Howard goes to bat for rare Joe DiMaggio card

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I’m just not up on some aspects of online commerce. For example, ever hear of “card breaks”? Me neither. But they’re apparently very popular.

Enterprising entrepreneurs buy up cases of unopened packs of baseball and other cards. They charge a fee for people to choose particular teams. Then they open the card packs live online. And each person gets the cards from the team he “purchased.”

Here’s one example:

Go about 7:45 into the video and you’ll see the moment that started all the commotion that wound up with my getting involved.

Will Sullivan of Throgs Neck is a card collector and big Yankees fan. He gets involved in these card breaks from time to time. Back in March he paid 80 bucks to get all the Yankees that came up in a break.

And hit a little jackpot. Up came a Joe DiMaggio relic card that contained a piece of DiMaggio memorabilia. Will was excited.

“It’s like Yankee history,” he told us. "There's only 15 of 'em made. There's probably part of his jersey or maybe even his bat that's on this card."

Will didn’t actually get the DiMaggio card itself from the guy running the break. He got what’s called an online redemption card. Will had to rub off the coating on the back to get a code number. Then he had to submit the code online to the Topps Company. And Topps would send him the card.

But Will must have rubbed the card the wrong way.

"It was the third or the fourth letters. Both of them got worn off. So there was no way to read the number so I could enter it into the system."

So Will called Topps. And the company said it was no problem. Will just had to send in the redemption card.

He mailed it in. But that set off the circumstances that got me involved. Topps never sent the card.

"I've spoken to reps maybe 5 or 6 times…They've told me that they haven't received it,” Will told us in August. I have proof that it's been delivered. I have a signature that it's been delivered…And now they're just giving me the runaround."

So Will got in touch with us. And we soon understood why Will was having such a hard time. We called Topps and left messages for four different people at company headquarters in Lower Manhattan. No one called us back.

So we emailed the CEO and left messages for a couple of other people as well.

That did the trick. We heard from Topps’ top attorney and a marketing person who cared enough to call back. They made sure someone got in touch with Will. And a few days later he had an envelope in his hands.

He opened it for us on camera. Inside was a beautiful Joe DiMaggio card containing a piece of one of DiMaggio’s game used bats.

This venture went extra innings but Will was happy to get the card after five months of wrangling. It could be worth well above the $100 floor Will had estimated before he saw it. So Will’s $80 investment worked out in the end.



  • Ken

    Really Howard? Maybe a deeper investigation should have been done before publishing, even promoting this as a new form of online commerce?
    When reporting on these “Breaks,” please be aware many are classified as illegal online gaming. As he was “lucky” to have pulled that card, many pay for a team (or spot) and receive nothing.
    Large Case Breaks usually end up with everyone receiving something, which qualifies it to be legitimate. But most single Box Breaks and High-end Case Breaks many buyers receive nothing, qualifying it as “Online Gaming.”
    By law and by Paypal (the payment transaction site “Breakers” use), an online purchase that is a “chance” of receiving an item and there is also a “chance” of receiving nothing, is considered “Online Gaming.” Paypal even freezes and/or closes accounts (buyers and sellers), when it discovers these types of transactions.
    EBay has even required that any “Break” listing must guarantee something when listing them, which most are circumventing by just stating you are bidding something as ridiculous as the “Breakers” business card and the team cards “you may receive” are a bonus.
    Collectors are aware that Trading Card companies traditionally have terrible Customer Service and your assistance in getting this Gentleman’s Redemption card Redeemed is commendable. The story should have been about that only.

  • KenisMisinformed

    Ken – you are a little off. THere is nothing illegal about group breaking. Paypal doesn’t freeze any Group Breakers Paypal. You are getting confused with ‘Razzing’ and group breaking. Ebay is a company that chooses to have their policy. They are neither the law nor a jury. Paypal allows Group Breaking transactions in the millions of dollars. Try getting better information first.

    By the way, by your logic, every time someone purchases a box of cards, it would be considered a chance. By your logic everytime purchases something that you were not aware of the color you were going to get, then it is chance. There is a guarantee in group breaking, you will get every card of a certin team/player represented in that box of cards. It is defined as a service.

    There is no person you could pinpoint to have broken any law. The broadcast site, no! The Group Break Host, no! The group break participants, no!

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