The card on the right is a Sign of the Times autograph of Eddie Mathews. This card was just one of thirty different autographs that could be found in packs of 1998 Upper Deck Retro. Inserted at a rate of 1 in 36, the print run on these cards ranged from 100 to 1000 and while none of the cards are serially numbered, this Mathews is limited to 600.
The remainder of the checklist is pretty loaded. Some of the names include:
Al Kaline, Bob Gibson, Brooks Robinson, Carlton Fisk, Ernie Banks, Kirby Puckett, Lou Brock, Nolan Ryan, Tony Gwynn, Tom Seaver, Willie Stargell, Willie McCovey, Warren Spahn, Yogi Berra, and the rarest of them all: Ken Griffey, Jr.
Mathews signed his share of autographs for card companies before he died in 2001. If anyone’s looking to track one down, some sets to consider include 1999 SP Signature, 1999 and 2000 Greats of the Game, 1999 UD Century Legends Epic Signatures, and 1998 Donruss Signature Significant Signatures. None of those should run over the $40-50 mark (unless you’re looking at BIN store prices). In any case, those autographs are twice as cheap but yet twice as attractive as any cut signature of Mathews I’ve seen, and that’s a shame.
In the late 1990’s, Upper Deck produced a retro-style set called (appropriately enough) Upper Deck Retro. Unlike other retro sets like Topps Heritage, Allen and Ginter, T206/5, and others, the base design was original and not influenced by a past set. Another characteristic that made Retro stand out was its packaging. The twenty-four packs from each hobby box were not contained by your standard cardboard display but rather a collectible lunch box (link). Each lunchbox contained one of nine different players or a combination of two of the nine.
Anyway, back to the point of this post. In every box of 1999 UD Retro was a hard signed Inkredible autographed card. This set boasts an impressive checklist featuring Nolan Ryan, Ken Griffey, Jr., George Brett, Don Mattingly, Tony Gwynn, Harmon Killebrew, Robin Yount, Chipper Jones, and a very, very elusive signer, Bernie Williams. A second level parallel mirrors the entire set and features a gold coloring instead of the red you see above. The print runs on the second level parallels are based on the player’s jersey number. Here’s an example of a Nolan Ryan currently on eBay.