As far as my 28-year Jose Canseco collection is concerned, 2018 has been my most successful year of all time. With just a few days left in June, I have acquired well over 150 new cards I needed, including several key 90’s parallels and inserts. I’ve also been able to add countless game-used relics and certified autographs thanks to prices continuing to drop on the secondary market. All that being said, Topps’ 2018 Canseco offerings have been disappointing to say the least. From awful photographs to overpriced sticker “hits”, it’s been one of the weakest years of Canseco cards in recent memory. All that changed the moment I laid eyes on 2018 Stadium Club.
For as much hate that is thrown Topps’ way, they somehow managed to get it right and have produced the best-looking Jose Canseco card since the early-2000s. This card screams with personality and is from a photo shoot in 1997 when it was announced that Jose was going back to California and had signed on with the A’s. Unfortunately, by this point, Mark McGwire had surpassed Jose in popularity and ability and Jose hit just 23 home runs that year before going down with a season-ending injury for the second year in a row. Jose’s career was heading down hill at an alarming rate, while “Big Mac” was on a collision course for Roger Maris’ single season home run record.
How Jose even managed a smile is beyond me. By ’97, his boyish good looks had been ravaged, his body was nearly completely broken down, and his fame and bank account were at an all-time low. Jose was no longer someone to mock and laugh at but had become a walking cartoon character coaches and parents of young baseball players used to scare their kids straight. Just seven years prior, Jose was being compared to Babe Ruth. By 1997, he came to Oakland a shell of his former self with an incentives-laden contract which would end up paying next to nothing.
This card, found in Stadium Club, will one day hit my collection in all its forms (base, chrome, refractor, auto’d) and will immediately rise to the top because it is simply THAT GOOD. I don’t know if Topps closed their eyes and picked a random image or someone in New York responsible for this sort of thing simply gave us Jose collectors baseball card heaven but thank you. The ten-year old collector inside me could not be any more happier than I am right now. I was slowly pulling away from new releases but this single card has restored my faith in 2018 and in many ways, Topps Company.
This doesn’t change how I feel about Topps’ monopoly. I still want options, even if those options come from Panini America. I still want choices and two companies producing licensed baseball cards BUT there are two Mario Alejandros. One is an avid student of the card industry of today and yesterday. The other? He’s just a kid who grew up idolizing a flawed but incredibly entertaining young man named Jose Canseco. With regards to my collection, nothing will ever stop me from continuing to add new cards into my binders and boxes of nostalgia. The name may say Topps, Upper Deck, etc. but if the card looks anything like this, frankly, I don’t care about the politics.