Friday, March 11, 2011

The Ruben Project

Call me crazy. Or maybe I just had too much cough syrup last night.

Last night on Twitter (and if you're still not following me on Teh Twinkah, why the hell not?), I asked why the 2001 Bowman Chrome Autograph of Ron Davenport (who never made it past AA, and was last seen playing Indy ball) books for $120, while John Buck (who made the All-Star team last year) is only $80. I got an interesting response from Wes Yee, one of the Moderators at Freedom Card Board. He told me the story of how in 2002, members of Davenport's immediate family were attempting to corner the market on Ron's card.

After a few hours of web surfing, I then turned over to one of my guilty pleasures: Everything Is Terrible. For the uninitiated, EIT is a video repsoitory/performance art collective that scours the nation's flea markets, thrift stores, and dollar stores for old VHS tapes, then posts what they find to YouTube. The more obscure and weird, the better. Like this clip...

One of EIT's side projects has been to collect as many VHS copies of the 1996 film Jerry Maguire as possible.

Why you ask?

Well, why not? That's why.

They've collected almost 1000 "Jerry's" thus far, and will not stop until THEY




So I began to wonder; what would be the Jerry Maguire of baseball cards? A card that, when it was first issued, was extremely valuable, in demand, and stockpiled by the dozens by collectors; but has since lost most of its value, and, like Jerry Maguire, looks dated. What is the one card that truly represents its era but has been seemingly forgotten by collectors?

I could try and go "Jerry Maguire" on a 2001 BowChro Ron Davenport-type card (i.e. a high-end card with many esoteric gimmicks), like Greg "Toe" Nash's card from the same set. But with so few copies available, it wouldn't be all that feasible to do.

Enter this guy...

This is Ruben Rivera (a.k.a. Mariano's stupid cousin). You probably know him as that guy who stole Derek Jeter's glove, then sold it to a memorabilia dealer. You may also remember him from this most excellent display of base running skills.

The Ruben Rivera I remember was the 20-year-old mega-prospect who hit 33 HRs and stole 48 bases at Single-A in 1994, and was already being called "The Next Mickey Mantle." But in the Summer of '94, The Next Mickey Mantle had yet to appear on a baseball card. That is, until the release of 1994 Bowman Baseball.

Those of you that weren't born, or weren't collecting back then, probably don't remember the frenzy that surrounded Ruben Rivera's 1994 Bowman RC. Pulling one out of a pack of '94 Bowman was like pulling a $10 bill. No joke! It was almost (almost) like the Strasburg-mania we saw last year -- but without the autographs, Refractors, pie-in-the-face gimmicks, et al.

Ruben Rivera, of course, never lived up to the "Next Mickey Mantle" hype. After a few years the Yankees shipped him off to San Diego for another one of the forgotten prospects of the 90s: Hideki Irabu. Over the last decade he's bounced from San Diego, to Texas, to Tulsa, to San Francisco, Ottawa, Bowie, back to the Yankees, to Charlotte, and for the last four seasons, Los Piratas de Campeche of the Mexican League.

Ruben Rivera is the poster child for much hyped prospects who never quite lived up to the hype. But there's still thousands of Ruben Rivera rookie cards out there, many of which have probably never been seen or touched or collected since 1994.

So here's the deal: Forget about "Bipping."

Bip Wars are over.


Instead, I want you to "Ruben" me.

That's right. I want all your 1994 Bowman Ruben Rivera cards.

Send them to me. I don't care how many or how little you have.

Let me reunite all your long-lost Rubens with all the other long-lost Rubens in the comfort of my 3200-count Monster Box.

I will then bring all my Rubens with me to this Summer's National Sports Collector's Convention in Rosemont, IL, where they will be publicly displayed for all to see.

Afterward, they will all be taken to the grave of Jefferson Burdick in Central Square, NY, where they will be ritually sacrificed in a manner to be determined later.

Yes, I did drink too much cough syrup when I came up with this idea last night; but no, this is not a joke. I am dead serious about this.


Send your Rubens to...

Chris Harris
9129 Santayana Drive
Fairfax VA 22031-3066

The person who sends me the most 1994 Bowman Ruben Rivera cards by the time of this year's National will get a prize of some sort. What that prize is, I do not know, but it will be worth your while.

No comments: