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Yanks - Sox Rivalry Makes it Onto Cards

by Paul Angilly
October 19, 2004

The Yankees-Red Sox rivalry is as intense as it’s ever been, with the two teams having faced off in the American League Championship Series for the second straight year. And once again this season, the confrontation has led to some new collectibles for fans of either team.

The most visible new item is the 2004 Upper Deck Rivals: Yankees vs. Red Sox set, released late last month.

Sold as a commemorative box set with a suggested retail price of $19.99, each box includes the complete 31-card base set (including 30 standard-sized cards and one 3½x5-inch header card), plus one card from a 20-card "What If ..." insert set written by ESPN baseball columnist and commentator Peter Gammons.

The first 15 cards in the base set picture individual players, with career statistics and highlights on the back. The last 15 feature a player from each team, or one player pictured with both teams.

The "What If ..." cards, each also available autographed by Gammons, ask and answer such questions as "What if Aaron Boone’s pennant-winning homer went foul?," "What if Babe Ruth was never sold to the Yankees?," "What if Bucky Dent struck out instead of homering?" and "What if Roger Clemens never left Boston?"

The checklist is: Alex Rodriguez, Bobby Doerr, Don Mattingly, Dwight Evans, Fred Lynn, Jason Giambi, Jim Rice, Lou Gehrig, Luis Tiant, Manny Ramirez, Mike Mussina, Pedro Martinez, Phil Rizzuto, Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, Tim Wakefield/Aaron Boone, Billy Martin/Don Zimmer, Bucky Dent/Mike Torrez, Derek Jeter/Nomar Garciaparra, Gary Sheffield/Curt Schilling, Joe DiMaggio/Dick Newsome, Joe DiMaggio/Lefty Grove, Ted Williams/Joe DiMaggio, Jason Varitek/Jorge Posada, Mickey Mantle/Carl Yastrzemski, Roger Maris/Tracy Stallard, Carlton Fisk/Thurman Munson, Babe Ruth Yankees/Red Sox, Roger Clemens Yankees/Red Sox and Wade Boggs Yankees/Red Sox.

The jumbo header card includes pictures of Ted Williams, Nomar Garciaparra, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and Derek Jeter. Pictured on the "What If ..." inserts are Aaron Boone, Alex Rodriguez, Babe Ruth (2 different), Billy Martin, Bucky Dent, Carl Yastrzemski (2 different), Carlton Fisk, Derek Jeter, Hideki Matsui, Joe DiMaggio, Joe Torre, Mickey Mantle, Pedro Martinez, Pee Wee Reese (pictured with the Brooklyn Dodgers on a card that asks, "What if the Dodgers and Giants never left New York?" -- the only non-Yankees or Red Sox card in the set), Roger Clemens, Roger Maris and Ted Williams (2 different).

eTopps playoff cards: Last week, Topps began a new line with its eTopps program when it made available the first eTopps Baseball Playoff Event Series card -- depicting this year’s Yankees-Red Sox ALCS series.

The front pictures Alex Rodriguez and Curt Schilling, with the phrase "A rivalry continued ... A rivalry reborn!" The back of the card mentions how Boston defeated Anaheim in three games and the Yankees topped Minnesota in four games to face off in the ALCS for the second straight year.

The series has continued with highlights from both the ALCS and NLCS. The second card was an overview of the Cardinals-Astros series similar to the initial Yankees-Red Sox card. Card number three in the ongoing set pictures Hideki Matsui and Mariano Rivera on the front with the caption, "Hit-Deki & The Savior!" The back has highlights from the Yankees’ Game 1 victory over the Red Sox.

Unlike most eTopps cards, which are made available at the eTopps website for a one-week period before the initial public offering (IPO) ends, the Playoff Event Series cards are available for an IPO period of 24 hours only. After that, they can only be obtained through eBay auctions (or from the rare dealers that have them delivered to sell at shows).

So far, demand for the cards has exceeded the print run of 1,500 copies, with people participating in the IPOs getting less than the number of cards they requested. Coupled with the one-day-only availability, that should make secondary market demand very intense.

Playoff highlights in 2005 Topps: Due out in less than a month (Nov. 17), 2005 Topps series 1 will include seven postseason highlight cards. Expect at least one or more to come from the Yankees-Red Sox series.

The 2004 Topps series 1 set, which had a similar mid-November release last year, included two cards featuring the 2003 ALCS between the Yankees and Red Sox. Card No. 354 depicts Game 3 with three photos on the front, all showing scenes from the infamous brawl during that game. Card No. 352 has three pictures showing the Yankees celebrating their Game 7 series-clinching victory.

The 2000 Topps set highlighted the Yankees’ victory over the Red Sox in the 1999 ALCS on card No. 227, picturing Bernie Williams’ game-winning homer in the opening contest that year.

The 2005 Topps series also includes an insert set called "Grudge Match," which pairs angry-looking Jorge Posada and Pedro Martinez on one card, with another pairing Aaron Boone and Tim Wakefield.

One Okafor card, $10,000: In its December 2004 issue, Tuff Stuff magazine reports that a recent eBay auction for a 2003-04 Topps Finest draft redemption good for a 1-of-1 X-Factor Die-Cut Gold Refractor card of ex-UConn Husky Emeka Okafor brought a $10,000 winning bid. According to the magazine, the seller confirmed the sale.

Without doing any actual research, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that’s by far the most money ever paid for a trading card depicting a former UConn player. For that kind of money, you might even afford to make a big enough donation to the school to be eligible to buy season tickets.

About the author
Paul Angilly is a sports reporter for The Bristol Press in Connecticut, and has been collecting sports cards and memorabilia for 30 years. He is not a dealer, nor does he make a profit from buying and selling cards. His weekly sports card and memorabilia collecting column appears each week in The Bristol Press and several other daily newspapers in Connecticut.

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