Once again, my inbox included some feedback from some prior editions of Ramblings. There’s no shortage of passion for baseball cards among collectors. Even though not everything they tell the card companies is glowing praise, the reaction is good news for Topps because the worst thing that can happen when you own a business is that the customer stops caring.
This time in the Ramblings Mailbag, we’re going to feature a note I received from Brent Ingram of Richmond Hill, GA. He’s got some thoughts on some cards he’d like to see produced. Here’s what he wrote:
I enjoyed your article on Topps releases and the letter from Bobby Davis. I have similar ideas for Topps concerning their Archives line. There are so many great avenues Topps could take. Several of my ideas are:
1. Creating final cards for players, very few have had them. Most notably Mantle, but so many didn’t like Koufax, Aaron, Munson. Topps did put out a 1980 Catfish Hunter last year, which I was surprised to see.
2. Creating solo rookie cards for players that shared their first Topps appearance with other players. They have done this, but they did a very poor job at it. They either cut the other players out and enlarge the star photo. The card looks bad because it doesn’t fit with the template of the other cards in the set. Or they do it and use a photo that clearly doesn’t fit the year.
3. Creating cards for players that were not under contract in the fifties. They have done this, but again they have been poor efforts. The Ted Williams from the 1953 Archives set looks like it was designed by a 4th grader. Then there are the releases with the front of the card done properly but the backs weren’t done.
4. Continuing the rerelease of early sets. 1952-1954 were done, but they stopped there. With 53-54 being released in the junk wax era, they obviously don’t have much value.
Any of these ideas can be released as inserts, so Topps can continue on with that format. While many older collectors dislike them, I have to believe they are making a profit from the insert format.
My idea is to release 1955 with the cards from 1 thru 3 being included as inserts. I’m sure they’ll want to include modern players within the old designs too.
There are many people on the web that produce cards that Topps should have made. Notably Bob Lemke and the blog “Cards that never were”, which has some incredible ideas such as League Leader cards, all star cards and error corrections.
I’ve often wondered if there are people within the hobby that are well known or collectors that know people at Topps that could make this happen. Perhaps people like yourself, Bob Lemke, or Keith Olbermann. Is there anyone that you can suggest that would listen to these ideas?
As to your first point, I always agreed 100 percent that Topps was not real good or consistent on making final cards for players. To me, it was always a shame that the 1974 Topps set included a Willie Mays World Series card and not a player card and there was not a 1977 Hank Aaron or a 1980 Thurman Munson in Memoriam card, among others. But, remember until the 1990’s there was still a very heavy kids population collecting cards and frankly when you are 10 years old, Thus, we only know now what we should have known then was a 1964 Topps Stan Musial card would have been far better than a 1964 Harry Bright card.
With its Archives brand, Topps has “reprinted” the final cards but I would love to see subsets of “Last cards that never were” and “Rookie Cards that never were”. Rookie Cards that never were could include 1982 Ryne Sandberg, 1982 Wade Boggs, 1951 Blue Back Mickey Mantle, 1951 Red Back Willie Mays, and tons others. Great idea and one I always wondered about from when I was a child until the present day.
For your second point, I don’t know if there are any good answers for this. One issue is that on the multi-player rookie cards you still have to picture the other players pictured. Another is there might not always be enough early photos of the players in question but I would sure love to see a 1963 style Tony Oliva or Rusty Staub card or a 1978 Jack Morris card (although we did get one of those in the Burger King Tigers set issued in Michigan).
Not really a bad idea but we have to know how many early photos are available of these players.
Your points three and four sort of run together. The last time Topps actually tried to do an “authentic” Archives set was the 1995 Brooklyn Dodgers issue. I sort of agree with you that reprinting the old cards would be nice but to some extent I think the Heritage product has usurped this as each year Topps used an old set design for modern cards. Since Heritage is my favorite release each year, I’m kind of prejudiced about the subject but there might be room for the Topps retail division to release a set like that each year with direct marketing or as a product with some random autographs included. Remember just like with Heritage there is a nice selection of players you can probably get autographs from at a very reasonable price. I would think that is a better chance than the hobby division producing that type of set.
I wish I had that type of influence on the card companies. However, I think there is a mix of both what you suggest as well as the current iteration of Archives. The modern Archives has become a nice product at both the hobby and retail (read Walmart or Target) level while the older based version could become a nice addition to the direct to consumer line. Either way, thank you Brent for the interesting concept, and for bringing this topic to everyone’s attention.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]