Posts Tagged With: Stan Musial

Leaf’s Response to Wax Heaven #100

Yesterday, I wrote a piece on Leaf’s Heroes of Baseball product line which features questionable Stan Musial sticker autographs. Unexpectedly, it caught fire on Twitter which caught the attention of Leaf Trading Card’s #1, Brian Gray. The piece was also my 100th post on Wax Heaven 2.0 in just four months so to those who didn’t think I’d stick around, keep reading. I got many more plans in the works!

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The Rebirth of Stan Musial (and why it is GOOD for the Hobby)

Let me start by saying that I am a fan of Mario’s column. It is refreshing to see someone passionate about the hobby. This can sometimes lead to forgetting the business side of the equation, but even then I see Mario making major strides to adapt to the realities of the hobby.

Today, I read a column by Mario and frankly I felt very strongly that it was a one-sided view of a release that unarguably presents a more than one-sided reality.
Leaf released exclusively through Target, 2015 Leaf Heroes of Sport Boxes. This release was designed to do two things: (1) provide the market its most inexpensive way ever to collect the autograph of the man that was the last of the golden era and (2) to supply an opportunity for collectors to collect legends products inexpensively in blaster form.

Why does the hobby need inexpensive Musial autographs? After all, the man signed for the hobby for nearly 20 years. The fact is that the only collectors who realistically had a chance of ever obtaining a Musial autograph from a pack are those collectors in the hobby who buy $60-500 “HOBBY” products. We sometimes forget that the “HOBBY” consists of far more people than those collectors purchasing non-retail products. In fact, I would argue that the growth of our industry will be directly driven by the collectors who transition from “RETAIL BUYERS” to “HOBBY BUYERS”. Like our Rose release before this, this set is a HUGELY positive thing for those “RETAIL” buyers who will never get value like this from a retail product.

I think it’s about time , as an industry, we accept the fact that we will not be fans of everything released. That is why we get to vote with our wallets. However, for many less advanced collectors, this is the PERFECT chance to enjoy a GUARANTEED opportunity to acquire the autograph of a true legend at the best price ever available to these customers.

With all this being said, I additionally disagree about the implication that these were reject signatures. Stan was a very sick man the last several years of his life. FOR COLLECTORS, he continued to sign despite the great difficulty he had. What the original post fails to recognize is that this is the same Musial autograph you would have pulled out of a $100-400 box of cards during his last few years as well! The attached images show exactly why these signatures are typical (not atypical as the implication was made). Moreover, we made the decision not to use over 1000 signatures that we found unacceptable.

My personal opinion would be to recognize the good heart of the man willing to sign despite his illness, rather than essentially criticize, berate and insult him for not being able to sign any better due to illness.

If Leaf had not acquired and utilized these as it did, they very well may have been acquired elsewhere and ended up in your favorite $60-500 hobby box instead. Maybe Leaf did the hobby a second service (in addition to value at Retail)?

In summary, I appreciate those who support our brand. In making an item like this, we do carefully consider the result of our efforts. The item has been VERY successful at retail and I have every confidence it will achieve its end game of bringing more people to buy “HOBBY” products in hope of finding desirable autograph cards.

For these reasons, I believe Leaf has done the hobby a service that deserves applause for its good for the “Hobby” rather than unfair criticism based on a far too narrow perspective of the product and its reason for existing.

Brian Gray,
CEO, Leaf Trading cards

 

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Categories: Leaf Trading Cards, The Hobby | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Hobby Death of Stan Musial

Not long ago, I wrote about Stan “The Man” Musial signing way too long into his life and tarnishing his hobby legacy, not to mention the value of his autograph. You can imagine my shock when I discovered 2015 Heroes of Baseball, featuring a Stan Musial sticker autograph per box for around $30-$40 a piece. The problem is that if you think you’ve seen bad Musial autographs, you haven’t seen anything yet.

Do a quick search on eBay and see for yourself. These look like Topps rejects that Musial’s estate likely sold off to the highest bidder. Much like the awful sketch cards they have done in the past, Leaf should be ashamed to put their company’s historic name on these things. What’s sad is that the other cards in the set look great, including photographs and design. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t make a sale without the autos.

When I returned to collecting early this year, I was ecstatic about Leaf after purchasing my amazing ‘Q’ Jose Canseco card and then I started seeing nothing but negative comments. My opinion was saved by Gregg Kohn of Leaf after he divulged that his company had some huge plans for the next two years. We already know they made a deal with the Babe Ruth estate, could a similar Ruth set be in the works? Probably.

The problem is that much like Jose Canseco and Pete Rose autographs, prices are hitting an all-time low due to mass production from companies like Leaf and Panini America. There are already WAY too many Musial autographs and these less than stellar stickers have basically killed his value moving forward. Was it worth it? I don’t think so but I’m also not aware how business runs in the card world.

Much like Panini America has hit their stride with the resurrection of Donruss Baseball and what’s going to be a huge hit in 2015 Prizm, I expected the same from Leaf Trading Cards. I’ve already given up on Upper Deck ever again competing in baseball but I was looking for a challenger to Topps’ throne but it appears that I was wrong by expecting Leaf to be “the one”.

Obviously, I trust Gregg’s word and what he says but someone should have stopped this disaster of a product. Don’t get me wrong, I love these kind of sets and still have ‘The Jose Canseco Story’ set from the late 80s which came with a mini Canseco binder, 20 unofficial but licensed cards, and a record to play featuring an interview with the still green Jose ripping up the English language. This, however, is different.

Surely, someone at Leaf would have known that these autographs were in no shape to use for any product. Surely someone, maybe even Gregg went to Brian Grey and pleaded with him not to release such a shoddy autograph sticker set with their name plastered on every card? Someone must have known these autographs would bring the value of all Musial autos down, right?

I GUESS NOT.

$_57

Categories: Celebrity Death, eBay Treasures, Leaf Trading Cards, The Hobby | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Time for the Old Timers To Put the Pen Down

Below is a pack-inserted, certified autograph from Topps Company. If you can tell who signed it, you just might be a genius. It belongs to Stan “The Man” Musial, who passed away at the age of 92 in 2013. It is rumored that he was suffering through serious health problems way back in 2007 but he kept signing away. Stan’s auto can be found all over 2014 products and has already made an appearance in 2015 Topps.

With game-used memorabilia all but dead due to over production and questionable issues coming up over and over again, certified autographs are one of the few gimmicks left to move product by card companies. I can only imagine how important it is for a manufacturer to get their stickers and cards signed by someone as popular as Musial but when and where do we draw the line?

Fans of Musial have come to the defense of these autographs by stating that Stan just wanted to please his fans by signing as much and for as long as he could. The thing is, judging by that auto, he no longer could. Besides, at 92 years of age and with failing health, just how many people really believe Stan wanted to sign thousands and thousands of stickers in his final days?

This situation makes me wonder just how much card companies were paying Stan to flood the market with autographs which sell for as little as $40 dollars or less, if not certified. What if, and this is complete speculation, Stan was being pushed to sign these thousands of stickers to appease family members? Taking advantage of the sick and the elderly is extremely common when money is involved.

Much like Stan Musial’s signature, another signature addict is Hank Aaron. Also, much like Musial’s auto, Hank’s has been getting worse and worse as time goes by. Maybe it’s time card companies give some of these old timer’s a break. Look, it’s 2015 … we don’t need more Hank Aaron autographs. There’s already more than enough for every baseball fan who wants one.

Categories: Celebrity Death, eBay Treasures, The Topps Company | Tags: , | 1 Comment

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