Friday, January 30, 2009
I have also seen auctions for Sketch Cards that are supposed to be inserted with 2009 Topps as well. More to come as details are made available!!!
Thursday, January 29, 2009
He received the package last Saturday, and promptly thanked me for it on this post. Along with the Red Sox cards, I included three unopened packs each of 2008 Topps I, II, and Updates and Highlights. He was going to break open the packs on his Red Sox site.
Well, he just opened up the three series one packs. He received two Red Sox cards, one was Jason Varitek...
This was the other one:
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go cry now...
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
First Donruss gets sued by MLB Properties (all stories, by the way, are courtesy of Chris Olds of Beckett). My question is...what took MLB so long??? Donruss had to know they were walking a fine line creating baseball cards, even though they were not licensed by MLB Properties. I mean it's great that they were mixing younger players with retired stars. And because the company was not restricted by the rules that UD and Topps are currently abiding by, they could even create cards of guys that have been banned from the sport like Joe Jackson and Pete Rose. Now while this is not necessarily a bad thing, the lawsuit stems from the fact that Donruss did not take out the logos trademarked and licensed by MLB Properties. As the MLB Properties states in their lawsuit:
Sure they did do some airbrushing on some cards, but in many cases, you could still see the team logo or team lettering that is league property. Although I don't collect the brand, I was hoping that MLB Properties would re-license Donruss in time for the 2010 season. I think this lawsuit ended any chances of this happening in the immediate future. The results from this lawsuit can affect other unlicensed products, specifically one Razor Collectibles who doesn't even have a license. I don't see Donruss winning this battle.
Then, in probably the biggest news in the Hobby since the MLBP overhauled their licenses, the NBA announces that Panini will be the sole manufacturer to produce basketball cards for the league. In layman's terms, this means that Upper Deck and Topps will not be able to produce licensed NBA cards for the next three years!!!
What does this all mean?
For those familiar with Panini, they are a company based in Italy who's been in the collectibles industry for a very long time. Growing up in the Philippines, and even my first few years in the US, Panini produced stickers and albums of various themes, whether it be sports (they did Baseball for a long time), dinosaurs, Barbie, Thundercats, you name it, kids ate them up. I personally loved the dinosaurs album they came up with in the early 80's. I must have bought tons and tons of packs, and carried that album everywhere. It was always a thrill to complete a page in the album, or better yet, complete one of those two-sticker, or four-sticker pictures, making sure that each one fit just right on the page (even if it meant that the stickers overlapped each other). I guess looking back, collecting Panini's stickers and using the album are the reasons why I have the mindset I do when it comes to baseball cards.
Back to the point. This has to be a huge blow to both Topps and UD. Reading further, the idea of one company making NBA cards has been a topic of discussion for quite some time. Supposedly, the NHL has had success having just Upper Deck as their league's exclusive card manufacturer (tell that to the collectors though...). And I guess talks between both companies and the NBA Properties were going to that direction. I don't think anybody saw Panini coming though.
Even before the NBA became this international global conglomerate we know of today, basketball was a very popular sport around the world. The 1992 Olympics and the Dream Team that crushed every team in it's path for the gold only helped bring the game's, and the league's popularity, to new heights. And today, many of the star's in the NBA are from other countries. It only makes sense for the NBA, if they want to continue having that world wide presence, work with a company whose name is known the world over. And lets face it, while the prices in the secondary market for current basketball cards can reach heights only the rarest baseball cards can every dream of reaching, the market for basketball cards seems to be pretty small compared to those who collect baseball, American football (not to be confused with football, aka soccer), and even hockey, in the United States/Canada.
How is this going to affect other sports??? The deal with the MLB Properties is going to expire soon...will they try this tactic? Has the NFL been considering the same thing? We know the NHL is already has their exclusive company, who's to say that the other sports aren't mulling over the same thing? And if so, who would win??? Would it be Topps, who has been around for 59 years in baseball, and 53 years in football? Would it be UD, whose innovations and use of technology has created the market we see today? Would Donruss, who in many football collector's opinions, step up and become the exclusive home for NFL football cards (pending lawsuit aside)? What does this all mean for the companies now?
With the economy tanking, and Topps and UD both cutting back products in all categories, Panini and the NBA have agreed to make at least 15-20 products for the basketball collecting market. I get the feeling that there will be some products exclusively marketed towards the US/North American market and others exclusively for Europe/Asia. Who's even to say that it's all going to be in cards? I'm sure there will be stickers...LOTS OF STICKERS.
While UD has been making NBA cards since 1991, Topps has had an on again-off again relationship with the league. Sure they've been celebrating 51 years making NBA cards, but there have been a number of years where there were no Topps basketball cards. Prior to this recent string of products (1992-2009), Topps was only around in 1957-58, took a ten year hiatus, came back for the 1968-69 season as a test product before creating products for the NBA between 1969-1982.
Now what does all of this have to do with baseball? Is any of this going to affect the Topps products we collect? In the short term, probably not. Unless the MLB Properties decides to say "it doesn't matter how long you've been around, Topps, you're gone," there will always be Topps baseball cards. But now that they don't have to deal with the NBA anymore, and it seems they won't be asking for an NHL license any time soon, maybe, just maybe, they can now focus their energies towards creating quality baseball, and yes football, cards that we will actually enjoy. And who knows, maybe Topps will bring back the baseball stickers and album. That would be fantastic.
I close tonight with the Topps press release, taken from Beckett, regarding their take on the NBA/Panini agreement:
I do want to congratulate Panini on this news, and wish them all the best. For those of you wishing that this didn't happen, it's only going to be three years. That may seem like a lifetime now, but it's going to go by pretty fast. Maybe after this three years, we'll see Topps and UD return to the game. Let's just wait and see what happens.
Monday, January 26, 2009
To celebrate Topps 50th anniversary in the baseball card market, Topps created a set that consisted of the reprinted first and final cards of 200 players called 2001 Topps Archives. Five decades worth of legendary players, MVP's, World Series Champions, fan favorites, and Hall of Famers (some HOF to be's) were included in this set. Every Topps design from the previous 50 years was represented (except for one, two if you want to nitpick, at that point). They even included four players who appeared in only one Topps card. Because of the enormity of the set, and the number of players and cards involved, the set was broken into two series. Ozzie Smith was included among the players chosen in series I.
As many of us know, the Wizard of Oz's first Topps card came out in 1979 Topps (see below). That's the set with had an even more blah design than the one from 1978. It was basically a large picture above a baseball with the old Topps logo, the player's name and position, and a banner with the team's name on it. There couldn't be a simpler (and to be honest, duller) design than this one that the Topps Company could have chosen to close out the 70's. Ozzie was a member of the San Diego Padres at the time, and his rookie card shows the wizard-in-training in a brown and yellow (think hamburger and mustard colored...did somebody say McDonald's???) uniform with sideburns that were oh-so-70's. He's not even staring at the camera, as his gaze is focused to his right, showing of those mutton chops for the world to see. Looking back, I'm sure if he had a chance to do the picture over...(then again, see his 2006 Topps Rookie of the Week card...)
Anyway, if his rookie card was from 1979, why was this card used as his "first" card for the 2001 Topps Archives set???:
This card looks like it's from the 1980 Topps set. Meaning this is Ozzie's second-year card. For accuracy's sake, this should be considered an uncorrected error card. And while, yes, this does look better than his rookie card, it still should not have been used.
Did Topps not have a copy of his 1979 card? Did the designers of this set think that the '79 card look so bad that this was the next best thing? Did they think that people wouldn't notice? Was Ozzie himself involved in the decision??? Topps, what were you thinking???
P.S. This is what Ozzie Smith's 2001 Topps Archives card should have looked like if they could just have used the right card:
Not a bad MS Paint cut and paste job if I do say so myself...jba
Sunday, January 25, 2009
But because I'm bringing the Topps What??! of the Week segment back with a post tomorrow, I thought that this trivia question will be a good preview of what I'll be discussing.
The questions involve the 2001 Topps Archives set. To celebrate Topps' 50 years in the hobby, Topps created a set that consisted of the reprinted first and last cards of 200 legendary players, from the Hall of Famers, to the Fan Favorites and "local stars". The reprinted first (and in many cases, rookie) cards of the 200 players were originally produced from 1952-1985. The last cards used almost all the designs from the previous 50 years (all the way to 2000). I say almost because there was at least one year's Topps design, two if you really want to be more specific, that was not utilized at all for this set (with the possible exception of a Autoproof card...but that doesn't count here). And to make it even more puzzling, four players' first and last cards were from the same year.
So the questions are:
1. What year(s)' Topps design was not used among the 200 players' reprinted first and last card? I'm looking for one specific year, but if you answer with both, it works for me.
2. Name the four players who only appeared in one Topps set that appeared in this set, meaning those players' reprinted first and last cards were from the same year?
Answers will be coming later in the week. But please feel free to answer the questions in the comments. Good luck.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Billy Butler made his major league debut with the Royals on May 1, 2007, and has shown himself to be one of the key players that can potentially put the Royals back on top in the AL Central. When you are surrounded by young stars like Joakim Soria, Alex Gordon, David DeJesus, Luke Hochevar, and Mark Teahan, how can you not like KC's chances? Back to the point. The Royals' 1st round draft pick in 2004, Butler made an impression on the Royals faithful by hitting 11 home runs, driving home 52, and hitting at a .295 clip in his rookie year. He was named the July AL Rookie of the Month by hitting .341 with 3 home runs and 24 rbi's in 24 games. In 2008, his average dropped, but he did hit 11 home runs and 55 rbi's on a team that didn't show a lot of power in the lineup. His second year numbers may have been down, but what do you expect, the kid's only 22 years old??? Give him a season with 162 games, and let's see what he can do.
In any event, Billy Butler initially did not have any cards in 2007 Topps baseball. In a year where the Topps Company messed up by putting the same five guys in both series I and II (Gary Sheffield, Mike Rabelo, Michael Barrett, Elizardo Ramirez, and Bengie Molina), there was no room to add his card to the set...or was there? While Butler's "Rookie Card Logo" cards were never found in packs (his actual rookie cards appeared in 2005 Topps...thank you Gerald for correcting me...shows how much attention I've been paying nowadays...), he did show up in every 2007 Topps factory set as card #636 (replacing Mike Rabelo's series 2 card). The thing is, unless you actually read the checklist, you wouldn't even know he was in there. Heck, even the Number One leading publication in the Hobby doesn't even acknowledge that this card (which can be numbered as #636b) exists. So why do I and every other person with a factory set have one?
And then to top it all off, they included a card of Butler as one of the ten Holiday Factory bonus rookie cards. The rookies chosen as exclusives for the 2007 Topps Holiday sets were some of the bigger names in the 2007 season: Ryan Braun, Joba Chamberlain, Jarrod Saltalamacchia (literally bigger names). And in amongst the two five-card packs was a card of Billy Butler.
Now the reason why I'm actually telling you what sets these cards are from is because instead of asking the usual question, I want to know if you the reader can figure out which card belongs to which set. Below is a scan of both cards. Can you figure out which card is the "regular" 2007 Topps card and which is the "bonus" card? Consider this a baseball card version of "To Tell the Truth" For your viewing pleasure, may I introduce the 2007 Topps Billy Butler cards:
Which one of these two cards is the base card #636? Which card is the bonus card #15 of 20? Will the real 2007 Topps Billy Butler card please stand up? The answers will come later in the week. Good luck.
UPDATE: Sunday, February 2, 2009.
RWH's pretty sure guess was absolutely correct. Yes, the card of Butler flashing the leather on the left is part of the Holiday bonus rookie set. The card on the right is the Topps card that is included in every Topps factory set replacing Mike Rabelo. So now the question remains, why doesn't anyone over at the Number One leading publication in the Hobby adding this (and the Buck card) to their checklist database??? jba
One of the key insert sets in 2009 Topps Series I is called Legends of the Game, or based on what words actually appear on the cards, Legendary Lineage. There are twenty-five cards total in this set. And it looks like the retail exclusives are going to be gold and platinum versions of each of these cards.
A while back, I wrote about the Cereal Boxes that Topps will be selling at the big box stores (and online) this year. Included in every box will be one refractor card. It looks like if you buy your Cereal at Walmart, you will get a platinum refractor as all the cards are numbered PR1, PR2, etc. If you buy your Cereal at Target, however, the cards are numbered GR1, GR2, etc. Care to bet that this means gold refractor?
Here are the ten cards that will be inserted into packs of 2009 Topps Series I that are exclusive to Target:
- LLG-1 Ted Williams
- LLG-2 Jackie Robinson
- LLG-3 Babe Ruth
- LLG-4 Honus Wagner
- LLG-5 Lou Gehrig
- LLG-6 Nolan Ryan
- LLG-7 Mickey Mantle
- LLG-8 Thurman Munson
- LLG-9 Cal Ripken Jr.
- LLG-10 George Sisler
- GR-1 Ted Williams
- GR-2 Bob Gibson
- GR-3 Babe Ruth
- GR-4 Roy Campanella
- GR-5 Ty Cobb
- GR-6 Cy Young
- GR-7 Mickey Mantle
- GR-8 Walter Johnson
- GR-9 Roberto Clemente
- GR-10 Jimmie Foxx
- LLP-1 Ted Williams
- LLP-2 Bob Gibson
- LLP-3 Babe Ruth
- LLP-4 Roy Campanella
- LLP-5 Ty Cobb
- LLP-6 Cy Young
- LLP-7 Mickey Mantle
- LLP-8 Walter Johnson
- LLP-9 Roberto Clemente
- LLP-10 Jimmie Foxx
- PR-1 Ted Williams
- PR-2 Jackie Robinson
- PR-3 Babe Ruth
- PR-4 Honus Wagner
- PR-5 Lou Gehrig
- PR-6 Nolan Ryan
- PR-7 Mickey Mantle
- PR-8 Thurman Munson
- PR-9 Cal Ripken Jr.
- PR-10 George Sisler
Again, it's just a preliminary checklist, and everything is subject to change. But February 4 is only two weeks away...and I will take any information that I can get. As these look to be parallels of the regular insert set, I think I'll wait for these to show up on eBay if I plan on buying them. These are not going to be high on the must have list for me. But if they look really good...
Thursday, January 22, 2009
One card away...just like the good old days. One more card that joins the ranks of Jose Tolentino, Bo Jackson, Orel Hershiser, and others.
The hunt is on!!!
Monday, January 19, 2009
Now, sadly, it's time to say goodbye to more blogs that have not been updated in the last six months:
- Craig's Topps Baseball Card Web Site Blog!!
- Beginners Wax
- Junk Wax
- Jarred's Daily Baseball Prospect Analysis
- The Card Blog
- Baseball Card Reviews
- Scott's Baseball Card Blog
- Baseball Card Reference
- Out Of The Mill
- Basketball Card Collecting
- Joe Knows Cards
- Tuff Guy with Scott Kelnhofer
- Minnesota Twins - Tony...the Killer and Carew
- Hanley Ramirez - Trade Me Your Hanleys
Blog Bat Around - It's 2009, so Topps...Please Listen!!! Some Unsolicited Advice From This Humble Little Blog
Anyway, the topic of the blog around this time is more of a plea to the card companies if you will. It's 2009 and the economy is in the tank. Money that most of us would love to spend on cards are now being diverted to other, more important things (like food, mortgage/rent, utilities). Which means that we're all going to have to cut back on our purchases, or find other ways to add to our collections, whether it be by trading, or Heaven forbid selling, some of our cards. But what could we do? We're not on the boards at either Topps or Upper Deck (or Donruss, or whatever other company). There are no bloggers sitting in on production meetings, helping decide what products to make or what should not. Heck, until this guy came along, we had no idea what goes on inside those staff meetings.
But again, it's 2009, and the voices of the Hobby blogosphere need to be heard. Here is the topic for the third Blog Bat Around:
2008 is over and 2009 has just begun. We’ve seen the previews for the first card releases of the new year. We also know that Upper Deck is planning to eliminate a few brands in 2009, and with the economy in a recession, Topps and other card companies may follow suit. As collectors, we want to see the card companies make cards that we want to collect, but how do they know what we want? This is your chance to tell them…
What type of sets would you like to see produced in 2009 and beyond? What sets from 2008 and past years do you want to see return, and which brands would you like to see killed off? How could existing brands be improved and what new types of card sets would you like to see created? Should new sets be geared more toward set collectors, or should the number of hits (autographs and game-used relics) be increased? What about short prints? Parallels? Inserts? Gimmicks? What do you love about current cards, what do you hate, and where should the card companies go from here?
This is the last year of the four-year agreement that saw Donruss lose their license, leaving Topps and Upper Deck as the companies who can create Major League Baseball Cards. The contract agreed upon by both companies and MLB Properties is that for the first two years, each company produces 20 products a piece, and after that (2008-2009) only 17 products each.
Now twenty products in a good economy doesn't seem so bad right? Well in a bad economy, 17 products seems to be a bit too much. While there may still be a market for those extremely high priced products (those that sell for $50.00 or more for a pack...ahem...Sterling...Exquisite...), it's shrinking as people are figuring out their money needs to go elsewhere. You have to ask yourself, "Are these really necessary? Can we really justify putting a $250.00 SRP on a three to five pack of cards?" Of course not!!! The cards may look great, and what "relics" you put in them might be historic, but many people can't afford them. They'll admire them, but then move on. My point? We have to go back to the basics.
Before 1989, all the companies (Topps, Donruss, Fleer, and Score) made one set, and then an update set at the end of the year. And collectors were satisfied. But then, something happened. Upper Deck came out with these $1.00 packs of premium trading cards. Thus the competition to create a better card became more intense. From 1990-91, each company created their own "premium card" brand (Stadium Club, Leaf, Ultra), to match UD. Topps brought back the Bowman name as a basic product, then overhauled the brand to focus on rookies and prospects. Then, the bar was raised a couple of years later with the introduction of Finest, Flair, and SP. As technology increased, we saw more products, Bowman's Best, Topps Chrome, Bowman Chrome, SPX, Studio, on and on and on. By 2001, there were more than 80 sets produced by the companies, it became impossible to keep up. Maybe it's time to stop trying to fill the 17 product quota and try to focus your energies on the products that we all KNOW will sell.
Maybe both Topps and UD should bring the product total down to 10 products each. That way we won't have to be exposed to the X's, or the Documentary, or the Timelines of the world. I mean UD started scrapping products last year like their Update set and this year with Masterpieces and Sweet Spot. They can surely get rid of a few more. If not (because they have to put out 17 based on the contract), they better find ways to improve the products that they are going to hurl upon the masses. While it may look like I'm being harsh on UD (heck, I don't buy the stuff, it's easy for me to say what should stay or go), Topps is not exempt from hearing my plea.
The seventeen baseball card products Topps brought us in 2008 (to fill the contracted quota agreed upon with MLB Properties) were:
- Topps (Series I and II)
- Topps Chrome
- Topps Heritage
- Topps Opening Day
- Topps Moments and Milestones
- Topps Finest
- Topps Sterling
- Topps Allen & Ginter
- Topps Co-Signers
- Topps Triple Threads
- Topps Updates and Highlights
- Topps Heritage High Numbers
- Stadium Club
- Bowman Chrome
- Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects
- Bowman Sterling
The idea of having two update sets in 2008 (one for the base brand and one for Heritage) was not necessarily a bad idea. The delivery of the Heritage update product, however, was. Why??? Because there was no need to combine both products into the Heritage High Numbers by adding two cards of Topps U & H in every pack!!! Put it this way, it was great during the early part of the decade when Topps included two packs of Topps Chrome Traded into every pack of Topps Traded, because the sets were of a similar vein and looked exactly the same (save for the stock the cards were printed). And personally, I traded a number of the chrome cards for the regular ones because I didn't collect Chrome. I just treated the chrome cards as parallels and moved on. But to have those who don't collect the base brand and focus on the Heritage brand, buy packs of this HHN product deal with the Topps U & H cards? It makes completing the set more challenging (and more expensive...maybe that was the idea huh?). If you're going to continue the trend of adding an Update set to Heritage, don't add the eponymous brand's traded cards into their packages.
When Stale Gum put on his annual Gummie Awards, for the category of Most Disappointing Product, guess which product won? Stadium Club. Why? Certainly not because of the photography. But because of how Topps turned the brand into an extremely higher end product!!! Before it was unceremoniously killed off, Topps Stadium Club was a brand just one step above Topps. After all, it was Topps first "premium" brand. And they made enough product to go around. The photography was the key to the set and Topps delivered some of the best pictures to ever go on cards. That's probably why there have never been borders surrounding the cards. It's supposed to look like you're flipping through pictures. There was a strong campaign to bring the product back into circulation, and it looks like Topps finally listened. While the product looks fantastic, the pictures are sharp, and doesn't look like it missed a beat upon it's return, the fact that Topps turned it into a much higher tiered brand and made the SRP's more expensive than they really should have been is what made it disappointing for me personally. It wound up becoming an "ultra premium" brand instead of a "premium" brand, and was priced much higher than many people expected. Of course people still bought it, and the product looks great, but if it is to come back in 2009, please make the product a little more affordable.
So what DO I want to see in 2009??? A return to the basics. Please make it simple. If it costs $200.00 per signature of Albert Pujols, or other players for that matter, then keep autographed cards out of the basic sets. If this is what jacks up the price of packs of the flagship brand, Heritage, Opening Day (which by the way really has run it's course), and maybe even Chrome, then don't put include them. In fact, why can't we have a set that just has your regular base cards and insert cards without autos and relics. You have a brand named for autographed cards (C0-Signers), and one for relic cards (Triple Threads), keep them there and away from the brands that set collectors buy in bulk. I certainly don't buy Series I, II, or U & H for the autos and relics, and I'm sure that many don't either. I'm not saying keep it out of every brand (prospectors would revolt if you took autographs away from Bowman and Bowman Chrome), but right now, the sooner a set collector can finish the sets he or she want to complete, the better it will be for that person in the pocketbook.
Short prints have become a challenge for many collectors. And in many cases, it can be a good thing. It brings out that "hunter's mentality" where set collectors like me would continue searching until finding that elusive card to complete a set. In Heritage and Allen & Ginter, this works. It really doesn't work for the flagship brand. Remember 2002 Topps Traded and Rookies? Now I know there will be variations in this year's set. And I know that Topps has done this in the last two years for their football and basketball brands with relative success. I just hope that this is only a one-year run with the baseball brand. Don't stray from the formula of a good base set, keep the variations to a bare minimum (you're not doing this again in series II are you??!), and I'll be happy.
Please stop making the multiple factory sets. Do you really need to produce 10 or more different factory sets (Hobby, Retail, Holiday, All-Star Fanfest, and up to 6 team exclusives sets)? And for what...those five-card bonus inserts or the one card relic that is displayed on the outside of the box??? Set collectors who want those five card inserts can't continue to buy that many factory sets...not right now anyway. You know that a majority of these cards will "never see the light of day...EVER!!!" Why torture us? At least bring the number of factory sets down to four, get rid of the team exclusives even.
The whole point of my diatribe??? Just make it simple for the loyal set collectors who have continued to buy your products through good economic times and bad. I'm not saying make it totally simple, but don't make it too challenging for us either. If you plan on cancelling more of the sets we saw last year, make the products you replace them with set collector friendly. Make each base set worth looking at, and not an afterthought. If you do plan on cutting down on products, make sure the ones you will be putting out to market look good and worth buying.
That's all I ask. I know my thoughts and my writing looks more like a disorganized mess, but the intent should be clear. It's the KISS method...Keep It Simple...Seriously!!!
Saturday, January 17, 2009
In the mean time, the reason why I am posting this is because included in the package of Reds cards was one ToppsTown card (which came as a filler). On a whim, because my kids found a bunch of unopened packs of 2008 Topps Series II, they opened everything, and only found one ToppsTown card in the chaos. The card went to my son, and he immediately cashed it in. Feeling bad that my daughter didn't get anything, I decided to try and see if there the code on the card I received today was valid.
I can happily say that yes, the code was active. But instead of getting baseball cards:
She now is the virtual owner of this household's first ToppsTown FOOTBALL cards. And now she wants more, and my son wants them too.
If anybody has any ToppsTown Football codes they want to share (and they have to be unused), please send an e-mail my way at email@example.com. On behalf of my kids...thanks.
Larry, a generous package of Mariners cards is on its way to you next week. The freezing cold (below zero for forty hours straight???) has kept all of us from going out.
Ladies and gentlemen, I still need six cards from the Topps WalMart Dick Perez set found in packs of 2008 Topps Updates and Highlights:
- WM21-Ryan Braun
- WM25-Daisuke Matsuzaka
- WM27-Chipper Jones
- WM28-Lance Berkman
- WM29-Hanley Ramirez
- WM30-Mariano Rivera
Thursday, January 15, 2009
All ten subjects included in this set were prospects at the time who, until 2003, did not have a Topps card made for them. As with the regular "First-Year Player" cards, each one included the #1 Stamp logo in place of their team's logo. As with the 2002 Topps Archives Future Rookies the year before, the first five cards were found in the Hobby factory sets, the last in the sets sold online at Sears or JC Penney (and if you didn't know that either store sold these sets, then you wouldn't even know that the last five cards even exist).
- Ismael Castro, SS, Seattle Mariners
- Branden Florence, OF, San Francisco Giants
- Michael Garciaparra, SS, Seattle Mariners
- Pete LaForest, C, Tampa Bay Devil Rays
- Hanley Ramirez, SS, Boston Red Sox
- Rajai Davis, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
- Gary Schneidmiller, 3B, Oakland Athletics
- Corey Shafer, OF, Baltimore Orioles
- Thomari Story-Harden, 1B, Los Angeles Dodgers
- Bryan Grace, P, New York Yankees
WHERE ARE THEY NOW???Ismael Castro made it all the way to the Mariner's AAA team in Tacoma in 2006, but never made it to the majors. For the last two years, he's been playing in independent leagues, first with Macon of the South Coast League in 2007, then with the Nashua Pride of the Can-Am League in 2008.
Branden Florence was released by the Giants in 2004, and signed with the Orioles a couple of months later. After toiling in the O's minor league system, he signed as a minor league free agent with the Phillies. He has yet to make it to the majors. In 2008, he played for the Bridgeport Bluefish of the Atlantic League.
Michael Garciaparra, aka Nomar's little brother, was trapped in the Mariner's farm system for a number of years, making it to Tacoma in 2006. He was placed on waivers at the end of the season and claimed by the Phillies. He played for all three levels of the Phil's minor league system before signing a minor league deal with the Brewers for the 2008 season.
Pete LaForest, already a 6-year minor league veteran prior to making his Topps Card debut, finally made his major league debut with the Devil Rays (yes, I can call them Devil Rays) in 2003, appearing in nineteen games. He stayed in Durham in 2004 and 2005, making it back to the DRay's for the second half of the season. Released by Tampa, he signed on with the Padres, and after another year in the Padres minor league system, played for the Padres sparingly in 2007 before waived again and signed by the Phillies. He did manage to stay with the Phil's for the rest of the '07 season. He is currently a free agent.
Hanley Ramirez made his major league debut with the Red Sox in 2005, and was traded to the Florida Marlins during the off-season. Since then, he was named 2006 NL Rookie of the Year, was voted the starting SS for the 2008 All-Star Game, and is now Florida's reigning superstar, hitting 79 home runs, 207 RBI's, and stealing 137 bases in his three years with the Fish.
Rajai Davis made his major league debut with the Pirates in 2006. Since then he was traded to the Giants in 2007 for Matt Morris. He was waived early in the 2008 season and claimed by the Athletics. He is currently on the A's 40-man roster and is looking to make the team for the 2009 season.
Gary Schneidmiller toiled in the Athletics' minor league system for six years, making it to AA Midland in 2003. In 2004, he signed a minor league deal with the Red Sox. He has spent the last three years playing for the Amarillo Dillas of the United Leauge.
Corey Shafer never made it to the majors. He last played in the minors in 2006.
Thomari Story-Harden also never made it to the majors, never making it past the Dodger's A team in Vero Beach in 2003. His last year in organized baseball was in 2006.
Bryan Grace never made it to the majors as well. He last played in the minors in 2003.
So there you have it. Your 2003 Topps First Year Bonus Players. Of the ten, only three made it to the majors. One of them is a superstar. The rest are still waiting for a chance, either in the minors or the independents. And a couple have left the game for good. But the one thing in common is that many of their cards are sealed forever in 2003 Topps factory sets, and may never see the light of day...EVER!!!
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
I'm sure if you click on the pictures, the checklists become a bit clearer. There are going to be 320 cards in this set featuring 230 players. Each of the thirty teams will have at least one player featured as gold cards and "code cards" to use so you can play online at ToppsTown. Eight exclusive legends cards will only be found in the starter packs (interesting that Greg Maddux is now amongst the legends). Ignore the checklist, it has Mickey Mantle, Honus Wagner, and Lou Gehrig as Red Sox players (sacrilage!!!), Nolan Ryan as a Brave, and Maddux and Jackie Robinson as Angels. Big error don't you think?
As always, the checklist is always subject to change, and you never know if there will be exclusive cards only found at certain stores. This is beginning to look like an interesting set to collect. Product arrives in stores in February.
Monday, January 12, 2009
I received an e-mail this evening from a guy named Doug (or as he's known on the blog as lnd) who has just started his own blog...called Topps Baseball Cards. He's just rediscovered the 15,000 cards that have been sitting in his basement for the last 20 or so years and is now chronicling his quest to get them all organized. Good luck to you Doug. You're going to need it.
Clicking on his follower (he's new, but at least he already has one), shows that this follower also reads another Topps related blog. Not mine though. This other blog is written by a gentleman named Chris and the blog he writes is appropriately titled The Topps Card Blog. So far, all Chris has written about are Topps Heritage cards (at least one per post) and the player on the card.
I will be adding both blogs to the Sports Card Blogroll (as they are just starting out and should get the exposure). Good luck to both lnd and Chris. Welcome to the Hobby Blogosphere. Enjoy the journey.
The votes are in...
- Rickey Henderson 511 (94.8 percent);
- Jim Rice 412 (76.4 percent);
- Andre Dawson 361 (67.0 percent);
- Bert Blyleven 338 (62.7 percent);
- Lee Smith 240 (44.5 percent);
- Jack Morris 237 (44.0 percent);
- Tommy John 171 (31.7 percent);
- Tim Raines 122 (22.6 percent);
- Mark McGwire 118 (21.9 percent);
- Alan Trammell 94 (17.4 percent);
- Dave Parker 81 (15.0 percent);
- Don Mattingly 64 (11.9 percent);
- Dale Murphy 62 (11.5 percent);
- Harold Baines 32 (5.9 percent);
- Mark Grace 22 (4.1 percent);
- David Cone 21 (3.9 percent);
- Matt Williams 7 (1.3 percent);
- Mo Vaughn 6 (1.1 percent);
- Jay Bell 2 (0.4 percent);
- Jesse Orosco 1 (0.2 percent);
- Ron Gant 0;
- Dan Plesac 0;
- Greg Vaughn 0.
The players whose names are italicized will appear on next year's ballot, having surpassed the five percent rule to stay on (27 votes).
According to the Baseball Hall of Fame website, 539 ballots were cast, two of them were BLANK!!!
The first item purchased is an eight card 2008 Topps Redsfest set first introduced by VottoTron last month. He was able to send me five of the eight cards from the set (along with some Cubs cards that go to my daughter). I will link the auction eventually, there was no picture, but what I can tell you was the final price plus shipping came to $5.49.
The second item was a BIN for the 2008 Topps Sarah Palin GOP card. Sell prices were really high when it first came out, but have since dropped since the election ended and Ms. Palin returned to govern Alaska. Final price plus shipping $23.49.
I will eventually make a play for the beauty queen card. I'm not in a hurry, prices are still high (mid $50.00's). Eventually, demand will die down, and that's when I'll strike.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
To Ryan Cracknell, no, unfortunately, there is no way to send private trades in ToppsTown. What you can do is create a trade, say Alfonso Soriano (I think I have 9 of these) for the Drew and Wakefield cards, and e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org your ToppsTown name. As soon as you do, I'll look for your trade offer and hit accept. I just traded for the Hoffman card, so I just need the two you have.
To Los Gatos, this is why you never ever trust the checklist until the product actually comes out. Originally, yes, Inge, Santiago, Bautista, Grilli and Miner were to be the bonus players. But the guy who sent me the scans e-mailed me to let me know that Galarraga and Raburn are in and Grilli and Miner are out. Consider your set complete at five cards. Thanks to the boys at the Detroit Sports Collectors for reading the blog.
To Kentucky Harold (who has one of the most unique blogs I've ever come across...warning, if math is not your forté, clicking on the link will make your head explode), the cards should be the usual 2½ by 3½ inches. Anything bigger and it would be harder to put these things in regular sheets. I'm thinking of getting the set.
To the Hamiltonian, Scott C., Big Daddy, and Michael O'Connor, thanks for the boost of confidence regarding PayPal. I never had a problem sending checks or money orders, even cash. But now that eBay is preventing paper payments, I had to sign up if I wanted to continue to grow my collection. I guess you hear more bad things than good and if PayPal is good for you, then I'll try it.
To friend of the blog Big Daddy, I've started to look for Palin cards. Wow the prices have dropped. Maybe it's a good thing I waited until now. And if you wanted to know why I didn't just start the spending spree for Palin, see above.
To friend of the blog and frequent commenter TDLindgren, you may as well spill it. What exactly is all the fuss about Topps choosing 1985 as Gary Carter's best year?
To Dave at Goose Joak (pronounced "Walk"), 1989 will always have a spot in my heart as my favorite Topps set of all time. You can give me the name of a player, and I can immediately picture in my head what the card looks like. Can't do that nowadays with the current sets, but bring up any cards from 1988-1992...
Finally, to Anonymous, care to enlighten me (and the viewing public) as to who you were talking about? Are you from Tuff Stuff? E-mail me at email@example.com and let me know (and this is why I'm not a fan of Anonymous commenters).
That's all for now. Keep the comments coming. Of course, that's going to mean that I have to write something, huh?
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Cards That Make You Go...What??! of the Week: 2002 Topps Archives Best Years Edition Gibson #68, Hernandez #85, Carter #105, and Dawson #147
For those of you who are new to the blog, whenever the word "WHAT??!" appears on any of my posts, it means, "What was Topps thinking???" I'll try to post a card or two that for any reason makes me wonder what went through the minds of the people working at the Topps company when they created or designed the cards in question. As the title suggests, I'll be discussing one of my favorite sets, the 2002 Topps Archives "Best Years" Edition, and four cards within it that make me wonder what Topps was thinking upon creating their cards.
Following the massive success known as 2001 Topps Archives, the Topps company brought back the Archives name in 2002, but instead of reprinting another 200 players' first and last cards, they picked 175 players, some who didn't even appear in the previous year's set, and reprinted the Topps card that represents that person's "Best Year" in the majors (hence the official name of 2002 Topps Archives: "Best Years" Edition). And what a job they did. In many cases, you can't argue with some of the choices. Roger Maris is in the set, and the card Topps reprinted was the 1961 Topps card (in honor of his 61 home runs plus MVP in 1961). Dennis Eckersley's best year (according to Topps) was 1992, when he not only won the Cy Young award, but the AL MVP award too. He deserved both awards, as he went 7-1, saved 51 games, and had an ERA of 1.91. In honor of his 1992 effort, they reprinted the Eck's 1992 card. What was cool about this set was that the card backs of each of the players not only had more easy to read card numbers (compared to 2001 Archives...magnifying glass anyone???), but in the ever so important statistics line, they even ADDED the stat year of that year's card. So in the case of Eck's card 1992 card, you could actually read his 1992 stats.
How cool is that???
It should come as no surprise that some players' best years came after their first year with a new team. In baseball, as in other sports, sometimes a change of scenery is all that is needed to bring out the best in an athlete's performance on the field. In the case of the four players listed above, that is exactly what happened.
Gary Carter's best year (according to Topps) was 1985. He was traded to the Mets after a 11 year stint with the Montréal Expos, and promptly hit 32 home runs, drove in 100 runs, and had a batting average of .281 for the Metropolitans. In honor of that "best year," Topps reprinted his 1985 Topps card. One problem though. I said that he played for the Mets in 1985. So why did they reprint his 1985 Topps card as a member of lés Expos???
Willie Hernandez was the star closer for the 1984 Detroit Tigers. And like Eckersley in 1992, he was not only the 1984 Cy Young Award winner, but also the AL Most Valuable Player. His numbers were a dominating (for 1984 standards) 9-3, 1.92 ERA, and 32 saves. The year before, Willie was a member of the Philadelphia Phillies. During the offseason, the Phillies traded Hernandez and Dave Bergman to the Tigers for Johnny Wockenfuss and Glenn Wilson. Who do you think got the better end of this deal? The point is that even though the back of the card shows Willie's 1984 power numbers with the Tigers, his reprinted card shows him as a member of the Phillies!!!
Andre Dawson being named MVP in 1987 was impressive because he won the award while playing for a last place team, the Chicago Cubs. After spending many years playing on the carpet at Olympic Stadium in Montréal, he agreed to a blank contract with the Cubs. Basically, he told the team to choose how much to pay him. So what did a one-year, $700,000 deal get the Cubs? How about a player who hit a league leading 49 home runs and drove in 137 runs. Those numbers, along with the fact that he was a Cub when he had them, are on the back of the card (see below). But instead of showing "The Hawk" in Cubbie blue, his 1987 Topps card has him as a member of the Expos.
One more example before I begin my rant...Kirk Gibson is also in this set. His "best year," according to Topps, was 1988. Signing with the Dodgers after the 1987 season, he was named the NL MVP the following year. And who could forget that game winning home run in the '88 World Series, against Eckersley no less? If he played for the Dodgers in 1988, and looking at his lifetime stats, this was definitely his best year, why is he depicted as a Detroit Tiger?
You get the idea?
It's not like Topps couldn't reprint the TOPPS TRADED card of each of the above players. I mean, 2001 Topps Archives had a Traded card reprinted for Ron Cey (1987 Topps Traded), so why couldn't they reprint each player's "traded" card, and actually show each of them in the uniform of the team they had their career year?
Regardless of this tiny little oversight, 2002 Topps Archives is still a great looking set. I wish they could have continued on this theme in 2003. But then, we wouldn't have the Fan Favorites series that we all love so much (I mean that seriously, not sarcastically).
What were you thinking??!
P.S. If I was smart, I would have scanned the actual Topps Traded cards of the four players mentioned. What was I thinking??! jba
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Son of major leaguer Fred Kendall, Jason was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1992. He made his major league debut in 1996, a year that saw him not only place third on the NL Rookie of the Year voting, but was named an All-Star as well. Along with Brian Giles, he was one of the few players that were worth watching in Pittsburgh during the late 90's early 2000's. He was the face of the franchise, and always played hard. Other than his 1999 season, cut short due to injury, he has never played less than 130 games in a year. And during his tenure as a Pittsburgh Pirate catcher, he was penciled in as the team's leadoff hitter on a number of occasions. Along the way, he picked up two more invitations to the Midsummer Classic, and was named the starting catcher that year in 2000.
After spending his first nine years with the Pirates, he was traded to the Oakland Athletics at the end of the 2004 season for what seemed to be another Pittsburgh rebuilding project. He made his playoff debut (finally) in 2006 and has since played in the postseason with two other teams (the Chicago Cubs in 2007, and the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008).
So on to the cards. Here is Jason Kendall's 2000 Topps card:
Nice action shot. He's blocking the plate, trying to receive the ball from the fielder before the runner tags home plate (the runner must have missed it the first time, because based on where the runner's leg is, it looks like he's diving back INTO Kendall). You can even see the dust flying everywhere and can only imagine that this shot could have been easily taken from the umpire's point of view. You have to admit, when Topps' photographers get an action shot, they get their action shot. And we the collectors apprecite it. Now on to card number 2:
It's the exact same picture, but upon further inspection, the border color is different, and the foil color is different too. Remember, this is 2000 Topps. There were no gold cards that year (they were brought back in 2001). This is not a photoshopped, or MS Paint job (I can't do either well enough to make it look real). It is a real card, but what set is it from...
We'll see if whoever leaves comments gets it right. It should be fairly easy to answer. However, finding the actual set this card actually came from was near to impossible. Good luck.
UPDATE: Thursday, January 8, 2009.
Ryan Cracknell chimed in with the right answer at 1:53 AM (do bloggers ever sleep???). Yes, this was one of the three Sample cards given to dealers to show what the 2000 Topps baseball cards were going to look like. Kendall's card is #PP2 (PreProduction). The other two players featured in this set were Brady Anderson and Ryan Klesko. Thanks to all who participated. jba
So the world will know what they look like, because otherwise these cards will never see the light of day...EVER!!! Introducing the five players that make up this bonus set:
Don, thank you again for the scans. If you do decide to buy another 08 Tigers factory set, please keep me in mind for the bonus cards.
And if anybody brave enough to open a factory set and is willing to part with the bonus cards (or at least send scans of them), please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
The Cubs have a rabid fan base. Even if the team hasn't won a MLB championship in a century, the team has many fans not only in Chicago, but across the country and around the world. But there haven't been any blogs out there that talk about Cubs cards.
Lately, I have been contacted by two gentlemen who just started their own blogs, with a focus on the boys in blue. The first blog, written by Steven Panitch, is appropriately (and for Cub fans, annoyingly) titled wait 'til next year, and focuses on the team from a 1960's and 1970's perspective, along with other teams from the era and current Chicago sports information. The second, titled Wrigley Wax, is written by Paul Kosman, who has almost every modern day Cubs card from 1951-2008 (1,702 out of a possible? 1,730 Topps Cubs cards alone).
They've both just started on their blogging journeys. Please visit both. If you're a fan of the Cubs, you'll truly appreciate finally having some representation in the Hobby blogosphere.