One group's mission to complete the 6742-card Upper Deck Yankee Stadium Legacy set could mean big bucks for a major national charity--if they can check a few more off the list.
For one member, it's a quest that's become intensely personal.
It's a monster project.
Attempting to put together Upper Deck's 2008 Yankee Stadium Legacy set required massive amounts of time, energy and money. A few collectors were able to get all 6742 cards but for one trading card community, it's been a group project aimed at raising a lot of money for cancer research.
In January of 2008, just after Upper Deck put the first YSL cards into its Series One boxes, The Bench, an online collecting forum, began asking members to donate cards. Their goal was to complete the set and auction it for charity. As of the final weekend in January, they had 5675 cards--a little more than 84%.
The group decided that once complete, they would try to auction the set through the V Foundation, a cancer research organization launched in honor of the late college basketball coach Jim Valvano.
"Several members of The Bench have had their lives touched by cancer," Bench staff member Tim Danielson told Sports Collectors Daily. "We try to do a charity project every year and wished to do something to honor those members. Because of the project itself, collecting baseball cards, we also wanted charity that had a sports tie-in."
Over 200 members have donated cards to the project so far, with two collectors donating over 1500 cards each. Members of other online communities have joined in as well. Upper Deck gave them 200 cards and offered the forum some prizes to award to members who donated cards to the project.
Rather than take a traditional auction route, The Bench is hoping to get some national media coverage.
"We have the opportunity to have our set listed for auction in the ESPN Radio auction this summer," said Danielson.
The auction is a popular annual event broadcast on ESPN affiliates throughout the country. Danielson says the V Foundation is helping get the set into the auction.
Six months after members began working on the set, the project's designated cause hit home for Danielson in a difficult and ironic way.
"My father was diagnosed with stage four terminal brain cancer in June of 2008 and he lost his battle almost a year to the day in 2009. While my father never really understood my addiction for baseball card collecting even from my childhood, he appreciated my passion for this charity drive and knew how much it meant to me to see it completed."
While none of the completed Yankee Stadium Legacy Sets have been sold so far, Danielson believes the book value of the set is over $37,000 based on the going prices for the cards. A national charity auction might draw bidders with the means to pay that much or more.
"The Ruth, Jeter, DiMaggio, Mattlingly and A-Rod cards are $6-$8 apiece while the common cards from the set are $3," Danielson said. "I personally know of only seven sets that have been completed so far though and all of those are in the hands of private collectors."
"This set is going to be worth more then the sum of its parts though. Not only
for the sheer size of the set and for the difficulty and time needed in completing it, but also for the historical significance of it. Very few of these sets will ever be completed."
With over 1,000 cards to go, there isn't much time left and many of the missing cards can be found only in high-end products like Exquisite. Danielson is hoping charity-minded collectors will help the group locate the most elusive and expensive cards.
"The V Foundation will be very grateful for any donation we can make whether the
set is complete or not. We would obviously like to have the set complete by the time it goes to auction though. One hundred percent complete sounds better then ninety-five complete and a complete set will bring in more money to benefit The V Foundation. Again, this set will be worth more than the sum of it's parts. So we need everyone's help."
The V Foundation funds research for all types of cancer, a fact that Danielson believes may attract bidders who may have varied personal connections to the many different forms of cancer.
"The entire staff of The Bench has been very committed to seeing this set completed from the beginning. To paraphrase Jimmy V, my father 'never gave up' in his battle with cancer and I will 'never give up' on helping complete the 2008 Upper Deck Yankee Stadium Legacy set."