Making the Grade: Grading Diary I includes Derek Jeter, legendary ink, vintage, WWE Diva Paige & more

Buzz-Grading-Diary-1993-Upper-Deck-Derek-JeterLike 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.

For the first Grading Diary here on The Buzz, it will be a mix of cards graded for a few reasons.

The Card: 1993 Upper Deck #449 Derek Jeter
The Reason Graded: This was pulled straight from an underpriced factory set and looked very clean except for a tiny spot on the back — Buzz figured it might push into the high grades even with the gloss issue. These cards are also not easy to pull from wax or sets cleanly because the high-gloss cards often stick together, peeling away specks of paper. Another reason? This is an iconic card that’s worth grading if you own a clean one.
The Grade: BGS 9

 Grade: 5 5.5 6 6.5 7 7.5 8 8.5 9 9.5 10 Total
Population: 24 20 65 124 334 761 1,314 1,579 806 307 3 5,360

Reality Check: The SP Jeter rookie is the one people chase, not this one. This one’s $20 on eBay — and perhaps undervalued considering how they grade on the pop report. BGS 9s and higher are really much rarer than people think.

Buzz-Grading-Diary-Rickey-Henderson-Cooperstown-AutographThe Card: 2012 Panini Cooperstown Signatures Rickey Henderson #HOF-RIC
The Reason Graded: Buzz hadn’t pulled an autograph of one of baseball’s biggest offensive threats in years of collecting (and despite “The Man of Steal” signing a lot more in recent years) until this one was pulled from discounted box of Cooperstown. With it being one of the rarer autos in the product and being an on-card auto on a design that Buzz really likes, this one was destined to be slabbed simply for protection before going into the ol’ personal collection. It also graded better than Buzz would have expected, which was a bonus.
The Grade: BGS 9.5

Grade: 5 5.5 6 6.5 7 7.5 8 8.5 9 9.5 10 Total
Population: 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 1 0 4

Reality Check: It doesn’t matter what eBay says on this one as it’s not going anywhere anytime soon — even if it is the best copy on the pop report. It’s a nice card without slabbing, but it’s an even nicer one with it.

Buzz-Grading-Diary-Topps-Kareem-Abdul-JabbarThe Card: 1980-81 Topps #44 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, David Thompson, Brian Taylor
The Reason Graded: Vintage cardboard is tough to grade even if it’s of the final year before the BVG cut-off to BGS modern. Buzz had this card sitting in a top-loader for years after picking it up simply because it looked clean and sharp. Abdul Jabbar and Thompson are Hall of Famers and that doesn’t hurt, either.
The Grade: BVG 8

Grade: 5 5.5 6 6.5 7 7.5 8 8.5 9 9.5 10 Total
Population: 0 1 1 2 1 3 3 2 0 4 0 17

Reality Check: The reality on this one is that there’s just not much demand for the cards in this set unless it’s the double-Rookie Card of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird with “Dr. J” Julius Erving sandwiched in between. Only six cards are graded higher than this BVG 8 and there are only two others like it. That would make this a potential target for a registry-minded collector or Kareem fan, but that’s probably about it. Buzz just liked this card’s grading potential no matter what because it’s vintage, so that’s why it’s in a slab. (Chasing high-grade vintage is a bit of an addictive challenge, too, because the prices on top grades can become astronomical.)

Buzz-Grading-Diary-1989-Topps-Bryce-HarperThe Card: 2014 Topps ’89 Topps Diecut Minis #TM49 Bryce Harper
The Reason Graded: When sorting through some stacks of inserts from past years, Buzz noticed that this card was pretty sharp-looking compared to others. With their unusual die-cutting, these ’89s can still get bounced around in packs and the bottom tip of the name bar can be dinged quite easily. This one looked like it had BGS 10 potential — maybe even BGS Black.
The Grade: BGS 9.5

Grade: 5 5.5 6 6.5 7 7.5 8 8.5 9 9.5 10 Total
Population: 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1

Reality Check: It came up short of black label society status, but the card still basically had no flaws to the naked eye. (Since Buzz doesn’t own a loupe, that’s a win.) This is the only graded copy of the reigning National League MVP’s card from the set, so there might be interest in the card, meaning it could fetch more than the typical un-slabbed price (but probably not that much). Chalk this one up to a fun card for a 1980s kid and a lesson in chasing 10s — if you don’t get that perfect grade, you’d better be happy with what you submitted.

Buzz-Grading-Diary-Topps-Opening-Day-Orbit-Astros-MascotThe Card: 2013 Topps Opening Day Mascots #16 Orbit
The Reason Graded: Because Orbit is the best mascot in the game today, topping legends that have been going strong for years — that’s why! It’s also his “Rookie Card” as the team used some different forgettable character in years before. Orbit, like the Astros now, has game. (This is a mascot who isn’t afraid to streak if necessary. Why? Who cares … it’s funny.)
The Grade: BGS 9.5

Grade: 5 5.5 6 6.5 7 7.5 8 8.5 9 9.5 10 Total
Population: 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1

Reality Check: This card was nearly perfect and is the only copy graded. Had it not been just a tad off-center top-to-bottom, this would be a 10. Anybody who knows the antics of this mascot would gladly pay a few bucks to own the only copy in an elite grade. But like the rest of Buzz’s stuff here — it’s not going anywhere.


The Card: 2014 Topps Chrome WWE NXT Prospects #14 Paige
The Reason Graded: There are a lot of wrestling collectors are out there and Buzz is one, too. Buzz also knows that the first crop of NXT rookies to be found on Topps cardboard is a good one and at some point this affordable set will be built and then graded. This is a start since Paige is one of its best cards.
The Grade: BGS 9.5

Grade: 5 5.5 6 6.5 7 7.5 8 8.5 9 9.5 10 Total
Population: 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 0 3

Reality Check: This card is a bit off-center top to bottom but is otherwise good, giving it a grade that one might not expect at first glance. It’s also one of three in that condition and none have graded higher, so that’s cool. What’s also cool is that cards of Charlotte, Enzo Amore, Sasha Banks, Tyler Breeze and Sami Zayn have all been graded from this set. That proves Buzz isn’t alone when it comes to liking this one.

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