Rich Reminisces: Willie Mays

Willie Mays was the definition of a five-tool baseball player. Whatever he did on a baseball diamond he did well, and he did well until he was 40 years old. He outlasted all his contemporaries and made what might be the most famous catch in all baseball history. While those won’t be one of the cards we discuss today, that catch was honored on this 1959 Topps baseball card:

We’ll begin with his 1951 Bowman card. Just as with Mickey Mantle, who also was a 1951 rookie player and rookie card, this card is in the last and more difficult Bowman series. What most people do not realize in today’s world was when Dr. James Beckett published his first price guide book in 1979 there was only a $5 difference between the Mays and the Mantle card.

Yes, you would have done terrific with either card if you had put them away in 1979 and not have them seen the light of day for the following 40 years, but in those days Mantle was considered just a hair better than Mays in terms of pricing.

The next year we had his first Topps basball card. His first Topps card is in the second toughest series of the legendary 1952 Topps set and has never been an easy card for collectors to find. While not as difficult as the renowned last series, these are all pretty tough cards and the Mays is never readily available at shows or through the big auction houses

As you can see this also happens to be a very attractive card design and the attractiveness of the card works well with the expensive price tag. Another of my favorite Mays cards from his playing day is this 1962 Topps Superstars card with Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays.If you look carefully you will see Hank Aaron and Ernie Banks with their back to the camera. Pretty impressive with either group of players I would say. And if you had those two players on your team during the 1954-1965 time period you probably would have been able to, well in the words of famed sportswriter Red Smith, “serving strawberries in the wintertime just about every season.” You would not have needed a lot more help to make a great team.

If you were collecting cards in the 1960’s, you learned Topps used certain numbers to honor the superstars. Usually if a player had a card number ending with 00 or 50 they were not only beloved, but also considered the key cards in the set. That tradition continued for a long time, even famously in the 1985 Topps set when Oddibe McDowell was set up to be card #400, when Topps featured the 1984 Olympic gold-medal team and then Mark McGwire was #401. More than three decades later you wonder if Topps would like that numbering sequence back. 

Another one they would like back came in 1969 Topps when Mays was shockingly given card #190 after a long streak of being a key number.  There were a lot of things going on with Topps in 1969 in terms of their relationship with the MLB Players Union, and I wonder if they even thought they would be able to get all seven series they released out the door. The first two series were heavily front-loaded with stars and superstars, and we can look at that with modern conjecture. If you are really interested I would recommend reading Mark Armour‘s work on that card era, for he has done a yeoman job on the research and appreciates the time from both the kid he was at the time and the excellent researcher he is today.

But without further adieu here is card #190 in 1969:

Finally we end our tour with the last regular season card issued of Mays. Willie returned to New York during the 1972 season when the Giants were looking for a soft landing for his career’s end, and his presence helped the New York Mets get to the World Series the following year. Now he was pretty much through as a player in 1973, but in 1972 he still had one last dramatic flair to his career.

This clip of Mays’ first homer as a Met came against the Giants no less and turned out to be the game-winning hit.

That was on Mother’s day in 1972, and it seemed like Mother’s day was big in New York for baseball highlights. We had this one five years earlier; In fact, it was five years earlier to the day

But we digress, and here is Mays 1973 Topps card as a Met.

Now, I always wished Topps did more career retrospective cards but we were lucky in 1974 to have this “accidental” Mays card as part of the 1973 World Series highlights:

What do you want us to write about in future columns on the COMC Blog? We want to hear from members of the COM Nation! We want this to be as much YOUR column as it is mine.

COMC @ The National Sports Collectors Convention July 31st – August 4th

Get Ready, Chicago!

COMC is Coming to Town!
July 31st – August 4th

We are excited to announce we’re returning to Chicago for the 40th Annual National Sports Collector’s Convention and looking forward to being back in the Windy City!

Here are a few things that you can look forward to at our booth:

  • Premium Processing Special
  • Spin-to-Win Prize Wheel
  • Limited Edition COMC T-Shirt Giveaway
  • Consignment Drop-off Center
  • COMC @ Instagram Trade Night

The 2019 National Sports Collector’s Convention will be hosted at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center.

COMC’s booth will be in the heart of the showroom floor within the Corporate Pavilion at booth #624

Premium 1-Week Service:|
$1.00 per card

We heard your feedback, and our goal is to get your items up for sale as quick as possible.

Save on the cost of shipping and catch this processing discount by dropping off your submissions directly at the COMC Booth!

Restrictions: Standard add-on fees apply. Applicable only to consignment submissions received in-person at the 2019 National Convention.

Limited Edition T-Shirt Giveaway Bonus!

Do you like COMC-branded swag? COMC members now have a chance to score one of three exclusive COMC T-shirts!

Here’s how you can nab yourself a piece of our
Gem Mint Apparel:

  • Drop off a Premium submission of at least 100 items.
  • Drop off a Select or Current-Year Select Submission of at least 200 items.
  • Land on specially marked prize slots on our Spin to Win Wheel!

Restrictions: While supplies last. One T-Shirt per account may be earned.

Stop by our booth once a day and spin the COMC prize wheel for a chance to win instant prizes or be entered into drawings for your chance to take home up to $500 COMC Credit, high-end trading cards featuring Chicago sports legends, and much more!

In order to spin, you must be a COMC Member! If you’re not already a member, registration takes just a minute and is 100% free.

Spin to Win These Great Prizes:

  • Instant Winner: Receive $5, $10 or $25 COMC Credit instantly to your COMC account!
  • Instant Winner: Score one of three Limited Edition COMC-Branded T-Shirts.
  • Store Credit Drawing Entry: Receive entry into a drawing to win $100, $250, or $500 COMC Credit to your COMC Account.
  • Chicago Style: Receive entry into a drawing to win one of three high-end trading cards featuring Chicago sports stars and legends!
  • Free Shipping: Win free shipping on your next COMC order!

Drop-Off Submission Information:

Our booth is your drop-off destination for consignment submissions all throughout The National. Save on the cost of shipping by handing your next submission directly to us!

To speed up the process, please pack your items securely for shipment and print your submission paperwork in advance. We will have computer stations with printers set up for consignors to use at the show, but keep in mind that these stations may be in use during peak show hours by others.

Important Change Regarding Basic Submissions:

This year we will be introducing a 1,000-card limit per person for drop-off submissions consigned through our Basic-level (2-month) service. This cap only applies to our Basic service and only for submissions at The National. There are no card limits for submitting your items through our Current-Year Basic, Select, Current-Year Select, or Premium services.

Submission Due Dates Throughout The National:

With so many members of our team traveling with us to represent COMC at The National, our teams back home are a bit short-staffed. For that reason, all Select, Current-Year Select and Premium due dates that normally would have fallen between July 31st and August 4th will receive an August 5th due date.

COMC Founder and CEO Tim Getsch looks forward to the National every year so he can meet with our customers and members of the trading card community and hear their feedback, ideas, and the experiences they’ve had with our services.

If you’d like to take some time to sit down with Tim for 30 minutes at the show, email us at timewithtim@comc.com and we’ll get you scheduled. In your email, include your dates and times of availability as well as any topics you wish to discuss. Please send your meeting request no later than Thursday, July 24th.

COMC is proud to announce that we are an official sponsor of Instagram Trade Night hosted by CardCollector2! If you weren’t aware, instagram is home to one of the fastest growing communities in the trading card hobby, and we’re thrilled to be a part of it!

We will be meeting with our Instagram followers, accepting your drop-off consignments, offering demonstrations of our service, doing giveaways, and much more at our table at Instagram Trade Night.

Because this event is exclusive to members of the Instagram community, we can’t publish details on where the event will be held, but you should be able to get in on the action by following either CheckoutMyCards or CardCollector2 on Instagram! We’ll see you there!

‘Living 200’: Ranking Our Favorite Baseball Cards from Topps Living Set #101-200

Shop Topps Living Set Trading Cards on COMC

Last year Topps surprised the trading card industry with a unique one-of-a-kind set like no other produced before. The baseball card set was called ‘The Living Set‘, and each week three new trading cards would be released and sold only online for a seven day span. Once that window was over, the cards would never again be printed. Players could only be featured in the set one time per team they’ve played for, and the set would feature rookies, veterans, and legends. Produced entirely using the artwork of legendary sports card artist Mayumi Seto, the set is stylized after the iconic 1953 Topps baseball design.

The set started off extremely strong with Aaron Judge (Print Run 13,256) earning the coveted first card in the set. The set was overall met with optimism and speculation, as many of the key rookie cards in the set produced huge print runs, such as Ronald Acuna Jr. (PR: 46,809) and Gleyber Torres (PR: 28,550). While superstars, rookies, and hall of fame players still generate large numbers (such as #200 Mike Trout with a print run of 22,017), the set has come back to earth in weeks, with most print runs hovering in the 3000 range.

COMC Communications Manager James Good and Senior Business Analyst Grant Wescott each own a copy of the full set from #1 to #200 and counting. Some 30 plus weeks ago, we asked them to talk about the set and give their 10 favorite cards from the first 100 in the set. You can read that blog here. With the set now surpassing 200 cards, we’ve asked them to chime in with their 10 favorite cards from #101 – 200. 

Grant Wescott (In no particular order)

Topps Living Set Card #200 – Mike Trout – Print Run: 22017

Topps has historically saved round numbers on many of their checklists for the very best in the game. Remember Babe Ruth at #100? I don’t think there was much doubt leading into the card #200 release day who would be featured on it.

Topps Living Set Card #193 – Ken Griffey Jr. – Print Run: 8369

Beautiful card of my all-time favorite player. That swing never gets old.

Topps Living Set Card #180 – Nelson Cruz – Print Run: 3581

The Nellie you see on this card is the Nellie you see in every game he plays, defying multiple laws of nature while wearing a grin.

Topps Living Set Card #173 – Fernando Tatis Jr – Print Run: 10099

One milestone for any young professional baseball player is when they get to see their first Topps card. There has to be a little extra appreciation from this 20 year old star when that card happens to be such an amazing hand-drawn portrait.

Topps Living Set Card #154 – Stan Musial – Print Run: 4575

One of baseball’s good guys, Stan the Man was famous for making people happy both on and off the field.

Topps Living Set Card #132 – Daniel Mengden – Print Run: 3250

Topps Living Set has seen a few errors along the way, but none so blatant as the Rollie Fingers wrong name error (I kid).

Topps Living Set Card #127 – Kris Bryant – Print Run: 5361

A striking image of Kris Bryant, who appears is now back to his 2016 MVP form.

Topps Living Set Card #192 – Wade Davis – Print Run: 2605

Nick Markakis famously held the long-standing record for low print run since week 2 of TLS with 2,678 copies. That is, until Howie Kendrick came along at card #183 with 2,633 copies. That is, until just a few weeks later when Wade Davis set the new low with this card. As someone who plans to buy the set forever, it’s kind of fun to watch my complete set become even rarer.

Topps Living Set Card #109 – Nolan Arenado – Print Run: 4065

Artist Mayumi Seto captured some big emotion on this one. Arenado is one of the elite players in the game today, yet for some reason still a bit overlooked in the hobby. I love this card.

Checklist Card 1-100 & 101-200 – Print Run: 4393

I’m going a little off script here because 1) these are two cards, not one, and 2) they aren’t technically part of the set. Doesn’t matter. I was more excited than I had reason to be when these were released. I’ve never checked a single box on a checklist. I’m not about to start now. Why does this make me happy?

James Good (Ranked in order of favorites)

Topps Living Set Card #193 – Ken Griffey Jr. – Print Run: 8369

There was no other pick for me. Griffey was an unexpected surprise at #193, and tops my list as my favorite TLS card in the entire set, surpassing Babe Ruth (#100) and Mitch Haniger (#54) in my top 3. That iconic Jr. smile is infectious.

Topps Living Set Card #179 – Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – Print Run: 27749

This was clearly a landmark card for Topps and Seto, so I’m guessing that she had plenty of time to work on this portrait. It clearly shows in the photo-realism of Vladdy Jr.’s first true Topps RC. The level of detail of this card, especially when it’s in-hand, is unreal. The hat logo, the hair, the Nike swoosh logo. I’ll take this card all day long over his first flagship Topps RC in series 2.

Topps Living Set Card #200 – Mike Trout – Print Run: 22017

We all knew that Mike Trout was going to be #200, and the card delivered exactly what we wanted, and what the set needed. The huge print run was a shot in the arm to TLS at the right time.

Topps Living Set Card #127 – Kris Bryant – Print Run: 5361

I love the sideways glance of Bryant in this card. The Cubbies deep blue jersey is among my favorite jerseys of all-time, so I might be a bit partial here.

Topps Living Set Card #156 – Ryon Healy – Print Run: 2765

Healy has a lot of critics here in Seattle, but I’ve been a big support since the day we traded for him. This card that broke a 102 card drought for the Mariners in Topps Living Set and also captured Healy’s positive personality and his professed enjoyment for the game the baseball so very well. It’s a shame he’s dealing with spinal stenosis, the same ailment that shortened the career of fellow 3B David Wright.

Topps Living Set Card #136 – Mariano Rivera – Print Run: 8945

The timing of this card was impeccable – right after Mariano became the first player to unanimously be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in the first year eligible.

Topps Living Set Card #118 – Nolan Ryan – Print Run: 6745

Ryan’s career spanned the course of 4 different decades. Ask 10 different fans about Ryan, and you might get 10 different memories. My earliest memories as a fan of the game were of ‘The Ryan Express’ as a non-nonsense 40-something fireballin’ Texan. This card brings me back to all those early 90’s junk wax cards of him that helped kick start my passion for the hobby.

Topps Living Set Card #178 – Xander Bogaerts – Print Run: 3776

I’m not much of a Red Sox fan. Correction, I slightly despise most Boston-area teams (Ya’ll aren’t the underdogs, ever, just stop). But I love this card of Bogaerts. Again, the artwork on this card when it’s in-hand truly makes me appreciate the card so much more.

Topps Living Set Card #106 – Cal Ripken Jr. – Print Run: 6423

Similar to my memories of Nolan Ryan, I best remember Cal Ripken Jr. during his iron man stretch, with the gray hairs on the sides of his head becoming more prominent each year. That said, I love the throwback artwork on this card, and the white Orioles cap really seals the deal.

Topps Living Set Card #121 – Buster Posey – Print Run: 3990

Catchers get the short end of the baseball bat when it comes to trading cards, often depicted wearing their full gear. This card steps away from that, giving us an excellent portrait of Buster that shows a side of him that few cards have. Now let me get on my soapbox…

Buster Posey is one of the most underappreciated players of this era. Even Giants fans will credit the team’s three World Series in six years to their stellar pitching, pointing to Madison Bumgarner, and I don’t disagree. But who do you think called all those games behind the plate? Three Rings, Four Silver Sluggers, 2010 ROY, a Gold Glove, and a Batting Title later, I can’t wait until Cooperstown calls for Buster Posey.

We’re 200+ cards into the set, and yet there are so many players who haven’t earned a spot into the coveted Living Set yet. Who do you want to see in the next 100 cards? Let us know in the comments below! 

Happy Independence Day! – Reduced Customer Service Support on July 4th.

In observance of Independence Day, our Customer Service Team will be working a reduced schedule on Thursday, July 4th.

Phone support will be unavailable throughout Independence Day. Phone support will return to our normal 9am-5pm PST schedule on Friday, July 5th.

If you need to contact us over the holiday, please email us at staff@comc.com or leave a voicemail message at 1-800-517-3540.

6,000+ Fresh New Graded Trading Cards Coming to the COMC Marketplace on July 3rd!

Kick off your Independence Day Weekend with a bang!

We’re getting the fireworks started early this year courtesy of COMC seller HawkDynasty! Over 6,000 fresh new graded trading cards are coming to the COMC Marketplace and will all be going live for sale on July 3rd at 7:00 PM PST.

We’ve had a chance to preview this massive collection of graded cards that Hawkdynasty recently consigned and can assure there is something for every collector to be found here! Here are some of the highlights from this massive drop of graded trading cards:

  • Over 6,000 modern and vintage trading cards.
  • Baseball, football, basketball, hockey, golf, Pokemon & more!
  • Low-end to ultra-high end.
  • High-Grade vintage cards from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.
  • Coveted Prospects, Young Guns, and Rookie Cards.
  • Autographed, memorabilia, and low serial numbered cards.
  • Pokemon Cards ranging from Base Set to Sun & Moon.
  • And so much more!

This is just a small taste of some of the cards you’ll be able to find as part of this massive card drop on July 3rd:

The Good Word – The Best Topps Baseball Trading Card Designs by Decade

One of the most exciting moments for me each year in the sports card hobby is the unveiling of the flagship Topps Baseball Card design for the following year. I suspect that we’ll get our first glimpse at the 2020 Topps Baseball design within the next couple of months, and here is to hoping that Topps won’t jump the shark and do something crazy like they did 30 years ago with the monstrosity that was the 1990 Topps set design:

Let’s backtrack just a minute. This blog post is inspired by a late-night text conversation with COMC colleague and fellow Topps Living Set enthusiast Grant Wescott about card design and Topps Heritage. While he is a big fan of the 1990 Topps design, I adamantly believed that if I were to rank every single flagship Topps design, the 1990 set would find itself in the bottom tier of my list. I don’t understand the design concept behind the double border, the slight slant in the player name box feels too comic book-esque to me, and everything clashes. The whole things reminds me of the Saved by the Bell TV show logo.

That conversation got my wheels turning, and while tackling the task of ranking every single flagship Topps design from 1951-2019 is one that is way too daunting for me, breaking down my favorite design by decade seemed like a happy medium. Without further ado:

1953 Topps

This choice required zero decision making process on my end. 1953 Topps is my favorite flagship Topps design of all-time. Topps mastered card design in their 3rd baseball card set that not only has stood the test of time, but also lends its brilliance for Topps first and only ‘Living Set’.  The lifelike paintings of the players featured in this set are the real highlight, but the card design with player info found in black or red boxes with an adjacent team logo is just the icing on top.

1969 Topps

For me the 1960’s is a toss-up between 1964 and 1969, but I have to give the nod to 1969 Topps because you can clearly the see the progression in Topps trying to nail down a design throughout the decade. 1964 Topps is marred by the team name at the top of the card simply being too big. 1969 corrects this by placing a more proportionate team name at the bottom of the card. They also improve upon the color circle design from 1968  by moving it to the top of the card and featuring the player name and position instead of the team represented. All-in-all a great way to close out the 60’s.

1977 Topps

There are three or four solid designs in the 1970’s that I like (but not love) that I could have went with. However, the 1977 Topps set edges the others out just a tad. I enjoy the very clean design, the bold type-font at the top, and I’m personally a big fan of facsimile autographs, which I think are a nice touch here.  The honorable mentions I refer to earlier would go to to 1973, 1975, and 1979.

Some may prefer the 1970 and 1971 Topps sets with their respective gray and black borders, but as we all know, the set design was hindered by low quality card stock and poor production process that simply made these sets less attractive with their various flaws. I think that modern sets that use these designs, such a 2019 Topps Heritage do a tremendous job breathing new life into these classic designs.

1984 & 1985 Topps

When it comes to the 80’s, I refuse to choose one set. 1984 Topps and 1985 Topps stick out to me as perhaps the best two-year block of Topps designs up to that period in time since 1952 and 1953. With 1984 Topps we see a perfection of the dual photo design that was used the previous year, while the colorful vertical team name was a fresh concept that simply worked well. The following year Topps radically changed the design with a great looking trading card that delivers hints of that iconic 1953 Topps design. My only gripe about 1985 Topps is that the slanted team name box could have been smaller to stay outside of the white border.

1991 Topps

I absolutely adore the 1991 Topps set design. Maybe it’s because it was the first complete baseball card set that I ever owned, but this set has a very fond place in my heart. Almost 30 years later I appreciate the cards in a different way – for a classy design that prioritized photography front and center by drastically reducing the size of player name, position and team logo. I do think that the Topps 40 years of Baseball logo feels out of place. Had the double border simply wrapped around the red Topps logo, with the baseball and 40 years removed, this set would rival 1953 Topps as my favorite design of all-time.

2008 Topps

This will probably be a controversial pick, but I truly love the zany, reinvent the wheel one-off design of the 2008 Topps Set. The team name featured prominently in colorful circles and the Topps logo also featured dead smack in the middle of the card just sells the design for me. I would have preferred the card sans foil, but as we all know, Topps fell In love with foil in 1995 on their flagship design and never looked back. Honorable mention goes to the 2004 Topps design.

2016 Topps

The past decade is easily the toughest one for me to choose just one particular design for a couple of reasons. I firmly believe this decade of Topps Baseball Cards is the strongest decade of flagship designs since the 1950’s. The designs from 2010 to now also mean a little more to me now since card design is something that I’ve only recently grown a passion for in the last five years or so.

If you have an eye for detail, you’ll have noticed that all my favorite sets outlined so far have consistent design themes and white borders. I could have easily chosen 2011 Topps or 2013 Topps to continue the trend, since both are really high up there on my all-time favorite flagship designs. But the border-free full-bleed 2016 Topps design really sings to my heart. What a nearly-perfect modern design to represent the new era of trading cards.

In my almost seven years at COMC I’ve seen and been around Topps products from the last decade far more than other decade of cards. The 2010 decade is the only decade that I do feel entirely comfortable ranking these sets in order from favorite to least favorite. With 2016 being my #1, here are 2 through 10:

2019 COMC Baseball Card Fantasy Pack Team Update

Members of the COMC Team are always looking to find new and unique ways to enjoy opening packs of trading cards. Sure, we could just rip through hobby boxes and packs looking for our big hits, but where is the fun in that? Earlier this year we introduced you to our fantasy baseball meets trading cards concept , which consisted of opening packs of 2019 Topps Opening Day Baseball Cards and creating a team based on the players found within.

To make it fun, we’re playing using a salary cap and the player’s real-life salaries, and the scoring system is based on how many wins your team is worth, rather than the individual stats found in traditional fantasy baseball. We’re now two months into the 2019 MLB season, which has been full of twists and surprises. With 1/3rd of the season under our belt, we felt this was a good time to check in and see how our picks are doing.

If you didn’t catch our first blog at the start of the season, we recommend that you check it out to get caught up all of the rules of the game. That being said, let’s recap the scoring format that we outlined in the original rules of the game:

Hitting Scoring 
Every 40 runs = +1 win
Every 15 Home Runs = +1 win
Every 15 Stolen Bases = +1 win
Every 30 RBI’s = +1 win
Every 50 walks = +1 win

Pitching Scoring:
 Every 5 Wins = +3 Wins
Every 5 losses = -1 Win
Every 5 Saves = +1 Win
Every 75 Strikeouts = +1 Win

The 2019 COMC Fantasy Baseball Team

No Surprise Here: Mike Trout Leads our team in offense!

DH: Mark Trumbo (0 points)
C: J.T. Realmuto (1 Point)
1B: Anthony Rizzo (2 points)
2B: Gleyber Torres (1 point)
SS: Francisco Lindor (0 points)
3B: Rafael Devers (2 points)
OF: Ronald Acuna (1 point)
OF: Mike Trout (4 points)
OF: Mitch Haniger (3 points)

SP: Justin Verlander (4 points)
SP: Gerrit Cole (3 points)
SP: Trevor Bauer (0 points)
SP: Blake Snell (0 points)
SP: Jacob Degrom (0 points)
Closer: Edwin Diaz (2 points)

23 Total Team Points

Bench Reserves:
Hitter: Juan Soto (1 point)
Hitter: Max Muncy (1 points)
Hitter: Whit Merrifield (1 point)
Pitcher: Dereck Rodriguez (-1 points)
Pitcher: German Marquez (2 points)

Analysis: We’re on pace to finish the season in the 70-80 point range, which is well under the 100-point threshold we predicted our team would finish at.

Designated Hitter Mark Trumbo isn’t expected to play until late June at best, which likely means that we’ll be replacing him with Juan Soto or Max Muncy off the bench due to not appearing in at least 108 games this season. Rafael Devers has been a pleasant surprise all over the stat sheet, and despite having what appears to be a slump season for him, Mitch Haniger has filled the right statistical categories (runs, HR, RBi’s) to notch three points.

Texas Heat: The career revival of Justin Verlander continues in 2019!

On the pitching side, our Astros one-two punch of Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole have accumulated the wealth of our pitching points. Justin Verlander has nine wins and counting as of this writing. Trevor Bauer and reigning American League Cy Young Winner Blake Snell have regressed in 2019.

We know that some readers of the COMC Blog are also playing along at home. How is your team doing so far? We want to hear from you! Have you found a way to turn your trading card collecting experience into a game? We want to hear about it! Drop a comment below and let us know!