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Company History

Pacific Trading Cards, Inc. was one of the leading manufacturers of sports and non-sports trading cards in the United States. The company was originally founded in 1968 as Cramer Sports Promotions.

President and Chief Executive Officer Michael J. Cramer began his business in Phoenix, Arizona. To collectors, 1968 is the year of Nolan Ryan’s rookie card, but to Cramer it is the year that his passion for the hobby turned into a business.

Cramer Sports Promotions quickly became one of the largest mail-order businesses in the nation. In the late 1970s, Cramer Sports Promotions was on the cutting edge, recognizing a niche for minor-league cards. One of the first projects was a minor-league set featuring the Phoenix Giants. In 1977, Cramer Sports Promotions made and distributed minor-league sets of not only the Phoenix Giants, but also the Salt Lake City Gulls, Spokane Indians and Tucson Toros.

1977 was an important year as the company firmly established itself as a serious entity. This was the year Cramer moved his family from Phoenix to Edmonds, Washington. It was there that Cramer Sports Promotions received its new name: Pacific Trading Cards, Inc. A retail outlet was opened to go along with the already established mail-order business.

In 1984, Pacific Trading Cards, Inc. made and distributed minor-league sets for the Pacific Coast League. Future stars such as John Kruk of the Las Vegas Stars, Danny Tartabull of the Salt Lake City Gulls and Glen Davis of the Tucson Toros were rookies in these sets.

In 1985, Pacific continued producing minor-league sets and also ventured into non-sports trading cards with the release of the “Leave it to Beaver” set, celebrating one of the most popular television shows of all time.

Soon after the “Leave it to Beaver” success, the company enjoyed another substantial growth spurt, and in 1988 Pacific released the Legends of Baseball Series, which continued to energize the company. During this period, the company added state-of-the-art printing and color processing equipment. The company continued to stay on the cutting edge of the industry with such non-sport issues as “Andy Griffith,” “I Love Lucy” and “The Wizard of Oz.”

In 1990, Pacific Trading Cards, Inc. expanded and moved to a larger location in Lynnwood, Washington, a suburb of Seattle. Soon after, Pacific was granted a license by the National Football League Players Association and NFL Properties for the rights to produce NFL trading cards.

In 1991, Nolan Ryan signed on with Pacific for his exclusive and highly successful Texas Express trading card series.

In 1992, Pacific Trading Cards, Inc. expanded its location in Lynnwood from 30,000 to 60,000 square feet, adding an additional warehouse and administrative space.

Also in 1992, Pacific introduced the Prism concept to the world of trading cards. This new concept offered collectors something so innovative and new that it was an instant hit and firmly established Pacific as one of the most creative forces in the industry.

Early in 1993, the Major League Baseball Players Association and MLB Properties issued Pacific a manufacturing license to make Spanish Language trading cards. A non-sport hit came this same year when the popular “Saved by the Bell” set, which celebrated the highly popular television show, was released.

In November of 1993, Pacific Trading Cards, Inc. was awarded a Major League Baseball license. This highly coveted license allowed Pacific to produce baseball cards in English as well as Spanish. This was the crowning jewel in Pacific’s efforts to establish itself as a major player in the trading card industry.

One of Pacific’s football sets in 1993, Prism, was released in one-card packs, an industry-first that has since been adopted by many other companies.

In 1995, Pacific produced Crown Royale Football, the first all-die-cut set in the history of the industry, which has also since been copied by several card companies.

Also in 1995, Pacific Trading Cards, Inc. continued to produce the only bilingual baseball cards on the market, and Pacific’s Gold Crown die-cuts insert was named the Insert of the Year by Beckett Baseball Monthly.

Pacific Trading Cards, Inc. also obtained a license to produce basketball draft picks sets in 1995.

Aggressive in new product development, Pacific Trading Cards, Inc. went on to produce many of the most popular trading cards available in the 1990’s.

Pacific products were distributed in a variety of sizes and packages to hobby stores, mass merchandisers, convenience stores, retail outlets and independent brokerage firms. The company was also recognized nationally for its sales and marketing, establishing a Broker of the Year and President’s Award.

Pacific Trading Cards, Inc. produced all of its cards, handled all of the packaging, sales and advertising in-house, and had full pre-press capabilities in-house while outputting its own film. The then state-of-the-art in-house packing lines ran 24 hours a day in peak season.

Pacific Trading Cards, Inc. was also very active in premium and promotions, with clients such as Advil, McDonald’s, Wonderbread, Dairy Queen and Oroweat.

In 2004, Playoff Trading Cards acquired the name and brands of Pacific Trading Cards.

Pacific Trading Cards, Inc. company principles included: Michael J. Cramer ­ President and CEO, Phil Roth ­ Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Bruce Chappelear ­ Vice President National Retail Sales, Mike Monson ­ Director of Public Relations, Rob Hicks ­ Graphic Arts Manager, Allie Heber ­ Accounting Manager, and Chuck Jones ­ Director of Purchasing and Traffic Manager.

Pacific Trading Cards was located at 18424 Highway 99, Lynnwood, WA 98037.

The phone number was (800) 551-2002, and the fax number was (206) 775-0774.

Company Highlights

  • 1977: Cramer Sports Promotions, one of the nation’s largest mail-order businesses, officially becomes Pacific Trading Cards, Inc.
  • 1990: Granted licenses from the NFLPA and NFL Properties, allowing the company to produce NFL trading cards.
  • 1993: Received license from MLBPA and MLB Properties to produce Spanish-language cards. Later that year, Pacific is awarded a license to produce baseball cards in both English and Spanish.
  • 1995: Detailed die-cutting, as seen on Gold Crown and Crown Royale inserts, makes Pacific and industry front-runner in die-cutting technology.
  • 1995: Receives national acclaim for producing a Jerry Jones football card (Crown Royale #12), the first-ever to capture a franchise owner.
  • 1997: Granted licenses from NHL Players’ Association and NHL Properties, allowing the company to produce NHL trading cards. Also perfects the use of laser-cutting technology on its cards.
  • 1998: Granted license from MLB Players Association and MLB Properties to produce a full line of baseball cards.
  • 2004: Playoff acquires name and brand rights.
  • 2009: Panini acquires Donruss/Playoff and retains Pacific brand name and rights.