Customer Reviews: Card Sharks: How Upper Deck Turned a Child's Hobby into a High-Stakes, Billion-Dollar Business
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on August 3, 2008
The back-stage temper tantrum of Mickey Mantle speaks volumes on what has become a multi-billion-dollar industry in baseball cards and sports memorabilia.

Author Pete Williams shows an angry and bitter Mantle after a 1993 appearance on a national home shopping program that was in conjunction with the MLB All-Star Game festivities put on by Upper Deck - railing about the the host's questions, which may not have helped in pushing his autographed merchandise - and attempting to negotiate the following weekend's appearances for the company into being considered as two events, which will make the Yankee legend closer to accumulating enough dates in the year for his nearly $3 million salary to sign autographs on "exclusive" memorabilia.

From the days when baseball cards were used as inserts to secure the packaging of tobacco products to the bubble-gum wars waged by Topps on other companies and a landmark judicial decision in 1980 that opened the doors wide open for a competitive marketplace in baseball card sets, Williams ambitiously covers the bases as he delves into the creation of Upper Deck, an idea from a frustrated card dealer who was tired of buying bogus memorabilia and an inventor who could add a unique identification tag to thwart counterfeiters.

While the story is initially driven by an entrepreneurial spirit born in the 1980s, neither of the founders are in the picture a few years later as the company profits explode as it becomes the high-end retailer in sports cards and collectibles through aggressive marketing and the securing of legends with exclusive and lucrative promotional contracts, along with the baggage from any number of controversies and allegations of unsavory business practices and fraud.

This is an incredible tale on how a kid's summer pastime became an industry monster that seemed so solid on the outside, but could pop at any time like a bubble blown too large from one small stick of gum. With the shrewd marketing of pop culture and the creation of a unique sports boutique based on its alleged rarity, Williams forges a classic story driven by the dreams of youth....and greed of adults.
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on January 22, 2013
This book highlights the rise and fall of the Upper Deck corporation, but really could be broken into 3 parts:
1. A quick history of baseball cards and baseball card litigation
2. The idea and upstart of the Upper Deck corporation
3. The eventual take over of Upper Deck by Richard McWilliam and ensuing (questionable) business practices

The first part of the book is really fun for those who might have grown up collecting baseball cards. The next couple parts have a fun baseball card part to them, since anyone who collected in the early 90s remembers how awesome Upper Deck was when it came on the seen, but they also have some fun stories about business. Its interesting to see how the inner workings of a really small company are/were handled (albeit from second hand information).

I think that people who were active in baseball card collecting in the early 90s and have a little interest in business could find this a really interesting read.
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on January 13, 1999
The "Barbarians at the Gate" of the baseball card industry. Fascinating, yet creepy, to see from the inside how a child's hobby has been exploited by sleazy characters. Will definitely turn you off collecting new cards as an investment.
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on January 17, 2015
Got this for my wife who worked at this company during it's early days. The author's focus on the higher finance and hobby issues sucked everything that might of made this book a success. He should have gotten a little dirty, there was a ton of dirt to be mined from the halcyon days of this company.
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on November 17, 1998
I enjoyed this book very much. It has two themes: first, it shows how one company with the right idea and the right people behind it can revolutionize an entire industry, against all odds. Second, it tells us that to succeed in today's competitive markets you have to elbow your way in. While the allegations of wrongdoings by trading card companies seem like unsubstantiated hearsay, the book does make you feel that you are on the inside, witnessing how the real entrepreneurs do it. Very entertaining read.
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on May 29, 2015
I enjoyed the book. Very interesting chronical of the incredible meteoric rise of a new company started by a diverse group people. I had a personal interest in the story because a long time friend was the National Sales Manager.
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on August 25, 2015
The first 120 pages or so are a fantastic read on the history of baseball cards. But much like the hobby, the book kind of goes south once they reach 1989 and the arrival of upper deck.
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on August 19, 2014
If baseball cards are your hobby you'll find this book interesting. It describes the dark side of the industry, mainly the Upper Deck Company.
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on May 30, 1996
I feel any person who is in the hobby of collecting cards or thinking about getting in the hobby should read this book
I found it interesting some of the aligations of conterfiting ones own cards interesting. Some people would be shocked to know
why there cards have no value.
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on September 13, 2015
Informative but dry and repetitive.
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