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Ramblings: Your Letters… and Your Card Designs

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While listening to Beckett Radio tonight to hear my voice which was not made for radio in a best-of edition, I also realized that was perfect background for our Rich Ramblings 2014latest edition of Letters to Rich’s Ramblings.

Our column about Steve Stroughter getting a rookie card in the 1982 Topps Traded set brought  some interesting responses. It’s funny and kind of sad how that column was almost a pre-tribute to Tony Gwynn.

This email was from someone who previously worked for In the Game Trading Cards:

Rich, 

1982 Topps Traded Steve StroughterI just wanted to let you know that I enjoyed your piece on the Steve Stroughter card this morning. 

It seems like a rather puzzling addition to a solid set – especially considering the options they had. In my experience, though, you can’t catch every prospect when putting together a checklist. When making Heroes & Prospects during my time with In The Game, it was often difficult to include as many young talents as I wanted to due to constraints on the number of base cards that were going to be in the set. 

It’s easy to make the obvious choices, but you’re not going to catch them all. Along the way, you are bound to make some bad ones, too. For every Nathan MacKinnon, there is an Angelo Esposito or A.J. Thelen. That’s the beauty of hindsight, I guess. 

Keep up the amazing work on Sports Collectors Daily! 

Stephen Laroche 

We asked for your designs of guys who should have been in the ’82 Traded set after making their MLB debuts that season but didn’t appear until 1983. 

1982 Topps Traded Tony Gwynn Card That Never Was 1982 Topps Traded Ryne Sandberg Card That Never Was Reader John Hogan sent us the 1982 Topps Traded Gwynn he had created. He also mentioned that in 2007, there were eTopps ‘cards that never were’ created of Sandberg and Boggs in the 1982 Topps design but Jonathan Daniel of Brownsburg, IN did send us an image of a 1982 Topps Traded card of Sandberg they had created.

We thank everyone who took time to email us their designs. We know, even with the amazing technology available today. doing any designing still takes quite a bit of talent.

William Noetling, author of The Budget Collector blog, engaged us in a dialogue about why Gwynn was not wearing his familiar #19 on his 1983 Topps rookie card.  We tossed around some different ideas including the possibility of a spring training or minor league photo.  Does anyone know for certain?

I alerted good friend John Troll about my Casey Kasem tribute piece. If you don’t know JT, he is one of the nicest and most dedicated radio air check collectors I know and produced the weekly radio DJ tribute program that airs each Saturday at noon eastern time on Rewound Radio.  JT is fairly typical of many of us who grew up listening to Casey:

“Very nice!   It was a special show indeed.  A part of my childhood. I would listen every week. 

Newsday would publish the Top 20 every Sunday so I would use that list as the “scorecard” but not look at it until after the show was over. That way I’d have the list of songs and their chart positions from the prior week but also have a record of the songs that WABC/99X weren’t playing. 

Being out on the Island I could hear it from NYC or eastern Long Island or WDRC out of Hartford which played it twice each Sunday including Sunday nights.  Great stuff!”

Tom Griffin 1982 ToppsReader Jay of Mineral, VA sends a photo of Tom Griffin in his final major league uniform. Griffin would make a great ‘what ever happened to’ column in terms of cards as he fanned 200 batters as a rookie in 1969. Not much of a career after that but still he spent time in the majors.

Georgia collector Brett Ingram let us know he loved the idea of creating hobby buzz with re-defining a rookie card and shared some strong opinions:

I agree with your assessment about the 1933 Goudey Ruth.  The murky identification of pre-war rookie cards keeps them off my list of things to collect.  Post cards, newspaper clippings, or local food issues, it’s too difficult to define.  The more I collect the more distaste I have for rookie cards in general.  There are so many great cards of players after their rookie season that deserve more attention.    

The 1969 or 1970 high # Nolan Ryan cards are more visually appealing or in shorter supply than his 1968 rookie and the same can be said of the Johnny Bench cards from the same years.  I haven’t found a collector yet that believes the 1963 Rose is a nicer card than his 1964 card for any reason other than the “rookie” label. 

I do have an issue with some of the post war cards that are labeled as rookie cards.  First, my definition of a rookie card.  First time appearing in a national release (released in majority of markets that have MLB teams), so for me, the following cards are out: 

1949 Leaf:  Musial, Spahn, Kiner, and Rizzuto.  The set was released in 1949, a year after the 1948 Bowmans.  I do not know how this set ever became known as a 1948 release because a quick read of the backs will tell you it was released after the 1948 season. 

1982 Topps Traded Ripken:  Although I love the card, it’s not his rookie card.  Maybe call it a “rookie release”. 

1985 Kirby Puckett  and Roger Clemens:  Sorry but Fleer produced the only rookie cards of them– in 1984.  In 1985 when the Mark McGwire Olympic card was released was the point the rookie card craze started going downhill.

When I first started in the hobby, Kit Young also said he would much rather have a 1971 Vida Blue (which is a tough semi-hi card) rather than the overproduced 1970 1st Series rookie card. I got to agree with Kit here.Do you have any examples of cards you would rather have than a rookie card?  Heck, the 1952 Topps Mantle or Mays are not rookies either.

Brandon Lieblich or Roswell Georgia sent us this email earlier in June:

Just read your column on the ever-changing sports card industry. Though I am a relatively young buck at age 28, I could still relate to many of your points. My best childhood friend and I used to BEG our parents and older siblings to drive us a few miles down the road to the BP station to grab a few packs of whatever they happened to have. I can’t imagine how much spare change and money we spent from mowing lawns trying to collect the whole Upper Deck ’97 set in particular especially the Griffey’s Hot List part of the set. Also remember saving tons of empty wax packs from that set for the mail in redemption that required some absurd amount of empty packs to get an update set where, at the time, Jose Cruz Jr. was the crown jewel. 

While I never did the long distance trades through publications, I do remember feverishly checking the mail after school every day for the next issue of Beckett. I used to write into the team addresses Beckett would provide and send cards along with a letter to my favorite players. Beckett said the best way to get a response was to include a self-addressed stamped envelope. One of the biggest surprises I ever had was actually getting one of those letters back from Greg Maddux with the card signed. The craziest thing was that it was 8 YEARS LATER! I had 100% forgotten that I had sent it and it was wild to see my handwriting as a 4th grader on the envelope I had enclosed to have the card sent back. I don’t know if things like that still happen anymore, but it made me a fan and collector for life. 

I never hear about shows anymore, but my Dad used to take me once a month on Sundays to a show at the Holiday Inn in Atlanta. I never used to buy anything but just used to marvel at everything and I can remember it being packed with tables. Despite rarely actually making a purchase, I got to know several of the dealers just as that kid that showed up every month and they would sometimes give me a free card of a random player from my favorite team. Those are the kinds of things that I feel like you don’t hear about anymore. It’s very unfortunate. But to this day if I make a trip to Walmart I will still be searching for some Bowman packs and hoping to pull an auto or refractor, despite the card section being 75% Magic/Wrestling and some cartoon collectible stuff I have never heard of. 

Anyway, your article brought back some great memories as to why I started collecting in the first place. Thanks for that.

Keep those emails coming: [email protected]. We love running your emails as this hobby truly belongs to all of us.

About Rich Klein

Rich Klein has spent almost his entire life collecting baseball cards having begun at the tender age of seven. He has spent more than three decades in the organized hobby including editing the first 12 editions of the Beckett Almanac of Baseball Card and Collectibles. He lives in Plano, TX along with his wife Dena and their two dogs. You can reach him at [email protected].

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