” The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist. And like that… he is gone.”
There’s not much public information about Rob Broder, even now in 2015, when pretty much everything is public knowledge thanks to the Internet. What little is known about this notorious card counterfeiter is that he is the son of Ed Broder, who made some cards in the 60s and 70s, and that he worked as a photographer for Major League Baseball at one point or another. While his photography skills didn’t impress all that much, his ability to impact an industry in a short amount of time is nothing short of amazing.
These unlicensed cards, which littered shops and trade shows in the late-80s and early-90s, had little value to many collectors then and to this day. Back during their hey day, I didn’t even know they existed. Back in 1990, all I cared about was Upper Deck, Topps, Donruss, Fleer, and the rest of the “real” card manufacturers. I despised unlicensed, “oddball” cards that were being put out from companies like Pepsi, 7/11, and other retailers who had no business in our hobby.
Then again, Broder cards were most definitely not unlicensed. Logos were always in plain view, as were full team names. It is believed that Rob Broder was an up and coming photographer who wanted to get his name out to the public and producing huge quantities of cards was his way of doing it. It’s then somewhat ironic that what destroys most Broder cards is the one thing that was there to promote it, photography. Most, if not all these photos could have been taken by just about anyone who could hold a camera.
Here’s an example of a Broder Jose Canseco set, which I once paid $5 dollars for at a card show in 2008. Two cards of Jose in almost identical poses but different uniforms, most likely taken during a Spring Training game. Three cards of Jose posing but never looking into the camera. One card of Jose leading off a base. Three photos of Jose hitting batting practice with cage in plain view. There you have it. Not one single iconic shot in any set, ever. Just point and shoot, print and move on.
Despite their short-comings, Broder cards exploded into the market and that’s definitely something you can’t take away. I myself began receiving them during the early days of eBay in huge card lots and kept picking them up over the years due to curiosity and because my player, Jose Canseco, was one of the main Broder card stars featured year after year. Does that make me a fan? Well, obviously, YES. Rob Broder and whoever was helping him create these cards made a dent in our hobby and as complete underdogs. You gotta love that!
Broder cards continued leaking into card shows and shops into the early-90s but it’s believed that by that point Rob Broder had ceased all operations due to what one collector who claims he was in the know referred to as a “really angry letter from MLB”. The cards kept coming, though and even evolved from the full-bleed photography they were known for into flashy cards featuring foil and insert-like designs. Unfortunately, by the mid-90s, MLB cracked down hard and put an end to Broder cards for good.
Now it’s time to ask the important questions. WHO IS ROB BRODER? WHERE IS HE TODAY? If ANYONE has any information, please contact me ASAP. Let’s get the word out and track down a hobby hero and/or villain depending on what side you stand on. Rob deserves to have a chance to explain to us what his intentions were and exactly what caused him to walk away from it all (besides the impending lawsuits). The card collecting world, well, a good portion of it, wants to know how it all went down and only one man can fill in the pieces.
Rob Broder, come on down ….