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Wally Joyner and his huge Upper Deck payday that could have been

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Before the short-lived baseball card collecting boom hit in the mid-to-late 1980s, there were only a fledgling amount of card manufacturers, yet there was an ever-increasing demand for these little collectibles that used to be more of an after thought to the stick of gum they were accompanied by. These things were becoming big money, and where this is big money being made, there are counterfeiters galore. The sports card industry was not immune to this phenomenon, which is why it was such a revelation to the card collecting game when Upper Deck introduced their brand of card, but with their unique, groundbreaking hologram of authenticity right there on the card.

The year was 1988, and before the guys behind Upper Deck could get the industry interested, they had to have some samples to show everybody. They would eventually get in touch with a couple California Angels: relief pitcher DeWayne Buice and Mr. Wally World himself, Wally Joyner. It was apparently Buice who talked Joyner into doing a photo shoot for the sample cards (Buice would later help secure Upper Deck's licensing agreement with MLBPA, as well), and the two sample cards made were immediately a huge hit at the trade shows where the original run of 40,000 were being handed out. Check 'em out:

Those pics ooze vintage Angels lore, and those early Upper Deck designs bring back immediate memories of Ken Griffey Jr.'s famous Upper Deck rookie card. Pure nostalgia. You know who's probably NOT nostalgia for that pic? Wally Joyner. Darren Rovell, the well known ESPN sports business guy, had a tweet earlier today calling back to a heartbreaking bit of Angels/Wally Joyner trivia and sports memorabilia lore:

THAT. IS. SO. BRUTALWally Joyner missed the big financial boat of a lifetime(well, besides making millions from playing pro baseball, but still!), meanwhile Buice made off like a bandit. Check this out: Buice made $17 million from the Upper Deck settlement, meanwhile Joyner made a little over $39 mil in his entire baseball career. It wasn't so cut and dry, however, as Joyner himself wanted stock, just like Buice did.  This story is famously told in the book Card Sharks, about Upper Decks's rise to the top, that while they didn't offer Joyner stock like Buice, he only had to negotiate with them a little and he could've had a nice chunk of change. Joyner eventually took a $10,000 settlement for the use of his picture on that early sample card.

Joyner was obviously not hurting for money all that much, but you can still feel the resentment in his words here:

"The money I would have made with Upper Deck -- I never would have had to use it," Joyner said in 1993. "It would have been nice to have, but there are headaches that come with it. … My only disappointment was that even after what I did for the company, they didn't pay me what I felt I was supposed to get."

Oh well. So Wally didn't get in on some of that insane Upper Deck money. Don't feel too bad for him, however. He probably still owns the bitchin' 1988 Volvo 740 he bought with his Gillette commercial dough: