In 1992, Ace Novelty (the maker of those ugly looking trolls) was primed to compete with Topps, Fleer, Donruss, etc. and go even further, by expanding into international markets. A small prototype set was made to show them. The minuscule run of cards was handed out to a little league team that one of the guys at Ace was involved with. Ultimately, the MLB rejected giving them a license at the 11th hour. The actual cards that got out in the public appear to be a great big … “oops!”, and were given out with the assumption that the MLB was going to award Ace the license. As these cards made their way to the public market, many have gone for a tremendous amount of money.
Upon talking to other collectors about this, Rick S. provided a scan of an email that he received from someone with more knowledge on these from 21 years ago…interestingly enough, the date of this email puts it significantly closer to the production of the cards (7 years) than to the current year.
The MLB ordered Ace to cover all uncut sheets in a landfill, and the guy who was ordered to supervise this swiped a sheet for his own collection. This sheet ended up on eBay years later and sold for peanuts. The buyer of the sheet knew the tremendous value of it, though it was in pretty bad condition, cut them up (fronts with blank backs and backs with blank backs) and sold many for big money. Years ago, I bought the Cansecos, and ultimately ended up with the regular cards and sheet cuts. Here is a pic of the sheet that was sold:
Several months after I sold out, I was able to reacquire the full cards again. Here is a pic of the two together:
I had no interest in the sheet cuts, until a couple months ago when my brain started churning.
One of the sheet cuts was a Japanese version. Given that there is quite possibly not another one out there, and that it is an excellent “What could have been” artifact (seriously, if they were approved, could the other card makers have followed suit, making the hobby be as big overseas as basketball cards are?), I decided to attempt a trade for the Japanese parallel sheet cut. I offered more than I care to publicly admit. Ultimately the deal was agreed to and I got the front and back! An oversized sheet cut is no longer palatable for my collecting tastes, so I took the front and back, and turned it into a standard sized card. Voila! Very happy 🙂
This new card serves two purposes: First, it allows me to have an incredible “What Could Have Been” Japanese example in my collection, but this card is also a physical relic of a sheet that was at the very precipice of its demise. A good story adds tremendous value to baseball cards for me, and this is an excellent example of that!