When I sit down to write my favorite column of the year, I try not to think of the most serious awards I could give or the biggest events of the year. I try to find the fun of the hobby and when possible the heart as well.
Sure I could type about Michael Jordan rookies coming back to earth. I could ramble on about the sale of Topps. I could go on about the scams perpetrated by questionable breakers or other hard news of the year. I’ll leave that to Rich on this page as he more than adequately shares that info with you as it happens.
There’s a ton of awesomeness in the hobby and I don’t just mean sales. In my spare time (HA!) I run a Facebook group for sports card store owners and while it is mostly filled with buy and sell threads, I’m constantly amazed by the generosity of fellow shop owners as they go out of their way to take care of their collectors and in some instances, collectors they have never met before. You will read below about one of my favorite such moments I was able to help happen.
Sadly, the popularity of sports cards is still at the point where card stores are still being preyed on by dirtbags who are still breaking into shops after the doors are locked. Fortunately this year, the cops seemed to have a better batting average than I can remember in taking a good number of robbers into custody. May they be fed 1991 Fleer MLB for the duration of their incarceration.
I think if I had to share my favorite moments of the year, it would be one of my collectors stepping up to fund a second (we ended up doing 4) $500 scholarship to a college student who simply was nice. I also loved having to go back to shop a second time for toys for our annual toy drive, when collectors donated beyond generously.
My shop had one day where we hosted former Denver Broncos Neil Smith, Steve Atwater and for the first time ever, Shannon Sharpe. It is a special moment when you can be a part of a collector meeting someone they admired and that happened again and again that day.
A business partner and I took a card show that hosted close to 180 tables in 2021 and bumped it up to over 250 tables this year. I made a point of standing just inside the door so I could catch the amazed faces of kids and adults who were walking in and were overwhelmed by the massiveness of it all.
All things considered, 2022 was a remarkable year filled with incredible moments, monster pulls and memories made as we Collected In Colorado and enthusiasts Made It To Mike’s 🙂
Please enjoy and please share this if you enjoy it. On with the 2022 Mikeys…
Rookie Product Of The Year – 2021 Topps Chrome Platinum Anniversary MLB
This release was an interesting one for sure. When it came out back in late June I remember having to remind some collectors who the rookies were in 2021 and convince them that these would indeed be counted as rookies. The autograph selection was solid with names like Judge, Yaz, Jeter, Ichiro, Soto, Trout and other gems. Throw in how it was a 700-card Chrome set and my baseball fans were intrigued by 2021 Topps Chrome Platinum to say the least.
The funky part took me back to 1991 Topps Stadium Club Skydome sets. They were solicited by Topps as a continuation to their wildly popular initial year release, but because they came out after the year was over, the set was branded a 1992 release and the Manny Ramirez rookie was not an exclusive rookie year card. Now in 2022 that isn’t so important, but back in the day, that was a pretty big issue.
We went through a load of the base version of Chrome Platinum as well as the Lite version as collectors took on the challenge of working on the whole 700-card monstrosity.
The Fix Is In Award Part 1 – Topps/Fanatics
When 2022 Topps Definitive MLB arrived, some eagle eyed collectors noticed that the Randy Arozarena and Austin Meadows dual signed cards were not signed by those players. This was the first hiccup that Topps had faced since being purchased by Fanatics and I was very curious to see what steps would be put into place to make collectors whole. Their response was to recognize their error, offer collectors a card of comparable value AND a sealed box of 2022 Topps Definitive. For those of you who aren’t buying big time baseball products, a box of Definitive runs for about $2,000.00.
Suddenly a card that might have had a blip on the radar of any collector outside the Tampa Bay area became THE product hit. I felt comfortable that Topps had a new directive to make sure that their box buyers were nothing short of the most important thing out there.
The Fix Is In Award Part 2 – Topps/Fanatics
Topps Chrome MLB is one of the most eagerly anticipated releases of the year. Collectors have long learned to love the 2 autos in regular boxes and 5 autos in jumbo boxes. When boxes arrived on 9/16, I saw them selling for close to $300 a hobby box and close to $600 per box for jumbos. Within a couple of days there was talk that none of the SPs listed on the checklist had been pulled anywhere. I checked eBay and confirmed that was the case.
Since the SPs involved rookies like Julio Rodriguez, Bobby Witt Jr, Spencer Torkelson, Hunter Greene and CJ Abrams, the whole collecting world was dialed in to see if it was true and what Topps was going to do about it. Unfortunately, it was true. Topps’ response on 9/19 was to offer up Silver Packs to every shop and breaker who had purchased boxes at a one per box ratio.
The Silver Packs were filled with base cards, refractors, the missing SPs and some pretty cool, although hard to find autographed cards. One of my shredders found a 2018 Bowman Sterling autographed rookie year card of Shohei Ohtani. While most collectors received base cards and a refractor, just about all were satisfied with the response from Topps in what was a not so great situation.
The Fix Is In Award Part 3/ aka My Paul Goldschmidt Base Refractor Is Worth WHAT? Award – Topps/Fanatics
In early November I was asked to be on a conference call to discuss Topps’ plan to offer to buy back 2022 Topps Chrome cards of the MVPs of each of the leagues. The plan to offer $20 for base cards, $40 for refractors and more for numbered refractors was brought to my attention and at first, I will admit that I wasn’t sure what to think of it. Thanks to Fix #2 and the silver packs, I was almost sold out of Topps Chrome and I would have preferred some assistance be given to say 2022 Topps Archives or another more troubled release. No, I didn’t go quickly go buy up all the Topps Chrome cases or the singles I would be redeeming for collectors in a few weeks.
When the announcement was made that collectors could use the credit from these singles towards ANYTHING in the shop, I quickly saw the power of this promotion. On the first day, we were besieged by collectors who unloaded dozens of singles from these players on us. One collector drove about an hour to the shop to lay $1,620 in those players on us and I feel confident in saying that we are approaching the 5-figure range on Goldschmidt and Judge singles to redeem. Since the announcement of this program, we have also helped collectors enjoy over 10 cases worth of additional 2022 Topps Chrome.
Card Of The Year – Benny Montgomery – 2022 Bowman Chrome Benny & The Jets Autographed Card.
I always have the most fun with this choice as I never go for the flashiest or most expensive card as the category title might suggest. Last year it was a Devin Booker card that my son and I both appeared on.
One of my favorite things about sports cards becoming fashionable to collect was seeing athletes getting into it as well. It justifies things when the people whose cards you’re enjoying are fans also. I might have had a jump start on a few collectors when I heard of Colorado Rockies prospect Benny Montgomery signing his card “B-B-B Benny & The Jets” with the jet part being his rendering of an airplane.
The idea of pulling this card apparently intrigued many who, along with myself promised to buy it when it became available. Between he being the 8th pick in the draft and the uniqueness of his autograph, I had better be prepared to “go deep” when it “pops out”.
Vernand Morency Honorary Worst Signature Of The Year Award: Packers rookie Romeo Doubs
Now I understand cursive has been under attack for some time with many kids never learning the skill. After Vernand made scuzzy autographs a thing, I look every year for autographs that look like the player totally mailed things in. This year Packers rookie receiver Doubs takes home this less than flattering award.
His signature basically looks like Luka Doncic’s mother tried doing them for him, but fell asleep about half way through.
What makes it worse is that his auto is actually selling for a few bucks and collectors who pull them should be more excited. Instead those who pulled autos of his find themselves wishing it was teammate Christian Watson (who’s auto isn’t spectacular either, but is a little better).
The Finally A Good Use For Lawyers Award – Leaf Suing Cee Dee Lamb
As someone who follows the industry at most levels, when I hear a lawsuit is happening, I tend to pay attention to see how it will affect the hobby. For decades I have wished that athletes would suffer somehow for not signing cards they had agreed to autograph. I think back to players like Jeremy Shockey, A J Green and more recently Lamelo Ball as examples of well collected athletes (With Shockey it was 2002 and we had misguided but high hopes) who took forever, and in some instances, never got to signing their cards.
Back in August, SC Daily reported that Leaf had initiated a lawsuit against Lee Dee Lamb for not signing his cards. Within about 24 hours, it was reported that his cards had indeed been signed and returned.
Leaf might be able to have made this move since they don’t have the licensing issues that Panini, Topps and Upper Deck enjoy. Side note, Lamb might win an honorary Vernand Morency award for horrible autograph, but at least collectors will be getting them in all their glory.
Minty Fresh Award
Each year, I look forward to enjoy opportunities to spend time with my hobby brothers and sisters. There’s the Topps Industry Conference, Beckett Industry Summit, Upper Deck CDD Conference (Which I miss happening the past few years), The National and in 2022, a new entry, The Mint Collective. Unlike all the events aside from The National, this one was open to all collectors and featured a large card show that ran throughout the entire event.
There were also multiple, well designed Q&A opportunities and informative breakout sessions. Emmitt Smith made an appearance and Peyton Manning was part of a Q&A. I was going to ask Peyton what he thought of the floor security at Ball Arena here in Denver since I’m part of that team, but instead let others have their moment in the sun.
Side note, I got to ask Peyton when he attended a Grizzlies/Nuggets game and apparently we get a high grade. Paul Pierce also was part of a party at the MGM club Hakkasan. There were plenty of free drinks, food and concert level loud music but unfortunately, Paul spent most of his time behind velvet ropes.
What I remember seeing and hearing from many collectors was that The Mint Collective was an top notch, no expense saved incredible experience. There were countless booths that gave collectors access to manufacturers, grading companies, Beckett and many other entities that are otherwise tough to access. In case you care to enjoy it for yourselves, it’s back in Vegas in 2023 from March 30-April 2.
Card Shop Of The Year – Sports Cards Plus in San Antonio
I have had the pleasure of knowing SCP’s owner Charlie DiPietro for close to two decades. He is a great family man who does a ton for his collectors. His card shop was previously recognized by winning a NBA Hobby Shop Makeover promotion. I had the pleasure of visiting Charlie’s shop before it won this opportunity and it looked great even before the $75,000 improvement prize and appearance by San Antonio’s own David Robinson.
I’m giving Charlie and his staff this recognition, because of being broken in more times than any other shop owner I know of, he continues to make taking care of his collectors his focus. This year I’ve taken delight in seeing many criminals who have broken into shops finding justice for their acts. I just hope eventually I get the same joy I seeing those who torment Charlie also get their day in court.
I’ve seen numerous promotions with on the spot cash prizes for pulling chase cards from participating products. He recently gave away $2500 to his collectors as part of a New Year’s promotion and his December prizes alone topped $5,000. It’s great to see shops go out of their way to reward their collectors and he’s seemingly always doing so.
Take a peek at the SCP Facebook page and you can see how much of a priority he make his collectors.
Side note, I’ve been calling Charlie “Mini-Me” for years as we bear an uncanny resemblance to each other. Sorry Charlie 🙂
The Cards Matter Award – Dave & Adam’s With Their Cards Matter Promotion
Usually I take pride in coming up with funny, snarky titles for my awards, but in this instance, they said it better than I could. Back in May, I became aware of Dave & Adam’s stepping up to support the family of a collector and card shop employee who lost his life in a horrible fashion. I would encourage you to please become aware of his life and their response by checking out this blog post. I was so touched by this response that I reached out to Adam Martin to express my appreciation and admiration for stepping up this way. As part of the call, he asked me to please share if there was more he and his company could do.
A friend of my shop, Bear Taliferro, had a newborn daughter who was born with challenges that will affect her and his family for all her life. With a phone call and some encouraging follow up calls, I got to see the results of this incredible promotion up close. They sent out a crew to record a beyond generous financial gift and delivered some cards for Bear and his son, nicknamed Little Bear.
The continuing generosity of people so many people in and around our hobby is what I love more than anything.
Mr. Irrelevant No More – Brock Purdy
How many of you have heard much about Cheta Ozougwu, Chandler Harnish, Justice Cunningham, Lonnie Ballentine, Gerald Christian, Kalan Reed, Chad Kelly, Trey Quinn, Caleb Wilson, Tae Crowder, Grant Stuard or Brock Purdy?
From that list, before this season I knew of Chad Kelly. Besides being related to Jim Kelly, he was a QB with the Broncos until he attended a team party, went uninvited into the house of a neighbor of the venue and was unceremoniously released soon after. Clearly if his name was Von, it would have been excused.
Fast forwarding to this year, Trey Lance came out of the gate as the 49ers starting QB. That lasted a little over a game before the injury bug hit. John Lynch appeared to be a genius having kept Jimmy Garoppolo around until he was also hurt. That put Brock Purdy onto the field and that experiment has been a hit, with the last pick in 2022 currently fielding a 101.4 QB rating with 10 touchdowns and just 4 picks.
While his autos weren’t the cheapest coming out, whomever went prospecting early on him has more than recouped. Now to make sure he doesn’t end up at a Broncos Halloween party anytime soon.