I Don’t Know Baseball Cards

Man, a lot has changed. Or has it? I can’t tell. I know “my guy”, Jose Canseco, last played in a Major League game 16 years ago. That’s 3 times longer than any period I’ve ever collected baseball cards. Sure, my player collection started way back in 1990 but there have been very long gaps throughout my time as a collector. I can, however, still proudly say that I still own that very first Topps Ames Jose Canseco card my mom bought me as a happy, go-lucky 9 year-old kid.

Anyway, I’ve been browsing eBay lately looking at what “new” cards are being produced and while everything looks pretty cool to a once-again, now-aging card newbie, it is disappointing to see that most cards being released (and there’s a lot) feature recycled photographs. It’s unfortunately something I understand considering the last time my player played in an MLB game, George W. Bush was just entering office.

Jose Canseco is certainly one of the most photogenic players of all-time but having come up way back in 1985 before computers and other technology took over the world, I can’t help but think MOST of what I’ve seen on cards and magazines is about all that’s available from ’86-’93. I have a Samsung Galaxy S8 which I’ve owned for 6 months and it is currently holding over 1,000 photos and several dozen videos. Back in 1985, that feat would be impossible to carry around or even imagine.

For now, I’ll make do with all these fancy, new cards that bring me back (only a little) to my Golden Age of collecting in 1990 and I’ll appreciate the extra effort when Topps and whoever else is still around producing cards finds that one, special photograph to use that hasn’t been recycled over and over again for 30+ years. For example, like the Topps Tier One card featured in this post.

For one, it is from what I believe to be Jose’s 1987 season which would have been featured on cards released 1988. This puts this image on a pretty short list of companies that would have used it. For starters, Topps. Then of course, Donruss and Fleer. This was a year before Upper Deck entered the business and while there were lots of grocery store brand releases, I can’t say that I’ve seen this particular image ever used.

If I’m right about the year, it was before Jose really “juiced” up his, uhh … image. He had just put in a decent year of baseball but was hugely overshadowed due to the rookie sensation who hit 49 home runs out of the gate on Jose’s team, I believe his name was Mark McGrath or something. By 1988, Jose was the #1 player in baseball hands down but this was still a year away. I wonder if being forgotten and just hitting 31 home runs motivated Jose to take his game to the next level?

Kudos to Topps for digging this awesome photo up and slapping it on a new card.

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