Topps Goes Back to the Well (Again)

No matter what any hobby shill tells you, Topps is catering almost strictly to nostalgia-driven collectors AKA: us old guys. Don’t let anyone tell you different and besides, who are they most likely going to win over? A 10-year old obsessed with Xbox One and Fortnite or an old fogey pushing 50 that’s reminiscing over the baseball card sets from his childhood? Baseball cards in 2018 are a completely niche hobby just a few levels of cool above a stamp collector and well below the now-acceptable “Comic Book Nerd”.

That being said, I am that old collector who was introduced to baseball cards by Topps Company and their eccentric, somewhat trippy 1990 flagship set. That doesn’t mean the previous year’s release didn’t completely infiltrate my collection. Back then, with only 1 or 2 releases per company producing baseball cards yearly, sooner or later you’d find yourself with just about every card from every product in your collection. This was before technology killed magazines, books, and even TV.

Having so few choices meant every single baseball card in your collection became iconic. It didn’t matter who the player was, these cards were burned into our memories for basically, the rest of our lives. Today, Topps releases new product every single week and with its Topps Now line, even daily. Cards rarely have a chance to be appreciated because before you know it, another $200 box has been put on a rack in your local card shop, if your city even has one left. This was not the case in 1990 or specifically with 1989 Topps card #500.

Today, this particular card is worth less than a stamp. There are millions and millions of them and probably even more remain unopened in rack packs and wax boxes. Still, there is nothing more spectacular than Jose’s arrogant, little smug look on his 1989 card, featuring his 1988 unanimous MVP numbers. This was a guy on top of the sports world and he was going to milk it for everything it was worth. Unfortunately, this was Jose’s only MVP season and realistically, his only true great year.

At some point, Topps Company, realizing there was at least one guaranteed Jose Canseco fan on the planet (me), produced a Rediscover Topps buyback, and a beautiful Archives autograph, which should be a dream card for any true, Jose Canseco fan and collector. At that point, I was pleased with Topps’ efforts to appease us crazy Canseco Super Collectors. Topps has truly gone above in beyond with keeping Jose Canseco’s legacy alive and well despite how his career ended and what came after.

That being said, I was surprised to see yet another 1989 Topps recreation, this time in the form of clear acetate. This card comes from 2018 Topps Clearly Authentic, perhaps the biggest gamble of any baseball card product, ever. Seriously, this stuff is absolutely brutal, especially to suckers who buy entire cases of it for well over a grand and end up with the worst scrub autographs possibly ever seen in a high-end product. That being said, there are still many gorgeous cards, if you have the luck of Charlie Bucket.

If it seems like I am being ungrateful, trust me, I am not. I just want some kind of self-control in this industry because due to the absolute flood created by Topps since they acquired the MLB exclusive license, Jose Canseco’s autograph value has plummeted. In 2006, I had a total of 3 autographs because they sold for $70-$80 dollars unnumbered. Today, it’s not difficult to land his new autos in Topps for well under $10 bucks. His game-used relics that used to sell for close to $20, have sunk as well.

Sure, extremely low-numbered, new cards of his will always sell high early on but as a true Jose Canseco super collector, I can see the bottom of this particular market and it’s not too far from where it’s at right now. With Jose long retired, acting foolish on social media, and with a zero chance at the Hall of Fame, producing tens of thousands of his signed cards and game-used memorabilia can’t possibly be a good thing for those of us who have spent decades chasing his cards and thousands of our hard-earned dollars on our quickly depreciating collections.

With that being said, my favorite card of 2018 is produced by none other than Topps and features a throwback design. Here’s why it’s special, though … it features Topps’ 1993 Finest layout but with a new photograph that I’ve never seen and a certified autograph, which wasn’t an option with ’93 Finest unless you chased down your favorite player and asked him to sign it for you. I can tell you now, 1993 Jose would have said no. Come to think of it, 2018 Jose would say no as well.

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2 comments

  1. I totally agree with you on the whole idea of card companies showing some “self-control” and resist flooding the market with specific signatures. I’ve seen values on Rickey Henderson and Greg Maddux autographs plummet over the past five years. Truly sad.

  2. Part of me wonders if the nose dive certain autographs have taken is because of the lack of interest. It seems like more and more are chasing the “next big thing” while paying no mind to the stars of the past.

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