Editor’s Note: It’s the first of what will no doubt become a revered holiday tradition for millions around the globe. Mike Fruitman, who claims responsibility for our What’s Hot in the Shop column chronicling the new trading card releases that are generating a buzz, puts a bow on 2013 this week with a look back at The Hobby’s best, the worst and most mediocre brands and individual cards that landed in his shop (Mike’s Stadium Sports Cards in Aurora, CO) or floated onto our radar this year.
Ladies and gentlemen, collectors and the curious, we give you the 2013 Mikey Awards.
CARD OF THE YEAR – While many of you might have expected to see the Andrew Luck National Treasures rookie autographed patch card as the top pull from 2013, I will hopefully not draw your ire for giving the Upper Deck rookie card of Jack Hoffman my vote. What? You have never heard of Jack Hoffman? Jack is the Nebraska fan who at the age of 7 was able to outrun the entire Cornhusker defense at their spring game in front of 60,000 fans. Kudos to Chris Carlin and the entire team at Upper Deck for reminding us that the coolest card out there doesn’t have to be a 1/1, offer an autograph or contain the most perfect patch swatch.
Personal side note, between growing up in Miami and attending the University Of Colorado, it was especially tough to award anything related to Nebraska so this card MUST have been extra special cool.
After that start, I’m sure you are all wondering where things are going to go, so feel free to buckle your seatbelts as it will be a bumpy ride.
OFFENSIVE SET OF THE YEAR AKA THE “I KNOW PEYTON MANNING AND YOU ARE NO PEYTON MANNING” AWARD – Typically one would like to win the Offensive Award, but in this case, we will be putting a different slant onto it. 2013 Topps Tier One MLB had all the promise and potential possible with low-numbered rookie reprint autos, cut signatures, 1/1 bat knobs, 1/1 jumbo All-Star relics and much more.
The only problem…the signature redemption checklist was arguably better than the live autograph checklist, which made it the other type of offensive.
Missing from the product were live signed cards of Bryce Harper, R.A. Dickey, Sandy Koufax, Nolan Ryan, the dual auto card of Mike Trout/Rickey Henderson, Cal Ripken Jr, Mike Schmidt, David Price, Ryan Braun, Clayton Kershaw, Nomar Garciaparra, Josh Hamilton, Ken Griffey Jr, Yasiel Puig and when I say more, I mean much more. There is nothing like taking an OMG product and turning it into a WTH product.
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER AWARD – This Mikey has to go to 13/14 Upper Deck 1 NHL. Granted, a year ago hockey was dealing with a lockout and sadly enough only had the left over rookies from after the 11/12 deadline, but 13/14 Upper Deck 1 has been an incredibly strong seller since it first landed.
Yeah, yeah, yeah I own a card store in Colorado and we just happen to have the #1 pick, Nathan MacKinnon skating for us, but the product but with the double rookie class bolstering it, collectors have fortunately embraced UD1 and it has gone a long way in getting alienated puckheads back into collecting after their league turned its back on them.
JUSTIN BIEBER, PLEASE RETIRE AND TAKE THIS WITH YOU AWARD – Sadly this award goes to every single Panini baseball offering not named National Treasures. Back in 2005, when I heard that DLPS was losing their MLB license, I remember having almost tearful conversations with a few of their staff. When I heard that they were coming back, I could not have been happier since many of my MLB collectors were still clamoring for their previous releases.
Sadly, in spite of impressive player checklists and some sick potential autographs the market has given this line of products a cold shoulder that Frosty The Snowman would be proud of. Initial responses and subsequent box values have made ordering these products a bigger gamble for stores than drawing another card when you have a hard 20 at a blackjack table.
It would be awesome to expect this to change, but collectors have shown great resistance to collecting baseball cards without MLB uniforms and team names no matter how hard the manufacturers work to make their products attractive.
CALDER TROPHY AWARD – When I ordered 2013 Bowman Inception MLB I figured it would be a decent enough product. The NFL version already had a relatively strong history and this was going to be the first go with MLB. With every pack offering 4 autographs and 1 autographed relic card it had enough potential cardboard goodness in it to possibly do well. Between ordering it and receiving it, the world because aware of some player named Yasiel Puig and what was going to be a decent enough box turned into a must shred release.
Granted the Puig cards were redemptions, it did not stop the world from converging on this release like their lives depended on it. Right out of the gate the Puig autographs were selling for several hundred dollars with the lower numbered parallels commanding close to a grand each. Within no time, the 5 cases I started with were gone and here’s to hoping that Jose Abreu and others can make Bowman Inception more than a one trick pony.
COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR – This award hands down goes to 2013 Bowman NFL. While many of you might not have expected a 2013 NFL release to make the Mikey’s, this one certainly stands out. Whether is was not a lot of it being ordered, being the first fully loaded with rookies release from Topps or how each box offered gobs of parallels, 4 autographs and even a relic card, Bowman shot up in a way that reminded so many of us of 2010 Bowman MLB (you know, the time before Strasburg went south).
The only downside to this release was falsely giving dealers hope that investing in 2013 NFL might be a good idea. While this product did very well for my store and the many collectors who bought it early, it cost me thousands of dollars as I ordered many other cases with the hope of a repeat from them as well.
GUS FREROTTE RUNNING YOUR OWN HEAD INTO THE WALL MOVE OF THE YEAR – On Friday, September 27, both 2013 Bowman Chrome MLB and 2013 Topps Chrome MLB arrived at hobby shops. Topps Chrome was initially due on 8/28 and Bowman Chrome was due to arrive on 9/18. Many collectors believe that these two releases are designed to appeal to different shredders, but for the most part (in my store at least) there is a load of cross over supporters for both of these releases.
I have no idea why it was decided for both of these products to hit on the same day, but even with Chrome being a month late it still offered many more redemptions than it should have. Somehow, in spite of sharing the same release date, Topps Chrome is still above cost, and sadly on many sites, Bowman Chrome still hasn’t recovered and is widely available for below cost. Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects only needs one rookie to push it and at this point, it might make for a good investment, but taking advice from me can be a risk since I am the same guy who brought in 2 18 count cases of 2013 Absolute NFL.
MVP – I would have gladly given this award to 12/13 Panini Flawless, but since my store was not gifted with the ability to carry a single pack, I will have to come up with another deserving product.
Instead, the first ever Mikey MVP award goes to 2012 Panini National Treasures NFL, which was actually issued this year. It only stands to reason that the highest end release of the most hyped NFL rookie crop (that actually delivered unlike 2006) would take home this award. Every once in a while a product releases with enough oomph to make me want to turn every single box in the store into that release and 2012 NT was exactly that.
With the perfect looking autographed rookie patches, Rookie Jumbo Prime Patch booklets and all the specially saved sweet relic swatches that collectors were hoping to see since draft day, NT did not disappoint. It was fun watching the covers from box after box and case after case fill up my garbage can and the singles I saw more than justified the $500 out of the gate price tag on just about all of my boxes.
Well there you have it. The official honorees for the 2013 Mikey Awards. Am I right on? Could I be further from reality? Did I cost myself any of my direct accounts with the card companies? One never knows when you deal with me since I was the one and only person I know who liked the movie Waterworld. As the saying goes, I guess opinions are like….noses. Everyone has one. Happy New Year!
Mike Fruitman owns Mike’s Stadium Sportscards in Aurora, Colo. You can read his column here every week (or close to it), focusing on what products are selling best in hobby shops. See his eBay listings here. Enjoy new arrivals and big hits from Mike’s on Twitter. Mike’s is always looking for more friends on Facebook and you can email him at [email protected]