Saturday, November 17, 2012

30 Year Top 50: 2004 Upper Deck USA Baseball

#32-There have been a few large autograph sets released over the past 30 years.  I already posted one in my Top 50 countdown with the 1999 SP Signature Set.  Today's post also features a mega autograph set released by Upper Deck.  Most people associate the USA Baseball cards with Topps, but it was actually held by Upper Deck from 2002 until 2009.  During that time Upper Deck put out quite a few USA Baseball cards, but I feel like this set was their best effort.

The 2004 USA Baseball set was issued as a box set with three autographs in each box.  The sets are still pretty readily available today and aren't very expensive given the potential for a really good autograph.  One of my favorite autographs I pulled out of a USA Baseball box was this John Smoltz autograph.

2004 Upper Deck USA Baseball John Smoltz Autograph

This card launched my interest in this set of cards.  It's a really good card, but it's also one of the few cards that Smoltz had signed during his playing career.  Choose your favorite secondary card site and you will find plenty of 2012, 2011, 2010 Smoltz autographs.  During his career he signed very few cards and often at low print runs.  This card is not too difficult to find and is a great way for an average collector to add a Hall of Fame pitcher's autograph to their collection without breaking the bank.  

In fact, there are lots of people that signed for this set.  As a Cardinals fan I was able to easily find a few former Cardinals to add to my collection from the set.  Even Mark McGwire signed for this set.  There are only 20 cards, but it's McGwire.  

2004 Upper Deck USA Baseball Andy Benes Autograph

2004 Upper Deck Baseball Matt Morris Autograph

These two cards above are perfect examples of cards in this set.  Both Matt Morris and Andy Benes were above average pitchers for multiple seasons for my Cardinals.  Both made All-Star games and both appeared on playoff teams.  They both have autographs in a few other sets, but there aren't tons of Andy Benes and Matt Morris autographs floating around.  The fact that Upper Deck gave Andy Benes an autograph four years after he retired and Matt Morris an autograph towards the end of his career is pretty cool.  As a person who loves the game, and not just the cardboard, I always like finding unique autographs of players I watched.  Which brings me to my final point about this set.

I love the Cardinals.  I love autographs.  I try to find all the certified autographs I can of Cardinals players.  Sometimes that's easy.  Sometimes that's not.  For example, I have enjoyed watching Kyle Lohse pitch the past five years as a Cardinal, but the man does not have an autograph or even a relic card.  Nothing.  There are other players like him too. 

The USA Baseball set has a slew full of players who are first time signers, or extremely limited, who signed for this set.  I would love to get my hands on a Braden Looper autograph.  He does have one of those minor league, Best, autographs.  It's not really pretty, but he does have an autograph in this set and was on a World Series winner in 2006 with the Cardinals.  I will get around to one someday.  

Like the 2004 Upper Deck USA Baseball Set?  Not in my Top 50 is the USA Baseball releases in the 2011 Topps sets.  Topps placed USA Baseball products in several sets last year.  While it's not clear what impact the players included in the set will have in the Majors, the card products were really nicely made.  Here's a looking using the cards of my favorite Duke baseball player: Marcus Stroman.

2011 Topps Chrome Marcus Stroman Autograph

This card would be my favorite on the list if Topps hadn't used sticker autographs on the card.  Most of the Topps Chrome autographs from the 2011 set are on card, so I can't imagine that getting a few more cards signed would be that big of a deal.  

2011 Bowman Sterling Marcus Stroman/Erich Weiss Dual Autograph 

2011 Bowman Sterling Marcus Stroman Jersey

2011 Topps USA Baseball Marcus Stroman Red Autograph

2011 Topps USA Baseball Marcus Stroman Triple Relic Auto 


1 comment:

  1. This is my kind of post. I love USA baseball and especially Marcus Stroman (being a Blue Jays fan.)

    I have the basic jersey (blue swatch) but I'll be on the lookout for the rest of them.