Thursday, January 30, 2020

Schmidt Happens Twice

Man, I have the worst luck with buying Mike Schmidt cards on eBay. Maybe you remember back when I bought a 1973 Topps Schmidt rookie that turned out to be fake? That's right: Counterfeit Schmidt!

Well, after receiving my first counterfeit card (that I'm aware of, at least), I think I've now received my first trimmed card (again, that I'm aware of). And again, the player is Michael Jack Schmidt.

The card on the left is the one I recently won, while the non-auto on the right is from my factory set. The autographed card is clearly shorter than the other. It seemed off right out of the package, as it loosely rattled around in the standard screw-down hard case it was mailed in.

I know some vintage sets may have slightly varying sizes, but as you can see from my set, these 1991 Classic Best cards all appear uniform in width and height.

I love this minor league set and it was the only full-length set from my childhood collection that survived "the great possessions purge" as I prepared to move out-of-state years back. Card #1, poster boy Schmidt is the only big leaguer in a set of minor league cards and I figured adding an autographed card would be a cool addendum. It's an official auto card from Classic Best.. I believe they were only available in packs, probably seeded at crazy odds. The only autograph in the set, they are hand-numbered to 2100, but otherwise don't mention they are autographed (no "Congratulations!"-type message on the back), though the back is slightly different than the base version.

Thanks to TCDB-- because I've already returned the auto and didn't snap a shot of the back-- here are both cards for you to compare and contrast, noting the differences on the backs...

I'm now almost thinking I was too hasty and maybe the auto card really is just a little smaller?? Does anyone have one of the other 2099 copies who could confirm the size?

Maybe I'm just paranoid with all the "trimming scandal" hobby news over the past few months. Did the Schmidt auto originally have a dinged top corner that somebody decided to trim away to improve its visual appeal? Or was the manufacturer's card-cutting machine just set a little smaller when it came to the the run of to-be-signed cards?

Anyways, the seller was cool about it and I was able to get the return process going through eBay and use a provided return postage label. I don't think the seller was behind any nefarious activity, as he has a big inventory of listings yet few trading cards, so he's probably more of a "pawn shop" type of seller who just ended up with the card from somewhere. He was calmly apologetic about it, which was in contrast to the earlier seller who sent me the counterfeit Schmidt rookie; that guy accepted the return without a fight, but otherwise I got conspicuously no other communication from him, so I'm left to assume he probably knew it was a fake card all along.

So it's a bit of a bummer that the Schmidt auto purchase didn't work out for me, but I'm not too heartbroken over it thanks to the painless return. I'll keep a casual eye out for another one of these someday, but it ain't like it's a white whale of mine or anything (There are a couple others on eBay right now, though they're more expensive [Buy It Now] than the auction I won). If I end up with another one someday and find that it's also smaller than expected, I'll have egg on my face. But this one just seemed off and would've likely bugged me had I decided to hang onto it. Oh well.

UPDATE 1/31/2020

Reader mr. haverkamp, a big Schmidt collector, sent a scan and was able to confirm that yes, the autograph cards do seem to be a bit smaller! I probably should have consulted him before I returned it. Live and learn, I guess!

UPDATE 2/8/2020


  1. If the ink from the autograph looks "too good" for a card that old, it could also be a warning sign. I am not sure how all these autographs from the recent years will hold up 20 years from now...

  2. Being one of the earliest certified autographs in the card industry, I've always wanted to own this card. It's a shame they didn't emboss them or print a COA on the back of the card. Anyways... best of luck on picking up another copy. I guess if I see #1489 pop up on eBay, I'll avoid bidding on it.

  3. Gavin - (I think) you know I'm a huge Schmidt collector/supercollector so this post made me run to my 90's binder to check my copies. My auto version is indeed shorter than the base and gold versions. What makes me not worry is the spacing on the reverse side....the text editing is different (skinnier) on the auto/smaller card. Perhaps the designers knew the auto cards would be cut smaller and edited thusly. I'll send you scans of mine.