The card that changed my view of disc golf

It started with a card.

After my first round or two of disc golf, I wasn’t fully hooked. (Can you imagine that?) It was interesting, to be sure. But it’s not something I thought I would catch on as a personal sport or hobby.

I couldn’t see it on TV.

The closest course was a little more than an hour away.

And, truthfully, it was frustrating to throw a disc, watch it sail 20 feet up in the air and then drop a mere 75 feet away.

A few months after my initial exposure to the sport, I was at a baseball card show with a friend. I’ve long been a collector of baseball cards, so I’m always interested in opening new items. During this trip, two of us decided to split a hobby box of 2010 Allen and Ginter cards, a Topps product.

Midway through the box, I cracked a pack and sifted through the cards. I abruptly stopped as I came across an interesting one.

It was Avery Jenkins.

Though Allen and Ginter cards are mainly baseball, the set also features some interesting people — such as athletes from other sports, pop culture items and even odd things from many years ago (such as having a strand of hair from George Washington).

The card I pulled out of an Allen & Ginter pack.

And there, staring back at me, was Avery Jenkins putting. A disc golfer and somebody I had never heard of.

That made me wonder why in the world he was on a card.

Turns out he’s one of the best in the world. At disc golf.

When I started playing, I realized there was some sort of a national tour. I understood there were some major tournaments. And heck, I realized people made some coin playing disc golf.

But was this game big enough that Topps would find a disc golfer to put on a card? And with further research, I found out there were certified autographs and game-used cards for Jenkins.

That intrigued me.

Upon doing some quick research, I soon realized who Avery Jenkins was. And, he appeared on this card because he won the 2009 PDGA World Championship. And, considering he became the first professional disc golfer I ever heard of, he became my favorite by default.

Since then, I’ve found out much more about Jenkins — as a player, ambassador and person. I met him at last year’s Vibram Open and I realized how good of a person he is and how important he is to this game.

On top of that, we were lucky enough in the early going of running this blog to have him be willing to join us and be a writer.

That he’s on a piece of cardboard is a bonus.

And, that card is as cool for him as it is for people collecting, too.

“It’s a trip,” Jenkins said. “It’s an incredible accomplishment. … Having your own signature disc card is a whole new level.

“First off, I’m the first disc golfer ever on a sports card, which is pretty phenomenal,” he continued. “And it’s a true honor to be contacted by Topps when I first moved to Santa Cruz right after my world championship.”

Jenkins said he was originally contacted by a sports agency in St. Louis. A sports-card collector for 20-plus years. His collection includes many hand-me-down cards from his uncle back in the 1970s. Jenkins’ collection includes baseball, football and basketball.

“I still have them to this day,” he said. “I love sports cards and I love the idea of immortalizing players on these card and I’m just a big fan in that way as well.”

Being on a sports card is one thing. But Topps?

“Topps is the top of the league of sports cards,” Jenkins said. “To contact me to make a sports card, I was blown away. I didn’t think it was real at first.”

The image on the card is of Jenkins putting in Texas. Jenkins said he sent Topps a few photos, but they picked that one because it showed Jenkins throwing the disc as well as having the basket in the shot. That image worked better than say a shot of Jenkins throwing a big drive or something like that.

“They had the putt with the basket, which I thought was cool,” he said. “But that’s just the base card.”

For those who might not collect or know about modern sports card collecting, base cards are basic cards showing the athlete or person.

There are also game-used cards and autographed cards.

Jenkins said he sent five of his red Star Destroyers and his Champion Firebird, the disc he won the World Championship with. The discs were then cut into 5/8-inch squares and inserted into the cards.

Giving up that Champion Firebird might not have been too easy for some, but Jenkins said he looked at it differently.

“I might have put (the disc) in a box somewhere and kept it for a long time,” he said. “But I’m immortalizing this piece of disc into a card that will be spread out all over the country, all over the world. And I thought that was pretty special me to do something like that.”

There are also autograph cards.

Jenkins said he did the signing at a disc golf pro shop in San Jose. A Topps representative was there and they arranged a whole media day. The rep came and Jenkins sat there for about an hour, signing 200 mini cards. They take those cards and re-insert the cards into an outside holder case. He signed 200 in blue ink and 10 in red ink, which he said would eventually be numbered and sent out as a special series addition.

There are other variations, such as the actual printing plates used to make the cards.

The breakdown, according to a story on the PDGA website, of his cards include:

  • Base card.
  • Mini (which include a base, black border, Allen and Ginter ad back, no number (50 released) and Bazooka backs (25 released).
  • Framed autograph signature card in blue or red ink.
  • Framed sports relic card.
  • Framed silk mini (numbered to 10).
  • Framed printing plate (numbered to 1).
  • Framed wood mini card (numbered to 1).

Jenkins didn’t waste time looking for the cards, either. When the cards were released, he said he went out and purchased five or six boxes of the cards at $100 apiece. He also went on eBay and was purchasing as many of the special-release cards, printing plates or autograph cards.

“This was probably the only chance of me getting a sports card, so I was going to make sure I got some of the better ones being a collector in some sense,” he said. “Who knows how long they will be around?”

Jenkins said he’s spent thousands of dollars accumulating his own cards. He said he is still trying to find them out there.

He gets the cards, often, in letters from fans who hope to get the card autographed.

“They’re real inspirational messages about being fans of me or being fans of the sport,” Jenkins said. “But I’ve also read messages from people getting these cards who have never heard of disc golf. They are collecting a set of cards through Topps because they’re sports fans and realizing I’m a disc golfer and then they try to find more out about disc golf.

“Then they find out what it is and they find out there is a course near them and they start playing disc golf and getting their kids involved and their family involved,” he continued. “All because they saw a card of a disc golfer and they tried to find out more about the sport.”

If a few new players came from this card, then it’s a good thing.

Then there are the others who knew a bit about the sport, found the card and pushed a little more to learn about the sport.

Either way, it seems the Avery Jenkins card became an important piece in the history of disc golf in more ways than immortalizing someone on a piece of cardboard.

****

Giveaway!

RattlingChains.com has several of these cards personally autographed by Jenkins. In conjunction with this story, we’ll give away two (2) cards randomly to fans. There are three ways to win a card:

1. Comment on this story.

2. Like the link on Facebook (note, you must like the actual story link on our Facebook page and you must have already “liked” our page so we can see who has actually liked said story etc.)

3. Tweet the following on Twitter (please do it exact or I can’t guarantee we’ll see that you did it etc. The best way is to copy and paste the following):

@RattlingChains is giving away two autographed cards of Avery Jenkins (@Aviar7495). Go to https://rattlingchains.com/?p=64 to enter! #discgolf

This giveaway will close at 11:59 p.m. April 24, 2012. The winners will be contacted via the e-mail address they put in the comment section.

P.J. Harmer is the lead blogger for Rattling Chains. If you have any comments, questions, thoughts, ideas or anything else, feel free to e-mail me and the crew at: pj [at] rattlingchains.com. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook!

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0 thoughts on “The card that changed my view of disc golf

  1. Being relatively new to disc golf as a sport (first tourney was the 2012 KC Ice Bowl) rather than just a recreational activity I started putting my OCD mentality to work on learning as much as I could about the game and its top players and, being from Kansas City, I came across the footage of Avery sinking his final putt at the 2009 Worlds and have been hooked on this guy. I was so happy to find that other than being an amazing player he is also a good person and a great Ambassador for the game. I am so looking forward to watching him return to Kansas City this year for the Wide Open!

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  2. Loved the story. I had no idea Topps, or anybody else, had issued a card featuring disc golf. Fantastic. I’d love to include such a card with my disc golf display at work – where I try to drum up interest and find colleagues who will play a round with me.

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    • As far as I can tell, there aren’t any other “official” cards (ie: Topps, Upper Deck, Donruss etc.), but another commenter said there is some other card. So it’s possible there were others made for marketing or promotional things. But as far as in a mass-produced set, I haven’t seen anything and I’ve researched quite a bit.

      Like

  3. We all collect plastic, it just makes sense for us to collect trading cards as well. Wonder what other pros have cards as well. Hope Climo has one and it says “The Champ” across the top.

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  4. Great story! Now I have to go looking for Disc Golf Cards … my wife is going to like that! 😉 I got back into playing 3 years ago after a 9 year hiatus due to family/life. I started back in the 80’s, the change in the sport from then to now is awesome! Technology has helped the sport immensely. Avery Jenkins is a great ambassador for the sport. Keep up the good work and thank you for all you do for the sport we all love!

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  5. Cool stuff! I know for a fact that the statement: “…I’m the first disc golfer ever on a sports card…” is wrong I was given a sports card of disc golfer Dave Melton back in 1997. It wasnt a Topps card but it was official. I will have to dig it up and post a picture! Thanks for the blog!!

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    • I’d like to see the card. Is it a marketing or promotional thing? If so, I’d still give Avery the nod as I’m pretty sure he’s the first disc golfer on a mass-produced trading card, especially by a major company etc. Feel free to e-mail me an image of the card when you find it… I’d love to check it out!

      Like

  6. Cool! I wouldn’t mind having one of those on display in my office were I can explain to everyone that see’s it what discgolf is all about.

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  7. I have about a dozen base Avery cards for him to sign when he comes back east for the 2012 Vibram Open, as I am a worker bee and a sponsor for the Vibram.

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  8. This is very cool. I got the chance to meet avery at the Toronto Island Maple Leaf and his is every bit the gentleman and great disc golf ambassador that the article says.

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  9. Avery and the Jenkins family are great ambassadors of Disc Golf. This is a great story, glad you came across the “CARD”. Hope more people start to enjoy the sport we love. The more possitive publicity Disc Golf gets the better it is for our sport. Thank you, and thanks to Avery and his family for all they do.

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  10. the word immortalize is 1000% accurate for Avery, in 100 years these cards will be drawing attention to disc golf, a great move by Topp’s on our behalf.

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  11. Great story! I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Avery and he is a true professional and ambassador to the sport. Great to see someone extend participation to so many new people in such a cool way.

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  12. Great article! Anytime I see someone get hooked on this game – it validates my addiction! I was lucky enough to be there at the Kansas Worlds and watch Avery win! It was so exciting… and to see a brother sister win was amazing.
    I believe in this game and do what I can to promote it. The Jenkins family are the best ambassadors for Disc Golf – way to go Topps.

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  13. great article! i’m surprised though that the writer had not known that disc golf has been a part of the phenomally selling tiger woods games from EA sports for the last 4 years or so!

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    • To be fair, not all of us play video games. I don’t play them, so despite knowing there was disc golf on the game, it wouldn’t have made a difference in my knowledge or interest in disc golf.

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  14. Cool story! I have box after box of baseball/basketball/football cards, I hope one day this sport gets to the point where I’ll collect box after box of disc golf cards.

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  15. What an awesome read! It’s always fun to hear the stories of how different people got into disc golf. It’s not like baseball or football… you have to really be looking for it if you want to find it because like it said early in the article, you won’t find it on tv or anything like that. My goal is to make it to a pro event sometime this year!

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  16. Thanks to everyone for their great comments and feedback on the article!!

    It’s great to hear how some players get involved in the Wonderful Sport of Disc Golf, but this is just a very unique story how PJ became intrigued with the game that he can’t get enough of now.

    I’m really surprised about all the players that didn’t know that I had a Topps Sports Card and very honored by all of the players that really want one now. They’re still out there but not too easy to find these days.

    Here’s an article that I did for PDGA.com last year: http://www.pdga.com/disc-golf-trading-card

    I really appreciate all of the kind words and I hope to get more Disc Golfers on Topps Sports Cards in the Future!!

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    • Had I not seen them on ebay when I was looking for some discs, I would have had no idea either. But I didn’t see that they had a slice of history inside the card itself.

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  17. Awesome story. I’ve known who Avery Jenkins was for a while but had no idea how much he has done for our sport. Having only the opportunity to watch him play online through DiscGolfPlanet.tv I’ve hoped for the chance to compete in a tourney in which Avery is also competing so that I may get a chance to meet and/or at least watch him play.

    Thanks again for another inspirational story.

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  18. I never knew that their were pro golf cards. That’s pretty amazing. I can’t imagine having my winning discs chopped up into little pieces though… that would be hard.

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  19. Cards like this increase in value so quickly because most of us are unaware the cards existed until they are scarce. And then it becomes demand (desire) vs. supply.

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  20. Incredible story! I tweeted a congrats to Mr. Jenkins after reading this article and he’s such a stand up dude that he tweeted back a heartfelt thanks! Awesome to see someone who’s done so much for furthering the sport of disc golf be commemorated!

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  21. Ever since I found out that Avery made it on a collectible card I have tried to get my hands on one of these. Wish me luck.

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  22. Avery is my favorite disc golf pro. By way of his awesome attitude alone, he’s awesome to watch but he is also a big arm and a great all around player. Super stoked he is getting so much coverage for himself and the sport.

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  23. Avery Jenkins is an inspiration to all disc golfers. Having come from my home state of Ohio, Avery is not just an inspiration to me because of his disc golf skills, but because of his determination to still graduate college. Being a college student as well, Avery shows that you can start becoming the best and yet still get a higher education. Having a card released by TOPPS is a huge step for Avery and the sport of disc golf. I see disc golf getting huge in my area of Ohio and hope to see disc golf become the next biggest sport in the world.

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  24. never even knew any were out there. me and my buddies would just drive around fla. and collect tourney or course specific discs if we played that style disc or not

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