman - oh man. i love collecting unopened product. would have loved to seen your surplus before you sold it.

    billy kingsley - i returned to the hobby in 2007/2008... so I was able to capitalize on durant and curry. however... i wasn't around in 2003 for lebron... which totally sucks.

    commishbob - you should pull them down and search for buried treasure. maybe some of those cards are with big $$$ now.

    captkirk42 - yeah. i'm sure it would have been easy for topps to acquire signatures from a few stars back in the 80's... and it wouldn't have cost too much compared to what athletes charge these days.

    jared - wow. congratulations on owning the ryan and aaron. maybe one day i'll chase them... but i'm sure the aaron is way out of my price range

    gcrl - at least you traded your star wars collection. i gave away all of my star wars stuff when i was a kid.

  13. I love that Reggie card with all the hats of the teams he played for in front of him. I have the base version of that card, but the autograph is just unreal.

    I haven't made too many grave card collecting mistakes (so far). I traded a Series 1 black parallel of Christian Yelich (#/67) for a few bucks before he became the MVP candidate he is today. I also sold a Nolan Gorman auto from 2018 Bowman's Best for $35. I'll have to wait a couple years to see just how bad of a decision that was.

  14. Great post. I learned a lot. Those were some ground breaking cards. Definitely sweet cards to own. Good post.

  15. henry blanchette - you weren't alone on yelich. i was buying his autographs for $5 to $6 before he won the mvp award last year. i wish i bought more than four though.

    bulldog - thanks. hopefully it helps prevent at least one person from getting scammed like i did.

  16. I traded an Autographed Walter Payton 8x10 before he died for an autographed Grant Fuhr Goalie stick from a McDonald’s giveaway my friend won 2 and I had 2 8x10s seemed ok at the the time but today not so much......🤷‍♂️🙄👎