For those unfamiliar with the project, let me provide a bit of background.
In 2009, knowing that Topps would celebrate their 60th Anniversary, I proposed that one of the sets they should bring back is the Archives set, similar to their successful 2001-02 product. If you remember, the '01 set consisted of reprint cards from Topps' 50 years of the first (rookie) and final cards of 200 HOF players, fan favorites, and managers, record breakers and playoff highlights. Now the original set consisted of "first" cards ranged from 1952 to 1985 (players last cards reached all the way to 2000 Topps...and there were no cards from 1999 included as either a first or last card). This new project would now include rookie cards of players in 1990's (the cutoff being 1995...give or take a couple of years. And the kicker is that the player should not have been featured in the 2001 set (so no Aaron, Mays, Clemente, Ryan, Blyleven...et. al).
Now, in reality, we know that Topps isn't going to make this kind of set (MLB Properties decreed no full-retired player sets could be produced). That's why Topps has lovingly mixed them in with current baseball players in almost all of their products, even as SP's in the eponymous Topps set. But if they could...
Well, to dream.
So today was the day that Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar (along with Pat Gillick) were formally inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame. But Mr. Gillick doesn't have a Topps card (as far as I know anyway), and Blyleven was already in the 2001 Topps Archives set. So that leaves us with today's subject, Roberto Alomar.
And I'm kinda torn about it.
No, not because of the player himself, nor do I want to go into a debate about who should or should not be a Hall of Famer (face it, different eras and times call for different ideals of what a HOF should be...and the time of Ruth, Cobb, Mathewson, Wagner, and Johnson is most certainly different than Alomar and Blyleven).
I'm torn about which design to use as a "first" card.
Now, I know two years ago, when I added Mark Grace to the series, I put on a vote to determine which card should be the end-all "first" card: his 1988 Topps Traded or his 1989 Topps card (with the Rookie Cup). And the majority ruled that the Traded card be considered his first card (31 of 48 votes).
So the same situation applies with Alomar's first card. He did appear in the 1988 Topps Traded set, and his first regular card is the 1989 Topps set (which is my favorite set design EVER...and I'm biased this way anyway). If I were to follow the ruling of my readers from two years ago, I'd use the card below as part of my virtual 2011 Topps Archives project:
|First card: 1988 Topps Traded #4T. Final card: 2005 Topps #626.|
If I went with the four voters who said for me to make the decision, you'd see the cards below:
|First card: 1989 Topps #206. Final card: 2005 Topps #626.|
Even though his final card (from 2005 Topps) shows he was a member of the Devil Ray, he never did play for them. He retired as a player with the D-Rays when he didn't make it on the squad out of Spring Training.
From his beginnings with the Padres, to his rise to super stardom with the Blue Jays (he won two World Series titles), Alomar was truly destined for greatness. He was an offensive and defensive star with both the Orioles and Indians, before finishing his career with stints with the White Sox, Mets, and Diamondbacks. He was a 12-time All-Star (from 1990 to 2001...twelve straight years), a 10-time Gold Glove winner (2,320 games played at second base presently ranks third on the All-Time list), a 4-time Silver Slugger, a 2-time WS winner (including a 1992 ALCS MVP), and finally, a 2011 Hall of Famer.
So now it is time for this humble, little blog, to add Roberto Alomar into the 2011 Topps Archives project.
This should mark the return of the series. I do hope to have it finished by the end of the year. I still have the list of people who were suggested by the readers, and I do encourage you to throw your suggestions in as well in the comments. Maybe 200 players (the total I originally suggested) was a bit too much. I think if I can get this series to 100 players, I'd be happy.
So, once again, congratulations to Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven, and Pat Gillick on entering Cooperstown.