Making the Grade (December): Junior, Pacific creator's card, MJ, a major miscut, Mighty Molly, Cinderella Man & more

Like many collectors, Buzz is a fan of grading and knows that there are many reasons that collectors choose to slab cards. Sometimes it's to enhance the appeal and protect them when selling. Other times it's to protect an investment for the long-term or to protect for sentimental reasons. Or, it might be just for fun or curiosity about a potential grade.

Here's this month's grading diary here on The Buzz ...

The Card: 2006 Topps Allen and Ginter Mini #364 Ken Griffey Jr. (extended set)
The Reason Graded: I have pulled a number of Allen & Ginter Rip Cards since the brand's arrival in 2006 and this one was pulled from one of those Rips. I have had other notables graded in the past and this one was simply the last of my Rip pulls that were worth being slabbed up. I figured it was on par with others I have submitted in the past and it was.
The Grade: BGS 9.5

Grade5.566.577.588.599.510B10Total
Population000000005005

Reality Check: We're looking at pretty standard results here as my card is one of five to get that mark, none lower and none higher. Standard cardboard -- even those from Rip Cards -- doesn't get as much love as the hits when it comes to grading, but they're something to consider grabbing (or slabbing) while you can. I think there might be added interest in these rarer standard cards later with premiums for graded copies. They won't be as easily found as the other stuff.

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The Card:
1975 Phoenix Giants Circle K #26 Michael J. Cramer
The Reason Graded: For those who don't know why I made this choice, this is an oddball release of sorts -- a minor-league card -- for a non-player who turned out to be a pretty big player in the cardboard game years later. Cramer was the creator of Pacific Trading Cards which was a major player in the industry for years before it closed in 2004. The back of this card notes how he helped make the set that this came in and plugs the Arizona Sports Collectors Association -- an example of something that was needed in the mid-1970s collecting landscape when we weren't all plugged in. I picked this card up online a few years ago and figured it was interesting enough to be slabbed no matter what it graded.
The Grade: BVG 9

Grade5.566.577.588.599.510B10Total
Population100000110003

Reality Check: I didn't expect this one to grade as well as it did -- and it's the top-graded specimen of this card. (I was surprised to see that any other copies have been graded, too.)

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The Card:
1995 Upper Deck Joe Montana Box Set #7/8 Joe Montana (miscut)
The Reason Graded: You don't see why? Ultimately I did want to see how this one might grade -- a zero on centering just seemed like it wouldn't be low enough, maybe a negative-10? I requested it be slabbed as authentic if not graded with a number and I'll admit that it bummed me a bit to not see this get a true grade. If you're wondering, this card is not alone -- I popped the lid to one of these sets back in the day when it was my bonus item in a repack bought at a Kmart and every single card was like this. I figured a card that shows part of an iconic play Montana is known for -- "The Catch" -- and a portrait was the best pairing for slab treatment, though there were others I could have chosen that showed him along with Jerry Rice (well, at least half of him). I have kept this miscut set all these years as it's truly an oddity in my collection.
The Grade: BGS Authentic

Grade5.566.577.588.599.510B10Total
Population000000000000

Reality Check: It's authentic -- but not part of the pop report.

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The Card:
2001 Fleer WWF The Ultimate Diva Collection Gold #55 Molly Holly (RC parallel)
The Reason Graded: If you didn't buy these packs back in the day and carefully take care of them, then even a BGS 9 might be a challenge today. This release has super-high gloss and soft stock that can showcase edge and corner issues easily. The gloss, at least in packs I opened in the last year, is bricking the cards meaning you'll get snowy fronts at best and mangled cards in other instances when pulling them apart. Not helping is the wrappers which can allow for damage. I recently dug through my stash of past WWE cards -- I ripped a lot for fun back in the day but didn't really sleeve or page much beyond the hits -- and this "Rookie Card" parallel of a future Hall of Famer jumped out at me as it was far cleaner than others around it.
The Grade: BGS 9

Grade5.566.577.588.599.510B10Total
Population000000010001

Reality Check: It's not surprising to see this is the only one graded -- and I'd be surprised to see any from the release grade higher for the reasons mentioned above. The few specs of white you see on the edges here aren't as obvious without strong lighting so this card looks better than its grade in-person if you ask me. First cards of notable stars from late-1990s and early 2000s wrestling releases could be strong cards in the future -- and high-grade might not be possible in many instances.

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The Card:
2016 Topps WWE Undisputed Divas Revolution #DR20 Mandy Rose (RC)
The Reason Graded: Here's a new fresh-from-the-pack piece of WWE cardboard for a newcomer who is just now working her way into the company's top-tier storylines. (How high is still to be seen.) She made it onto WWE cardboard before she made it into the ring thanks to her appearances on the WWE reality TV show Total Divas and that came after she was the runner-up (but real winner if you ask me) in its other reality show, Tough Enough, which documents aspiring wrestlers' work just to get a WWE contract. This card isn't noted as an RC but it's from the high-end Undisputed set and her card might be overlooked there with all of the hits people are chasing from those boxes.
The Grade: BGS 9.5

Grade5.566.577.588.599.510B10Total
Population000000001001

Reality Check: My card was the first graded and remains a 1/1 until another arrives. That works for me. She does have other 2016 cards and I'll probably slab up a Heritage or flagship card at some point, though those are a little more condition-senstitive from what I've seen with print spots and skinny stock. I haven't quite yet found a copy that I think was a title contender like this one was.

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The Card: 1982 Topps #213 Dave Stewart RC
The Reason Bought: You ever have a cheap card you want in a slab but then you go look at your copies from back in the day and see that they're just not up to snuff? That's what happened for me here -- and the cost of finding one of these Rookie Cards for a former Oakland A's ace already graded was cheaper than getting one done myself.
The Grade: PSA 9

Grade11.52345678910Total
Population00000441565226116430

Reality Check: This one's not perfect but it was cleaner than the handful that I owned. It's been graded more times than I had expected -- probably with 1982 Topps PSA Registry chases -- and there are only 116 copies better. I probably overpaid a bit ($13) compared to how many are out there, but I always liked this card.

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The Card: 1935 J.A. Pattreiouex Sporting Events & Stars #53 Jimmy Braddock
The Reason Bought: You ever do late-night surfing of your favorite card site and find some oddball cardboard that gets your attention initially for one reason but then it's another that make you go "click" to grab it? The first one for this card was the grade and the price -- I got it for $8 -- but the fact that sealed the deal was when I Googled his name and the set (because, you know, boxing isn't really my main thing). Braddock is the Cinderella Man and this card was created the same year as his iconic fight. It's even noted on the back.
The Grade: SGC 70

Grade5560708082848688929698Total
Population1437030011020

Reality Check: I was a bit surprised there weren't a few more of these graded by SGC given that a lot of pre-war vintage cards get slabbed there. He also doesn't appear to have a lot of cardboard from around this time, so this feels like a fun card to own -- at least for me -- given the price.

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The Card: 1980-81 Topps #146 Junior Bridgeman/#1 Julius Erving (All-Star)/#49 Ricky Sobers
The Reason Bought: This one's another cheap pick-up ($7) with an iconic Hall of Famer in the showcase spot. Now, granted this is not the Erving you want from this set -- that one has Rookie Cards of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson on the outside panels -- but that one costs a bit more. Why grab it? At first glance it feels better than a PSA 8 and, well, I'm a sucker for this trainwreck of a card concept along with early 1980s Topps NBA (because there isn't much) as well as 1970s stuff, too. Some good bargains are out there and they're not as easily found as MLB or NFL cardboard.
The Grade: PSA 8

Grade11.52345678910Total
Population00000411218610632260

Reality Check: There is a decent amount of this one graded but my grade has been topped often. Not that surprising, but I'm fine with that for the price. This was a cheap add to my graded stash -- less than it would have cost to grade it myself.

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The Card: 2000 Upper Deck Victory Japan #31 Kohsuke Fukudome
The Reason Bought: Simply put, the oddity and the price. For just $2 I picked up this example of cards from a few Nippon Professional Baseball sets made by Upper Deck and released in Japan. It doesn't hurt that this is a guy who made it to MLB for five years with he Cubs, Indians and White Sox. For a time, he was a big deal and that's around the time this one was graded.
The Grade: BGS 9.5

Grade5.566.577.588.599.510B10Total
Population00000000130013

Reality Check: They're all the same grade as mine -- and mine might be the worst of them all based on the sub-grades.

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The Card: 1994 SP Holoviews #16 Michael Jordan
The Reason Bought: I'm a sucker for certain Jordan baseball cards -- mostly his 1994 stuff -- and I managed to pick this one up for a bit less than it would cost to get one graded in reasonable time (if I already owned one, which I didn't). This was a roughly $13 pick-up and that seemed low compared to recent eBay and COMC.com asking prices for copies for this grade. I made the deal as it is a clean card and I'm fine with 9s.
The Grade: BGS 9

Grade5.566.577.588.599.510B10Total
Population00161942661052300262

Reality Check: My card falls on the most-common grade which wasn't that surprising, but what did seem interesting is how there are zero 10s of any type for this card and only 23 9.5s. You'd think there would be more graded and then cracked to try and get a higher mark (which would inflate the stat) but that doesn't appear to be the case. Perhaps that's because so much time had passed between when this one was made and when grading kicked in hard, but you'd think the Jordan fans would be just as interested here -- but maybe not. Mine was graded way back in 2007, which explains some of the scratches on the case, but this one still feels like a comfortable and quality pick-up for the price.

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Follow Buzz on Twitter @BlowoutBuzz or send email to BlowoutBuzz@blowoutcards.com. 

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