2009 Topps Allen & Ginter Crack The Code Contest
Hobby Interview With One Of The Code Crackers!
Mike Gellner from JD’s Wildcardz
We here at Sports Card Radio are very proud to have an interview with one of the winners of the 2009 Topps Allen & Ginter Crack The Code Contest. Topps ran a promotion in 2009 for amateur code crackers to decipher a code found on the cards of 2009 Topps Allen & Ginter. The first person, or team, to crack the code would recieve a special framed set of the Allen & Ginter mini auto’s found in 2009 Allen & Ginter.
Mike Gellner and Nick Jacoby were the first to crack the 2009 Topps Allen & Ginter Code. Mike was kind enough to sit down with us to talk sports, his blog, and of course, cracking the Ginter code.
Sports Card Radio: First off, congratulations on winning the contest! Before we get into that, tell us a little bit about how you got started in collecting?
Mike Gellner: I actually just started collecting last spring. My wife knew that I wanted to start a collection for my son Jacoby, and she brought home a big plastic bag full of random cards that a coworker had dumped on a work table after cleaning out his daughters closet when she left for college. It was mostly junk wax, but there were some cards that I remember from when I was a kid and bought a pack or two. Little did my wife know that she opened Pandora’s box and I have been hooked ever since.
Sports Card Radio: Who are some of the teams that you enjoy watching?
Mike Gellner: I am a full-blown Red Sox fan because I love the history of the franchise, the rivalries, and the passion of the fans. Out here on the West Coast things are a bit more laid back, and while I think that the Mariners are making positive steps and are going to be pretty interesting, I never got hooked on them because they are a bit of a roller coaster ride. the fans are nice though and don’t give you too hard of a time when you show up at Safeco to watch the Sox. I also try to support the NL a bit, I enjoy watching the Brewers and Reds, and also enjoy watching the Giants make strides now that the Barry Bonds train has left the city.
Sports Card Radio: How did you hear about the Ginter Crack The Code Contest and tell me about your experience solving the code?
Mike Gellner: I heard about the Crack the Code contest when I was reading the sell-sheet for last year’s product. I researched into the previous year’s contest and learned that the winner got to be on a card in the next year’s set. I thought that was a pretty unique prize and thought it would be a pretty cool to get my baby boy onto a baseball card. I never in a million years thought it would actually happen!
So I run a little blog, JD’s WildCardz, and within a couple days of product release I got an email from Nick Jacoby who lives across the country. I had purchased a couple of boxes of Ginter and had discovered a clue about the squares around the letters on certain player names. after a couple feeler emails, we discovered that we pretty much were on the same wavelength and decided to contact each other and partner up…even did so much as create an online contract should we actually win. We both realized that the first step that needed to be done was to get scans of as many of those code cards as possible. That’s where eBay became our best friend. Case-Busters were slapping code cards images up online at a rapid pace, so within 24 hours we had a majority of the scans that we needed.
Sports Card Radio: I know a lot of collectors were scrambling to complete the code, did you have any issues along the way trying to solve it?
Mike Gellner: Absolutely! We would figure out a piece of code and then hurry along to complete the pattern…only to discover that it was only a piece of the puzzle and we were still far from done. The puzzle had several layers to it and it would be a roller coaster of elation followed by complete disappointment.
The cool thing about partnering up with Nick was that for some reason our smarts were wired congruently. If I would get stuck on something and start to get discouraged, suddenly I would here from Nick who had figured it out. Then suddenly Nick would get stuck and I would figure something out. The teamwork was really amazing and for whatever reason, it helped us see through the puzzle to completion!
Sports Card Radio: Now that you’ve got your loot from Topps, what do you plan to do with the cards?
Mike Gellner: Well, after 7 months of waiting to hear from Topps, things happened pretty quickly and within a week the cards were delivered! We tossed around getting the most equal value by using Beckett, eBay, and other sources to Gage value. But because of the codebreaker frames on the card, it is pretty hard to figure out a cards worth…so that being the case we just did it the old fashioned way and ran a draft!
It was pretty intense, and at points a little ridiculous. I mean, who do you value more, a card-stacking champion or a sheep shearer? I took a couple of days of emails, but we got it all sorted out.
Sports Card Radio: How excited are you to be in the 2010 set, and what are your plans for the picture on the card?
Mike Gellner: It’s crazy-exciting to think about being part of the 2010 Ginter set! I think the hard part is not knowing exactly what Topps intends to do with the photos. Nick and I each need to send in a jpg and then Topps will magically meld them together somehow.
I am thinking about a shot of me and my son, with him maybe holding up the Pat Neshek code card. Gotta get him to stand still long enough though. He is fully-mobilized JD at this point!
Sports Card Radio: Are you ready for a slew of through the mail autograph requests when you appear in the 2010 set?
Mike Gellner: Sure, why not. It’s fun. I don’t really know if a “slew” of cards will head our direction, but if people would like an auto, why the heck not? Be forewarned though that JD has yet to really master penmenship, so his autos will vary slightly!
Sports Card Radio: Tell me about your blog, when did you start it, what topics do you cover?
Mike Gellner: Well, the overall goal of JD’s Wildcardz is to establish a collection for my son, JD, to have some day, as well as an opportunity for me to learn about the hobby so I can teach him about collecting as well. Topics vary widely depending on my mood for the day, but for the most part I try to give impressions on new products, showcase some of my best pulls, and trash on the Yankees.
For me, the best part is networking with other bloggers, making friends, conducting trades, and holding the occasional contest. Blogging really gives me an outlet to write, and while sometimes my writing is way out in left field, if it entertains my four readers, then it is all worth it.
Be sure to check out JD’s Wildcardz Blog.