Thursday, December 6, 2012

Cards That Make You Go...What??! of the Week: 2011 Topps 60-Years of Topps Eddie Murray #60YOT-28 and #60YOT-87

1979 Topps Eddie Murray #620. The original.

It's been a long time since I last did one of these segments. It was one of the first ones I did on this humble, little blog. For those who don't know what I mean whenever I would say "What??!," it's code for "What was Topps Thinking??! when they made this card (or these cards)." Past subjects include the 2007 Topps Alfonso Soriano / Daryle Ward cards, the 2003 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites Tommy Lasorda card, and the 1999 Topps Prospect Cards in Series 1 AND 2 that both featured Gabe Kapler.

Today's featured cards come from the wildly popular insert set from 2011 Topps: 60 Years of Topps. The subject? Eddie Murray? Why? It's not because each series consisted of only 59 cards (what...1951 too good to be reprinted???).

Just like in 2010, Topps included a set that consisted of cards that highlights every year of Topps' run in the baseball card world. And just like in 2010, a full set could be found in series 1 and 2 (not in the Update series believe it or not). But what Topps did drove me nuts in 2010, made me go crazy in 2011. Instead of just making these cards reprints (akin to the Mantle, Mays, Clemente, Ryan, and Aaron cards from 1996-2000, and my favorite 2001 Topps Through the Years set), Topps actually had to include a narrative about the specific card being featured on the front. Whether it was about the design or the player, the Company had something nice to say on the back of each card. To add insult to injury (for set collectors anyway), Topps did include reprint cards of every card used in this insert set. BUT THEY WERE SHORTPRINTED!!! So now, there are reprint cards out there that are booking much higher than the base cards they were highlighting. WHAT??!

With that aside. To represent the 1979 Topps set, Topps included the card of Eddie Murray for series 1. It is his second year card, and he was starting to come into his own as one of the Orioles young sluggers. He was a worthy player to represent this set (in 2001, the Through the Years card was of Oriole teammate Jim Palmer). So the base insert (#60YOT-28) included the following text on the back of the card:

2011 Topps 60-Years of Topps Eddie Murray #60YOT-28.

As the momentum of the rookie card chase built, Topps obliged with the introduction of team Prospects cards in 1979 - 26 of them with three players per squad. Pedro Guerrero was among them, but the most desirable rookie in the set turned out to be a light-hitting shortstop named Ozzie Smith. A solid group of veterans included Eddie Murray's second card (#640).

Hey, that's great. The blurb on the back combines a bit of baseball card history, the fact that Topps introduced team Prospects, and even mentioned the inclusion of the Wizard's rookie card. But Murray was the subject on the front. So he and his card was mentioned. His reprint card #640 was inserted as a SP for set collectors to chase. Fine.

But Topps created a second series for this insert set. And who did they pick as the subject for the 1979 card?

It wasn't Ozzie Smith. It wasn't even a prospect card of Pedro Guerrero. Heck, it wasn't even the aforementioned Jim Palmer. Once again, the subject for the 1979 card was...



That's right. It was Eddie Murray again. Nothing against the Hall of Famer, but AGAIN??? They could have (and should have) picked anybody else, like the three guys above. They could have picked Jack Morris. Or even better. They could have featured Bump Willis (#369) wearing his Rangers jersey but had the Blue Jays as his team affiliation. They did correct Willis' card. That error card would have worked. I mean, no other card in either the 2010 or 2011 set was duplicated (not counting the Frank Thomas cards in the 2010 least the card used in the second series was the infamous NNOF - No Name on Front). But here is Murray's card again. And the blurb on the back of the basic insert card (#60YOT-87)?:

2011 Topps 60-Years of Topps Eddie Murray #60YOT-87.

Rampant inflation didn't burn hobbyists in 1979; they still could purchase a Topps wax pack for 20 cents - the same price as the previous year. Potential treasures included the second Eddie Murray card (#640) and rookies for Ozzie Smith and Willie Wilson. One particularly prescient offering paired Nolan Ryan with the man he would pass atop the all-time strikeout list four years later - Walter Johnson.

So Topps name-dropped Ozzie Smith (again), Willie Wilson, and even Nolan Ryan. That's right. In 1979, Topps had a subset featuring active leaders and all-time leaders in statistical categories. Topps could have picked any of the other 725 cards from this set as the 1979 representative in series 2.

But they picked Eddie Murray's card.

And what was the kicker in all of this? Topps created reprint cards of the 59 cards utilized in series 2. That now means that there are not one...BUT TWO reprint cards of Murray's 1979 Topps card.


This must have driven set collectors crazy. If Topps reprinted his card twice, that means that there are two identical cards they have to look out for and make sure that each are unique to the series they were a part of. But how can you tell the difference between the reprint card from series 1 and the one from series 2? You will have to look at the codes.

What codes?

The codes that have been printed on EVERY Topps card since 2009. You will see a 7 or 8-digit number at the bottom of every Topps card after the words: "FOR TRACKING INFO, PLEASE SEE WWW.TOPPS.COM. CODE#XXXXXXXX." If you go onto Topps website, look at the bottom of the page. Under the Help section, there is a link called CPSIA Tracking Labels. CPSIA stands for Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. It was a law enacted in 2008 that was "aimed at protecting children 12 years of age and under from all products containing lead and pthalates." The act was originally aimed at toys, and other children's products. As baseball cards (and sport cards in general) are a child's plaything, Topps went ahead and complied with the act.

Back to the point. If you enter the number at the bottom of the card onto Topps' website for CPSIA tracking labels, you will get information about where the card was made and from what product it was distributed. For example, on Murray's base insert card from series one, the code number is #3621136. Typing that number and clicking on the search button will make the following information appear at the bottom of the page:

Product: 2011 Topps BB Series 1 Diamond Anniversary
CP code: 3621136
Manufacturer: Cartamundi USA
Manufacturer date: 12/23/10-1/06/11
Address: 5101 Highland Place, Dallas TX 75236

Hey, now we know where Topps prints the products (it's in the USA). I am linking the Cartamundi USA website here in case you're curious (there is no link on Topps' site).

So how will you know if you have the right card in with the right set? Look at the codes.

If you can't read the picture, the first code is #3621137. The results:

Product: 2011 Topps BB Series 1 Diamond Anniversary
CP code: 3621137
Manufacturer: Cartamundi USA
Manufacturer date: 12/23/10-1/06/11
Address: 5101 Highland Place, Dallas TX 75236

Okay, for series 2, the code is #3621136. But wait a minute. That is the same as the code for the base insert card. This isn't right. Oh but it is. So now what?

Start looking at the code cards on the other reprints. All series 1 reprints have the same CP code: 3621137. All series 2 reprints share the #3621136 code.

So be careful when you purchase either card for your reprint set. You will need to check the code on the bottom of both cards to determine what set the card is from (because certainly Topps isn't going to put that information on the cards anymore...remember 2001 Topps Archives???) I am still working on both the 2010 and 2011 Topps reprint sets. Thanks to both and, I am now more than 62% of the way there (182 of 292), with only 110 cards to go to complete both sets. I used the Black Friday deals at COMC to chip away at all the reprint cards from either set that were under $2.00. Needless to say, I'm going to take my time the rest of the way.

Good luck if you're still hunting for these cards. And Topps...

What Were You Thinking??!


JayBee Anama


hiflew said...

I now feel vindicated for deciding not to build that set. I am surprised that this is the first I have heard of this. Nice catch

Jordan said...

Not sure if you know, but the post's title refers not to the Orioles Hall-Of-Famer depicted, but to the star of such films as Beverly Hills Cop and 48 Hours.
It's okay. I get them mixed up all the time. It's a common mistake.

madding said...

That's bizarre. I noticed they changed the Eddie Murray font on the front between Series 1 and 2. Of course, neither font perfectly matches the original.