If you’re a traditional baseball card guy you probably scoff at products like this. Normally I’m in that group. The traditionalists, not necessarily the scoffers. But the summertime release that has allowed us to see what collectors sometimes refer to as the 2014 Topps Allen & Ginter ‘personalities’, is one I look forward to.
It may be based on an old-time product—one of the first baseball sets ever, actually—but the product is really about popular culture. Boxes hit stores and online outlets this week and now some of the pulls are starting to hit eBay.
I can’t say I buy much, but it’s one of those issues that generates a buzz for the quirkiness and fun that extends beyond the hobby and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s fun just to see what Topps cooked up. Besides, isn’t it about time we had cards for the guys who invented Rotisserie baseball?
I don’t know about you but I think Dr. James Andrews does deserve a card for all of those careers he’s saved. How did Topps approach him about giving up a piece of “memorabilia” is what I’m wondering: “You’d like one of my what?”
Fortunately for us, it worked out and you can buy cards like these from sellers who either have a duplicate or don't know a great card when they see one.
The card that’s gotten the most attention is the first ‘playoff beard relic’ from Daniel Nava. Gross maybe, but check out the bidding. And there are 25 of them out there somewhere (he had a long beard).
NBC political reporter Chuck Todd, who is a collector, told me via Twitter he’s still pinching himself about his relic card:
— Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) July 9, 2014
ESPN’s Adam Schefter has a relic card (broadcast-worn shirt?) and you know NFL people are giving him a world of grief for it.
There are all kinds of personalities who have autographs and relics in the set including Snoop Dogg who is apparently now Snoop Lion (I guess I missed that). George Springer, the young Astros star, can hit a lot better than he signs his name. Dallas Mavericks owner and zillionaire Mark Cuban is proving his autograph is just as bad.
If your name is Paul Goldschmidt, it’s probably tough to fit a legible signature on a Ginter card. Miss Universe has her own card and, of course, writes beautifully as does Miss USA. The Iron Sheik is confident enough to just sign ‘Sheik’, like Pele or Shaq.
For those who prefer the baseball end of things, the set is fairly inclusive again and base sets are cheap. You’ll find autographs and relics of past and present players as always but there are also a 'Fields of Yore' subset that includes relic cards with (presumably), slivers of wooden seats or other structural material from ballparks like Ebbets Field, Sportsman's Park, Wrigley Field and Griffith Stadium, among others.
If you’re all about low numbered autographs of prospects, Allen & Ginter not your first choice. If you’re not into history or media and don’t give a hoot about nature or other parts of the world, you can skip Topps’ annual Allen & Ginter release but I know one thing: working on the checklist for this product has to be one of the hobby’s most fun jobs.