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Box Bottoms Hard to Find in Top Shape

Bill Wagner - Babe Waxpak by Bill Wagner, "Babe Waxpak"
May 29, 2005

Dear Babe: In 1990, a friend advised me that a box of baseball cards would be a good investment. I bought a box of 36 packs of Topps cards. It remains unopened. The top of the box has a picture of a Ken Griffey Jr.'s Topps All-Star Rookie card. The players pictured on the box bottom are Wade Boggs, George Brett, Andre Dawson and Dwight Evans.
Kevin Rearden, Herndon, Va.

I wouldn't be trying to cash in on any stock tips from your friend. Unfortunately, the 1990 Topps cards were part of the over productive years of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Unless you got a great deal, the box is probably worth less - $8-$12 - than you paid for it back then. The only card of note in the 1990 set is Sammy Sosa's rookie card No. 692, which lists for $5-$6. Frank Thomas' rookie card (414) is worth $2 unless you come across one without his name on the front. Those list in Tuff Stuff and Beckett for $300-$375. It's my understanding that error cards made it into some factory sets but weren't found in wax packs. As for the box bottom, it's worth $1.50 in top shape, although Boggs' election to the Hall of Fame this year might spark a little interest. The biggest problem with box bottom panels/cards is finding them in top condition. After all, they're box bottoms subject to being crunched, scuffed and in general dinged up. Three of the four panels from 1990 are worth $1-$2. The fourth panel with Nolan Ryan, Cal Ripken, Ryne Sandberg and Jim Rice is worth around $4 thanks to having three Hall of Famers out of the four players pictured with Rice still having an outside chance to make it to Cooperstown.

Dear Babe: I came across an old autographed ball signed by the 1966 Phillies in good shape, other than the fact the signatures have faded over time. It has some sentimental value, because it was a gift from an uncle who worked security at Connie Mack Stadium. Can the autographs be restored?
Chuck Grube, Key West, Fla.

The Phillies were a fourth-place team in 1966. It wasn't a star-studded team and team balls from that year are probably worth $200-$400 as long as they have all the key signatures, including Hall of Famers Jim Bunning, Ferguson Jenkins and Bob Uecker (who is in Cooperstown as an announcer) along with Bill White and Dick Allen. A ball with faded signatures is going to be at the bottom of the range, possibly lower. There is nothing you can do to the signatures without destroying all the value. Just keep it in a cool, dry spot out of direct light to preserve it as much as possible.

Dear Babe: Millions claim to have been at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium when Hank Aaron hit home run No. 715 to break Babe Ruth's record. I actually was there and can prove it thanks to a rain check dated April 8, 1974.
Tim Mullis, Roswell, Ga.

A devil's advocate might point out that you could have purchased the ticket stub. They're worth $200-$250 these days and I am sure many have changed hands since that historic night.

Dear Babe: I have a napkin signed by Curt Gowdy, Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle and Tony Kubek.
Joseph Fisichelli, Methuen, Mass.

The napkin is worth $300-$400 with all the value in the signatures of Mantle and Maris.

In the best of all worlds, the Mantle and Maris signatures would be close to each other, not overlapping and pretty much parallel. If you could matte the napkin so just those two signatures showed, it would look good with a photo of the 1961 home run kings.

Dear Babe: I have an Army-Navy football game pin from the 1983 game played in Pasadena's Rose Bowl. A rose is depicted between the Army-Navy helmets.
Don Offutt, Riverside, Calif.

This isn't what you'd call a vintage item. Further, since the game in 1983, won by Navy, 42-13, was played in the cavernous Rose Bowl, one has to assume plenty of these pins were produced. Unless there's something I am missing, I'd say $5-$15 to someone who collects pins for this classic match-up.

BABE NOTE: Cracker Jack candy once again has baseball cards for prizes. The 10 Baseball Legends cards are prizes that come inside mini-booklets. The cards are 1-1/2 x 2-1/8 inches in size. This year's set includes Cy Young, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, George Sisler, Water Johnson, Thurman Munson, Joe Jackson, Satchel Paige, Roy Campanella and Lou Brock. The prizes come in specially-marked 99-cent packages of the candy sold at ballparks and in regular boxes. The regular boxes do not have anything on the front to indicate that the Baseball Legends are prizes. The promotion should run through June, a Cracker Jack spokesman said.

About the author
Bill Wagner is a veteran journalist with 37 years in the newspaper business as well as being a former Army combat correspondent in Vietnam. He developed the Babe Waxpak sports card column in the 1980s and took over authorship in 1993, expanding into sports memorabilia and autographs as well as answering questions on cards.

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