April 16, 1992, will go down as one of the most memorable days in the life of Jack Glenn.
It was that Thursday afternoon when the 43-year-old New York resident learned he had just won the grand prize in Topps' 40th Anniversary Sweepstakes. Contest cards were available in each 1991 wax pack.
As the big winner, Glenn was rewarded with all 40 Topps complete baseball sets from 1952 through 1991. The estimated value is $125,000 and growing.
"At first I thought it couldn't be possible, that it was a joke," said Glenn in a prepared statement. "But when I found out that it was true, I jumped so high in the air that my wife told me to take it easy. Then I told her and she was just as excited. We're still in shock. It really hasn't quite sunk in yet."
Glenn, who has received his prize, has the pleasure of owning the coveted 1952 set, which includes a $30,000 Mickey Mantle card. The '52 set generally commands in excess of $60,000 for a near-mint version.
From the first card in the 1952 set (Andy Pafko) to the last card in the 1991 set (Mike Greenwell), Glenn received a total of 26,112 different cards. While the list of premium cards (including the Mantle) is lengthy, the most interesting and historical part of winning such a prize is to note changes in the cards and who appears on them as the years go by.
Just think, within the 40-year era, Glenn now owns rookie cards of every player from Hank Aaron and Ernie Banks to Pete Rose and Nolan Ryan. For the record, there are 14 cards valued at more than $1,000.
Another winner: The 1992 Fleer Ultra baseball card set is one of the more attractive issues on the market. The 300-card set was released in early April and initial indications are that collectors favor this set over most of the other premium issues.
One reason is the great color photos on what is an uncluttered card. The player's name, team and position are nicely formatted toward the bottom of the card away from the action. A strip of gold leaf runs along the bottom, adding to the card's appeal.
The card backs feature two photos and 1991 and career statistics. The backs are just as colorful as the front in that they are designed in the color of the player's team.
As a perk, Fleer has randomly inserted specially designed Tony Gwynn autographed cards. There are only 2,000 such cards available in foil packs.
A 300-card second series will be released in the fall.
Happenings: The new 1991-92 Upper Deck high number hockey cards have been taking a plunge lately. Foil boxes can be found at shows for as little as $20. Boxes were as much as $50 or more when they first hit the market two months ago. But there are a lot of solid prospects that could make this set very hot in years to come. It's not too often that a 1979-80 wax case of Topps hockey appears on the market. But if you happen to have one, a Minnesota dealer is willing to pay $22,000 for it. The reason: That's the year of Wayne Gretzky's rookie card. One East Coast dealer has been advertising a 1992 Donruss Elite Cal Ripken Signature Series card for $579. Only 5,000 were randomly inserted into foil packs, but it seems a 1969 Reggie Jackson rookie card for the same price would make better sense for the money. Imagine paying nearly $600 for a just-released card. Football collectors are either going to be very busy or are just going to lose their minds. The National Football League Players Association and NFL Properties have been liberally granting licenses to card manufacturers _ so much so that more than 30 sets are expected to be released during 1992. This means more money for the players as far as licensing contracts are concerned. If this seems like a peripheral issue, remember the National Hockey League players' strike. Will NFL owners speak out and want a larger piece of the pie?