After reading a blog entry over at Bad Wax about a new cut signatures card company in the industry, I was intrigued. My wife and I have been opening packs in various sets both in the baseball and cinema realm hoping to find a cut signature. We just think they are cool and would like to have one some day of either a famous Hollywood star or a vintage (i.e. passed away) baseball star. To me, cut signatures are kind of lame if I am able to go to a card show and get the same person to sign a card for me, they lose their luster a bit in my opinion. So, after reading the post at Bad Wax, I went over to the company's website: Tri City Sports to check them out. They have a new site starting on January 1st, 2011 at www.tricitysportspl.com.
I registered with the site and contacted the operator of the site, hoping to get some more information and through e-mail conducted a brief but really informative interview of sorts. I had a few questions and co-owner Paul responded using his phone, so I've cleaned up some spelling, but other than that, his answers are unedited. First of all I asked him to shed a little light and give us some history on Tri City Sports.
"A little about Tri City Sports PL: this company was established in 2008 and had financial difficulties and our group purchased the company in September of 2010! Before we purchased the company Tri City was only making soccer cards and stickers for soccer games in Poland! Tricity has never released any product outside of Poland but now that it's under new management; we have 2 releases for 2011! 1st release is Diamond Cuts Baseball in Jan /15/2011 (worldwide release) and we will be releasing a soccer product in the spring which will be exclusive to Europe only!"
I found it interesting that a company that started with soccer cards in Poland is making the leap to American baseball and cut signatures. So I asked Paul what got them interested in the cut signature card market:
"Well we saw that there was a lot of cut products in the market which had seriously over priced products in terms of return for collectors so instead of releasing a standard issue product we are releasing a cut edition product where each case will offer four 1/1 cut auto's per case along with our golden ticket redemption program which will include some real 1/1 type items from the golden days of baseball (non announced yet program)."
I agree that a lot of the cut signature products have a price point about $50 too high. The return-on-investment for these boxes/packs is ridiculously low and from some of the cards I've seen I am not impressed. Who needs a cut signature of Candy Maldanado that is cut from a previously autographed baseball card? I would be very upset to have pulled that card from a $125 box/pack. I'm intrigued to find out more about this "golden ticket redemption program". Sounds like it could lead to some really valuable cards/items that make the $80 per box/pack price much easier to fork over. Next, I asked Paul why card collectors should invest in the Tri City product:
"Honestly we know it's tough for collectors with the hard times now a days and things are tight for a lot of middle class households with box prices going high and higher! Our competition offers a lot of products for many years which the owners of Tri City have collected in the past! Our customers will realize our products are top notch and offer a lot of bang for the buck; we might not have the big ads on TV or the radio but as collectors and owners of Tri City we realize to make a successful product we have to make sure our customers are happy and we offer a chance for them to get some of the Top Cut Auto's of the best in the game past, present and future! Our motto is "For the Collector By the Collector!"
I really liked his answer and I think it echos a lot of how I feel about the major card companies. I'm not naive enough to think it's not a profit driven business, however I feel as though the card industry took us for fools in the late 80's and 90's with the massive amount of junk wax, and now feel like they are doing us some kind of favor with the over-run products they are offering as of late. Add in the virtual monopoly Topps has on baseball, and some of the poor quality controls issues with some of the relics, cut sigs and bad autos I've seen of late and it just compounds the issue as a whole. The big companies need to keep in mind that they still NEED paying customers and that we aren't just going to buy whatever junk they produce every year. Anyways, Paul seems to have a pretty good grasp on what collectors are looking for, as he is one himself.
I then asked Paul about their authentication process. As a new entry in the market, I could see how people might be leery of cut signatures from an unknown company (as if cut sigs from a known company coughcoughTOPPScough are any more trustworthy).
"All cuts are certified by a third party aka PSA/JSA/STENIER plus our own household expert and all cut auto cards will have a special lite mark (non visible to the naked eye) to make sure there not altered in the second market! If a collector buys our cuts in the secondary market and feels something is not right they will have a chance to send in their cards to us to verify that their card is a original Tri City Cut Auto (Non Altered) for the cost of shipping!"
Wow, first of all I don't know if Topps, Upper Deck or Donruss/Panini do the same "lite mark" that Tri City will be doing but what a great idea. I am very uneasy about buying cut signatures online or on ebay just due to the fact that you rarely know exactly who you're dealing with and if it is authentic or a lame reproduction. With this info, I think I'd feel a bit better putting down some cash for an auto from Tri City should it pop up on ebay.
Finally, the all important question: When can I buy???
"Its hard to say when Diamond Cuts Baseball will be released but our original date of Jan/15/2011 might be pushed back to Feb/5/2011 because we are still currently in the last stages of printing!"
Well folks, there you go. I do plan on buying a box, just to play the odds and try to get some sort of original card with a cool cut signature! As an avid card collector, I really do wish Paul and the rest of the team at Tri City Sports PL the best of luck with the Diamond Cuts Baseball set! Hopefully this is the first set of many! (And my wife would really appreciate if an exclusively Hollywood set could be in the making!)