UPDATE: 800 copies discovered May, 2016! Quick Look: 1990 Upper Deck Mike Witt #702A

26 Mar

Quite possibly the ultimate Junk Era Gem or Hidden Treasure card, the legendary 1990 Upper Deck Mike Witt #702A with black box on back is one of the scarcest variations produced in the modern era,* and until more info shows up to say otherwise, it’s one of the scarcest error cards of all.

*UPDATE: as of May, 2016, this statement is no longer true. An 800 count box of the Witt #702 was discovered at a flea market in California. See other Witt blog entry for further details!

Very little is known about this card. As of 20 years after it’s release, no concrete source of it’s distribution exists. Did it come from packs? Many say yes, but with vague memories or telephone-game-like recollections of the origin of their example. Was it found in 800-card factory sets? A popular claim for many years but a claim that may have sprung about by unscrupulous dealers looking to move a glut of backstocked sets. Did they slip into the Hi # factory sets? I know that I have heard from a number of sources over the years that this was the only place that they were found, but again, there have been no recent, reliable breaks that have uncovered a copy.

For those unfamiliar with the card, here is what we know, provided by the big books, i.e. Beckett and Sports Collector’s Digest annual price guides:

-Was pulled from production early and replaced by the “Rookie Threats” card depicting the three 1990 rookie players on the Montreal Expos.

-A black, rectangular box was placed over the back of the card.

-A checklist card #800 has reportedly been discovered with a similar black box on one of it’s sides (Beckett).

I find this card very intriguing because I do not understand why it was pulled from production. While the Montreal Expos had three young talents at the time, none of them were enjoying a ‘stop-the-presses’ type season – also consider that each had already been represented in the set. Several other stars and rookies would’ve made a more logical replacement: Frank Thomas, Travis Fryman, Scott Erickson, Dale Murphy (in a Phillies uniform) are all absent from the set. Fernando Valenzuela and Dave Stewart’s dual July 29th no-hitters, a first-ever for major league baseball, would’ve made for a more important “special” card than the Expos guys.

What about that checklist #800?

Beckett notes that checklist cards have appeared with the black box on them. Has anyone ever seen a copy? I know I have not but I’ve also didn’t work for a major hobby publication at the time of the sets release. Since 1998, I have kept my eyes open on internet trading and auction sites and have yet to see a single copy. Visiting card shows since the 1991 National in Anaheim has not turned one up either.

Is the black box covering something up?

After card seasons that saw the Bill Ripken, Jim Nettles and Fred Marion variations, it’s hard not to wonder what the box may be covering up. Granted, I have been given no reason to believe there is, but since no one has come forward with any inside information on the card, specifically as to why it was pulled, since there is no apparent reason, at this point, it’s not impossible that something is being covered up.

If the black box exists as a way for production workers to instantly recognize the card and remove it before pack-out, then wouldn’t that mean at least one Witt #702 exists without it?

It would seem illogical for Upper Deck to produce sheets with black boxes already on them. So wouldn’t it stand to reason that some sheets must have been printed without the black boxes prior to their application? If so, who has them? Anyone who’s read Card Sharks by Pete Williams knows that UD’s CEOs were very aware of the collectabilty of their error cards – often printing up many for themselves once the secondary market established itself for certain issues (i.e. Ben McDonald and Dale Murphy errors). Does Richard McWilliam have a brick of the Witt cards sitting in a vault somewhere? It seems as though some of these guys would’ve started listing them by now but we really only get about one or two every four or five years on ebay. Still, I find it hard to believe that UD would destroy the withdrawn cards and unfortunately, it may take until they sell of their assets for the Witt cards to finally start showing up in the market.

If anyone has any information regarding the card, I’d love to hear it. This is one of the few fascinating cards from a time that most people look back on rather poorly. Surely there has to be someone out there who has the answers.

16 Responses to “UPDATE: 800 copies discovered May, 2016! Quick Look: 1990 Upper Deck Mike Witt #702A”

  1. Walter March 29, 2010 at 1:37 am #

    I am almost certain these were found in early packs. I remember seeing one at a show back when they first came out and asking about it and the dealer saying he pulled it from a pack but haven’t seen one since. I have seen the checklist card.

    You would think there would be more information available on this card, especially how back then errors were really hot.

  2. David Boswell April 4, 2010 at 9:47 am #

    I opened a 1990 wax pack in 1990 and got one of these. I still have it. I have been looking for some information on this card for years.

    • junkwaxgems May 18, 2010 at 12:58 pm #

      David, do you have a scan of it? The scan included in the auction has been passed around a bit, it’s be great to get an image or two from a different copy. And lucky you! That’s a very rare card.

  3. Ronald Bach January 18, 2011 at 6:16 pm #

    Okay Everyone! I finally listed this card so go to eBay and check out the close-up supersized pictures that I provided you. All of your questions have been answered. I have opened up over 100 error cases in my lifetime and this is the only one that I have ever gotten. I still have not seen a black box checklist. I doubt that they exist. So, how many of these Mike Witt cards exist? Why is it listed so low in certain price guides? This card is certainly worth a couple hundred due to it being so scarce! Well, continue the search. By the way, it is in the high number wax packs. One more thing that you guys may want to know: The guy I bought the wax cases from sold another pallet to the company that supplies the Dollar Tree packs of cards. The 1990 Upper Deck high number packs are already in the stores. Enjoy! Ronald Bach

    • junkwaxgems January 18, 2011 at 8:20 pm #

      Great job! As I half-jokingly guessed a while back, it does appear as if Witt is unbuckling his pants. Now, you just need to find the version without a black box. I mean, there has to be one somewhere, right?

      • DJ January 28, 2011 at 9:36 pm #

        Congrats on the big sale!! I think that $800+ for that card is good for the buyer and the seller.


    • Gilbert M Ayala May 29, 2016 at 12:09 pm #

      I have a box full of these

  4. Ronald Bach February 13, 2011 at 11:09 am #

    I finished going through the 1990 Upper Deck commons from which I yielded a Mike Witt error. I actually had gone through over 400,000 commons. I found two other variations prior to the 702B introduction. I did not find a checklist error card and I would have to say that it must be extremely rare. The 800B was in packs before the 702B was. So, the two variations are 743 Mark Gardner and 777 Keith Hernandez. Both variations are on the back. The Hernandez card has only half the copy right showing and the Gardner card has lines above and below the copy right. I found less that twenty of each out of 400,000 thousand cards. Please let me know if this variation is already known? If they are rare, I would like to give you one of each for the valuable information that you shared with me. Thank you, Ronald Bach

    • junkwaxgems February 13, 2011 at 3:09 pm #

      Hi Ronald,

      Thanks for the update. I always felt pretty certain that there were at least a couple more varieties in the series. This is the first I have heard of those two. The only unlisted variety I have uncovered in the set is a 3rd type of Checklist #800 that has the copyright printed twice (one slightly off from the other). I have a stash of the Keith Hernandez somewhere but have never noticed anything odd in mine. I’d love to see a scan of each if possible and I’ll add a blog or an update about them.

      Also, if you are interested in parting with a copy of each, I would highly recommend listing them and noting that they came from the same cases as the Witt, I’m sure more than a few people would be interested in owning a copy.

    • richtree August 16, 2016 at 7:19 am #

      Ronald, do you still have the black box #800 checklist ? thanks

  5. MattinglyStash June 16, 2011 at 5:51 am #

    What is the story behind the Scott Ruskin clipped and full P variations?

    Are the full P’s only associated with the Mike Witt sheets? That’s a rumor I’ve heard but have not been able to verify.

    • junkwaxgems June 17, 2011 at 8:36 am #

      The guys that were selling the 10-card Mike Witt sheets had full P Scott Ruskins on them as well. Their claim is that they are only available on those sheets.

      I personally have never looked at Ruskin’s card therefore I have no real input in the matter. Maybe someone with bulk commons for 1990 UD can chime in?

      • Lester Bach July 7, 2011 at 7:17 am #

        Yes, the Ruskin full “P” is as rare as the Witt Black Box. Take a look at the sheet on ebay right now. Ruskin is one card up to the left. My son, Ronald Bach, found two Witt’s. Out of 400,000 cards only five Ruskin full “P” cards were found. This variation was in the same boxes from where the Witt variations were found. I gave one away, sold two, and I plan to sell the other two as part of a master high number error set. I have over 21 different high number variations with about twelve variations being directly related to the Witt variation. I have had help from variation collectors so I think that I have all the errors separated correctly. One master set will include a PSA 10 Witt and the other will not. Due to the hundreds of hours put in finding these variations, I cannot sell these variations cheap. Thank you, Lester

  6. richtree September 25, 2012 at 1:23 pm #

    I recently have purchased 4 Mike Witt Black Box 1990 Upper Deck error cards…..

    I may have a 5th on the way, but I will sell the 4 Mike Witt ‘s in a lot for $5000 — It is super rare and olberman bought the first few, so I doubt there are any out there….

    I think I am sending to beckett just so have them graded as ‘authentic’ so they are protected….

    I know 5000 sounds high, but they is the quick price…..

    email me


    if you really want them..

  7. Gilbert M Ayala May 29, 2016 at 12:07 pm #

    I have a box full of these cards…can you tell me what they are worth?


  1. 1990 Fleer Dave Martinez #353A Yellow ’90 Error « Junk Wax Gems - June 9, 2010

    […] entries into the annual guides like the 1990 Upper Deck Mike Witt. Even the most recent sale (within the last 18 months), somewhere around $25, is very conservative […]

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