Tuesday, February 17, 2009

President's Day and Topps Insert Sets

Another holiday has come and gone, and again, I'm late with posting a baseball card related topic on this humble little blog. Either I save this for next year, or release it to the masses now.

Better do it now...

I'll admit, while I'm really good at geography, I was never that great at US History. It doesn't mean I was a bad student, I did get good grades in History, but it wasn't high on the interest list when I was younger. Looking back, I should have paid a lot more attention as I realize now that the current events that I lived through will become the History lessons my children will be learning about when they get older. In the last decade, I've watched and listened to the news on a daily basis. While I will admit that I'm not too keen on current events, I do try to keep up with it as best as I can.

For the last two Presidential election years (2004 and 2008), Topps has honored the distinguished gentlemen that have taken the oath of office of the President of the United States of America by inserting cards about them in their baseball card products. Now while Presidents have always been a trading card subject, it was only recently that Topps specifically included these politically-influenced cards in packs of baseball cards and other sports cards.

In 2004, Topps Series II included a 42 card set called Presidential Pastimes. From the kids in George Washington's time playing a game called one old cat, which involved a batter, pitcher and two bases, or goal ball, where the batter had to reach a number of goals or bases, to George W. Bush's involvement in the game as owner of the Texas Rangers, each card was full of information about Presidents and their connection to the game of baseball, no matter how far they could stretch the game's history to the President. Most of the pictures used for this set utilize the actual Presidential Portraits, but beginning with President William Taft, the rest of the pictures (with the exception of Jimmy Carter, who is pictured sawing a piece of wood), show the Presidents throwing out, or preparing to throw out, the first pitch of a ball game. Did you know that President Ronald Reagan used to broadcast baseball games for the Cubs???

In 2006, Topps included cards for each of the signers of both the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution of the United States. Both sets featured men who would eventually become President. The 2007 Turkey Red set also included an insert set of cards of all 42 POTUS as well (looking like Presidential Portraits with those wood borders...classy). All three years of Allen & Ginter even had cards of selected Presidents who served around the era of the original A & G cards.

In 2008, another election year, Topps went President-insert-card-crazy. It all started with the Presidential Candidates set introducing six candidates from both the Democratic and Republican parties in series 1. This twelve card set eventually became a 16 card set, which included an ex-Vice President who wasn't even running, a governor who Constitutionally can't run for President (until they pass that 63rd Amendment before the year 2032...Demolition Man reference), and two cards of the GOP VP candidate, one of which included a picture of her winning a beauty pageant.

Topps Series 2 introduced us to the Historical Presidential Campaign cards in series 2 which included the election results of every Presidential election from 1792 to 2004, along with one card that commemorating the Democratic campaign of 2008. If I ever wanted to know how many times George McGovern or Adlai Stevenson lost in the elections, this set will definitely help answer those questions.

With 2008 Topps Updates and Highlights, the First Ladies of 41 of the POTUS (James Buchanan was a bachelor) took center stage alongside their husbands for their own insert set. Can anybody (Punk Rock Paint, or Goose Joak) make a card featuring the newest First Couple???

There has been mixed reaction to these cards being included into packs of Topps Baseball Cards. While many people welcomed these cards and sets into their collections, others were angry that these cards were even created.

"Why include non baseball subjects in our cards?"
"I don't like them."
"I don't want to see these kinds of cards in my baseball cards!!!"
"If I wanted to buy President cards, I'd do that. But I'm buying baseball cards. These should not be in here!!!"

Why the outrage? This is American history. What do you people think baseball cards are? Pictures of history, even if it is baseball. Why not have these cards in packs? Ten years, we'll remember 2008 as a historic year. The Presidential campaign took up a lot of space on TV, radio, the newspapers, the Internet. Years from now, I'll whip out my 2008 Topps album, look at all the Presidential cards and think back to what may have been current events then, but will become part of US History my kids will be studying. I'm not saying that I'm going to let my kids use these cards as references when they do their reports, but at least they'll have something interesting to display when they need visual aids. And what better flash cards to use if they ever have to remember the names of the POTUS than these cards?

In 2012, another Presidential campaign will be thrust upon us. And guess what? We'll get to look forward to more Presidential cards. Isn't that exciting???


JayBee Anama

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree. The political/presidential inserts are just as poignant and historic as baseball is. Admittedly, as a history geek, I'm biased. Still, just as much as baseball provides a wealth of information to learn, so does our history.