The Good Word – The Best Topps Baseball Trading Card Designs by Decade

One of the most exciting moments for me each year in the sports card hobby is the unveiling of the flagship Topps Baseball Card design for the following year. I suspect that we’ll get our first glimpse at the 2020 Topps Baseball design within the next couple of months, and here is to hoping that Topps won’t jump the shark and do something crazy like they did 30 years ago with the monstrosity that was the 1990 Topps set design:

Let’s backtrack just a minute. This blog post is inspired by a late-night text conversation with COMC colleague and fellow Topps Living Set enthusiast Grant Wescott about card design and Topps Heritage. While he is a big fan of the 1990 Topps design, I adamantly believed that if I were to rank every single flagship Topps design, the 1990 set would find itself in the bottom tier of my list. I don’t understand the design concept behind the double border, the slight slant in the player name box feels too comic book-esque to me, and everything clashes. The whole things reminds me of the Saved by the Bell TV show logo.

That conversation got my wheels turning, and while tackling the task of ranking every single flagship Topps design from 1951-2019 is one that is way too daunting for me, breaking down my favorite design by decade seemed like a happy medium. Without further ado:

1953 Topps

This choice required zero decision making process on my end. 1953 Topps is my favorite flagship Topps design of all-time. Topps mastered card design in their 3rd baseball card set that not only has stood the test of time, but also lends its brilliance for Topps first and only ‘Living Set’.  The lifelike paintings of the players featured in this set are the real highlight, but the card design with player info found in black or red boxes with an adjacent team logo is just the icing on top.

1969 Topps

For me the 1960’s is a toss-up between 1964 and 1969, but I have to give the nod to 1969 Topps because you can clearly the see the progression in Topps trying to nail down a design throughout the decade. 1964 Topps is marred by the team name at the top of the card simply being too big. 1969 corrects this by placing a more proportionate team name at the bottom of the card. They also improve upon the color circle design from 1968  by moving it to the top of the card and featuring the player name and position instead of the team represented. All-in-all a great way to close out the 60’s.

1977 Topps

There are three or four solid designs in the 1970’s that I like (but not love) that I could have went with. However, the 1977 Topps set edges the others out just a tad. I enjoy the very clean design, the bold type-font at the top, and I’m personally a big fan of facsimile autographs, which I think are a nice touch here.  The honorable mentions I refer to earlier would go to to 1973, 1975, and 1979.

Some may prefer the 1970 and 1971 Topps sets with their respective gray and black borders, but as we all know, the set design was hindered by low quality card stock and poor production process that simply made these sets less attractive with their various flaws. I think that modern sets that use these designs, such a 2019 Topps Heritage do a tremendous job breathing new life into these classic designs.

1984 & 1985 Topps

When it comes to the 80’s, I refuse to choose one set. 1984 Topps and 1985 Topps stick out to me as perhaps the best two-year block of Topps designs up to that period in time since 1952 and 1953. With 1984 Topps we see a perfection of the dual photo design that was used the previous year, while the colorful vertical team name was a fresh concept that simply worked well. The following year Topps radically changed the design with a great looking trading card that delivers hints of that iconic 1953 Topps design. My only gripe about 1985 Topps is that the slanted team name box could have been smaller to stay outside of the white border.

1991 Topps

I absolutely adore the 1991 Topps set design. Maybe it’s because it was the first complete baseball card set that I ever owned, but this set has a very fond place in my heart. Almost 30 years later I appreciate the cards in a different way – for a classy design that prioritized photography front and center by drastically reducing the size of player name, position and team logo. I do think that the Topps 40 years of Baseball logo feels out of place. Had the double border simply wrapped around the red Topps logo, with the baseball and 40 years removed, this set would rival 1953 Topps as my favorite design of all-time.

2008 Topps

This will probably be a controversial pick, but I truly love the zany, reinvent the wheel one-off design of the 2008 Topps Set. The team name featured prominently in colorful circles and the Topps logo also featured dead smack in the middle of the card just sells the design for me. I would have preferred the card sans foil, but as we all know, Topps fell In love with foil in 1995 on their flagship design and never looked back. Honorable mention goes to the 2004 Topps design.

2016 Topps

The past decade is easily the toughest one for me to choose just one particular design for a couple of reasons. I firmly believe this decade of Topps Baseball Cards is the strongest decade of flagship designs since the 1950’s. The designs from 2010 to now also mean a little more to me now since card design is something that I’ve only recently grown a passion for in the last five years or so.

If you have an eye for detail, you’ll have noticed that all my favorite sets outlined so far have consistent design themes and white borders. I could have easily chosen 2011 Topps or 2013 Topps to continue the trend, since both are really high up there on my all-time favorite flagship designs. But the border-free full-bleed 2016 Topps design really sings to my heart. What a nearly-perfect modern design to represent the new era of trading cards.

In my almost seven years at COMC I’ve seen and been around Topps products from the last decade far more than other decade of cards. The 2010 decade is the only decade that I do feel entirely comfortable ranking these sets in order from favorite to least favorite. With 2016 being my #1, here are 2 through 10:

The Good Word: Everything is Better with Age

By James Good

As a kid growing up in the 90’s, my sports card collection was amassed primarily thanks to weekend trips to the grocery store with my Grandma that always yielded a couple packs, and thrift store or garage sales finds of junk wax commons that I gladly handed over a  few dollars of my allowance money for. But every once in awhile I would be taken on a much anticipated, highly coveted trip to Toys ‘R Us or K-Mart, where I would be forced to decide between a new video game or a couple $20 boxes of trading cards. Unless an amazing new video game had just come out, I always went with basketball cards, exclusively Collector’s Choice or Fleer, as the local grocery stores strangely only carried baseball and football cards.

The first vintage trading cards that I ever owned were 12 nine-pocket pages filled with of 1970 Topps baseball cards.They were given to me by one of my Grandpa’s friends who caught wind of my obsession with trading cards. The best card of the bunch was a Carl Yastrzemski #10, but the cards never impressed me much. The gray bordered design was dull and the photo quality was grainy when compared to those 1995 Score baseball cards I loved so much.

Flash forward to 2019 and what a difference a couple of decades can make. The trading card industry has radically changed, but there is still no better product being produced today than Topps Heritage Baseball. The great thing about Heritage is that it sets out to do the exact opposite of almost every other product being released today. As the industry continues to innovate, Heritage throws it back to decades ago, celebrating card design, modest insert sets, and a time when trading cards didn’t feature embedded table cloth relics.

Earlier this year as 2019 Topps Heritage’s release date drew near, I was reminded of my disdain towards the 1970 design, which I knew would be featured this year. Initially, I was not even a fan of the mock-ups provided by Topps prior to the release date, but that all changed when I opened my first pack. All of those flaws in the 1970 Topps cards that I owned as a kid were gone. The updated card stock boasted a modern feel and the print quality was immaculate. Perhaps more importantly, these cards were actually well centered! All of these improvements immediately calmed my concerns over the product design, and my four box rip on the Friday after release day was an absolute blast.

Heritage is a product that is 100% built and designed for collectors who appreciate cards for more than just their value, so if you go into ripping hobby boxes and retail packs hoping for big hits, you’ll usually walk away disappointed. But for me, the action image variations, short prints, and all of the callbacks to cards of yesteryear are more than enough to keep coming back year after year. Here are just a few reasons that I love this year’s product.

The Callbacks

Pat Neshek is respected in the hobby for being just as big of a baseball card collector as the rest of us who don’t have hundreds of baseball cards of our own. I can only imagine how thrilled he was when presented with the perfect opportunity to recreate Lowell Palmer‘s 1970 Topps photo and put on the shades. Todd Frazier also plays along in imitating a classic, but he would need to shed about 25 pounds of muscle to create a more accurate imitation of Bud Harrelson.

The Official Farewells

A large portion of my life revolves around sports and sports cards. I am a daily visitor of MLB Trade Rumors and I receive push notifications of breaking news to my phone courtesy of ESPN.  Even though I knew these hometown favorites of mine were no longer Seattle Mariners within minutes of trades and signings going down, and some of the deals were for the better, it only feel real to me once I saw them in their new uniforms on these cards. Heritage is that set that hits me right in the feels before the season gets underway. Their contributions to the team I love most cannot be questioned, but it’s going to take a very long time getting use to seeing ‘The Boomstick’ in a Minnesota Twins uniform or James Paxton donning the pinstripes.

The End of an Era

There were no bigger free agent signings this off season than Manny Machado to the San Diego Padres and Bryce Harper to the Philadelphia Phillies. These should be among their final cards of them depicted in their former teams uniforms for the time being. The Sporting News themed cards are very fitting considering that these two dominated the off season rumors and headlines. I’m very big fan of Harper, who also got a pretty sweet action image variation this time around, a card that I was fortunate enough to pull that will remain in my PC for decades to come.

The In-Game Action Cards! 

In past blog posts my fellow COMC Blogger Rich Klein has talked about how much he enjoys game recap cards, and I cannot agree more. I really enjoyed the clever captions on these cards, which is why they stood out to me this year more than others. Topps knocked it out of the park in paying tribute to their 1970 counterparts:

The Ridiculous Mustaches

Daniel Mengden has had the best ‘stache in the MLB on lock for the last couple of years with his Rollie Fingers-esque facial hair. However, a new challenger has emerged, and Darren O’Day has kicked off 2019 by taking over the crown of Most Magnificent Musache in the Majors (MMMitM). That thing rivals even some of the sharpie jobs we’ve seen over the years from cards submitted to COMC.

The Evolution of our Pastime

It’s always fun to put into context how much the game has evolved over time, and there is no better way to do so than to compare the league leader cards found in Topps Heritage with the cards from the original set they mirror. To wrap up this blog, I’ll leave you with two statistical comparisons that are pretty incredible.

Rod Carew hit .332 over 458 at bats, with 8 home runs, 56 RBI’s and 19 stolen bases, while walking 36 times, and striking out 72 times in 1969. He earned an All-Star nod and finished 10th in MVP voting.

Mookie Betts hit .346 over 520 at bats, with 32 home runs, 80 RBI’s, 30 stolen bases, drawing 81 walks and fanning 91 times in 2018. He was an All-Star, the American League MVP, and won Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards.

Fergie Jenkins went 21-15 with a 2.63 era, 273 strike outs, 71 walks and gave up 27 home runs over 311.1 innings in 1969. He was not selected to the All-Star Team.

Max Scherzer went 18-7 with a 2.53 era, 300 strike outs, 51 walks, and gave up 23 home runs over 220.2 innings in 2018. He was an All-Star, finished second in Cy Young voting, and 10th in league MVP voting. He racked up 27 more strike outs than Jenkins in 90 less innings pitched.

The Good Word: A Well Designed Mail Day

By James Good

For the last three plus years at COMC I’ve seen every single tweet, Instagram picture, and Facebook post that we’ve been  tagged in. My absolute favorite posts that we get repeatedly see are our customer’s Mailday pictures, where they show their followers all of the items that they recently received in their latest COMC shipment. We routinely reshare these on our instagram page and twitter accounts, so be sure to keep tagging us in your #Maildays!

Seeing all of our customer’s incoming items for their personal collection inspired me to share some of the contents of an incoming COMC package of my own. While there are plenty of not so exciting items in that package that simply fill the gaps of my Mitch Haniger player collection, there are bunch of other items that have been inspired by my latest inspiration for collecting: buying cards based on unique card design.

I think that card design is a very low priority for a lot of collectors, as we’ve grown accustom to cards designed around sticker autos and recycled designs, among other visually unappealing decisions. Most prospectors don’t even consider card design when stashing away players in hopes of a later payday. The truth is that the card design for the majority of modern cards is very underwhelming. I’m not going to publicly shame any manufacturers, because with so many sets being printed these days, poor design choices were bound to happen. Just like without the bad moments in life we wouldn’t appreciate the good ones, without bad card design, we couldn’t appreciate good card design.

The 2008 Topps Factory Set Mickey Mantle Chrome Refractor Reprints set is the perfect example of the modernization of a reprint done right. There isn’t an overload of numbered parallels, and the design is simply a clean replica of the original on a modern chrome cardstock. The 1952 Mantle RC has been reprinted time-and-time again over the years, most having some sort of poor design choice shoehorned in. Topps got it right in 2008, and in the 2006 Topps ’52 set where they swapped the background color of this iconic card in a creative re-imagining. I’ll probably never own the real thing, so these reprints fill the void in my collection.

One rookie card that I am fortunate enough to own is a PSA 9 2007 Bowman Chrome – Prospects Tim Lincecum Gold Autograph #’d 31/50. As I talked about in one of the earlier installments of The Good Word , I love manufactured patch cards. These three are among my latest pick ups that fit the qualifications of well designed cards. Lincecum’s unconventional pitching delivery might have shortened his career, but it did produce a wealth of great trading cards along the way. I’m a sucker for the stars and stripes, so the 2010 Topps – Jumbo Packs Manufactured Hat Logo Relic on the right ranks highly on my well-designed sets list.

 

Which leads me to this 1912 Player’s Countries Arms & Flags Tobacco Card #4. I am not much of a vintage collector, much to the chagrin of my colleague Rich Klein, who two years ago at a National Sports Collector’s Convention took my 1960’s football card knowledge to task. I think that anytime you can buy something that’s over 100 years old for $0.50, you probably should, and this card was no exception. Even being 107 years old with a bit of paper loss, it still checks all the boxes for a well designed card.

As a kid growing up in the 90’s, nothing stuck with me more than the roller coast ride that was the 1995 ‘Refuse to Lose‘ Seattle Mariners. During that period of time, I opened so many packs of 1995 Score in search of the Gold Rush parallel of my favorite Mariners and 1996 Upper Deck Collector’s Choice looking for Gold Facsimile Signatures and You Crash the Game cards. I was never able to pull these two, but thanks to COMC, my hundreds of dollars of summer jobs and allowance money was not wasted in vein.

By comparison, the 1995 Score Gold Rush Parallel is inferior to the Platinum Team Set version. I really love the design on the Hitters Inc. subset, and not just because Albert Belle’s mean mug is a hidden gem. There were many iterations of Collector’s Choice ‘You Crash the Game’ contest across multiple sports, but the 1996 baseball version did it best with a bright orange and red foiled explosion design. Not only was it a great design, but it was a great concept that has stood the test of time. I know a certain 2019 Topps insert set with an awfully similar promotion.

If I were to rank Topps flagship designs, 1968 Topps would likely fall in the middle of the list. It’s not a bad design per say, it’s just not my style. I do love the rounded corners of the black border and white space between the player photo and border, but the textured brown outer border doesn’t work for me. That being said, this card jumps off the page to me because it features one of the best photos of any Mariner ever featured on a trading card.

Vogey looks larger-than-life in this pose, and the Safeco Field logo in the background is a nice finishing touch. It almost makes you forget that he has a career MLB batting average of .197, or that Safeco Field is now T-Mobile Park.This card screams “In Vogey We Trust” , that he’s our guy of the future, and that I’m willing to put in writing that he’ll hit 30 bombs whenever he’s given his first full year in the Bigs.

Last but not least, there hasn’t been a better non-sports set idea since the Map Relic Insert Sets from Upper Deck’s last two Goodwin Champions sets. These sets have checked all of the boxes I’m looking for when determining good card design:

  1. Make it unique
  2. Keep it simple
  3. Feature Great Photography

These cards do an perfect job encapsulating the points of interest they feature. The embedded map relic is a unique element that I don’t recall ever seeing on a card prior to these sets. My goal is to eventually collect all of the map relics of places that I’ve visited. Right now that list is at eight:

Niagara Falls, Statue of Liberty, Washington Monument, Capital HillGolden Gate Bridge, Freedom Tower, Mount Rainier, and Ruby Beach .

Ruby Beach holds a special place in my heart because it was one of the destinations along the first road trip that my fiancé and I went on almost four years ago. Traveling to the coast of Washington to be close to the water has been a recurring trend in our relationship. Later this year, we’ll get married near the beaches of Moclips, Washington, about 65 miles south of where the photo of this card was snapped.

Now it’s your turn! In the comments below, let us know some of your favorite cards from your most recent mailday!

The Good Word: It’s in the Game!

One of the best parts about my job at COMC is the amount of collectors I get to talk with about the hobby on the weekly basis. Whether it’s at The National talking to our members in person, or retweeting personal collection pick ups on twitter, it’s fascinating to see what collectors enjoy collecting and how they build their personal collections. I was recently talking with one of the members of our Developmental Team who didn’t collect cards prior to joining the COMC Team, but is slowly carving out his niche in the hobby – collecting trading cards featuring dogs!

That conversation led me to the discovery of a set that I had never seen or heard of before – The 2006 Enterplay Nintendo Nintendogs set. Nintendogs is a real-time pet simulation video game that was released on the handheld Nintendo DS console almost 15 years ago. This would fall somewhere in the timeline after the rise-and-fall of Tamagotchi toys, but before social media and mobile games such as Farmville gained massive popularity. The game spurned a whole slew of spin-offs and imitation games that can be had for a buck or two at any used gaming store.

Furthering down that rabbit hole, I wondering what other video game themed trading card sets were out there that I didn’t know about. To my surprise, the answer is shockingly not that many. Before we go any further, for the sake of this blog post, I’m removing all Pokemon related cards from the discussion, as that is a video game that has transcended beyond gaming to pop culture status. My Grandmother can name far more Pokemon than just Pikachu, and she hasn’t played a single video game since the days of Atari in the early 1980’s.

The origin of video game related trading cards can be traced to the 1980 Fleer Pac-Man Stickers set. Each $0.30 pack contained 3 stickers, 3 trading cards, and 1 piece of gum, with each box consisting of 36 packs. The cards themselves even feature a cleverly designed rub-off game that is essentially the Pac-Man game built into a card. The price point is interesting at $0.30, considering a game of Pac-Man at the arcade would cost you $0.25 (or your whole pocket of quarters, because who only plays one game of Pac-Man?)

Nintendo appears to have initially been hot on trading cards as they began to make a name for themselves in the United States. In the late 1980’s, they released stickers and several trading cards sets that featured similar scratch-off games themed after popular video games such as Double Dragon, Punch Out!!!, Super Mario Bros, and the Legend of Zelda.

Perhaps the lack of retail success of these sets could be the attributed to the reason why Nintendo branded trading cards all but dropped off the face of the earth in the 1990’s. While there were a handful of food issue cards and promo cards included with video games, there are very few Nintendo trading cards from the 90’s. In fact, the only real video game set with any hobby relevance appears to be the 1993 Topps Sonic the Hedgehog set, a Sega-brand character, and even that is a set that COMC has seen very few cards from over our existence.

It strikes me as odd that the 16-bit and 64-bit eras of gaming in the 90’s are incredibly underrepresented in the trading card world. The Super Nintendo and Nintendo 64 produced so many great series that would have translated well into  trading card sets, such as Kirby, Yoshi’s Island, Donkey Kong Country, Mortal Kombat, and Street Fighter just to name a few. Even Sony didn’t venture too far into the world of trading cards, with only a couple of sets released highlighting Final Fantasy, one of their flagship series at the time.

It wasn’t until Enterplay acquired the licensing rights to several of Nintendo’s most popular franchises in the late 2000’s that video game related trading cards would see any sort of consistency with products and releases. Along with the aforementioned Nintendogs set, they also released sets for Nintendo Wii games such as Mario Kart , Super Mario Galaxy, and the Legend of Zelda. While it appears that Enterplay still has a partnership in place with Nintendo, they’ve since shifted their focus almost entirely to the My Little Pony Collectible Card Game, which now has over a dozen different sets since it’s debut in 2012.

My biggest issue with the Enterplay cards is that they’re emotionless, featuring very uninspired designs and characters ripped straight out the video games. These cards do a very poor job celebrating these beloved franchises, which have been well represented elsewhere through time by big named artists and fan-created artwork that put the Enterplay cards to shame. I understand that Enterplay is a relatively small player in the trading world, and probably needed to keep production costs down on these products, but even fan submitted artwork om these sets would have drastically increased the overall production quality. Give me an insert featuring painted landscapes of all of the locations in a Zelda game, or the tracks in Mario Kart. But don’t expect me to get excited over cards that come across as second-rate marketing material.

Arthur Morgan from Red Dead Redemption. An incredibly complex character who struggles with morality and social stature of the life of turn of the century cowboy.

So where do we go from here? Video game sales topped $43 billion dollars in 2018, an 18% increase of 2017. We’ve come along way from the days of 8-bit side-scrollers and top-down racers. Gaming franchises are only becoming more beloved as their creators tell deeper and more complex stories, with characters displaying stunningly human-like ranges of emotions, motivations, desires, flaws and traits. I would argue that most story-driven video games do a better job with their narratives than even the very best Hollywood movies can accomplish. So why do we have so many non-sports card sets for  movies such as Doctor Strange, Aliens, and James Bond, but none of Final Fantasy 10-15, Red Dead Redemption, or Assassin’s Creed?  Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a knock on movie cards , but rather a call to action for the gaming industry

Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins made nearly $10 million dollars in 2018 as Fortnite’s most popular streamer and gaming personality. He appeared on the cover ESPN Magazine, sparking a transition into full blown celebrity status.

Fortnite is the biggest video game on the planet right now. Children, teenagers, and even (or, especially) adults spend literally hundreds of dollars on a game that is free to play by purchasing cosmetic items that allow them to customize their character. These items have zero effect on competitive game play. With Fortnite’s publisher Epic Games making money hand over fist with their product (the company has an estimated value of $8 billion dollars), why aren’t card companies like Topps, Upper Deck, and Panini eagerly trying to acquire the licensing rights? There HAS to be a multi-million dollar market for these products just waiting to be capitalized on.

Imagine if a card manufacturer was able to sign some of Fornite’s top competitive players and popular streamers, offering chase cards that granted those who pulled a card the opportunity to play with some of these players? It doesn’t even matter what the quality of the product was at that point, that concept alone would sell insane amounts of product. Those unfamiliar with the concept of eSports and video game streaming culture may not understand why this would be a big deal. So imagine if you busted a pack of trading cards, and inside you won a trip that involved taking batting practice with Kris Bryant, or running routes and receiving passes from Patrick Mahomes II, or learning how to shoot threes with Steph Curry. For those ingrained in the video game world, who watch these players on a daily basis the same way we watch sports athletes, it’s the exact same concept.

Perhaps I’m just angling too hard for the cross-over potential of two things that I love and am passionate about. The history of video game related trading cards over the years paints a picture of repeatedly missed opportunities. There have been a lot of clever innovations over the years in the video game industry. Nintendo is among the those at the forefront of that effort, from utilizing NFC-technology in their Amiibo figurines to creating Nintendo Labo DIY kits that are functional robotics with just the technology of a Nintendo Switch controller. But aside from Pokemon cards, they don’t seem to have a desire or clue how to take their franchises, their most powerful asset, and capitalize on the beloved characters and stories they’ve created over the last 40 years. Maybe it’s time to pause and hit the reset button, because they’ve been playing the trading card game wrong for a really long time.

The Good Word: Manufactured Blog Post

(Note: COMC Communications Manager James Good wears many hats at COMC, including Social Media Manager and Blog Editor. While he does a wealth of the writing and curating of other blog posts found on our Blog, ‘The Good Word’ is a new regular Editorial style blog series where he will more openly share his opinions and thoughts on sports and trading cards.)

It is rumored that P.T. Barnum once said, “There’s a sucker born every minute”. I’d like to think that there are no such thing as suckers when it comes to collecting, but that every single one of us has a guilty pleasure or two that other collectors might see as silly or downright foolish. Whatever you want to call it, I have no shame in admitting that I love manufactured patch cards. Manufactured patches are hit-or-miss among most collectors, and I like how polarizing they are. There is very little gray area when it comes to them, collectors either love them or hate them.

My fascination with them began in 2008 when I was getting reacquainted with the landscape of the card industry following a hiatus from collecting. Among the first Felix Hernandez cards that I bought for my personal collection were his 2008 UD Premier Stitchings manufactured patches. The logo inside these cards was very well designed, and in Mariners colors as well.

The first Seattle Mariners card I ever fell in love with was obviously the 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr.. The second was Alex Rodriguez’s 1994 Flair RC. The third card in that list is one from a set that most collectors are probably much less familiar with. When I first saw the 2007 Upper Deck Black Pride of a Nation set, I thought it was one of the most unique sets I had ever seen.  I was 22 years old at the time and didn’t have a lot of money, but I was able to strike a deal with a collector via a forum and in four $25 weekly paypal payments I was the owner of this beautiful piece of cardboard:

I think that when done right, a well-designed manufactured patch or logo card is better than most authentic game used swatch jersey cards. Don’t get me wrong, there is no substitute for a sick patch, laundry tag, or logoman. But take a look at the below series of cards and tell me which one appeals to you more:

Ok fine, maybe don’t answer that last one, because as far as I’m concerned the Babe Ruth Jumbo from Tools of the Trade is the pinnacle of jersey cards. It goes without saying that most of the time we would much rather have a historical piece of the game over a manufactured patch, so my theory doesn’t exactly apply to legends and Hall of Fame players. Which creates an interesting question. I prefer the manufactured patches of Tim Lincecum and Peyton Manning shown above now, but what about fifty years from now? Will the overproduced jersey and patch cards of today’s greats be coveted or as remotely desirable as some of present day in-demand Hall of Fame memorabilia cards such as 1/1 bat knobs and the  Babe Ruth that I shared above?

Card manufacturers will need to continually innovate as they roll out new products, parallels and cards that are intended to draw the interest of new collectors. For some lifelong collectors, flagship Topps Series 1 or the Young Guns RC’s in Upper Deck Series 1 hockey is more than enough to keep them ripping wax on a yearly basis. But as long as the demand remains for unique cards, the rat race of latest and greatest goes on. I think that manufactured patches, rings, and relics offer a solid creative outlet for them to continue to produce some unique additions to the hobby.

To wrap up the first installment of ‘The Good Word’, I felt compelled to share some of my personal favorite cards featuring manufactured materials. Enjoy!