The “Yankee” Legacy

You knew somebody out there would try it.

When Upper Deck announced earlier this month that it would be producing a 6,500-card insert set to commemorate the history of Yankee Stadium – almost certainly the biggest U.S. trading card set ever produced commercially – there were bound to be a few ambitious collectors who would decide they had to pursue every card on a very lengthy checklist.

One such pursuit will actually be a group effort by the regulars who frequent the trading boards on the Web site www.thebenchtrading.com.

yankee legacy.jpgThe Web site, known by regulars as “The Bench,” will be relying on its visitors to band together to assemble one of the first “complete sets” of the product. When that mission is accomplished, the plan is to auction the cards off together through Sotheby’s, with the proceeds going to the V Foundation for cancer research. The effort has been dubbed: “Fighting cancer one card at a time.”

“This is a monstrous set, a historical set – not only for baseball, but for pop culture and American sports in general,” said Tim Danielson, a card collector and PR director for The Bench site. “There will be a lot of Yankee fans out there who will probably be interested in this. It’s going to be a huge, monstrous challenge for us, but a lot of our members collect sets from all the major manufacturers and enjoy the thrill of the hunt – tracking down those last few cards.”

The Yankee Stadium Legacy set will feature cards spotlighting every baseball game ever played at Yankee Stadium in the past 85 seasons. It will also chronicle some of the most memorable non-baseball events, including heavyweight title fights between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling (June 19, 1936), and Muhammad Ali and Ken Norton (Sept. 28, 1976). It will truly be a whopper of a set and, as an insert product, one that will have to be put together piecemeal; no buying in bulk, no complete sets from the factory.

Danielson noted that The Bench has more than 6,000 members and that some of the collectors that lurk there were already contemplating chasing the set on their own. Some may still be doing so, but they have also been willing to supply cards to the group effort.

The official release date of Upper Deck Series 1 Baseball is Feb. 5. Danielson was hopeful that cards would begin arriving from the group’s Chicago project headquarters soon after.

“I know some of our members have pre-ordered their cards to get started right away,” he said.

“We’ve actually got a lot of members saying already they will be bidding on lots of cards, 10, 20 at a time, on eBay, and members want to let each other know so we don’t have members bidding against each other,” he added.

Upper Deck Series 1 will be the first to offer the cards, but there will be seven more products to follow in the next 10 months: Spectrum Piece of History, SPx, Upper Deck Series Two, Spectrum Piece Legendary Cuts (hobby only), Spectrum Piece Authentic, Upper Deck X and Upper Deck Masterpieces. The plan, according to Upper Deck, is to have one card seeded in every four packs for all eight brands involved.

The Bench collection project has gotten legs in a hurry. National media has been taking notice, collectors on the site are anxious to start pulling and finding cards, and the enormity of the entire challenge has begun to set in for everyone.

“We’re hoping the national publicity we’re starting to get rolling in will get people not only on our site donating cards, but (collectors) at shops around country,” he added. “As this thing picks up steam, we’re actually hoping to trade the duplicates we get to get the cards we need… Hopefully, say in August, we have cards 1 to 500 done in duplicate, we can auction that off to help get the rest of cards we need.”

So far, there is no true master “checklist” to follow. Organizers of the effort are just going to start assembling the cards in sequence.

“We’re not looking to make any money on this at all,” he added. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to turn around at the end of the year and hand the V Foundation a big, fat check.”

For more information, go online to www.thebenchtrading.com.

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