Random Sunday Morning Lightning Hockey Card

Pay attention to what you’re buying/trading for

It’s Sunday. It’s the offseason. What are you doing reading a blog about hockey? Go read a book or something. Well, if you are going to stick around and read something, I’ll be darned if it’s going to be something worthwhile. So welcome to a new, random series here at Raw Charge: The Sunday Morning Card of the Week.

So this post was supposed to be about the lowest serial numbered card that I have in my collection. When I went to do a quick search, a very, very low numbered card popped up. Which was weird, because I thought I would have remembered picking up a card of which only four exist in the known world. Especially since it’s of my favorite player.

I went to my Vincent Lecavalier binder and pulled out what I thought was a 2001-02 Pacific Atomic Vincent Lecavalier Blue Parallel which is serial numbered to four (his uniform number). How cool is that? Only four exist and I have one of them.

So I scanned it. Here is the front. Look how blue that background is (also love the old school Lightning logo and the fact that it is die cut).

A problem emerged when I was cropping the scan of the back of the card. Nice quick note about a young Vinny having scored 20-plus goals for the second season in a row, but something was missing on the back. Can you spot it?

No serial number. According to other cards in the set, the serial number should have been right about the “2001 Pacific Trading Cards, Inc.” copyright at the bottom of the card. Buyer beware indeed.

I don’t remember where I picked this card up. I doubt it was on eBay simply due to the condition of the front of the card. It’s pretty beat up on the front surface (see that big mark right under the Tampa Bay Lightning logo?) so I doubt I would have pulled the trigger to even pay for shipping for a card as beat up as this one. Nor did it show up in my COMC purchase history.

It’s unlikely that I would have traded for a card serial numbered to 4 without giving up something equal in value so that leads me to believe it probably came from a dime box at a show or was tossed into a trade as an extra.

What I believe happened is that when I went to log this card I saw the shimmering blue background and assumed it was the blue parallel without paying attention to the serial number aspect of the card. After all, a quick look at the back of the card would have indicated that it was the base. The “blue” that the parallel refers to is the color of the name plate on the front (the base is silver), not the background of the card.

Not knowing which parallel, or if it’s a parallel at all, of a card that you have has grown increasingly hard since 2002. This set had three color parallels to the set (red, gold, and blue) and you can tell which one you have based on the serial number. You know, if you pay attention to things like that, which I obviously didn’t do. Nowadays, and Topps is particularly guilty of this, you can have five to eight different parallels of a card and it can be hard to discern exactly which color it is - is it pink? is it red? If they’re not serial numbered it can be hard to tell which one you have.

That can be bad on both the seller side, I picked up a copper version of an Orioles card that the seller thought was a much more common gold version for a fraction of the price it should have been. It can also be bad on the buyer’s side if they see a card that they think is one version and over pay for it not realizing that they are buying a base card. That tends to happen more for in person sales than they do online as eBay does have a fairly generous return policy for buyers.

The good news is that it means it didn’t cost me too much. Still, my lack of knowledge/preparation could have cost me real money. I like to think that the majority of this community is still pretty honest, but there are plenty of unscrupulous sellers out there willing to make a buck any way they can. More times than not the old adage of “if something is too good to be true, then it isn’t” definitely comes into play more times than not.

As for the card itself, I do still like it even if it isn’t super rare. It’s die cut and shiny, two things I will always fall for if I see them on the cheap. The fact that they changed the backgrounds for each player to match the uniform colors of the team was nice and kept thing from clashing on the front. The large team logo on the front also works for me.

I love the Pacific brands from the mid-90s to the 2000s. Yes, they were overproduced, but they never feared stretching the boundaries of design. As iconic as Upper Deck is to hockey cards, for the most part they are pretty staid designs. Pacific approached it totally differently. If it wasn’t die cut or laser etched or shaped like a crown they didn’t care for it.

They also loved putting out a ton of different sets. In 2001-02 there were nine different Pacific sets for sale. You could walk into a card shop and choose from Pacific, Pacific Adrenaline, Pacific Atomic, Pacific Crown Royale, Pacific Heads Up, Pacific Private Stock, Pacific Private Stock Titanium, Pacific Private Stock Titanium Draft, or Pacific Vanguard. So many choices back then!

In case you were wondering, there were seven cards in the Blue Parallel set serial numbered to just one card. They were all for goalies. So good luck to player collectors of Johan Hedberg, Mike Dunham, Sean Burke, Rick DiPietro, Roberto Luongo, Artus Irbe, and Roman Turek. Wayne Gretzky was not part of the set (I think he was exclusive to Upper Deck at this point) so the highest serial numbered card went to Jeff O’Neill with 92 cards.