Something amazing is happening right now. We are almost in the 4th month of 2022 and there has yet to be a single Jose Canseco card sighting. Well, technically, he was in 2022 Topps in ’87 reprint form but these cards are 100% redemptions and not a single one has made the scene yet. If Jose Canseco is as weird in real life as he is on Twitter, the redemption will likely be delayed for a while longer.
Jose can also be found in 2022 Topps x Spotlight 70 Series 2 but this set has not even printed yet and there hasn’t even been a proper preview of Jose’s card, which is strangely enough, #2 on the checklist. I’ve begged and begged for the set’s artist, Andy Friedman, to provide a preview image but nothing has worked. So, it’s almost April and I’ve yet to see a 2022 Jose Canseco baseball card.
This of course has left me to look through my collection to find a card to spotlight and I landed on the 1989 Broder issue you see above. For those who don’t read my work regularly (shame!), I have been obsessed with finding out more information on the father/son duo of Ed & Rob Broder. I wrote the piece ‘Where in the World is Rob Broder?’ several years back and while that landed some leads, ultimately they went nowhere.
In today’s collecting world, these cards clearly lack any of the Pokemon-sizzle, shiny technology that has spoiled collectors over the past decade or even longer. These unlicensed “Broders” were essentially just printed photographs in the dimensions of baseball cards and even I can admit about 85% of them were about as dull as can be. If there are 100 Broders of Canseco from 1987-’92, maybe 5 or less of them contained any action photography.
Despite its many flaws, which includes said lazy photography pretty much anyone could replicate and no real “book value” (Beckett has never acknowledged Broders), these unlicensed, counterfeit cards were vital to player collectors of the times. In 1989, we didn’t have 45 different Topps products to collect. We had one Topps (flagship), along with one Donruss, Bowman, Fleer, Score, and Sportflics. That’s six total, “official” releases.
Along the way, Fleer & Donruss would pound out 3-5 small, factory sets a piece yearly (usually between 25-35 cards) sold through retailers and Jose would usually appear in most of those but that really was the end when it came to licensed MLB trading cards. There are actually less than 40 total Jose Canseco cards released in 1989, the year after he became the unanimous American League Most Valuable Player.
Today, it’s not uncommon for a Topps card to have more than 40 different parallels alone. Add in the usual 40+ Topps releases through the calendar year and if you collect a popular player like for example, Shohei Ohtani, you are looking at thousands upon thousands of different cards, NOT counting autographs and game-used cards. Back then, collecting was a lot easier (and cheaper).
These Broder issues were great because without them, a collector could complete his yearly chase very early and move on to something else. As bad as these cards were, it was at least something to collect. Unfortunately, MLB’s lawyers eventually intervened and the end came swiftly. It’s a damn shame because by the early 90s, Broders were catching up to the times with gold & silver foil in their designs and even serial numbers.
Below is the last known Broder-issue of Jose Canseco, produced in 1992. Nearly three decades later, it was Topps who came to “borrow” Rob & Ed Broder’s work for their Project 70 release. I don’t know about you, but I’m picking the unlicensed, non-Beckett catalogued Broder over anything ever created by Keith Shore. That of course is just the snobbish, old collector in me talking.