Benchwarmer: My Secret Collection

It’s not really a secret collection, but it’s something not many people collect when it comes to cards. These cards sell out their cases consistently. I once sold a card I pulled for $400 on eBay. These cards are not a joke or gimmick but will bring in a ton of money if sold correctly. This is a sports card blog, but these aren’t sports cards.

I’m talking about Benchwarmer Trading Cards. I was introduced to these cards in 2008 when the staff at Sports Card Forum went to the National Sports Collector’s Convention in Chicago and came back with this beauty for me:

Mary Riley, one of the top promoters for Benchwarmer and is probably in every product. Little known fact, she happened to grow up a town over from me in Connecticut. I knew when I received this card after a giveaway that I had to collect her. So I did what any guy in his 20s would do. I bought a case of 2007 Benchwarmer Gold Edition.

That was the start to my Benchwarmer collection. A ton of autographs, some bikini swatches, and kiss cards. I was in it for the long haul. I was now able to trade and sell for what I wanted and needed. I even started smaller collections of Jennifer Korbin and Nikki Ziering to start, especially since I pulled an awesome autographed kiss card from Nikki Ziering.

I traded my way towards bigger collections of the girls I wanted to collect and eventually ended up with some pretty nice cards. I bought an occasional box here and there to supplement my trade bait and to try and pull more of my girls. Benchwarmer cards at one point even became my main focus of collecting.

When 2009 Benchwarmer Limited came out I loved the cards they had. I decided to grab another case. In this case I actually made my money back plus extra. I pulled a Brandy Grace Autographed Bikini Swatch numbered to 5 which I sold immediately for $400. I pulled a Jennifer Walcott School Girl swatch which I sold for another $100. Those two cards practically paid for my case. At the time I had started collecting Spencer Scott and I was able to trade for some of her high end cards with another pull in that case. Yes, Benchwarmer has high end cards.

Right now I have kind of been in a Benchwarmer lull. I haven’t bought any in awhile and even sold off my Jennifer Korbin, Nikki Ziering, and Spencer Scott collections. I probably won’t ever move my Mary Rileys or a personalized card from the 2009 Convention in which Benchwarmer model Lisa Gleave personalized an autographed kiss card for me and even said hi to me on camera for Sports Card Forum and posted it on YouTube.

I plan on buying some again someday, it’s probably one of the most fun products to open. At least if you’re a male. Brian Wallos does a great job with the product time after time and always tries innovative new cards for his products. His models sell the product itself, but he does a great job with signing popular models. He’s grabbed WWE and TNA girls, girls from TV and Playboy, just about anywhere.

If you haven’t tried a box yet, I recommend it. It’s definitely a fun experience.

Trading Sports Cards Online

We at Sports Card Blog love to trade cards, but the location is absolutely terrible for trading. Living in kind of a mountain, cow town has it’s disadvantages in this regard. The closest decent shops are 30 minutes to an hour away and they really don’t have any events for collectors or their customers. Once a month there is a show at a mall about 35 minutes away. I have actually never been to Jantzen Beach Mall for this card show, but if it is anything like some of the hobby shops in the city I’m going to be disappointed. They need to take some of my ideas to run a better hobby shop.

So I have to resort to doing 99.9% of my trading online, but that is okay with me. Even though I have to pay to ship the cards in some sort of protective package and send it to far away countries like Canada, it’s still worth it in the end. I haven’t had the opportunity to trade with anyone farther away then Canada but I am always happy to trade with anyone else.

I use different sports card forums for my trading. When choosing a sports card forum for trading, you look to find the most legit forums. I’ve been browsing several forums lately looking for the best of the best. First, let me start off by saying no site is 100% safe when you are trading. But I would stay away from places like YouTube where there is absolutely no method of weeding out the bad traders.

My favorite and the place I trade the most is Sports Card Forum. Sports Card Forum probably has the largest number of people to trade with across all sports. These people come from all ages and backgrounds from around the world. I admit I may have somewhat of a “homer” bias with them because it was my first forum I ever joined and I was a staff member there for 3 years. But over 200 transactions and never having any of my cards or money stolen is definitely a good thing. I would say their forte is their football area which is probably the biggest of any forum sites. They are always looking for ways to improve the experience and have a ton of features. Finally, SCF as it’s called, has the best custom built Trade Manager of any site to keep everything organized and in place.

My second favorite place to trade is at CloutsnChara. First, I want to start by stating they are 95% hockey collectors. I collect all sports but this is definitely a great place to trade if you are into hockey. Plus they hold the most group breaks I have ever seen with just about every product imaginable in hockey. If you’re American like me you’ll be sending to Canada quite a bit and Canada Post isn’t always the most reliable when it comes to international shipping. This owner also owns their own card shop in Canada so they can help you getting the newest hockey products.

Although I’ve never traded on this site, I find the discussion to be top notch and it has great possibilities for trading. Freedom Cardboard is that site. Although at times I find some of the discussions to be brash and some of the members to be kind of rude to newer people, I think they mean well. I would recommend this site to those in the slightly older crowd and those with thicker skin. There are a lot of baseball people there and a lot of prospectors so if you are into prospecting or just baseball cards this is probably the best site for baseball card collectors. The owner here is also always trying to improve the experience with new ideas and also owns his own card shop in Georgia.

I’ve traded on Trading Card Central as well, but I feel like this site is slowly going downhill. The members are leaving and it’s becoming more and more inactive on the forums. Secondly, I haven’t traded on Card Collector’s World but I know a lot of the members and staffers there to be good people. It’s a pretty tight knit community that is easy to integrate yourself into. Finally, I’d like to add The Bench as well. I almost forgot about them but they are still a popular forum to trade on, but like others it has tapered off over the years.

So there is a short list of sites for you to check out if you are interested in trading sports cards online.

Basics of Group Breaks

I’m just going to state this now and get it out of the way. I love group breaks.

What is better then paying a fraction of the price of a box or case and having the possibility of getting a huge hit? It’s like gambling on gambling. It’s like trying to win the lottery of the person who is going to win the lottery. Except you usually actually get something in the end instead of a garbage piece of paper….well hopefully you don’t end up with garbage.

Group breaks are fun for the people breaking and fun for the breaker. It’s fun for the breaker because you get to rip packs and see what is inside. We all know the reason we love ripping packs is to see what is inside and hiding behind that foil wrapping, or in some cases clear wrapping (which makes no sense). It’s drama at its finest.

So basically there are several types of group breaks. Pick Your Team, Random Team, Pick Your Spot Draft, Random Draft, and Yankee Swap*. (*Yankee Swap may not really exist)

  • Pick Your Own Team is just that. You pick your own team. Sometimes some teams are priced higher based on possible good cards and sometimes they aren’t. Usually the most popular teams will go first so it just depends how fast you are if you get that spot.
  • Random Team is everyone in the group break is put in a randomizer with the teams. Random teams, random person gets the teams. Sometimes there is a combination of Pick Your Team and Random Team.
  • Pick Your Spot Draft is when there are draft slots with each slot significantly priced higher the closer to the first pick you go. That person at the top of the draft picks first all the way down. Sometimes people will snake the draft and sometimes it will go back to the top.
  • Random Draft is a card draft, but the top pick on down is randomized. Again, there is an option for snakes. SNAKES IN A DRAFT!

Those are the four main types of breaks. Occasionally you will find other variants like League Division or something like that. All these are good and fun ways to spend your money.

But you want to spend your money with a trustworthy source. We all DO NOT want to be in a group break like the recent happenings on YouTube with callofhockeybeast. This is fairly recent but the low down is this. The kid hid a hit behind a decoy while showing the contents of the pack. This is a one hit per pack product, we know he hid it and we could see the corner of the card hidden. First off, this kid should be blacklisted. Second, you want to know how to avoid these things.

My first rule for avoiding bad group breaks is stick with the trading sites. CloutsnChara and Sports Card Forum are the two trading sites I use most for group breaks. These can only be run by the staffers on those respective sites. The odds of getting scammed are the least on those sites. They just wouldn’t risk their reputation. I’m sorry if other sites have staff only group breaks but I don’t know of others. Blowout often has group breaks run by it’s members, but there are less problems on sites that only allow staff to run the breaks.

My second rule for avoiding bad group breaks is to stay away from YouTube. There is absolutely no protection for YouTube group breaks. The person could just take your money and run or pull the old scammer switch-a-roo. I’m not going to detail how to scam someone by the old scammer switch-a-roo because I don’t want to give anyone ideas, but trust me, it’s possible. I know all the possible ways people can be burned, I spend way too much time thinking about how I could be burned in any deal where there is no protection guaranteed.

My third rule for avoiding bad group breaks is always join group breaks done on BlogTV or UStream…something live. If they are just recording a box break who is to say they didn’t switch boxes on you? (Version of the switch-a-roo scam) You need it to be live with someone, preferably most, involved with the group break for verification it’s on the up and up. A YouTube video of you opening the box won’t cut it anymore. This is a cut-throat hobby and some people will do anything to get ahead in the end.

My final rule for avoiding bad group breaks is the most important rule….and that is to do your research. Pick someone who has a proven track record of sincerity and trustworthy actions in several sites or communities. There are several bloggers, eBay, and YouTube people who are great. You just have to do your research. Check your prices, check the persons background by their username on several sites, look into as much as you can. If you don’t you’ll be paying for it in the end.

So, I love talking about group breaks and having fun with them. There are several going on right now across the blogosphere. I Am Joe Collector is taking spots, A Cardboard Problem is holding one, and I think Nachos Grande is holding one too. All legit and great group breakers from what I’ve seen.

I’d also like to hold one if anyone is interested. You want your background information on me? 200 feedback on Sports Card Forum, 53 on eBay, and a couple scattered over other trading sites. I would just like to gauge the interest level. If it’s really high, I’ll get one posted ASAP. If not, well we can always try again later. If you are interested post a comment and your favorite sport to break. Simple.

So there is your guide to group breaks. I hope this helps you stay informed and get the best for your money.

Show and Tell: 2006 Bowman Chrome Jon Lester Rookie Autograph

I thought adding a little show and tell post every now and then would be fun. I will post a card that I own, write about it, and just have fun with it.

This show and tell is about my favorite card that I own. My favorite card I own is not my most expensive card. It’s not the oldest card I own. For me, my favorite card is the card that means the most to me.

When I watched Jon Lester come up from the minors and pitch, I knew that he would be something special. He had a great live fastball and a nasty change and curveball. I was mentioning him with the likes of Johan Santana and everyone laughed at me. Maybe it was part of the hometown bias since I was a Red Sox fan, but I kept watching him and rooting for him. Then came the news.

Late in 2006 Jon Lester was diagnosed with lymphoma. I was shocked and surprised. Cancer in a 22 year old? I had just turned 21 and that hit me pretty hard. I couldn’t believe this pitcher I had been following through the minors was just diagnosed with cancer. I was thankful to see it was treatable but I was still sad for him. The days and months went by as I read every last piece of news about his recovery and attempts to kill the cancer inside him. I wanted to send a get well letter but his family wished to keep it private, so I just kept up the positive thoughts.

I had only one card of his at that time. I had a 2002 Upper Deck Prospect Premiers Jon Lester card. It was his first card made and really his true rookie card. But I wanted an autograph. I scoured eBay for a week or two while building up money and finally found one in my price range. For just under $20 at the time I grabbed this card, 2006 Bowman Chrome Jon Lester Rookie Autograph Refractor:

As you can see, it sits front and center in my baseball card case of my favorite cards. It’s been front and center in my collection since the day I received it.

Needless to say, Jon Lester made a full recovery from lymphoma and no one fan was happier then me. I was so excited to see him come back and pitch again one day. I remember watching the highlights of his return on ESPN and the way the crowd stood behind him with a standing ovation. I believe I was standing too, just watching the highlight. He was back! And boy was he ever. Within a year he would throw a no-hitter and clinch Game 4 of the 2007 World Series against the Rockies. All after beating cancer. How cool is that?

Last year, I finally had the opportunity to watch him pitch in person. For my birthday, I was given tickets to a Mariners – Red Sox game up in Seattle. The one in five chance to see him pitch paid off. I made sure I had a Jon Lester jersey to wear and went to the game, had great seats too. I was able to see in person why he is one of the premier pitchers in the league as he struck out 10 and gave up 1 run. The Seattle Mariners Sasquatch sat in front of me and wasn’t happy all game. But I was.

If Jon Lester could come back from cancer to do the things he did, what could the rest of us do?

Note: This post is loosely based off an article I wrote for Sports Card Forum in July 2010.

Acetate Card of the Day: 2003-04 Upper Deck Glass Caron Butler

In honor of the Heat and the Mavericks making it to the NBA Finals as well as my Connecticut Huskies taking home the Men’s Basketball Championship earlier this year, I bring you Caron Butler.

Now I’m not a chemist, but I’m not entirely sure these are made of acetate. These may be more of a plexiglass then they are a thin acetate material. Either way, I can see through it so I don’t care.

Featured acetate (kinda) card of the day:

2003-04 Upper Deck Glass Autofocus Caron Butler

After I noticed there were autographed cards on the acetate style design, I knew I had to grab some of them for my collection. I had already had a Cam Ward so I decided to try my luck with UCONN basketball players. It was late 2006 when I had just moved into my dorm at Portland State University. I hadn’t brought many of my sports cards with me across the country and I needed something that felt a little more like home. What better then a sports card featuring a Connecticut Huskies player? I scoured eBay and found this in it’s beautiful acetate-sty goodness.

UD Glass was fun when it was out because of these autographs in the set. These are on a very thick acetate/plexiglass surface, almost as thick as some Exquisite cards. These cards will not bend in any way and make an interesting sound when they hit the table. Thought I would have liked to see the autograph more on the clear area as far as design is concerned, this card was very innovative for it’s time and it continued as a staple in the UD Glass series for years to come. Speaking of years to come, I really need to get a Brandon Roy rookie autograph from UD Glass. That would be awesome. If anyone has one let me know!

Caron Butler was originally drafted by the Miami Heat out of the University of Connecticut where he starred for Jim Calhoun’s Huskies. I saw him play in person several times while he was in college as well as on TV, and I don’t think he ever fulfilled his college potential before he left early for the NBA. His first few years with the Heat and the Wizards were okay, but he has finally grown into his own the past few years with the Wizards and now the Mavericks. This season, he was playing extremely well until his unfortunate knee injury derailed him for the season. I could only hope he would return for the NBA Finals, but I don’t think that will be a possibility.

We from Husky Nation salute you Caron Butler and everyone around the world, except for Miami, hopes you can comeback and put baby Bron-Bron in his place by defeating the Heat in the Finals.