1997 TOPPS PRO SHOOTERS MARBLES BERNARD GILKEY
Back in the late ’90s when New York was still my home, I used to haunt the aisles of National Wholesale Liquidators a couple of times a month.
My wife liked to follow the rotation of some of the more esoteric food items, and I would head straight to the card section.
Their stock was generally a combination of the overproduced and the underloved. In the heyday of Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire, I picked up a box of 1987 Donruss for $10, which seemed like a coup at the time. And then I watched the value of the box deteriorate along with its condition over the course of a few relocations…
I also recall buying more packs of 1997 Leaf than any sane man has a right to, as well as my one-and-only tin of Topps ScreenPlays.
But one item that I passed up continuously was the 1997 Topps Pro Shooters Marbles set.
These clear plastic marbles came two per pack– each marble displayed a fully licensed player photo on the front and a team logo and player name on the back. The packs also contained one of two checklist cards, which carried small photos of each of the 60 marbles in the set.
My local National Wholesale Liquidators was lousy with these packs for at least several months, but I never took the bait. Too hard to store, I figured, and no long-term collectible value.
Well, little did I realize that this was a limited edition, and that release was likely confined to the New York area. As a result, the marbles and the checklists are now both high-demand items. A McGwire marble sold recently for around $250 on eBay; this Bernard Gilkey set me back $20 last month.
So I’d advise all of you New Yorkers who might have had either more foresight or more whimsy than late ’90s me to check your various drawers and boxes, on the lookout for these small, black-banded plastic gems…