Ted Taylor's Collector's Corner
Ted Taylor has been a life-long baseball fan and collector of baseball cards and sports memorabilia. He began writing a hobby column back in the early 1970s and has been writing it someplace ever since. He was first president of The Eastern Pennsylvania Sports Collectors Club and co-promoter of the Philadelphia Baseball Card & Sports Memorabilia Shows. He served as VP of the Fleer Corporation (1991-97) and was co-founder and the first President of The Philadelphia Athletics Historical Society (1996-99). Ted can be heard playing big band and swing music from 8 a.m. to noon every Tuesday on WRDV-FM (89.3), and you can email him at email@example.com.
Click here for information on Ted's latest book . . .
“20th Century PHILLIES by the numbers”
Or . . . You can’t tell the players without a scorecard
July 1, 2015
This is our 40th Year of hobby columns
Ted Taylor’s Collector’s Corner
Topps Archives Baseball is a fan’s delight
The 2015 edition of Topps Archives Baseball is a real treat. It makes no sense, there is no rhyme or reason for it but when was the last time you busted a pack of baseball cards and got a Ted Williams? A Babe Ruth? A Willie Mays? A Joe DiMaggio? And more than that. The stars and immortals are plunked down with today’s players. Why? Who knows? Who cares? It’s fun.
The base set has 300 cards. The design borrows from three sets from the company's vault: 1957 Topps, 1976 Topps and 1983 Topps. Each design has 100 cards. Numbered parallels include Silver, Gold, Black (1/1) and Printing Plates. There are also 30 short prints that round out the main part of the set, although they're tough pulls at 1:70 packs.
There are 24 packages of six cards each. Two of the cards you’ll pull will be signed (on the card) autographs. I got J. T. Snow and Eric Karros. No biggie, but they were both decent players. Both have been out of the majors for a decade or more.
Kids who buy a few packs will have no clue was to who is new, who is old. Because the cards of current players look the same as ones of Ty Cobb, Bob Feller and the rest of the retired bunch. Look on the back of Babe Ruth’s card and it tells you his residence is Baltimore, MD. He’s quite dead, of course, and residing anyplace. It says Reggie Jackson’s home is Abington PA (no it isn’t and never was), Ty Cobb’s home is in Royston GA. Casual fans and kids will be confused.
The distribution between old-timers and current players is pretty close. In fact I had to flip a few of the cards over to make sure who was whom. For Phils fans you’ll find Robin Roberts looking like he’s on a ’57 Topps and Mike Scmidt looking like he was still playing.
For no reason I can come up with, there are also cards of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon. There’s an original Topps card that I found in one pack – it was Luis Alvarado which is a 1973 Topps with rounded corners and a F/G to be generous. Why would a collector want that?
Some cards (especially Pirates, but also Tampa Bay players) have the player name in yellow on the front and you cannot read it. Then there are the “game” cards with a player picture on the the front and a baseball “play” on the corners. But guess what? Topps doesn’t name the player.
The box suggests you collect all ten Will Ferrell cards. I ask why? Ferrell is a comedian and he dressed up in various uniforms and play an inning for several teams in spring training. Lucky for me I only got one – he’s playing for the Angels in the only one I got.
Box is selling in the $85 range.
Topps Finest comes in six-pack mini boxes
Selling in the $90-a-box range (six packs, five chrome cards in each) Finest is a brand that doesn't ever seem to keep it simple. Some say that it’s the closest thing the hobby has to being experimental in the design department. Each box promises one autographed card – I got Bryce Brentz (who?).
Of the 30 cards, I got one set of duplicates (Jason Heyward), one retired player positioned as current (Derek Jeter) and one old-timer, the late Ernie Banks as in a “Generations” subset. Nice, shiny, expensive pictures.
The base set has 100 total cards, mixing veterans and rookies. It's Finest, so there are lots of Refractors.
Topps 2nd Series Baseball fills in the gaps
As usual, the second series of Topps Baseball cards fills in the gaps, puts some new faces on baseball cards (or on different teams) and generally does what such series are supposed to d,. it's a continuation and expansion.
The 2015 Topps Series 2 Baseball base set adds another 350 cards to the checklist making it, at 700, the largest base set in years. In addition to usual veteran and rookie cards, there are Future Stars, Award Winners and 2014 Highlights subsets as well as team cards.
Buster Posey adorns both the box and the packs (all 36 of them, 10 cards each) and the advertisement says “one autograph or one relic card in every box”. I got the relic – a piece of red cloth adorning an Allen Craig card (with the usual disclaimer about not being from anything worth mentioning). I also got three old Topps cards (stamped “Topps original 2015” on them) of Ken Boswell (Mets, 1973 Topps), Marty Pattin (Royals, 1977 Topps) and Darrell Johnson (Cardinals, 1960 Topps). Nice, I suppose, but I’m not sure why I’d want them.
Also packed out in the 360 cards are a fair share of old-timers. I like such cards and it was fun finding Reggie Jackson, Babe Ruth, Sandy Koufax, Joe DiMaggio, Nolan Ryan, Jackie Robinson and many others. Many of these are “Highlight of the Year” cards which make for interesting reading.
The hobby box is selling in the $60 range and worth the investment.
Topps Stadium Club Baseball . . . Quirky, Funky, Fun
My first take after busting 16 8-card packs was that this edition of Topps Stadium Club Baseball (2015) is quirky, funky and full of odd-ball baseball pictures and stuff you just wouldn’t expect. Or, since it’s Stadium Club, maybe you would.
When this brand returned in 2014 it came in mini-boxes and just smelled expensive (elite, even). 2015 Topps Stadium Club Baseball goes the traditional card route – and the box (and packaging) spotlights Clayton Kershaw. The base set and the old-timers provide a bit of an art gallery. A box of 16 packs sells in the $60 range.
Hobby boxes have two autographs, both on-card. Every pack also has one insert or parallel. All autographs in 2015 Topps Stadium Club Baseball are hard-signed. My two were newly signed Cuban (potential) standout Yasmany Tomas and Matt Williams (on a Diamondbacks card). 2015 Topps Stadium Club Baseball will be available at retail not just a hobby-only product.
The 300-card base set once again is all about the photography. There are pictures on cards that you’d never expect. Some are good – some aren’t (like Hunter Pence’s back, a tiny batting action shot of Giancarlo Stanton, and just too many diving or otherwise obscuring the actual player. The worst is card #237 of Mike Moustakas which shows his rear as he falls in to the stands after a ball – or maybe it’s card #215 of Orioles star Adam Jones, his face covered with shaving cream.) But all of them make you wonder what’s coming next. The full-bleed design is simple and that simplicity isn’t usually part of today’s baseball cards. As always with Topps base cards have a handful of parallels.
There are also a load of old-timer cards. Some take a second look because they look like they should still be playing. Die cuts of Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb were fun to find in a busted pack and you’ll find all kinds of other stars like Stan Musial, Cal Ripken Jr., Jackie Robinson, Lou Gehrig and on and on. Almost a third of my pulls were old-timers (which I enjoy, by the way).
Bowman 2015 Football launches the season
With Odell Beckman Jr. (NY Giants) as the packing icon the box contains four on-card autograph cards and one veteran relic. That’s good if collecting such is your thing (as it is for the sons of a dear friend of mine). Since it’s Bowman it will be delivering some of the first NFL cards of the year's rookie crop.
The box contains ten packs – but each pack has 25 cards. Fewer packs to bust but good stuff in each bust.
The base set is divided into four distinct sections. Both veterans and rookies have paper and rainbow foil versions. Base paper versions have white borders while the foil cards are black. Rookies and veterans have slightly different rainbow foil designs. As many as 110 rookies and veterans are in the set. And within these, figure on finding plenty of parallels.
BOOK UPDATE – Biblio Publishing (Columbus Ohio) has released my latest (8th) book “The 20th Century Phillies by the Numbers – or, you can’t tell the players without a scorecard” (302 pages). It is available from them (BiblioPublishing.com), amazon.com and other internet book sellers. E-book versions also available. By mail an autographed copy costs $24 ppd. From TTA LLC, Box 273, Abington PA 19001. It has back on press four times due to demand. Thank you!
As usual - Thanks to Ted Silary for including this column in his web-zine and to all of you for regularly reading it.