Tag Archives: 1990 Upper Deck Mike Witt #702A

800 copies of 1990 Upper Deck Mike Witt #702 Discovered!

11 Jul

A card previously believed to be quite rare, with under 50 copies estimated in circulation has now jumped to closer to 1000 known copies with the recent discovery of an 800 count box filled with 1990 Upper Deck card 702, featuring Mike Witt. The cards were believed to have been pulled from production and destroyed, however, it appears that at least one box made their way out of the factory.

A collector named Gilbert claims to have found the box at a flea market in California. After corresponding privately with collectors he found via commenting on this blog, he took to posting at FreedomCardboard.com for more information on the Witt card. Here is a link to that discussion, which provides so very interesting information: Mike Witt 800ct Discovery Freedom Cardboard Forums Discussion

Below is the initial emails I received upon their discovery:

Gilbert writes:
“Hey Guys,just wanted to update everyone on these cards,ive sold a total of 10 cards so far,some less then $100,my intentions was and will try to get them out to all collectors who would want one for their collection,I’ve made a lot more money from these then I can imagine for something I spend $10 on,talked to a lot of cool people from all over the U.S…made some friends and had a few who tried to take advantage,lol..but it has been an experience,its gotten me into the collection world,the guy I got them from continues to have a huge collection and I’m there every Saturday and Sunday looking thru them,And my “Gem Mint 10″ is now on eBay,so I’m excited about that,i just want that card to be sold for a little higher then the most expensive one sold for(1300)…only time will tell,after that,i might sell a total of maybe 10 after that,but I won’t give them away,lol…so after that,the will be put away…there might be over 800 cards,but not a lot out in the market,what hopefully they keep some value…I admire all you guys,maybe some day I can be a master collector like you all…have a great day people!��”
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1990 Fleer Dave Martinez #353A Yellow ’90 Error

9 Jun

One of my favorite junk-era sets is Fleer’s 1990 issue, which marked their 10th Anniversary of producing regular-issue card sets. The clean design, the awesome-for-1990-prospectors rookie crop (10/10 on the nostalgia scale), the inserts (Soaring Stars are great-looking cards), and the interesting batch of errors and variations within it, are all reasons for me to continue breaking a box here and there.

But 1990 Fleer also holds one of the rarer error cards of the junk-wax era, card #353, Dave Martinez, was originally printed with the little ’90 by logo, in yellow, rather than red. Very few of these were produced, though how many remains ambiguous.

Though nothing is certain, it was my understanding that these cards were found in a specific type of retail packaging very early on in the run. Again, since such little information is out there on this card, it’s origin of distribution remains a mystery. As I touched on earlier, this card was (is still?) priced in the Beckett guide at $2.

I’ll take 50 of them, please!

Over the majority of the last 20 years of watching magazine buy/sell ads, sportsnet and ebay auctions, I was unable to find a copy for sale. Until around 2007, when a copy sold for a buy-it-now of $7 (a BIN I missed – needless to say, that was an ugly day at my house). Likely due to the seller setting the BIN based on the hilarious Beckett price of $2 at the time. It wasn’t until a year or so later, that I found a small group of these for sale on the Beckett Marketplace site and quickly grabbed them up, sight unseen. A few have popped up since then. I want to say somewhere between 2-4 copies, an unbelievably small amount in comparison to how much 1990 Fleer was produced and far fewer than the 1989 Fleer Jeff Treadway Target variation – another Fleer variety known for it’s scarcity. The few I owned sold at auction between $70-100 (roughly) a piece but the handful that sold after those, sold much lower, likely due to a number of factors, not indicative of the card’s actual scarcity.

Obviously, the price is one of those made-up-because-we-want-to-acknowledge-it-but-have-no-idea-what-it’s-worth 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 and most likely due to a poor market and ebay’s dwindling reputation as an auction site and it’s apparent change toward an online outlet mall.

If you have the chance to own one of these, and the price isn’t outrageous, I’d go for it. 20 years and counting, and less-than 10 known examples circulating (and yes, I’m sure several more traded hands back in 1990 and that more than 10 are out there), makes this a very difficult variation to track down – if this were a Topps issue, it would be trading at the 1980 Fred Stanley levels. Let’s hope the price guide editors take notice, give this card a little love and update the price to something that resembles the scarcity of it. Once that happens, who knows, maybe more will pop out of the woodwork?

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.