Cramer’s Choice

Memoir of a Baseball Card Collector Turned Manufacturer


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SKU: 9781476693576 Categories: , , , ,

About the Book

Mike Cramer’s first love was baseball cards. Before high school he had a mail-order trading card business. At age 30 he founded Pacific Trading Cards with money he made fishing crab in the Bering Sea. From 1980 to 2004, Pacific created more than 200 successful trading card products. In 2021, a Pacific Tom Brady rookie card sold for $117,000. Pacific’s cards remain some of the hobby’s most sought-after and other companies still emulate their innovations. Cramer’s memoir offers a behind-the-scenes look at the birth of a major card company, from one kid’s overgrown collection to every hands-on facet of building a business with hundreds of employees producing cards for retail stores worldwide.

About the Author(s)

Retired president and CEO of Pacific Trading Cards, Mike Cramer lives in Edmonds, Washington.

Bibliographic Details

Mike Cramer
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 253
Bibliographic Info: 51 photos, index
Copyright Date: 2023
pISBN: 978-1-4766-9357-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-5106-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Preface 1
Introduction 3
1. The Early Years 5
2. Dutch Harbor, Alaska: King Crab Fishing 15
3. A Family on the Edge of the World 25
4. Sea Legs and Land Legs 41
5. The Move to Seattle 56
6. The Million Dollar Topps Deal: Game Changer #1 65
7. The ­DF-1 Card Wrapping Machine: Game Changer #2 71
8. The Kid and the Candy Store 85
9. 1991 Pacific Plus Football Cards 98
10. Growing by Leaps and Bounds 106
11. Playing with the Big Boys 125
12. Major League Baseball Players Association License: My Dream Comes True 147
13. Turning and Burning 154
14. What a Way to Start a Century! 172
15. Pacific After Baseball 191
16. Life After Pacific 211
17. The Comeback Kid 219
Epilogue 227
2000 Pacific Tom Brady Rookie Cards Checklist 231
Index 235

Book Reviews & Awards

• “If it’s not the greatest book ever written about the sports card hobby and industry, there has certainly never been another one like it.”—Jeff Morris, writer Sports Card Daily, former columnist.

• “The legend of Mike Cramer can seem like Chuck Norris material. But he really did operate a major mail-order trading card operation out of his childhood bedroom in Phoenix. He really did spend his twenties working Deadliest Catch–style king crab fishing boats in Alaska while becoming the first millionaire in the sports memorabilia business in the offseason. And he really did lead a scrappy Seattle startup against Topps and Upper Deck in the sports card heyday of the early 1990s, producing some of the most treasured cards in the industry. Cramer’s Choice is the rollicking tale of Pacific Trading Cards and the epic life of its founder.”—Pete Williams, author of Card Sharks

• “Mike showed a lot of guts hiring on as deckhand on crab boats in Alaska. He knew there was good money to be had and he was not held back by adversity. His goal was his compass: he used that money to start his own trading card company. That showed a lot of guts, too.”—Kris Poulsen, skipper

• “Fascinating”—Sports Collectors Daily