Guru Grading
by Larry "Guru" Tipton


In an effort to standardize OBC grading procedures, I have been asked to post my Condition Guide. Dealers are hereby warned that reading any further is likely to cause stomach pains.

Mint (MT): The front of a Mint baseball card will include most of the original paper. Normal "in the shirt pocket" creases are allowed, as are thumb tack and staple holes. You should also be able to read most on the back of the card. The only writing allowed on a Mint baseball card is scratching off the old team name and inking in the new team. I have received numerous e-mails asking about "gloss" and "centering". Since I do not know what these are I cannot comment on it. Any Mickey Mantle card grades Mint. Early 1900 tobacco cards can never grade lower than Mint.

Near Mint (NM): A Near Mint baseball card will at first appear to be perfect, but upon closer inspection some minor flaws may be discovered. For example, your favorite Milwaukee Braves pitcher is Joe Jay, but you can never pull a Joe Jay from a pack. You have seven cards of Braves pitcher Don McMahon, so you carefully cross out Don McMahons name and replace it with Joe Jay. It goes without saying in this example you would also have to thicken up Don McMahons eyebrows a little too. When examined closely, staple holes may actually be nail holes which would downgrade a Mint card to NM.

Excellent (EX): An excellent condition baseball card should have at least three corners. Hole punched cards and cards with BB holes will normally not grade above EX. Any kind of writing is allowed on cards in excellent condition. Added nasal hair, arrows through the players head, black eyes, and blacked out teeth are certainly allowed. I have a 1958 Topps #5 Willie Mays with a penciled in goatee, blacked out teeth, and a large chip out of Willies left nostril. When the dealer told me he would take five dollars for the card I replied "Excellent Dealer Dude!" Bicycle spoke creases are allowed on EX cards, and any stain from any source are allowed on EX condition cards. To read my award winning dissertation entitled "Baseball Cards and Stains Accomplished By Ten Year Olds" click (http://www.tenyearold.stain/ballcards.htm).  ANY BROOKLYN DODGER CARD CAN NEVER GRADE BELOW EXCELLENT!

Very Good (VG): If less than 10% of the card has been burned up, this would classify as a VG card. Cards that have been cut in two and taped back together normally grade VG. EXCEPTION: 1941 Double Play Cards that have been cut in two. If both sides have been taped, stapled, or glued back together, these normally grade NM. If only half of the card remains, it grades VG. Remember your least favorite card when you were a kid? Somebody like Frank Zupo? You take your Frank Zupo card and lay it down face first in the street and then get on your bike and get going real fast. Just before your rear tire runs over your Frank Zupo, hit the brakes! You could drag that Frank Zupo card ten feet if you timed it right! Mouse damaged cards normally grade VG, however, cat damaged cards (if you know what I mean) normally grade a lot lower than VG.

Good (G): Good condition cards can be bent, cut, hole punched, taped, stapled, wrote on, eraser damaged, torn, ripped, scuffed, stained, creased, chipped, chewed, and glued. VG cards could have been used for target practice, dunked in the toilet, set on fire and dropped from your upstairs bedroom, used to mix model airplane paint, and definitely thrown at your sister. No matter WHAT a card looks like, if you need it for your collection, it looks GOOD to you!