by Rich Klein
One of the great not-so-hidden success stories continuing in sports card hobby is how Tri-Star continues to thrive even as the hobby and the economy continues to evolve. One of the main reasons is that much of the leadership of Tri-Star, beginning with their boss Jeff Rosenberg grew up as card collectors and hobbyists.
An example of Tri-Star's abiding respect for what came before was a reunion weekend of dealers at the January, 2005 Tri-Star show in Houston where many dealers who had done the old-school Houston area show were invited back and given their own section in the front of the room as a tip of the cap to what came before.
Last year, Tri-Star offered another a tribute to the past by bringing back the old "Obak'" brand. One of the rarest and most popular of the famous T series of baseball cards, Obak featured minor leaguers in packs of their cigarettes in the western states from 1909 through 1911. The Obak cards are very similar to the famous T206 cards, even down to the printing on recycled paper which gives the 2010 versions an 'old school' feel. Tri-Star followed up last year’s debut with a 2010 Obak release that brings up a nice mix of old and new.
Each of the 2010 Obak boxes are serial numbered on the front with 3,000 boxes printed. There are six cards per pack in a 20-pack box with one mini-card per pack. Each box also promises: four autograph cards (numbered to 125 or less), two parallel cards; three short-printed cards and one Cabinet Card. Each case has a 'hot box' which will yield ten autographs and 25 other 'hits'.
Among the autographed cards are N.L. rookie Jason Heyward and legendary players like Nolan Ryan and Cal ripken Jr.
The appeal of these cards may be in the "Game Changer" cards that pay homage to some names that have been involved in the evolution of baseball and the fan experience over the years like Charles Ebbets, Harry M. Stevens (who brought hot dog concessions to the forefront), Roy Hofheinz, who brought baseball's first domed stadium into use and Jefferson Burdick, the father of card collecting.
My local card store began with over 80 boxes when the product was released a couple of weeks ago and sold enough to have to reorder so the 2010 Obak issue has met with some success.
Here’s what we pulled from our box:
Base Set: 91 different of 110 with no dupes
SP's: Johnny Evers #112; Chick Gandil #116; Buck Weaver #118
Black Parallel (#d to 50): Harry M Stevens
Green Parallel (#d to 25) Frederick W Thayer
Minis (One Per Pack): Chris Carter, Roger Clemens, Jim Creighton, Charles Ebbets, Chick Gandil, Hank Greenberg; Jason Heyward, Austin Jackson, Connie Mack, Dale Murphy, Cal Ripken Jr, Jim Bouton/Rob Nelson, Carlos Santana (the catcher not the guitarist), Sibby Sisti, Darryl Strawberry, William H Taft/Barack Obama, Dummy Taylor, Tinker/Evers/Chance, Walt Whitman
Mini Green: (#d to 25): Taft/Obama'
Autographs: Dustin Ackley
Autographs Black (#d 50): Wayne Terwilliger
Autographs Brown (#d 75): Charlie Ward, Neil Medchill
Cabinet Card (Oversized Box-topper): Charles Somers
So, we received exactly what was promised on both the promo sheet. The box did offer a nice mix of honoring the history of baseball while paying attention to what is needed to make products work in 2010.
Obak boxes are selling for around $70-80 on eBay.
Sports Collectors Daily boxbuster Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]