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Cards Make Great Gifts for Christmas

by Paul Angilly
November 16, 2004

The weekend after Thanksgiving is the traditional start of the holiday shopping season, and a good place to start -- whether you’re shopping for the beloved sports collectibles fans in your life or just for yourself -- is the annual sports card and memorabilia show at the Connecticut Expo Center in Hartford (I-91, exit 33).

This year’s fifth annual show, promoted by Terranova Productions, will include about 150 tables, making it once again the largest show in the state. It will be open on Nov. 26 from 3-8 p.m.; Nov. 27 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Nov. 28 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $5 per day, with children under 12 admitted free.

There will be at least five autograph guests during the show, with others expected to be added to the lineup soon.

Among the featured guests will be representatives of three different generations of Boston Red Sox American League pennant winners: Johnny Pesky from the 1946 Red Sox (Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., $10 fee for trading cards, $15 for all other items), Jim Lonborg from the 1967 Red Sox (Saturday 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., $10 fee for trading cards, $15 for all other items) and Bob Stanley of the 1986 Red Sox (Saturday noon to 1:30 p.m., $10 fee for any item).

According to a representative from Terranova Productions, the promoters are also trying to get a member of this year’s World Series-winning Red Sox team to appear at the show, depending upon cost and availability. The promoters are also hoping to add an NFL Hall-of-Famer to the autograph lineup.

In addition to the Red Sox players, other autograph guests currently scheduled to appear are Hall-of-Fame baseball player Juan Marichal (Sunday 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., $15 fee for trading cards, $20 for all other items) and Hall-of-Fame hockey player and former New York Rangers goalie Eddie Giacomin (Sunday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., $15 fee for trading cards, $20 for all other items).

New York Yankees Hall of Famer Phil Rizzuto had originally been scheduled to appear at the show, but due to injuries from a fall he will not be able to attend the show. Terranova Productions is hoping to schedule a private signing at his home at a later date when his health improves.

Another Red Sox commemorative set: The Donruss/Playoff company has announced plans to release a 25-card boxed set commemorating the 2004 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox. That means that all four major baseball card manufacturers (Topps, Fleer, Donruss/Playoff and Upper Deck) either have released or will be issuing 2004 Red Sox commemorative items.

The manufacturers obviously know an easy sell when they see it. Not one of them issued commemorative cards for the 2003 Florida Marlins, 2002 Anaheim Angels or 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks.

Donruss/Playoff’s boxed set (release date TBA) will update, appropriately enough, its 2004 Donruss World Series set released earlier this month. With a suggested retail price of $19.99, each set will include 24 regular-sized cards and one oversized card.

The attractive regular-sized cards emulate the design of the regular 2004 Donruss World Series set, with color photos that fade away at the top and bottom, surrounded by a white border that gradually changes to blue at the bottom of the card. The player’s name is in a banner at the bottom, with "1918" on the upper left side of the card and "2004" on the upper right side. The word "Champions" is written in script lettering across the top, with the Red Sox "B" logo and the 2004 World Series Champions logo to the left and the Donruss logo to the right.

The oversized card features a photo of Curt Schilling hugging Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz during the celebration after winning Game 4 against the Cardinals. A banner on the left includes the year 1918, with a banner on the right showing 2004.

One aspect of the Donruss set that may boost sales is that it includes randomly-inserted autographs from Red Sox players. The good news is that the autographs come from key players Curt Schilling, Jason Varitek, Keith Foulke, Kevin Youkilis, Manny Ramirez, Orlando Cabrera, Trot Nixon and Pedro Martinez. The bad news is that only approximately one in every 75 box sets will include an autograph card.

If the boxed set sounds interesting, you may want to look for the Red Sox cards from the base 2004 Donruss World Series set while you wait for the commemorative set’s release.

The checklist includes card numbers 24-34: Curt Schilling, Dwight Evans, Fred Lynn, Jason Varitek, Jim Rice, Johnny Damon, Luis Tiant, Manny Ramirez, Nomar Garciaparra, Pedro Martinez and Trot Nixon. Inserts include multiple game-used material cards and autographs from Evans, Lynn, Rice, Tiant, Ramirez and Martinez.

Due to popular demand: In my column on Red Sox collectibles two weeks ago, I mentioned that Upper Deck’s online store (www.upperdeck-store.com) was offering a Boston Red Sox 2004 World Series Champions Commemorative Card for $9.99. Limited to 5,000 copies, that card has sold out, but the company is now taking orders for a second version of the card.

Offered for the same price, the second version will again be limited to 5,000 copies and pictures the same 12 players as the first version: Curt Schilling, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Pedro Martinez, Johnny Damon, Trot Nixon, Derek Lowe, Keith Foulke, Jason Varitek, Bill Mueller, Mark Bellhorn and Orlando Cabrera. Each 3½x5-inch card comes packaged inside a snap-holder.

While the first version had a collage of full-body images of each of the players in action (six players on each side), the second version has circular head shots of each.

The first version can still be found for sale on eBay and other secondary market sources, but it has been selling for as much as $20.

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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